Monday, May 9, 2011

Courage...and Cowards in Albany

There is nothing like an act of courage to attract opposition from cowards.

Last week, the teachers of the Albany Public Schools, along with the senior administrators, sealed the deal on a courageous negotiation. The teachers, through their union, agreed to freeze their pay for a year as a way to help this community in a time of need. The administration agreed to avoid teacher layoffs. This is a great agreement for our community. It saves money when we need it desperately. It saves teachers, and after all, we aren't going to educate anyone without teachers ! All in all, everyone did the right thing.

It took courage on all sides to arrive at this agreement. It took the vision to believe that we could achieve a 0% tax levy increase in a year when everyone is hurting for money. No other school district in the state has managed to accomplish this.

Well, you know what happens when you do the right thing in Albany. Someone is bound to object.

In an act of extraordinary cowardice, an as-yet unnamed group mailed out thousands of glossy, expensive flyers to folks all over Albany. I hardly know where to begin in tearing into this junk mail:

* This flyer said that "taxes are too damn high". Aside from the error in grammar (they should have written "too damned high") this was awfully offensive language to send into people's homes. Some of us have children, and we like to teach them to communicate politely. I didn't appreciate having this sort of language broadcast into my home via the US mail in one-inch high red letters.

* The flyer made the false claim that the tax rate under our new school budget would be 20% higher than two years ago. The writer of this flyer must have a really good crystal ball, because the tax rate for 2011-12 hasn't been established yet. No one knows what it will be. What we do know is that the tax levy contains 0% increase. The tax rate is th eproduct of several factors; the only one under the control of the school district is the levy. The levy has been set for no increase.

* Let me just say this again: the tax levy is rising 0% this coming year. For the last three years it has risen an average of about 2.9%. If the writers think taxes are too high, surely a 0% increase would be a GOOD thing to be supported? Explain again why, if taxes are too high, one would oppose a no-increase levy?

* Here's the best part: the flyer has no information about who sent it. It is unsigned. I am a fanatical supporter of free speech. Voltaire said it best: "I detest what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

People have the right to engage in whatever form of political speech they like, and no matter how offensive, wrong or false their statements are, we protect their right to offend, make mistakes, and lie. But if you're going to make a major political statement, at least have the decency to sign your name. Even the average twelve-year-old knows that if you want to say something, have the guts to say it openly and identify yourself. John Hancock set a wonderful example for us all to follow way back in 1776.

Engage in civil, courteous, constructive debate, and let us know who you are. Don't hide behind the mama's skirts of anonymity.

We've seen these kinds of childish tactics before.

I look forward to learning who the gutless cowards were who sent this flyer.

What do you think?


  1. I think if I had to make a snap guess as to who the "gutless cowards" are, it's the Brighter Choice foundation. They are the only ones who would benefit from the school budget failing, and as we've seen in the past with their attacks on Kathy Sheehan, they're not above outright lying.

  2. I totally agree. I can guess who sent it and I'm betting it's the same "group" who hired telephone surveyers to "share" the same kinds of information. The same surveyer who when questioned, had no answers about who hired them, what positions this group has on record, nor from where they received their information. Cowards indeed.

  3. Even though the tax levy may not increase, many residential property owners will have a rude awakening when they receive their school bill - as they did last year! Look around and you'll see that properties have sold well below their assessed value. Commercial values have also decreased. Unless you fight your assessment (which many do not) those residential owners will be paying more than they did last year ... aka higher taxes.

  4. So the only way to really keep property taxes low is to push the state to pick up the tap as it should have. And, plus, the fact that we in Albany have to support two public school systems -where really only is one is truly public, the other one just sucks money out of our schools- is outrageous.
    These people are cowards. And, the only way to send a clear message is to go out and vote FOR the school budget!