LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Sanctuary State Bill is ‘Political Stunt’

State Senate Bill #1305 would make our Commonwealth a Sanctuary State for undocumented immigrants.  It would prohibit police officers from engaging in immigration enforcement, from sharing immigration information with Federal officials and require that our officers block Federal officials from conducting interviews with immigrant detainees.

The bill attempts to address the concerns of undocumented immigrants living in Massachusetts, who are apprehensive about their vulnerability arising from possible federal immigration action.  While the horrendous state of our immigration system must be addressed, this bill compromises our homeland security.

The bill would impose a ban on state participation in any immigration enforcement run in concert with federal authorities.  It would eliminate the state’s ability to participate in the Joint Terrorism Task Force and Fusion center set up following Sept. 11. These invaluable partnerships with the Federal government, have led to the interdiction of numerous terrorist acts in Massachusetts.  The sharing of immigration information and the right to detain suspected terrorist and gang members on immigration violations is a pre-emptive capability that would be lost.

State law enforcement officers would face an ethical conflict if this bill were to pass stemming from their oath of office.   They swear to defend both the US and State Constitution.   Provisions which require our police to block interviews between federal immigration authorities and undocumented  individuals would obstruct the enforcement of federal law.  This interposition is unconstitutional.

The bill would grant fourth amendment protection to the undocumented, a measure that exceeds the Commonwealth’s constitutional authority.  In so doing, the rights of American citizens living in the state would be infringed.  This restriction, would weaken immigration enforcement efforts  in Massachusetts making the state vulnerable to charges that it is violating the equal protection clause (14th Amendment) of our Constitution. All U.S. citizens are entitled to the equal protection of federal law.

The ultimate and most dangerous effect of this bill would be the creation of a safe haven for the nefarious. The bill’s protections would attract an assortment of  individuals to this state, many bent on doing us harm either through terrorism or criminal activity. This bill was ill-conceived at the outset.  It is a dangerous political stunt and should be rejected by our legislature and any rational American citizen. — Dennis Galvin, Concord Road

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is a retired Major, Massachusetts State Police, and the former director of Security for the Executive Office of Transportation in Massachusetts.)

NO OVERRIDE NEEDED FOR TEACHERS’ SALARY ADJUSTMENTS!

No Override Needed to Give Teachers a Raise

By: Submitted Content | 4 hours ago

Editor’s note: This letter, which arrived by the deadline date of April 26, was inadvertently overlooked by the editor. Out of fairness to the author, it was published today, May 1.

Do we need an override — a permanent increase in our taxes — to increase teachers’ salaries? Let’s do the math. The funds are already there, which would allow the School Committee to bargain, in good faith, meeting their goals, while negotiating fairly in a fiscally responsible manner.

Every year the tax levy increases by 2 1/2 percent as a starting point for budgeting purposes. The base assumption is that all property taxes will increase to the maximum allowed by law. In reality, this doesn’t happen due to additional tax collected from new growth, and the 6-month offset in applying the new tax rate to properties. The effective tax rate has been less than 2,5 percent for several years.

Even though the effective tax rate is below 2.5 percent, we still have had a lot of free cash. Free cash is an amount of collected tax revenue that is unspent or unencumbered. Every department, including schools, has returned budgeted, but unneeded, operating funds. From a taxpayer’s perspective, this is unwarranted, as more is collected than used in one year.  From a financial perspective, this is prudent to avoid creating a structural deficit. The key is to find the balancing point between these opposing views. The budget assumption that strikes the balance is 5 percent in free cash and stabilization reserves.

The fiscal 2018 budget estimates 6.63 percent in reserves or $1,683,365 over the 5 percent minimum recommended reserve. This amount is after using $1.8 million in free cash for capital spending and bonding another $1.8 million for capital purchases. Confidence to bond means there is reliable, future cash flow, free cash. Is it a coincidence that the additional amount to our reserve is nearly the exact amount requested by the School Committee? Knowing the levy will never decrease, will increase by 2.5 percent every year, and departments are over-budgeted (or at least capable of realizing savings), a substantial amount of free cash has been available at the end of the fiscal year. It looks like teachers could have raises with or without a successful override vote.

