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Richard Marsh: City shows more concern for poor than for working poor

To the editor:

To the mayor and City Council of Northampton, I say this: You received your override, but more importantly, once again you pitted neighbor against neighbor. Just because you don’t see it does not mean it hasn’t happened and it sits squarely on your shoulders.

Every “vote yes” sign represents a person who had no right to stick his hand in another man or woman’s pocket. If you think people take kindly to that, you are wrong. Saying “let the voters decide” is a cop-out. The same percentage will hand it to you, and the same percentage will be marginalized and their voices and needs discarded. Looking at a deficit, blaming the cuts that virtually everyone else in the state and country are dealing with without asking neighbors to speak for another neighbor’s ability to pay and saying put an override on the table is the opposite of leadership. These leaders ran for office and should now deal with the cuts.

If the schools have to suffer for a while, so be it. If city departments have to suck it up and work harder, so be it. These leaders should speak to their constituents and tell them we will get through it. They would get a lot more respect for that. Do they think Teddy Roosevelt would whine? George Washington? JFK? No. They were leaders who would guide their people through tough times without turning one against the other. What will they say to those who are retired and living on fixed incomes? They seem to have a lot of compassion for the poor living on our streets, yet no regard for the working poor, or the thousands who have worked all their lives, contributed tens and hundreds of thousands to their city in real estate taxes.

Richard Marsh


Legacy Comments9

and please don't forget the schools only got $1M...

Dear Neighbors, It breaks my heart to hear the anger in some of these posts. I supported the override not because I lack compassion for the working poor or because I am focused on status, living among the wealthy, and the value of my home, but because I received an excellent public school education and I believe that it is my responsibility to pay this gift forward to children in our community. My school's music program gave me a positive focus and outlet that helped me survive years of being severely bullied because I was disabled and poor, back in the days when bullying wasn't discouraged. Offering a full range of educational programs in our schools not only enriches but may even save young lives. Paying $13.04 per month to keep these programs in place (my house is assessed at $198,000 and the override cost is $0.79/$1,000 valuation) is a cost I will find a way to cover, even though I qualify as working poor. Young people in our community deserve the best we can offer them, even if we have to stretch ourselves to do it. Northampton's new tax rate of $15.05/$1,000 is still a bargain compared to Amherst's rate of $20.39/$1,000. And, since the 2010 override was a debt exclusion override, our tax rate rate will decrease once the cost for the new police station is paid.

Ah yes, the children, the children. I bought a house in 1997 that I could afford. Then came overrides, water/sewer increases, etc. Now, when I would like to retire, I can't. I've worked for forty years and I am trapped. I won't live to see our tax rate decrease --- and what makes you think it will? We will have another override in 2017. The mayor and the school committee have already said as much. Enough.

Thank you for your compassion and clarity. I am sure your thoughts are widely shared.

Excellent letter, Mr. Marsh - I agree with everything you wrote. To zjemi: The working poor cannot afford to live in Northampton anymore, so obviously most will not be sending their children to school here. You "voted yes for the working poor"? Yeah, right. You actually have increased that population by your vote, idiot.

They were leaders who would guide their people through tough times without turning one against the other. "Or Abe Lincoln!" Oh wait ...

I'm sorry you feel that way about sharing the expenses of this wonderful city. I think a lot of compassion is shown to the working poor who can send their kids to decent schools thanks to the override. The non-poor can send their kids to private schools if our public schools stink, but the working poor cannot. I voted "yes" for the working poor.

Your yes vote "for the working poor", was actually a big stab i the back of the working poor. Throughout this whole override mess, all I heard about was people voting "for the children" with total disregard for children whose parents cannot afford the override. Hard to believe, but some people are not poor enough for subsidies, and cannot afford all of life's necessities. Then there were the people who were hell bent on stressing the fact that there were layoffs in the schools. I guess those people forgot about the unemployed population in Northampton. Those who are struggling to stay in the homes they have built their lives in. Those who have invested so much in this city, but can barely afford to live here. Your yes vote didn't help these people in any way, shape or form. Stop kidding yourselves. Above every other topic mentioned in every debate on here, I heard one reoccurring theme: the value of our homes. The wealthy want to live in wealthy communities. You want your home worth as much as possible. Tell yourself you want good schools for the children, but we all can see, deep down inside, most of you voted yes to keep your home values up. It's a status thing. You want to be known as the people who live in "Paradise City." That you live among the wealthy. This city is quickly becoming polarized, and the more override votes we have, the more distant, and divided we are becoming. This is not a political thing. It's a socioeconomic thing.

Thanks for your honesty, compassion, and courage, Mr. Marsh. The world would be a better place with more like you.

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