Archive for April, 2010

Candidate Statement: William E. Slotnick

April 30, 2010

Greetings Precinct 12 Voters!

My name is William E. (Will) Slotnick, and I am seeking re-election as one of your representatives to Town Meeting. I live on Gardner Road with my wife Karin Lindfors, our daughter Maya, and Jesse the long-haired dachshund. I love Brookline, and have been actively involved in community and school affairs for many years. I currently serve on numorious town and neighborhood boards, committees, and associations:

  • Brookline Access Television (BATV) — President, Board of Directors
  • Aspinwall Hill Neighborhood Association (AHNA) — Executive Board
  • Brookline Neighborhood Alliance (BNA) — Executive Board
  • Brookline Coalition Against Substance Abuse (B-CASA) — Steering Committee
  • Brookline Parent Education Network (B-PEN) — Parent Advisory Committee
  • Brookline PAX — Board Member

I am founder and director of Wellness Collaborative (www.wellcoll.org), an organization that seeks to promote health and prevent addiction in individuals, families, and school communities. I have worked as a substance abuse prevention and wellness specialist for over 20 years, and have provided education and consulting services to thousands of students, parents, faculty and administrators at hundreds of public and private schools across the United States.

I would greatly appreciate your vote on May 4th!

Candidate Statement: Donald C. Weitzman

April 29, 2010

Dear Neighbor,

I have lived in Brookline since 1990 and been active in Brookline civic affairs since 1993, including representing precinct 12 in Town Meeting since 1994. While my political interests and involvements have been quite varied (please see the details of my résumé below), three general principles tend to govern my decisions.

Government (at all levels) has a responsibility to protect its citizens from the excessive power of the private sector. In particular, however much the Town might need and desire the revenue that comes from development, we in local government must ensure that such development is shaped by the needs of our neighborhoods and individual residents. To this end, I was a founding member of the Brookline Neighborhood Alliance, which I now serve as Co-chair, and have been an active board member of the Fisher Hill Association for several years. My votes in Town Meeting on development issues have always been influenced by this vision.

Long-term sustainability (environmental, economic, and social) must be a key criterion for every governmental decision. We cannot ignore the forces at play in the larger world as we vote on local issues, forces such as climate change, growing energy and clean water scarcity, population pressures, growing national debt, encroachment on green space, etc. A decade ago, I helped found Climate Change Action Brookline (CCAB), which continues to shape our local response to this global threat, and I currently serve as a Co-chair of the Selectmen’s Climate Action Committee, founded through the efforts of CCAB in 2008. Recently, I spearheaded the Green Neighborhoods Challenge, a friendly contest to see which Brookline neighborhoods could do the most to cut their carbon footprints. In addition to supporting environmentally responsible decisions in Town Meeting, I also support aggressive approaches to meet our ten percent affordable housing quota, and sustainable budgeting practices.

Process is important: how we make our decisions strongly influences how effective those decisions turn out to be. Participatory democracy doesn’t just happen; it needs to be encouraged through open and transparent governmental processes, and respect for the opinions of others.

I grew up in Washington, DC in the ‘40s and ‘50s, part of a family that was targeted by McCarthyism. I learned at a very early age a profound lesson about the relationship between the individual and one’s government. I was also acutely aware that, as residents of the District of Columbia, we had no vote. So when I moved to Brookline decades later, I think I was more appreciative than most of our Town Meeting form of government, and our culture of citizen activism. It is part of what I love about our community.

My wife, Harriet Goldberg, and I are eternally grateful to our school system: our daughter Lily, now a senior at College of the Atlantic, received more than a terrific academic education at Runkle and BHS, she also developed a deep social conscience. Our schools do far more for our community than keep real estate values high. I came into Town Meeting 16 years ago campaigning strongly, along with my Neighbors Building Brookline slate, for the first general override for the schools. My commitment to our schools has never wavered.

I would love to continue representing our precinct in Town Meeting. I ask for your vote on Tuesday, May 4, and support for the Neighbors Building Brookline slate. Thanks for reading, and do let me know what you are thinking.