When you do the math, you see that Westford CAN afford to pay teacher raises WITHOUT an override. It’s a win-win. Teachers get paid more and taxpayers don’t get another hike in their taxes. So when you read the back-of-the-ballot Question Number 1, “Shall the Town of Westford be allowed to assess an additional one million six hundred thousand dollars in real estate and personal property taxes for the purpose of supplementing the amount appropriated for the operation of the Westford Public Schools?,” VOTE NO; it’s already there! — Carolyn Ricciardi, Russell’s Way

http://www.westfordcatnews.org/2017/05/no-override-needed-to-give-teachers-a-raise/

Lowell Sun Supports a ‘No Override’ Vote

EDITORIAL: Westford election offers fresh change

The Lowell Sun

Updated:   05/01/2017 07:28:31 AM EDT

No matter which candidates win in Westford’s municipal election, one thing is for certain: The town will undergo a major transformation of new faces, voices and perspectives in local government.

The Tuesday, May 2 election is guaranteed to result in the election of two new members to the Board of Selectmen and School Committee, respectively.

It’s a positive sign that residents see the value and importance of running for local office. Now it’s up to voters to turn out and make the choices that will benefit the town.

Westford is hitting its stride and also feeling the growing pains.

It’s seen a great deal of economic growth over the past five years, fueled by commercial and residential building projects. Still, the question remains: Is Westford losing its smalltown feel and rural character? Is it growing too fast? And where is the additional tax revenue from new growth being spent?

Westford is a very desirable community with some looming challenges.

It’s difficult to understand that despite the economic vigor and prosperity, the School Committee is seeking an operations override of $1.6 million to fund negotiated wage increases for teachers’ salaries.

Whether teachers deserve a pay raise is not the issue in The Sun’s view.

Our main concern is the funding mechanism being used to achieve it. Utilizing an override vote to fund salary increases is bad policy and sets a bad precedent.

The obvious consequence is that it opens the door to similar requests from other collective bargaining units. What’s not so obvious, however, is that it creates a crutch for town officials who are expected to practice sound budgeting principles and plan accordingly for contractual obligations.

Override supporters say Westford teachers’ salaries are below the regional norm, and the funding will help close the gap and serve to retain quality staff.

So what happens when the next contract is due?

Shoving $1.6 million down the taxpayers’ throat is hard to swallow. The Sun rejects the override and urges voters to do the same.

* In the Board of Selectmen’s race, The Sun endorses Dennis Galvin and Elizabeth Almeida in a three-way race for the two vacant seats available.

Galvin is a consummate professional in all he does, has effectively served on the Planning Board, and is an ardent promoter of government transparency.

Almeida is a newcomer to politics and offers a fresh, positive outlook. She’s built a wealth of admirers for her civic engagement and visionary work at Fat Moon Farms.

* Voters also will select two new School Committee members among three candidates. The Sun endorses Megan Eckroth and Gloria Miller. They have made strong points about enhancing the system’s top-flight science and technology programs, improving district communications with parents, and holding down class sizes.

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/opinion/ci_30957898/westford-election-offers-fresh-change#ixzz4fsbD0LJH

 

WRTC Makes Case For Prudent Fiscal Responsibility

As an organization who believes in Fiscal Responsibility, Government Transparency and Honesty in applying the mandated and proven processes for Westford, and since it is bad for Westford, we must urge the Westford voters to defeat the 2 1/2 Override on 2 May 2017.

Approval of the Override would be bad for Westford – The School Committee created a misleading drive resulting in the Override ballot question to reward our school’s teachers with a significant raise that breaches the 2018 and beyond budget thresholds causing a significant increase in property owner’s taxes forever and ignores the process for securing raises by public employees.  The Town Meeting resulted in a heavily recruited, biased approval that was subsequently agreed by the Selectmen to place the Override question on the 2 May ballot.

The Override proponents established a pro-teacher website that includes School Committee members that implies the School Committee, who is elected to represent the Westford citizens is not working in behalf of its voters who elected them, but rather, the Teachers Union. In this Override they are subverting objective negotiations under the established collective bargaining process.  Despite the proponent’s alleged myth-bashing, the Override provides precedence for other Town employees to use similar tactics to increase their pay AND RAISE OUR TAXES!  It also lacks transparency by shielding the Westford citizens from insight into the internal working of the salary processes and bypasses the Town’s budget and collective bargaining processes.

If you ask “What is Good for Our Schools”, it’s NOT the Override – it’s the normal process that allows the Superintendent together with the School Committee’s input to establish a comprehensive budget without creating a tax increase that includes all school employees whose individual salaries are determined by collective bargaining within the confines of the school budget and established salary tables.  The product – our students’ future – is already successful because our school ratings are among the highest in the Commonwealth – Let’s keep our schools at the top without raising taxes or compromising our principles.

It is time for the voters of Westford to stand up against the continued subversion of our processes and lack of transparency by using tactics that raise our taxes and cause us all to be suspicious of the leaders and committees who we elect to represent us! VOTE NO on the  May 2nd ballot Override.

