Chief Financial Officer and Auditor Patrick Dello Russo said the city’s educational budget had never really recovered from the global economic downturn of a decade ago, and the subsequent drop-off in state and federal funding.
“We lost over $3 million in federal aid since fiscal 09, $3 million that never came back,” he said. “We witnessed in this city state aid to Melrose decrease by over $1.9 million overnight, from fiscal 09 to fiscal 10. Unprecedented. Close to $2 million we lost in one year. That’s more money than we take in in full taxes and new growth. And we had to operate the city based on that dynamic. Unprecedented.”
Nothing new here except that there is a new batch of gullible and willfully ignorant parents lapping up the same lies that PdR and RD have been dishing out for quite a few years now, always crying wolf with the nonsense about missing federal aid. Go back to the pre-failedoverride powerpoints put out by them and you will find the same purposeful misrepresentations centering around the Stimulus Funds, amounts that were always intended to be finite, not annual padding. The federal govt did not suddenly pull funds that were intended to be allocated year after year. These were a one-time "boost," as it were, though RD and PdR continue (purposely!) to portray those amounts as if they are being overtly denied now. [There are, in fact, other areas of federal and state funding that Trump and Baker have chosen or threatened to withhold that would be or is already very detrimental to various vulnerable populations and school systems, but that is not what the spinmasters have chosen to focus on (RD has been sucking up to Baker for years now, hoping to get a position in his stable, which is never going to happen).]
The misrepresentation of the Stimulus funds is a sleight of hand quite typical of these oily mismanagers, the same ones who somehow magically come up with hundreds of thousands, or even millions, as in the case of the override year ($3.5 million, to be precise, just a few months after their wolf-crying and lying about the override) in so-called "free cash," which is then doled out like Halloween candy in all sorts of Melrose pork-barrel handouts. This annual exercise of the slush-fund dispensing should be obvious to any residents with an ounce of critical thinking skills, but this batch of sycophant parents and officials have their own special breed of willful ignorance, many equating the questioning of Melrose officials as tantamount to being unpatriotic, deserving of public shaming and shunning. (Melrose bullying, starting with that by officials, is so prevalent that Trump and his goons could actually take lessons from the many ugly facets that typify the current culture here.)
The lies around the "missing" federal funding goes hand in hand with the failure to mention that each year the school system has manage to extort typically an extra $2 million or so each year from the overall city budget, with what amounts to zero accountability. Meanwhile the Melrose Ed Foundation manages to count on the mayor's handout (not legit!) of at least $10,000 a year to them directly instead of allocating that through the school budget, solely so that he could buy more votes and have the pipeline of the feelgood "awards" given by the Foundation to "minigrants" in a process unvetted by the appropriate legal body, the school committee. Then there are the other feelgood handouts to the Messina "grants," the totally illegal funneling of city funds through the Emergency Fund (handing out Target and Shaws cards, paying rent/mortgage, etc., all without appropriate accounting controls required by law--something the IRS and state auditor/inspector general should have a field day with!). Then there's the ever-shady misuse of Revolving Accounts, one of the biggest sources of the mayor's annual slush funds, along with the Special Education and Transportation accounts where the superintendent has admitted publicly a lot of purposeful vagaries get charged to, especially in a contract negotiation year when calculating salaries for the budget can't be done exactly. (Note: Knowledgeable and ethical business managers know how to do this legally and responsibly, something that is foreign to the oily types--as in snake oil--that have been at it in Melrose for too long now.)
And then the CFO pounds further the propaganda: "An override should not be unthinkable, Dello Russo argued, as it would represent a conscious choice by voters to prioritize education, especially amide the wave of young families moving to Melrose." Translation: If you dare to criticize another override, you are clearly a monster who doesn't support children or the "young families moving to Melrose" (the target audience, of course, since the parents of older children have already learned, if they are half awake, that they've been sold a bill of goods, that this school system is far below mediocre now, that having "conscious choice" about your own children means trying to get them out--for those that can, since so many bought houses far more expensive than they are actually worth--before their high school transcripts are so poor that their children's futures have been permanently limited).
Then the nonsense gets the school official spin:
"Taymore made the same point, warning of a downward spiral that could result from parents pulling their children out of the city’s public schools, further reduced state funding, and continuously shrinking school budgets and services.
“It is a vicious cycle,” Taymore said."
Ya think?! But she sure as hell is going to take her $180,000+ salary, despite the many statistical and legal facts surrounding her many horrible actions pointing to an administration that is a comprehensive mess, top to bottom. She certainly doesn't want anyone to look under the hood, least of all those useless school committee members who are keeping the festering stench tightly concealed.
"“We’re neither fish nor foul; we’re not poor enough for a lot of state and federal grants, we’re not wealthy enough to fund ourselves,” said Taymore. “There is no easy solution here. Melrose does not have an industrial base. We are totally dependent on your taxes on your homes.”
Taymore said voters will eventually have to choose whether to increase funding for education, or see Melrose’s schools begin to fall behind. Stopgap measures designed to delay the inevitable will no longer work."
