Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Glenn Paré responds to reader comment

I had an interesting response to the overview piece I wrote a few weeks ago about running for Selectman.

Noting that I said “watching from the sidelines,” a reader questioned whether I had the level of expertise and experience as the other candidates running for Selectman. If I could, I would like to share my answer here.

I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that I was watching from up in the bleachers and confused by the scrambling of the players on the field. I understand Sandwich, the operation of Town government, and how our finances work.

I am running for Selectman because Sandwich faces serious challenges and I believe I can bring the leadership necessary to help meet those challenges. I want to serve the best interests of all of the people of Sandwich. I am committed to our community and devote as much effort as I can to helping Sandwich move forward. And, I have a clear vision for Sandwich’s future. I am committed to strengthening our business base while protecting Sandwich’s historic culture and character.

Since 2006, I have served on the Sandwich’s Finance Committee, and have been chairman for the past year. In 2007 and 2008, along with other Town officials and volunteers, I helped to formulate and create the Sandwich’s 10-year Local Comprehensive Plan, calling for smart growth and careful development. In 2004, I helped to establish Sandwich’s own Chamber of Commerce, was Treasurer and on the Executive Committee, and served on its Board of Directors for the past six years. I cannot begin to add up the thousands of hours of participating in meetings and workshops, reading and reviewing budgets, projections, and other materials, touring public buildings and programs, sitting in on other Town Board and committee meetings. . . .

Those who know me know that I have a record of successful leadership and decision-making – which I hope is balanced with fairness, a willingness to listen and comprehend, and my belief in the importance of collaborating to do what is best for all. In my career, I spent 25 years in museum and non-profit leadership positions. Then, in 2005, I became a small business owner when I opened and operated my retail business here in Town. In 2006, I was elected to the Vestry and currently serve as Senior Warden at St. John’s Church in the village.

We have to make difficult choices about the services our Town provides, the people we employ, the education we offer our children, and the general quality of life for all of us who live here. We need to take positive steps in addressing the Town’s issues, programs, and infrastructure, and, to do so, we need to allocate and spend our limited funds wisely and fairly.

If I am elected, I will strive to make the right choices for all the people of Sandwich, set clear policy and direct Town employees strategically, ensure that the town provides the highest quality services possible, and keep Sandwich strong and moving forward.

I am asking the voters of Sandwich to give me an opportunity to serve them as Selectman. The election is May 5 and I need your support and your vote.

Thank you.

Glenn Paré

9 comments:

  1. Your comment was written with eloquece, however, to me it lacked depth. I still do not understand exactly what you stand for. I hope within the next few weeks that we find out.

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  2. Carl Johansen would state.

    Good Morning Glen

    Given all of your time on the Finance committee, perhaps you can give some insite to your thoughts in regards to the building of a library here in Sandwich, given our economic problems as a town?

    What is your thoughts in regards to the building of a new public safety building and what will you propose to get the ball rolling?


    What do you feel you offer to the mix in regards to the short and long range goals that every one speaks about, but never gets of the ground?

    What do you feel about mandating the schools provide the same accounting practices that the town is on? We are not talking about the town and schools computors talking to each other.Rather both using the same bookkeeping practises.

    Given during this past budget process, some rather new revolations came out in regards to accounts recieveable to the schools for Out of District Students. The two year total is over #200,000 and has not been accounted for in the present school budget. How will you address that issue? It would seem that money should come back to the town as free cash, any thoughts.

    The above are only a sample of questions that I would like to see addressed.

    I wish you well

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  3. Great questions, as usual, Carl.

    I will push to get the new joint public safety building built ASAP, by 2014 at the latest. And, so we don't have a big building with no staff, I will push to increase the police and fire staffs, something that is long overdue. Increasing police and fire will not eliminate the over-time budgets, but will cut them back and can be partially funded from there.

    The library plans were amazing! overwhelming! But, with all the other capital needs, I cannot support a new library facility at this time. How would we ever be able to staff such a facility if we cannot afford to keep the current library open on Sundays? I know it is not a popular stance with those who favor the library, but I do think the BOS is elected to make decisions and set priorities. They should not endorse a funding request that is not atop the list. They were right in the vote not to put the article on the warrant. Citizens have the right to bring forward their own warrant articles, and I actually advised Library trustees to do just that.

    I have said all along, I am running for Selectman because I believe there is so much to do. We have to stop dragging our feet: let's identify the all issues, formulate plans, vote yea or nay, and move on. We need to develop a clear strategic plan and the Selectmen have to direct our staff to carry that plan out. I applaud the current members of the BOS who are trying to develop a multi-year priority plan. Future Boards will take their own action (or not), but at least put something in place and get started.

    I have pushed for years for a compatible software so that the schools and municipal finance departments are working in sync -- with at least the same accounting software we can measure apples and apples. And, in fact, that software upgrade was funded as part of the 2011 budget. For some reason, the schools backed away again.