Don Weitzman
123 Buckminster Road
_____________________

Donald C. Weitzman
123 Buckminster Road
Brookline MA 02445
(617) 738-7864 (H)
(617) 640-3718 (C)
donweitzman@rcn.com

Born Washington, D.C. 1942

B.A. Carleton College 1963
M.A. New York University 1964

Retired, former teacher and teaching consultant, private investor.

Brookline resident and homeowner since 1990.

Married to Harriet Goldberg, songwriter. Father of Lillian, senior at College of the Atlantic and graduate of Runkle School and School Within a School at Brookline High School.

Town Meeting Member, 1994-present.
Founding member, Neighbors Building Brookline (precinct 12 TM slate).
Advisory Committee member, 1996-1997, 2007-2009.
Selectman, 1997-2000.
Founding member and past co-chair, Town Meeting Members Association.
Founding member, former Treasurer, and current Co-chair, Brookline Neighborhood Alliance.
Board member, Brookline PAX.
Board member, Fisher Hill Association.
Board member, Brookline GreenSpace Alliance.
Associate Member, Brookline Democratic Town Committee.
Host, Brookline Beat, Brookline Access Television
Founding member, past co-chair, and current Treasurer, Climate Change Action Brookline (CCAB). Sponsored and co-authored Article 29 (May 2008 TM) that established Selectmen’s Climate Action Committee.
Organized the Sustainable Brookline Forum, February 2008.
Co-chair, Selectmen’s Climate Action Committee, 2009-.
(Appointed to several Selectmen’s and Moderator’s Committees, most recently the PAYT Committee.)

Recently directed the Green Neighborhoods Challenge, a friendly carbon-cutting contest among Brookline’s neighborhood associations, co-sponsored by BNA & CCAB.

Awards
Neighborhood Leadership Award, Brookline Neighborhood Alliance, 2009
Jack Backman Social Justice Award, Brookline PAX, 2010

Candidate Statement: Bruce B. Cohen

April 28, 2010

A Summary of my important views…

Below are answers to my PAX questionnaire that summarize some of views on key issues that face our community. In addition to my specific positions, my key asset is my willingness to listen and consider different points of view on how best to enhance the quality of life here in Brookline. Please feel free to e-mail me: 17bcohen@gmail.com to discuss any of my positions or any other issues that affect our community.

Sincerely,
Bruce B. Cohen

And remember to VOTE on May 4!

1. Why am I running for this office? I am running for this position because I believe in community service and I want to continue to promote the high quality of life in Brookline. I am a firm believer in public service—I have worked in Federal and state government for over 25 years, and I have been active in civic affairs my entire adult life. Currently, I am President of Friends of Public Health, chair of the Brookline Public Health Advisory Committee, serve as co-chair of the Western Suburban Community Health Network, and participate actively on the Health Committee of Brookline’s Sister City Project. I have also been on TMMA executive board, the Brookline Neighborhood Alliance, past co-chair of the Washington Square Coalition, and Vice-President of Brookline Youth Baseball.

2. BUDGET: Rank 1-9 your priorities (“1” highest) regarding likely Town deficits, and briefly explain.
1 Public safety (police/fire)
2 Public health, human services
3 Schools
4 Facilities & streets
5 Parks & conservation
6 Affordable housing
7 Libraries
8 Recreation programs
9 Keep taxes level or lower

These are my priorities for maintaining services and town functions rather than an assessment of likely deficits. I feel maintaiing a strong core infrastructure is the key to quality of our civic life.

3. LABOR/PUBLIC EMPLOYEES: What is your opinion about, and past involvement (if any) with organized labor? Assuming they might save some money, at least in the short run, what is your opinion of (a) privatization, including replacement of unionized employees with outside contractors using non-union labor; and (b) hiring more part-time employees (without benefits or job security)?

