21 thoughts on “LETTER: Resident Concerned With Incivility of Debate Over the CPA

  1. Get off your high horse … this a political campaign.

    Sure if it a try… why not give special interest $2.2 million a year for 5 years at least.

    Are you going to guarantee us they don’t issue bonds, saddling us with the surtax for 20 years. You know the Turnpike Authority reissued bonds to stay in order to keep the tolls.

    So let’s, say we can get rid of this in 5 years. Will the proponents agree to pay tax to pay back the the $6 million to the rest of the Community?

    $6 million is an awful lot to spend on experiment. That’s exactly the problem with the CPA… The proponents refuse to tell us EXACTLY how they will spend the money.

  2. John, I have not been on a high horse, but you have been making your arguments from the gutter.

    You have made arguments that are largely unsubstantiated and that have tortured logic. You have slandered and attacked good neighbors of ours who want the best for our town. You have tried to sow mistrust of each other in the hearts of Watertown residents. You have used scare tactics rather than reason to support your cause.

    You may think that this is the stuff of political campaigns, but I–and I believe majority of our neighbors–disagree. I believe that the majority of Watertown residents will consult their reason and ignore your vicious mud slinging.

  3. Thank you for speaking out about the tone of this debate. As a relatively new resident and homeowner I’ve become extremely disappointed in the way it has been going back and forth at this news site and on social media. Not knowing the “players” I don’t know who the real spokespersons are and who is a passionate supporter. This means every time I read an opinion it becomes the official position.

    Additionally, I can only read the same reasons that include blame or accusations of fear and/or subterfuge. We can state our positions without making the other side out to be uneducated jerks who want to ruin the city.

    This language has completely muddied the debate and made me generally much less likely to participate in civic discourse. For the record, I have a strong feeling about this issue but I no longer feel comfortable sharing it. Is everyone happy now? Please do us all a favor and say no more. Just put up lawn signs or hold them quitely at the polls.

    • I also hope that we can decide issues on the basis of pertinent information–which has been sadly incomplete–rather than personal attacks, wacky conspiracy theories and the like. Give us more facts–facts that are confirmed, not someone’s conjecture.

  4. I agree, WSS has been harshly attacked by the Invest in Watertown members on many different forums. The good people of WSS have only taken high ground and not gotten nasty, just put out their concerns with facts. This is not just one sided!!! I’m not sure why a full discussion on the pro/con’s was not done on the Watertown Cable network. From what I’ve read, the Invest in Watertown folks declined while the WSS and Concerned Homeowners group did attend and made their case. If there is to be respectful dialog, it needs to be done on both sides and transparent. There was no education process or multiple debates provided for pro/con. This is where our system has failed.

    • Really? I have not seen the kind of vitriol out of the Yes folks that I have seen from the No folk. But I don’t do social media. In the Watertown MA News, most of the attacks have come from the no direction. No one stood up in Town Council and demanded investigation and censure of good folks who volunteer their time to the town. No one has called for Concerned Homeowners heads to roll over their campaign finance issues. So I think you are making a false equivalence.

      I think that there should have been more independent journalism about verifiable facts about CPA and other towns experiences with it. At the end of the day, I want researched journalism, not claims of either side.

      • Please read my statement again. I stated: “WSS has been harshly attacked by the Invest in Watertown members on many different forums. The good people of WSS have only taken high ground and not gotten nasty, just put out their concerns with facts.” I then go on to say: “This is not just one sided!!!” which implies both sides have had infractions(though not from WSS members that I’ve seen) This has been ongoing on many social media sights. Please join some Social media sights so that you can understand both sides(and get a full picture). Many people on Social media do not comment here. Though I do understand the reluctance to join them(social media) given the nature of many comments! I would have liked to have seen more respectful pro/con debates over the course of the past 5-6 months which would have educated the population of Watertown. Possibly this would have turned the conversation on both sides more respectful and tolerant.

        • You claim that “WSS has been harshly attacked by the Invest in Watertown members on many different forums”, but do you have any examples of these harsh attacks? I have my doubts that you do.

          • One was taken down in Nextdoor Watertown and another was edited and reposted(two examples to start with both condescending) …I certainly could name names but will not as a sense of decency.

          • Joe,

            Here’s a paraphase of the comment made by the Invest in Watertown pulled from a FB page – that is characterized by Elodia Thomas and Julie Cotton as a harsh attack.

            “One supporter of the CPA tax has written an article on another website saying that the WSS leadership made an ill considered decision by aligning themselves with an anti-tax group, and is urging them to take down their eye catching Blue and Yellow signs that say “VOTE NO ON QUESTION 5″. ”

            Does that sound like a harsh attack to you? Or is it an attempt by Julie and Elodia to play the victim to demonize a group that wants to preserve Watertown?

