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Election Guide: Community Preservation Act, Kennedy, LeBoeuf
And all the rest. Vote next Tuesday!
There’s an election coming up don’ cha know. It’s next Tuesday, Nov. 8, and admittedly it’s a bit of a snoozer. There are a couple important things on the ballot locally but nothing that reflects the central question of the national narrative: ‘Will things stay Just As Bad or Get Way Worse?’
For the city of Worcester, things could just get a little better! Or stay the same. I am not trying to scare you into voting with this post. There’s nothing of too pressing a concern. But it’s good to vote and there are a few significant potential outcomes. On that front, there are three things really to pay attention to: Robyn Kennedy in the State Senate, David LeBoeuf in the State Legislature and (once you turn to the second page of the ballot and flip it again) Question 5.
Everyone in Worcester will get to vote on Question 5 whereas the Kennedy and LeBoeuf races are only chosen by people in certain districts. This handy tool on the state website is probably the best way to figure out who it is you’re actually voting for. While the state senate and house districts are never made abundantly clear, this year the situation is even worse. All the lines were mixed up and turned around in a redistricting process back in 2020. You may not be in the district you think you are.
Also right off the bat I want to acknowledge that I’ve wrestled with this post for days because I really don’t think I have any novel observations or wider points to make here. I’ve also been experiencing a deep burnout the past couple weeks which has made writing difficult. I want to talk more about that, but we’ll save that for later in the post. For now, we’re going to go over Q5, Kennedy and LeBoeuf in some detail, then I’ll write just a little bit about the statewide races and questions, as most of those are either insignificant or no-brainers.
I think election guides are a good thing to provide. However, I’m not under the impression this is a particularly good election guide. Still, you may find something of use in it! And if you don’t that’s ok just go vote.
Question 5: Community Preservation Act
Vote “yes” on this question. Duh. Just vote yes. Disregard the rest of this explanation and know it’s just something that makes plain sense.
Should the “yes” vote pass, the city would adopt the Community Preservation Act, which is really just a pool for project funding that’s been around since 2000 but Worcester hasn’t been able to access because the reactionary know-nothing contingent and its hell-bent quest against any sort of tax increase has proved a sufficient enough barrier. This is a small group of people. The venn diagram between these people and the people who say racist shit in the local Facebook pages/groups is just a circle. They shouldn’t have the power to dictate what the city does or doesn’t do. The only reason why they’ve historically been able to on issues like the CPA is because no one else really bothers to pay attention. Also, the City Council’s Normative Six are either themselves a part of this group or else they’re deeply afraid of it.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “the Normative Six,” it’s a new framework I’m working on for understanding the failures of the Worcester City Council more deeply. I sketched the idea last Sunday then expanded on it last Friday.
If all goes according to plan, the municipal elections this time next year will be a referendum on these provincial creeps. Heck, passing the CPA would be a nice little foreshadowing of that referendum, because the Council has been a major barrier to its adoption. But OK, yeah, I hear what you’re saying: What the heck is the CPA and why should I care?
The CPA is just a pool of grant funding for projects that improve the city. The funding is administered by a local board and can be put toward parks, open space, preservation of historical buildings, improving accessibility and increasing the city’s stock of affordable housing.
The funds come from a small surcharge on property tax bills, and are matched by some sort of equation which I don’t understand from state revenue. Communities can set that charge as high as three percent. Question 5 would adopt the CPA at a 1.5 percent surcharge. There are all sorts of qualifiers as well. The first $100,000 of residential property value is exempt. Low -income households and low-to-moderate-income seniors are exempt. There are exemptions on the commercial side. I won’t bore you with what those are. The Yes on 5 group has a handy calculator to see how much you’ll be charged if at all for the CPA.
The Community Preservation Act has been around since 2000. It was the result of a decade of wonkery and the core problem it sought to address was communities who “no longer recognized themselves,” according to an organizational website dedicated to the act and its practices. The website cites a downtown in local funding in the 1980s, and attributes that absence to a post-WWII boom slowing down. I’m more inclined to credit what we might generally call “neo-liberalism” or “post-Reagan economics” than the war effort fading to history, but for the purpose of this explanation, that’s neither here nor there. Point is, municipalities were seeing the effects an unfettered free market was having on their communities, and sought a new pool of funding to redress those effects. This pool of money was enshrined into law for a few purposes: the preservation of open spaces (parks, farmland, woodland, swamps etc), the preservation of historic buildings, and the creation of affordable housing. The law was based on a local initiative in Nantucket, and was part of a general process of policy people around the state looking at it and going ‘hey that’s a neat idea.’ Now, it’s something every community can do if they so choose.
Is it a “new tax,” as the townie reactionaries allege? I mean... I guess. Sure. Not going to die on the hill that it isn’t. A “tax” and a “surcharge” are not meaningful distinctions to someone who has to pay the bill either way. But is this “new tax” cause for concern? Absolutely not. It is pennies on the dollar. A normal single-family house in Worcester might pay $50 more. If it’s a million dollar house it might be like $100. It’s not a big enough expense that renters need worry it’ll be factored into increases. The increases were already coming and this has no bearing on that. When you hear people yell and kick and scream about how the CPA is a “new tax,” consider that we’re talking about whole tens of dollars here. We’re talking double digit figures. What you’d spend on beers the next time Jimmy Buffett rolls through Indian Ranch.
Considering that like 80 of the pennies out of the metaphorical dollar you fork over to the government every year goes to maintaining a global military hegemony that emiserates everyone and cooks the planet, why not put like 0.0015 of those pennies toward a pool of funding which rehabilitates old buildings in your city and makes parks nicer and creates new housing stock regular people can afford. Why not! It’s a no-brainer and the people opposed to it simply have no brains.
