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Northampton City Councilors Eugene Tacy, Pamela Schwartz spar over override

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Eugene Tacy, Ward 7
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Pamela Schwartz, Ward 4, waits for results at City Hall Tuesday.

NORTHAMPTON — A day after Ward 7 City Councilor Eugene A. Tacy took fellow councilor Pamela C. Schwartz to task for what he perceived as gloating over the passage of a Proposition 2½ override earlier this week, Schwartz called the unprovoked attack a “shocking” display of political grandstanding.

“It was just so beneath how we operate as a community and City Council,” Schwartz said Friday.

During a discussion about how the money generated by Tuesday’s passage of a $2.5 million override would be spent next fiscal year, Tacy held up a copy of Wednesday’s Daily Hampshire Gazette that featured a front-page picture of Schwartz, an outspoken override supporter who represents Ward 4, smiling and talking with a fellow supporter.

Tacy said proponents should not be gloating about an issue that has divided the city. He said a picture of people celebrating sends a message that “we have crushed the opposition.”

“My only suggestion would have been, in the media, rather than this ... it would have been something more along the lines of, ‘I understand this has created great hardships,’ ” Tacy said before being cut off by City Council President William H. Dwight.

Dwight said Tacy’s comments had veered off topic.

“First, we have no control over the media and we have no control of the way the media represents this,” Dwight said. “And in fact, it’s not germane or to the color of the issue we are discussing.”

When he tried to steer the discussion back toward the override’s effect on the city’s budget, Schwartz insisted on responding to Tacy’s attack. Because it was directed at her, Dwight allowed a brief rebuttal.

Schwartz said the picture, over which she had no control, had nothing to do with people who opposed the override.

“It had to do with absolute thrill that we preserved our basic services and our public education,” Schwartz said. “We are all in this together and that was pure joy and relief ... that’s what that emotion was all about.”

On Friday, Schwartz said she found it amazing that Tacy would make such comments “knowing full well” that she had repeatedly said publicly that property tax increases are not an ideal solution to the city’s financial problems.

“There isn’t animosity” between supporters of the override and its opponents, she said. “There is a desire for solidarity and mutual support.”

Tacy could not be reached Friday for comment.

Meanwhile, the council voted unanimously Thursday to approve the fiscal 2014 budget proposed by Mayor David J. Narkewicz, with Tacy reversing a previous no vote on the budget before the override passed.

I agree with Tacy. I found the picture rather distasteful, especially considering those of us who voted no didn't stand a chance. The only fair election would've been property owners only. How is it legal for renters in a community to have a voice in raising property owners' taxes? I'd like to see a breakdown of the number of renters who voted yes vs. the number of homeowners. Sure, if you own an income property, you might be able to deflect the tax increase by raising your tenant's rent. However, as a homeowner myself, I don't have that luxury. Instead, my taxes (and mortgage payment) will now increase to help fund an already ineffective local government. What a crock! I think there should definitely be a renters' surtax for those in this town. You want us (the property owners) to pay more for your services/kids in schools, well try contributing as well. How about a $200 fee for you each year? We'll see how quickly you vote yes then. If you're a renter and voted yes, and your rent doesn't increase, shame on you. You are freeloading off of everyone else.

If you don't think property tax increases or water and sewer fee increased don't get passed on to renters, you're kidding yourself. Landlords are in the business to make money, not to provide people with housing out of the goodness of their hearts. You also fail to realize that rents in Northampton are some of the highest in the Pioneer Valley.

I am starting to realize that if they had separated the override needs into two overrides (ok, this couldn't happen but let's just say "if") I highly doubt the non-school monies would have been passed. I have a feeling I am not the only person who knew this.

After reading the article last week about the school dept. meeting to discuss how to spend this new income after the overide, i was boilling with anger and resentment. I wonder how long and how many of these positions have been vacant. The assistant vice principle for JFK at $80,000 + sounded like they were trying to fill a position after a long vacancy. My question is if these positions have been unfulfilled for a few years, couldn't they have left them unfilled until some of the cities major projects, ie JFK renovations, Fire Station, been paid down and there is money to re fund these positions? Also why wasn't the cost to the city for Charter Schools announced. We are asking city residents to pay for children to go to private school, $10, 000 to $17,000 per year, when public education is avilable. I am a graduate of a private school and my family did not recieve any assistance for my education from the city. This is their choice and the families should be prepaired to except the financial burden and not put it on the city residents. The busing issue, my family has been paying for busing for a number of years, for my children. Did they not account for that in the budget, We pay betwen $300 and $400 for busing,per child, multiply that by the number of students, I think the cost would be covered. I do not think the residents were properly informed prior to the overide.

Plain and simple. The government is self-serving. They protect their jobs and their pensions. They operate under the guise of providing services of questionable value.

