Election day is coming -- Wednesday April 27 -- and the rhetoric and all the stuff I hate about the process is in full swing. Signs on lawns. PR pieces in the newspaper. Blog posts with their anonymous comments and unique "spin" on facts. I've always been up front about my lack of political savvy. I don't play the games and I just try to call it like it is. There's really not a lot I can do to change some people's minds, once they've got certain ideas stuck there.
It's frustrating (and sort of funny, if it weren't so serious) to see myself portrayed as "the establishment." I have spent the past three years feeling like the outsider on the BOE. Many of the things that frustrated me before I was elected still cause me to bang my head on my desk -- even more -- today. The answers or solutions were not as easy as they looked from the outside. And they're not always easy to explain to others.
I am still the first to agree that the Board needs more openness and transparency. I've been working on it for three years. Not everyone on the BOE or in the administration agrees with me. We have improved, but not enough. It is like turning an aircraft carrier, the culture is so ingrained and the bureaucracy is so entrenched, that one board member can only impact so much. I will keep working on it -- I know it can get better. In the meantime, I've tried to fill some of the gaps with my own personal communication via this blog, even though it's a bit of a minefield to navigate the boundaries of free speech, confidentiality and "appropriate" Board member behavior.
As for the budget (tax levy) you're being asked to approve on Wednesday -- we have kept spending flat in all areas except health care, and that is contractual so there is nothing we can do about it with this budget. (In fact, if it weren't for the health premium increase, the budget would be going down $75,000.) We are working on the next contract now and the entire Board is well aware that salaries/benefits -- especially health insurance -- cannot remain as is. We simply cannot afford it. The system cannot support it.
I'm still hoping my serious commitment to these issues -- and others, as I've described before -- will convince enough voters to return me for three more years on the Board. I'm still the "new" member. I'm still the one on the Board who has not been part of the establishment for years and years. There is a lot more I can do and I'm willing to keep working.
I chose not to raise a bunch of money and pay for expensive signs (the ones you see now are all those that I saved from three years ago), postcard mailings, etc., because I felt I couldn't ask people to spend money on that stuff in this economy. I'm still silly enough to believe that elections should not be about who has more signs, who had more coffees or whose name is in what ballot position. I know what I've done, I know what can be done, and I know I can make a positive difference...if you'll re-elect me on Wednesday.
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org