Political Correctness or Speech Suppression?

the-first-amendment-protects-offensive-speech

The following was contributed by WRTC Member, Kathy Lynch.

The founding document that codifies our free country is the Constitution of the United States of America.  It is what all of our elected government officials take an oath to protect.  The first ten Amendments to the Constitution (i.e., Bill of Rights), confirm the fundamental rights of American citizens.  Amendment 1 reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” I’ll focus on the emphasized text above regarding speech and press.

Are you concerned that what you say may not be considered “politically correct”?  Will what you say be deemed “racist”, “homophobic”, sexist”, “Islamophobic”?  If you answered “yes” then you are experiencing speech suppression — exactly what the First Amendment was written to protect you from.  Essentially, political correctness squelches freedom.  It is a weapon of oppression used by those in power who wish to control the narrative.  Political correctness promotes what author, George Orwell, called “groupthink.”  As long as you go along with what the majority thinks, you are “right” and safe from persecution.

Controlling speech by name-calling, or otherwise persecuting the minority, discourages diversity of thought — a hallmark of our culture that has contributed to a free citizenry.  Controlling speech shuts down attempts at rational discourse.  Let’s hold firm to the First Amendment.  What’s more, let us elect a candidate in November who understands the principles of the First Amendment as essential to a free and exceptional country.

Just Say “No” To Legalizing Recreational Marijuana In Massachusetts

The Westford Republican Town Committee opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana as proposed in the “Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, known as Question 4 on the November 8, 2016, ballot in Massachusetts as an indirect initiated state statute.” The statute, if passed, would go to the legislature for final action.  A “yes” vote supports this proposal to legalize marijuana, but regulate it similar to alcoholic beverages. A “no” vote opposes this proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, keeping only medical marijuana legal.

The WRTC views this proposal negatively based on the potential for wide-spread marijuana use leading to proven brain impairment and development in our youth, the lack of proven means or standards for impaired vehicle operation, the potential as a gateway to more serious addictive drugs, and the blatant contradiction to the Federal laws that prohibit the sale and use of marijuana.

 Vote “NO” on State Ballot Question 4 – NO to Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

 

Charter School Expansion: Vote “Yes” For The Future Of Massachusetts Students

The Westford Republican Town Committee supports Ballot Question 2, Charter School Expansion. Westford has one of the highest-quality and lowest-per-pupil-cost public school systems in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but it is not so in other systems statewide.

Education is of the utmost importance to the success of our children. School choice – whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits – is important for all children, especially for families with children trapped in failing schools. Getting students into decent learning environments and helping them to realize their full potential is one of the greatest civil rights challenges of our time. Public charter schools offer parents a choice to provide the best education for their children.

By virtue of their charter, these public charter schools are a covenant between educators, parents and students in which all are accountable for performance. Charter schools are a public education system based on personal responsibility. A student’s educational opportunities depend on their talent and motivation as a student, and not where they live or their income level. When traditional school systems fail, charter schools give children a chance to succeed.

Students educated in charter schools do not cost taxpayers one penny more than the traditional public school system. Taxpayers still have a say in how much they wish to spend on education and student enrollment in charter schools does not result in an additional tax burden. What’s more, it doesn’t require additional state funding.

Vote “YES” on State Ballot Question 2 – YES to Charter School Expansion.

 

As Summer Slips Away, We Remember the WRTC’s Annual Summertime Picnic

Happy-Labor-Day

Happy Labor Day from the Westford Republican Town Committee (WRTC)!  Did you know that the first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882?  It is now a nationwide holiday that recognizes the social and economic contributions of the American worker (oh, and Canada celebrates its own version of “Labour Day”, too).   Labor Day weekend is the last holiday weekend of the summer.  When the weather cooperates, it’s a great time for family gatherings, trips to ocean or lakeside beaches, lounging by backyard swimming pools and enjoying BBQs and picnics.  Today, the WRTC is reflecting on our own summertime picnic that took place on August 7.

Food, fun and patriotism were on the menu when folks gathered for the picnic at the home of Buzz and Dawn Gillogly in Westford.  Adults and children were welcomed to this special event which carried the “Keep Cool with Coolidge” theme, in recognition of the 30th President of the United States, Republican Calvin Coolidge.  The event was open, not just to those from the town of Westford, but from neighboring communities, as well.  We were pleased to be joined by some students from the Groton-Dunstable Regional High School Republican Club (which got us thinking – shouldn’t there be a similar Republican Club at Westford Academy?).