          • Doesn’t seem untoward to me. As I have said, I have yet to see anything from the pro-CPA side that matches the negativity of the “no” side. But please show me examples if they exist. Otherwise one must conclude that charges of slander are a ploy to gain sympathy.

          • I have heard of multiple people from both sides being called names and even yelled at on the street. The people may not have been from the official campaign but certainly supported on each side or the other.

    • Charlie,
      Thanks for jumping in. There are examples as you state on both sides of the issue(though as I have stated not one that I have seen from the WSS crew). You all need to be on Social Media(FB and Nextdoor minimally) to see the back and forth. I personally will not air distasteful comments on this site to embarrass those who have made a mistake(IMO) even if I disagree with what they did and their stance on an issue. Their mistakes are out in the FB and Nextdoor(though some have actually taken them down(good for them) if you want to search through all the drudgery!

  5. Here’s the WSS version of “Respectful Dialog”

    Here’s what your friend John DiMascio wrote to SC Member Candace Miller on the public WRSS facebook page:

    “After hearing of your support of this latest attempt by Watertown Radicals to rape taxpayers of their money, you can be sure I will never support you again,”

    Members of Watertown Strong Schools support these kinds of posts. Disgusting.

    • Mr. DiMascio also made disgraceful remarks to Councillors Dushku and Falkoff, as well as many others.

      Again, most of the vitriol that I have seen has come from the “no” side. Also a lot of careless argumentation. I hope that everyone will take a deep breath and calm down. This is supposed to be an adult debate, not a playground fight.

    • FYI John DiMascio, for the record is not part of WSS. Please do your homework before making statements in general for a group. There have been nasty comments on both sides but not from the WSS folks. Please point to one of the WSS members that have had nasty comments. The list is on their website from what I remember.

  6. Dear Watertown Friends & Neighbors,

    Please, please let’s stop with the invective remarks towards Watertown Strong Schools (WSS). I support their position given all the school and town meetings I have attended re: population growth, school conditions, master facilities planning and many discussions with a cross-section of fellow residents.

    This is the United States of America. People are allowed to hold different opinions on issues. They are allowed to present information, answer questions and concerns, and post contact info for follow-up. WSS has done this consistently, respectfully, and promptly. And, there has not been one personal attack or one word of trash talk coming from WSS. It’s a very sad state of affairs when some people need to diminish the efforts of a group of concerned parents and citizens and then, also act to publically and personally disparage them. WSS has consistently turned the other cheek. Why? Because it is all about the education of Watertown’s children – their future – and thereby Watertown’s future and our country’s future.

    I am very familiar with the pro-CPA Question 5 side supporters having followed their renewed efforts since early 2015. Let me ask you all a few questions. If your Town Councilor is listed as a supporter of the CPA did he or she explain the CPA to you personally, hold a neighborhood or community meeting to solicit your thoughts pro or con on this tax surcharge? Did you get any specifics regarding potential projects and how they might benefit your neighborhood, your district, or our town? Did they ask you if you wanted to go for a 1, 2, or 3% surcharge? Did you see any answers to the specific questions that were posted on various social media sites? Does their position represent your interests? Did you elect them as your “leader” or as your “representative”? Please think hard on all these questions. Also think about the numerous mailings/flyers you received touting all the benefits that the 2% tax surcharge and the state distribution will pay for. Is this good public process?

    So again, I ask do you fully understand the ramifications of the CPA tax surcharge? If you cannot answer these questions affirmatively, please Vote No, and then demand further information from your Town Councilors. And please know that they can put this on the ballot again, down the road, by a simple majority vote. In the meantime, let it be part of their job to educate and discuss this initiative with all of the community. And as a great benefit to the sponsors, they won’t have to raise so much outside money to try to push this initiative through as a slam dunk as we’ll be informed.

    Given all the info I’ve reviewed and the questions I’ve asked, I firmly come down on the side of the “Schools First” position and I am therefore Voting No. Why? A debt exclusion override looms in our future. A debt exclusion is a time-limited tax for a specific purpose, in this case our schools. The Watertown Public Schools (WPS) will have a series of community-wide meetings coming up after the 1st of the year to discuss the Master Facilities report for all 5 of our old schools, to solicit your input, your questions, and your concerns and to discuss how we want to go forward, at what cost, starting when. You’ll know exactly what you are voting for and why. Will we all agree? Come on, that would be a miracle. But, we’ll all be informed to go forward. That’s good public process in my book.

    If anyone has any questions or concerns regarding Question 5 feel free to call me at 617-926-3952.

    Warm Regards,

    Elodia Thomas

    • Elodia, please point me to specific examples of the invective against WSS. So far, I haven’t seen it. But I would be interested in seeing the negativity on that side.

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