I talked to Ajayi Harris, a member of the ballot committee pushing for a “yes” vote on Question 5, to get my facts straight on this whole CPA business.
“We are missing out,” he said at one point in our conversation, which is really the best way to think about it.
While we’ve been busy arguing whether it’s a tax or not, the CPA has put almost $3 billion into projects around the state, and all of that money is going to just half the cities and towns. Only 54 percent of municipalities have adopted the CPA and they’re like Daniel Day Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” drinking up our milkshake. We’re talking Wellesley and Wellfleet here. They drink it up! Meanwhile we’re a city that could sorely use it and yet we can’t get it because the CPA is not as easy to adopt here as it is in a town where everyone has a law degree. And there is a lot to be said about how, in Massachusetts especially, that’s basically by design. But the political culture of the state is not on the ballot, the CPA is, and it would behoove us to adopt it.
Here’s how Harris put it:
“We often don't have control over the city budget, but for this particular tax, there's a little bit more control, because you will know that it will be prioritized and need in these particular areas, like historic preservation, open space, parks and recreation,” he said. “This is your chance to have a voice and vote yes on it.
Yes on 5! Turn the second page of the ballot over!
Robyn Kennedy for First Worcester District State Senate
Worcester Sucks readers should be familiar with this race by now. I spent a whole lot of time and digital ink cataloging how Kennedy secured the Democratic Party nomination for this seat over Mayor Joe Petty. It was a remarkable victory and a testament to the energy and appetite for progressive politics here in the city. If you missed it, I wrote a monter of a post explaining it.
I feel pretty comfortable saying the hard part is over and Kennedy will safely coast into this seat.
She’s running against Berlin resident Lisa Mair who is listed as “unenrolled” on the ballot but is for all practical purposes a Republican. She’s also a practitioner of some sort of holistic health guru stuff I don’t understand.
She was quoted saying the following in a Telegram profile.
(Mair) also said that doctors were being suppressed for promoting certain off-label drugs as treatment for COVID-19. She said her own Facebook account was removed after sharing a study that stated chloroquine is a potent inhibitor for SARS-CoV-1.
"Doctors were being smeared and censored, also kicked off of social media, for sharing this kind of information and I found that very disturbing," Mair said.
Chloroquine is a Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but the agency has advised against its use for COVID-19.
You have a choice here between an ambitious progressive leader in Kennedy and a COVID truther in Mair. You know what to do. Kennedy in the First Worcester District, please.
David LeBouef for 17th Worcester District
David LeBouef has had a tough run of things of late. A high-profile DUI is surely not a fun thing to go through, and I’m not of a mind that we should put much stock in these sort of things when evaluating a candidate. However this opinion is not shared by everyone or even most people. For instance his opponent, Paul Fullen, has been a smarmy little creep about it. I’m not going to dignify the behavior with an explanation but if you got a mailer from him you know what I’m talking about. Fullen is just a hard-right weirdo who should be ignored.
Fullen recently made headlines by alleging that he personally saw some guys haul off ballots in trash bags from a polling location in 2020. And he said these totally real and not made up guys told him they were going to throw away the ballots with candidates on them they didn’t like. “So there you have it,” Fullen said. This has naturally triggered both a city and state investigation which has predictably yielded no evidence.
LeBouef has good politics and he’s taken the job seriously. He’s up against someone willing to say insane shit in public and run a mean-spirited campaign. Easy choice. LeBoeuf for the 17th Worcester District. Let’s keep Paul Fullen in the Telegram comments section.
The other stuff
For Governor: Maura Healey I guess? Or just leave it blank. The only good choice for this seat would have been Sonia Chang-Díaz and the state Democratic Party didn’t give us the opportunity to make that choice they figured that out for us.
Attorney General: Andrea Campbell over James McMahon.
Treasurer: Deb Goldberg
Auditor: No opinion or preference, frankly.
Congress: Jim McGovern. His opponent is a freak and should be ignored. McGovern is sure to win anyway. In fact just leave it blank. This is not a democratically elected position in any real way so why bother.
Governor’s Council: Paul DePalo.
Sheriff: It is very weird we have a democratically elected sheriff and I am not entirely sure why or what a sheriff actually does. It feels like something we don’t question because there’s never a pressing need to do so, but everyone just sort of intuitively understands it’s messed up. A way to siphon public money and fork it over people who wear Under Armor-brand polo shirts. So vote for the challenger David Fontaine I suppose? Just to see if it changes anything? Or blank.
Question 1: Yes. No brainer. Tax the rich.
Question 2: Yes. Anything that makes insurance companies feel the pain they inflict on people deserves a yes vote. I’m not sure this would really do that but it can’t hurt to try.
Question 3: Yes. In the parts of Europe I saw you can drink a beer wherever and whenever you want and it was fine. Folks, it’s time to normalize public drinking. For the good of the republic.
Question 4: Yes. It is insane we don’t already do this. I have witnessed the way small town cops routinely punish residents without legal status by way of driving without a license summons. Mundane cruelty for the sake of it. A yes vote is an effort to stop that cruelty.
And that’s all folks! Please go vote next Tuesday!
Thank you for reading Worcester Sucks!
I like what I do here a lot, but like I mentioned before, the burnout has been real lately. I tweeted yesterday asking for some suggestions on how to cope with that.
There are a lot of good suggestions in the thread. And while this is a good suggestion too I’m posting to say that it’s annoying that it really is that simple sometimes.
What do you do to deal with burnout?
We need to mobilize to Defend Cafe Neo. At all costs!
Seriously though this is so messed up. I’ll surely be watching on Nov. 17 when this comes up on the License Commission.
Ok, I’m off to Pennsylvania for the weekend. Where the recent stroke victim and the doctor from the TV are competing for the fate of the republic. Will report back in the event I learn anything interesting there.