The weather could not have been nicer for this late-day gathering which was kicked off by WRTC Chairman, Wade Fox, with inspiring remarks about America’s Founding Fathers.  He introduced notable guests which included:  Westford Selectman, Scott Hazelton, and local candidates, Ann Wofford (running for Congress), Kamara Kay (running for State Representative), and Rich Baker (running for Governor’s Council).  Before making a mad dash for the food, picnic attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer was offered.

When appetites were sated with hamburgers, hotdogs, and additional customary picnic fare, MA Republican State Committeeman, Dennis Galvin, enthusiastically introduced special guest speaker, MA State Representative (Republican), Jim Lyons (Andover, MA). Representative Lyons delivered a well-received speech that spoke of the need for Republicans to boldly stand up for their beliefs.  Additionally, he encouraged everyone to get involved with the citizen’s petition to repeal the Bathroom Bill.

Jim Lyons speaking 2

MA State Representative (Republican) Jim Lyons (Andover, MA); background:  MA Republican State Committeeman, Dennis Galvin

There were lawn games and a Calvin Coolidge trivia game featuring prizes for trivia experts.  Attendees also enjoyed an impromptu demonstration of Tai Chi offered by Jay Villagomez, Groton-Dunstable Regional High School teacher (AP Government, World and US History, International Business and Economics), and students from the school’s Republican Club.  During the demonstration, Villagomez explained how he teaches the principles of the Declaration of Independence through this Chinese martial art.

Many members of the WRTC worked hard to coordinate the picnic and were so pleased that this year’s event attracted the largest number of attendees in the picnic’s three year history.  We’re already looking ahead to next year when we hope to welcome back those that attended this year, as well as many new friends from Westford and surrounding towns.  If you were able to attend this year’s picnic, we hope you had a great time.  Perhaps you might consider becoming a WRTC member yourself.  If interested, contact Wade Fox, WRTC Chairman at:  wadefoxjr@aol.com.

Have a safe and happy Labor Day!

“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.”  — Calvin Coolidge

Cal Thomas commentary: Moral weakness at heart of nation’s descent

In 1926, speaking about the Declaration of Independence on its 150th anniversary, President Calvin Coolidge noted the unique philosophy behind the creation of the United States: “We cannot continue to enjoy the result, if we neglect and abandon the cause.”

Speaking at a news conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following the murder of three police officers and the wounding of three others, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said, “…this is not so much about gun control as it is about what’s in men’s hearts. And until we come together as a nation, as a people, to heal as a people, if we don’t do that and this madness continues, we will surely perish as a people.” Considering the anti-police rhetoric coming from so many groups and individuals, he is right. The question is how do we heal men’s hearts? Isn’t that the primary calling of the clergy?

Since the 1960s when one of the popular slogans of that rebellious generation was “question authority,” the United States has plunged into an era of licentiousness, looking out for No. 1 (a popular book title in the ’70s) and the pursuit of prosperity, ignoring higher things like tradition and history, which have proved better for individuals and nations.

The divisions have become so strained that some are at war against law enforcement, which, if it doesn’t cease, will end in anarchy.

Donald Trump has positioned himself as “the law and order” candidate. The left may be playing into his hands, as did those in 1968 who rioted in the streets and at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, sealing the election for Richard Nixon.

When it comes to national defense and domestic unrest, Republicans have been the preferred party to strengthen the country and restore domestic tranquility. But people looking for guidance on how to restore a sense of personal peace and order need look no further than the Bible, the guidebook found in many homes and in most hotel rooms.

One doesn’t have to endure a sermon — if that is unfamiliar territory — to be struck by the power of ancient truths. Start with Psalm 9:17, “The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.”

How about this one: “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.” (Proverbs 29:18)

One more to confirm the point: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)

The nation is groaning. One doesn’t have to be religious to understand the principle of cause and effect. If you jump off a tall building the cause of your rapid descent — gravity — will produce the effect of your death when you hit the ground.

In our post-modern, post-Christian era, we have ignored the moral gravity that once kept us grounded, the boundaries that kept us safe. And now we are suffering the consequences.

We are suffering as a people because we have neglected and abandoned the cause of our strength, peace, order and prosperity. There is a way back, but the road is not through the next election and it certainly is not through Washington, which is part of the problem.

In “The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956,” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, wrote: “If only it were all so simple. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

It doesn’t have to be destroyed. It can be renewed, but that is up to our individual will and a higher power which politicians do not possess.

Cal Thomas writes for Tribune Content Agency.

tcaeditors@tribpub.com