It's funny, I don't work for the city or state...but if I did and was told I could lose my job, but it's up the town to vote on it I would also do everything I could do to convince the voters. That would be my life, my family's life, food, shelter etc. It is a strange position to put your neighbors in. To empty your pockets a bit more for the sake of your neighbors...when you could use the same thing but there will never be a vote on your job/paycheck.

"A day after Ward 7 City Councilor Eugene A. Tacy took fellow councilor Pamela C. Schwartz to task for what he perceived as gloating over the passage of a Proposition 2½ override earlier this week, Schwartz called the unprovoked attack a “shocking” display of political grandstanding." GRANDSTANDING: seeking to attract applause or favorable attention from spectators or the media. Wasn't that the entire purpose of the whole YES campaign? Isn't it exactly what the YES campaign succeeded at? "“It was just so beneath how we operate as a community and City Council,” Schwartz said Friday." COMMUNITY: A group of people living together in one place, esp. one practicing common ownership: "a community of nuns; "all the people living in a particular area or place: "local communities." Who is "we?" A cloistered community of one mind? I think not. What’s entirely unreasonable to absurd is the notion that we all would or should be of the same mind. That is not progressive at all.

One correction. Please make that. "Wasn't that the purpose of the YES campaign? I" and not "entire purpose." Thank you.

I stand with all the people who were jubilant that the override passed, preserving city services and public education. We all know that an override is a last resort, and, that supporters of the override have worked hard to bring progressive tax reform to the state. Those efforts thus far have failed as did the governor's proposal to increase the income tax. Furthermore, the override passed by a wide majority. Lastly, to say one cannot express joy over a hard fought win with so much at stake is ridiculous.

And to say that you cannot expect some vigorous push-back from the sizable minority who are seriously affected by the impact of this very regressive tax is even more ridiculous. You don't seem to understand that many residents have been very hard-pressed to pay their rapidly increasing bills of the past few years. The substantial fund-raising of the Yes! Northampton group and their jubilation at their victory does not sit well with people who have little money and not much of a voice. Neither now nor for the future.

This was not the last resort, this was a copout to burden tax payers in lieu of re-assessing Smith College's tax exemption status, in lieu of addressing the drain the charter schools put on tax payers, in lieu of looking at ways to cut the wants and not the needs in such difficult economic times. They even chose to put money away for their rainy day fund (stabilization budget), but ignored the pleas of those who are unable to do that in their own personal lives. What this override showed that nearly 1/2 of Northampton could not afford the extra burden of another tax increase. Yet, shallow are some who do not walk in their shoes and forced it on them. Bottom line, yes the override passed, and in a few more years again the City will ask again for another, because that is their trend; to put a temporary fix on a permanent problem, with such lack of leadership. The Yes campaign and Mayor ignored the plights of the so many who could not and still cannot afford it, and put an unfair hardship on many, many families, yes the children of these families too. Shameful is what it was.

You can also apply to have your house re-evaluated if you think you are over assessed. This can lower your taxes significantly. Its a very easy process as well. I always find that the rich neiborhoods, which most likely voted for the override in higher proportions because they have more disposible income, have lower assessed values than the value of the house when its sold. Just follow it in the gazette in the real estate sold section. The final sales price on more expensive houses is higher than the assessed price which is the basis of their taxes (IE. they are not paying the taxes they shoud). If all the people who voted NO appeal their tax assessment and the city lowers the value of their houses then its the rich YES voters who will pay more of their fair share of the override. For example - a quick google search of the mayor brings up an address on S Park. That house is assessed at 265,000 yet Trulia has an estimated value of 353,000 so he's paying taxes on 90,000 less than he should. The NO voters should call the tax assessor and ask to get the same great deal as the mayor.

So what else is new? The assessments in this city are based on who you are - been going on for years. Take the time and go through the assessment list and it is quite surprising - but don't try to do anything about it 'cause they don't listen. Another point - did assessments ever go down when the value of homes dropped? Ours certainly didn't.

“There isn’t animosity” between supporters of the override and its opponents, she said. “There is a desire for solidarity and mutual support.” Pamela Schwartz is living on a different plane of reality than many of us here in Northampton. Tacy is completely correct in his protest - that picture on the front page of the Gazette actually made me feel nauseous. Such gloating jubilation is totally inappropriate when this override represents such a hardship for many city residents. Shame on Dwight: "...it’s not germane or to the color of the issue we are discussing.” 'The color of the issue...'? Flowery language, indeed. Shutting Tacy off (which he knew would happen) is simply gagging the voices that no one wants to hear - our voices, the voices of the working class.

We who voted for the override are sorry that you feel animosity toward us.

And that's like saying that you're sorry that someone's offended by your comments. A cop-out.

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