"Begin to fall behind"????!!!!! Now that takes balls! MHS students have been demonstrating national test scores BELOW the State Average (which means comparisons with some of the poorest communities in the Commonwealth) since 2011 (Taymore arrived in 2010). Those scores were mediocre under Casey, but they're worse now. They (CT and school committee) hide the wretched results in blustery spin about how many students are in AP classes, etc., but truly they are hiding the truth and/or flat out lying.
They also fail to mention how many millions of wasted tax dollars have had to go towards defending the illegal and indefensible actions of this school administration/school committee in the last 15 years. It is a staggering amount that only a full forensic audit would reveal, something direly needed more than ever now if Melrose is to climb out of the fiscal and legal mess in which it finds itself.
So, Mr. CFO, you and your venal accomplices keep pointing that increasingly long nose of yours at all of us. Many, it seems, are susceptible to your, how shall we say, misrepresentations and annual fear-mongering. But plenty are onto you and your creepy, patronizing spiels. We also know about your highly questionable past in other locales when it comes to water/sewer fiascos. So when you decide to "retire" and when remaining officials mandate and budget a full forensic audit that explains what really happened all these years with school monies, legal expenditures/settlements, cemetery accounts, retirement board manipulations, special education funds, Emergency Fund monies, and on and on, then we can talk about what it means to "prioritize" our values, AFTER a full accounting of all the wrong-doing has been brought fully to light and addressed.
Can't really add to that. You covered it all..
The only comment I'd make is that it turns my stomach whenever I read something like this in the "Free Press". How long has it been before ANYBODY at that sorry excuse for a newspaper actually did any digging to check the veracity of anything put out by the administration? If this was a real newspaper, instead of just a shill for the administration and the realtors, someone would have dug into the truth of these statements. Instead, we get not the Melrose Free Press, but the Melrose Propaganda Sheet.
As Joseph Goebbels knew, "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
As for that bottom-dwelling slimebag Dello Russo, our illustrious CFO - I still haven't figured out why he didn't do jail time for what he did in Plymouth.
How about some Transparency.It is time for transparency.
I agree with everything you put forth. How would we go about calling upon our BOA to look into this further? If the BOA works with our city budget aren't they liable for it being accurate and responsible?
Yes, the BOA should be called out to hold the process accountable, even though they are totally complicit in the mess. Don't count on Kate's new Women of the BOA (leaving out Monica, naturally, whom they relish bullying and shunning) to demonstrate an ounce of ethical backbone; all they pretend to care about is the name change. Now that they have their first-ever woman mayor, they are all bonded in uncharming solidarity, with the wimps (JT, FW, Morty, etc.) ever at the ready to hear-hear and shut down any pesky questions or public comment.
You might get somewhere with Forbes. He appears to have gotten some conscience (ya think that maybe someday he'll pay attention and get with the facts about Water & Sewer????!!!!). You can count on Monica, too, and simultaneously you can count on Patrick to take any and every opportunity to behave like the swamp creature that he is, especially towards Monica whenever she stands up to him with more budget questions that he'll find a way not to answer, with the rest looking on as the Bystanders they are (MAAV, Commission on Women, and HRC always silent and useless in the face of the chronic bullying that starts at the top around here). Maybe HRC New Guy of Ward 5 might decide to be something other than useless (like he was for HRC), especially if enough informed residents (Gerry, here's another one to try and educate) hit him up for being an actual representative of the citizens. We gotta try, I guess. Mostly they've proven themselves to be useless in the whole. It is way past time to hold them all accountable before we are collectively hosed yet again because you know they are going to lie down and allow another attempt at a tax heist in addition to further water and sewer rate increases, debt exclusions, overrides, anything the useless bunch can get away with so that they can keep the toddler parents happy and avoid any "waves" at election time. Boy Melrose has sunk to new lows!
As far as all those completely useless let's everybody make ourselves feel good about how enlightened we are organizations go, here's a thought from another string:
"Should manhole covers be called personhole covers?
It used to be politically correct in some places to preface every answering of the phone, or encounter with another person with "Heil Hitler!"
"Politically correct speech controls not only what you say, but what you think. Politically correct speech is oppressed speech, and the Constitution says I don't have to be politically correct." - an Auschwitz survivor."
I'll take that to heart, and say this collection of PC bimbos wouldn't know reality if it bit them on the a$$, and that's what makes them so dangerous.
Well put across the school-funding board. Two key points within and beyond. First, there is no more public coverage of Melrose state assessment scores because they have tanked to all-time lows We were ranked about No. 100 of the 250 districts. Now about 130. Second, Dolan and the supt actually play surplus-funding the annual school budget. They inflate it while having other departments level-fund theirs. Then the supt. returns the surplus for Dolan to balance any deficits which is required in the budget cycle to end the fiscal year. Old game that makes schools look like they are doing a good job while crying minimal funding -- and why they never have a real shortfall.
PS Proof in that surplus-budgeting pudding is there is NEVER a deficit in any other dept besides schools. Makes it all look like managers are doing a super job while the poor kids suffer and we need more dollars for schools -- to de facto supplement city-side departments rife with PT workers and FT benefits.
The city made the Police get the 30,000 dollar Pomeroy audit and it actually showed they were operating understaffed and underfunded causing dangerous conditions in the City. I’m sure an audit will expose the funding shellgame being played. Know it is time for the school to go audit