City Councilor David Flaherty Responds to Our Essay About His Insincerity

- Many people want an override option. What's wrong with giving them the taxpayers a right to vote on how their money is spent? Schools are very important. They've lost or not received about $2 million in federal and state funds. The city can't cover the gap. The money has to come from somewhere.

You obviously missed the whole point of the essay.

No one here is opposed to having Proposition 2 1/2 vote. We're opposed to how you are using it to pit the schools department against the others. We're opposed to how you are setting it up for failure. The budget shortfalls were not caused by the school department. So why are you making the debate about the schools?

Will you please go back and read the essay and understand its major points?


- Labor and benefit costs are the biggest problem, not only in schools but in other departments as well. We have to find a way to slow the growth rates (Note: slow growth is still growth - not cuts).

No, the biggest problem is a sudden decline in tax revenue from state and federal funding and Proposition 2 1/2 which has handcuffed us. Again, did you read the essay?


- City Council received the school  budget the day before our meeting with the school department, we had a good meeting with the school department, and the following day I put the Prop 2 1/2 Override motion on the council agenda. I didn't hold anything to the last minute - I responded in less than 24 hours.

The vote does not have to be this November. Nor does it have to be about the school department.


- Regarding using the grants to pay for labor... I didn't imply there was anything legally wrong with it. I made a comment that we all knew the money wouldn't last and that it would only defer the inevitable hard choices. 

Here's a transcription of what you said at the City Council meeting regarding the ARA grants:

"When [the city] took the ARA grants we did ask [the school department] about that saying, 'What are you taking the grant money for?' and 'How are you going to spend it?' and 'We wouldn't recommend using it for operating expenses,' well, that's what it got used for, operating expenses."

That sure sounds like to us you are blaming them for spending the money on operating expenses when, in fact, it was a condition of the grant. If that was not your intention please state so for the record.


- Your author should look up the difference between levy limit and levy ceiling - they are not the same.

We understand they are not they same but they look like they are used properly here.  Would you please point out how you think they were used incorrectly in the essay?


- Your friends on savetheschoools should try to balance the school budget for the next two years and post it online. Their answer seems to be: employees are entitled to more money, so let's raise taxes. If that's the case, a succesfull prop 2 1/2 override is the answer. 

Again, go back and read the essay. This isn't about being against a Prop. 2 1/2 override. This is about you using it as weapon to divide and conquer. We hate to repeat ourselves but please go reread the essay look for where it talks about what the Town of Arlington did because their approach sounds much better than your idea to make the schools a focus.


Note: even with little or no increases in labor costs, the schools will likely be $2-3 million short next year. Also note: the school department promised the city council $1 million in savings per year when the new school opens. We counted on that money to justify the annual bond payments for the school. 

Here again, you want to make this about the school department. And again, we'll repeat "the schools are not the cause of our problems. Larger systemic problems with how the city gets revenue itself is the problem."