New Hampshire Underground

Regional Discussion => Monadnock => Keene => Topic started by: Dave Ridley on March 25, 2007, 04:59 PM NHFT

Title: Keene anti-tax group requests you join their email list
Post by: Dave Ridley on March 25, 2007, 04:59 PM NHFT

Subject:       Keene Citizens Government Review
Date:       Mar 15, 2007 6:12 PM

                                Keene Citizens Government Review


On March 13th Keene citizens pulled together to stop an unusually excessive school budget from passing. These are battles that are always disheartening because it truly is about quality education for our children. We want excellence in our educational system as much as the educators do. However, excellence in education does not mean spending unwisely and unfairly. Everyone, including teachers, must equally share the financial burden that our community presently bears in order to produce the best our students are capable of becoming.  It can be done and hopefully it will be done.

In the next issue of the Keene Citizens Government Review we will offer remedies to working within a sensible budget.  We strongly emphasize that what ever course suggested will fall within reasonable budgetary guidelines.  Also, the recommendations we will be offering will in no way effect critical programs or activities. We would hope that the school board will put aside any prejudices they may have and give careful attention to these forthcoming recommendations in our next Keene Citizens Government Review e-mail newsletter.

Thank you one and all.

Carl A. Panza

Keene Citizens Government Review

Note: We would like to double our already growing list of subscribers.  This would give the average citizen a greater voice in our city and county government. We would like to ask all of you to provide us with only one additional subscriber (name, street address, e-mail address) who also feels that fiscal responsibility is every citizens concern.
Title: Re: Keene anti-tax group requests you join their email list
Post by: error on March 25, 2007, 05:19 PM NHFT
They need a web site.
Title: Re: Keene anti-tax group requests you join their email list
Post by: Kat Kanning on March 28, 2007, 09:27 AM NHFT
Keene group will still target spending Faces criticism on tactics used

Anna Haigh
Sentinel Staff

The group that advised Keene voters to "just say no" at the March 13 election isn't stepping down from its platform anytime soon.

Leader Carl A. Panza said the newly formed Keene Citizens Government Review will continue its work with regular e-mail newsletters sent to hundreds of subscribers.

The group's mission is to encourage residents to review city and school district budgets with an eye toward sensible spending and controlling property taxes, according to Panza.

And with the disbanding of past city watchdog groups such the Keene Taxpayers Association, Keene Citizens may be taking up the mantle.


Panza, who said he does research and writing for the newsletter with guidance and advice from other members, said he doesn't describe the organization as a "watchdog" group. He said Keene Citizens simply tries to inform the public about policies and practices in other places so the community can "compare ourselves against it."

The group also researches information to guide city or district leaders to "develop some responsible fiscal policies," Panza said.

And as the teachers' union and the Keene Board of Education work to craft a new contract after voters rejected the proposed three-year, $2.9 million contract, the Keene Citizens group and "pro-education" group Keene Cares have a reason to stay in the debate.

Keene Citizens' latest newsletter, which Panza said is e-mailed to close to 1,000 subscribers - but wouldn't go into more specifics on its members - compares Keene teachers' health-care contributions to those in other districts around the region and the state, saying teachers should pay more toward their insurance costs. It also recommends what voters should consider the next time they're voting on a teachers' contract.

It also says teachers should not receive retroactive pay, and compensation increases should follow what's paid to private-sector employees.

Brenda M. Dunn, president of the Keene Education Association, said she couldn't respond to those criticisms because the union is in ongoing negotiations with the Keene board.

Jenna Spear, co-chairman of Keene Cares - which, since forming last year, has defined itself as an advocacy group that works to promote quality public education in Keene - said once a new contract is agreed upon, the group will try to inform the public about the contract and work toward its approval.

Though both groups have made their views known about the teachers' contract, Keene board Chairman Neil W. Donegan said each board member will interpret what voters meant by the "no" vote on the teachers' contract in their own way, and use that to guide them as they work toward a new contract.

During the weeks leading up the election, Keene Citizens advocated voting down the school district's budget and contracts for teachers and custodians, and spread the message with signs, newsletters and fliers around town.

On March 13, residents voted down those items and more, also rejecting a $500,000 bond that would have renovated Alumni Field with artificial turf.

Voters did, however, embrace the candidates endorsed by Keene Cares, who were all elected to office.

But Keene Citizens' tactics aren't appreciated by some.

Keene Cares supported the district's budget and proposed contracts.

"I definitely feel like (The Keene Citizens) disseminated misleading information and not the complete picture," Spear said. "I think that discourse is always a healthy thing, but I think it's really on all of our shoulders in all of these groups to keep an ear toward other views.

"... I don't believe that any group that puts out publications negatively referencing individuals in the community can ever be seen as a group that supports community," Spear said.

She cited a flier circulated by Keene Citizens that recommended residents vote "no" to specific candidates.

She said Keene Cares has tried to stay above the fray of more negative discourse.

"We did not attack anyone, and we never will," Spear said.

Donegan said he didn't know if the Keene Citizens' information was right or wrong, but their messages emphasized the destructive consequences of passing contracts and the district's budget.

But the only way to change what's been wrong in the district over the past two decades is to make information available to the public about those negatives, Panza responded.

"Now sure, there are some things that are right, but my job and the job of Keene Citizens Review is to address the issues that are predominately negative in the school board," he said. "I'm not writing just to appease everybody. I'm writing it to correct problems."

Judith W. Bright, former chairman of the Keene Taxpayers Association, is also a Keene Citizens member.

Watchdog groups have a long history in Keene, where the taxpayers' group, which scrutinized city and school spending, has been in existence since the 1970s, according to Bright, and revived many times.

She said she let the taxpayers group fade a year or two ago after some residents used the word "taxpayer" as a wedge to say the group just didn't want to spend money - instead, to group members, she said, "it was about how the money was spent."

She said more people may be involved with the Keene Citizens' newsletter, than were with the taxpayers' group.

"I think we'll be successful in continuing our efforts to get information out," she said. "It's not about whether we win or lose, it's about the democratic process and allowing people to know both sides of the story."
Title: Re: Keene anti-tax group requests you join their email list
Post by: Russell Kanning on March 28, 2007, 10:16 AM NHFT
It is funny ... the "keene slantinel" as it is known by some oldtimers around here ... shoots itself in the foot with search engines by closing off its website. When I tried to look up the "Keene Cares" website ... not only do I not find a website .... or a link to any articles by the sentinel, I find our paper and this interesting page with lots of references to our friends. :)
Title: Re: Keene anti-tax group requests you join their email list
Post by: Russell Kanning on March 28, 2007, 10:18 AM NHFT
I guess this group also needs to have Jane whip them up a website.
Title: Re: Keene anti-tax group requests you join their email list
Post by: FTL_Ian on March 28, 2007, 03:22 PM NHFT
Carl should be attending the next Free Keene meeting.  He might make a good blogger..