    I am in favor of funding the schools as best we can so that our schools can excel and our children can meet their highest potential. I am opposed, however, to the schools doing everything they can to spend down their budget(allocate and encumber funds) to nearly zero every year. To me, that means that the greatest majority of funds returned for "certified free cash" come from the municipal side, not the schools. And, even though the Town voted that money for municipal government, it goes back into the general pool and has been (until this year) split out 2/3 to the schools and 1/3 to the Town. Look at the FinCom's 11/6/10 meeting on S-CAT. This is a reasonable place to look for the necessary funding for added police and fire personnel. As to the School Choice funding, the Superintendent just called the pool from out of district students a kind of slush fund that gives her "wiggle room" in 2012. I don't think that's right.

    I know there are many other speific topics we can discuss, and we'll have some chance during the campaign.

    I'll gladly welcome the discussion here as well.

    Thanks for reading my reponse!

    Glenn

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  4. Carl Johansen would state,

    Good Afternoon Glenn,
    Appreciate your answers you have provided.

    It is important for every one to understand the positions we all beieve in and that is why more folks need to get into the questions that need to be exposed.

    I have a few other questions, but I would like to see more participation by others in this process, before you get all bogged down.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  5. Mr Pare, forgive my lack of an accent over your last letter...got to get me one of those, as they say. I am familiar with your work on the finance committee. I believe you to be 'your own man' if I can compliment you that way. You have an obvious talent in working financials and it has been reflected during budget development meeting and the town meetings. I guess my biggest concern in your remarks so far, is your desire to 'grow' the size of both police and fire departments. It is a noble idea, however, at this time in our national economic state, does it seem realistic to grow the number of employees within our public sector? Just to fill a larger building? Could perhaps you consider looking at the public safety facility that was designed during our better times, that is badly needed, but grow it smaller? No one will argue that we don't need police and fire, however, I remember the strong reaction when the East Sandwich Fire Station would require a significant increase in personnel. Glenn, if I may, growth in personnel, at this time, does not make sense. In the public sector I understand that more workers can result in a better economy. I am not sure that equation works when the financial support comes from the property tax. Perhaps you have another source for paying the additional employees. I for one, would love a money tree for these two groups of hard working people. Thanks for listening.

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  6. Mr. Pare,

    Can you detail the budget categories that have returned free cash to the town for the past few years? Is the health insurance line item one of the largest of these? If so, 2/3 of that should be attributed to the schools. Correct? The schools also have to deal with unfunded mandates and uncertainty regarding reimbursements for special ed. In addition, it is my understanding that the schools use their staff to submit medical claims, but the general fund receives the money. It is not as clearcut as just looking at the money returned to free cash.

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  7. Mr. Pare, thank you so much for the comment on growing the size of the public saftey departments. In particular, I would like to comment that the size of East Sandwich is probably larger in area than many towns in eastern Massachusetts. The very first priority should be to build and staff a station in East Sandwich. My question to you is, what is more important--schools, libraries, town halls, public safety building in the Golden Triangle or near it, or is it as it truly should be the protection of life and limb in East Sandwich.
    There is no greater thing than government can do but to protect its people. The cost is worth saving just one person's life.

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  8. Mr. Pare, may I ask for your thoughts on protecting our natural resources in the Town? Are you aware of the Peter's Pond situation with the uncontrolled illegal cutting/building in the buffer zones along it's south shore, over it's beaches and water? The Town's DNR Department watched as this occurred and admits to doing nothing about it, despite an enormous number of complaints from the public. MassDEP stepped in at the public's request to address these issues because the Town failed to act effectively. Peter's Pond is listed as an impacted pond with exceeded thresholds for nitrogen and phosphorus according to a study conducted by a group called P.A.L.S. (Ponds and Lakes Stewards). This Study recommends no develepment or only limited and careful development along the shores of the Pond due to this factor. The Town of Sandwich Comprehensive Plan recommends against lateral cutting of vegetation in buffer zones of areas such as these, as well! Our Town's citizens, the Town By-Laws, the State Wetland Protection and Waterways Laws and the Town's Comprehensive Plan were all ignored and worse when concern was expressed for the runaway illegal activities in this location. Do you believe this situation was handled appropriately by the Town? What would be your solution to handling it more effectively? Do you believe our Department of Natural Resources is faring well in protecting the Town's resources that act as a main attraction for bringing new families and visitors to the area? Thank you!

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  9. Hello Keepinemhonest, I am very concerned about our fragile environment and protecting our natural resources. Sandwich is an integral part of the Cape's bio-environment -- a single-source aquifer -- so that everything we do has an impact on the whole, from our own drinking water to the health and well-being of our ponds, marshes and esturaries. The more nitrogen and pollutants we pump in, the worse off we all are and the greater detriment to the plant and animal life around us.

    I always cite the strange and disturbing fact that neighbors of mine have lawn services come and spray chemicals and all kinds of stuff on their great green lawns, and yet we all have wells on our property. Where do they think these chemicals go?

    I know a little bit about the Peter's Pond situation (what I've read in the papers or picked up in observing Town meetings), but clearly there is a lot more that I don't know. I'll work on finding out more because this is the kind of issue and concern I believe the Selectmen ought to be on top of. If Town By-Laws and state laws and regulations were violated, I'd take that as a serious breach of trust and would expect corrective action.

    Thank you for your concern about this. Let me find out more and get back to you. Thanks.

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