I am totally against privatization of public services. As former Vice President of Local 41 of the American Federation of Government Employees, I firmly believe in both unionization for the protection and welfare of employees and the role of government in providing basic, infrastructure services. I believe the savings people claim for privatization in almost all cases are illusory. I come from an active union family and support the social goals of the progressive union movement. Hiring part-time employees without benefits in order to save money is unethical.

4. DEVELOPMENT & HOUSING
A. The abolition of rent control caused a loss of 7,000 affordable housing units in Brookline. What should the Town be doing to develop or preserve affordable housing in various parts of Brookline? What is your history of involvement (if any) in housing issues?

The goal of housing policy in Brookline should be to maintain and expand affordable housing stock in order to keep (and increase) the socioeconomic diversity in the community. In particular, I am concerned about maintaining affordable housing for the elderly, and lower income, single parent households. The Town should be more aggressive in requiring new construction to include affordable housing units and we should think about additional incentives, zoning changes, etc. that would stimulate the development of more affordable units in Brookline. I applaud the goals of the Fisher Hill development as a constructive effort to incorporate affordable housing into our community. I have not been active directly in affordable housing related issues…only indirectly to the extent that affordable housing is related public health and quality of life in our community.

B. What do you think about the trade-offs between encouraging development for more tax revenue and its impact on neighborhoods? Has the latter been given enough weight, e.g., by the Planning Board? Why or why not? What’s your experience (including TMM votes or in neighborhood groups) with these trade-offs, including – if you were a TMM – your vote on Art. 13 in the 2008 Fall Town Meeting (Coolidge Corner residential zoning amendment)?

I favor appropriate development that involves neighborhood concerns at the earliest possible time: this includes both residents and local businesses. However, I am concerned that neighborhoods must consider the quality of life in Brookline as a whole as well as what’s in the best interest of their immediate area. Sometimes, these trade-offs are not easy to see. I thought the goals of article 13 were laudable although the article itself I felt was somewhat flawed. I think more discussion with residents of properties affected would have benefited the contents of the Article. Ultimately, I supported it.

5. CANDIDATES: Who are a few electoral candidates (local or not) that you supported during the past two years, especially (a) with either an endorsement or a contribution, and (b) in selectman’s races?

I have supported and endorsed progressive candidates at the state, local, and national level–from canvassing for President Obama in New Hampshire to my involvement in Precinct 12’s Neighbors Building Brookline coalition.

6. SURVEILLANCE: What is your position on, and past activity (if any), regarding the surveillance cameras from the Department of Homeland Security, including (a) whether and how much the privacy intrusion bothers you, and (b) thoughts on the trade-offs between privacy loss and public safety goals?

I have not been active in this discussion other than writing a letter to the Board of Selectmen strongly encouraging them not to deploy these cameras and speaking out about this issue among my friends and town meeting colleagues. I feel the loss of privacy is not worth the gains in public safety. The ruse about their deployment for use to assist evacuation was particularly offensive to me.

7. DEATH PENALTY: What is your position on, and past involvement (if any) with, the death penalty?

This is a particularly difficult personal choice for me. Under certain, very limited circumstances of heinous, brutal, capital crimes I could support the death penalty. If a person walked into a kindergarten class and randomly opened fire and murdered children, and I was the parent of one of the victims, I would want the murderer executed. So, I can conceive of situations where I believe that I would support the death penalty, However, the current standards for the death penalty and bias in the implementation makes government sanction execution untenable at this time. I would be happy to discuss my personal views further with anyone interested.

8. RECORDED VOTES: Will you try to support at least one recorded vote on each night of Town Meeting? Why or why not?

I am a member of the Recorded Vote Coalition. I think that we should develop the technology to record ALL votes. I will stand for every suggested recorded or roll call vote. I believe that as representatives of our community, we have the obligation to make our positions on issues transparent and publicly available.

9. IMMINENT TMM ISSUES: Reserving your right to hear the debates, what are your views on:
A. Why should the Selectmen be given the official titles of Police and Fire Commissioners – or why not? (See warrant at http://www.brooklinema.gov/ and explanation at http://www.brooklinepax.org.)

I believe that the Selectmen should be given these titles. The reason I’m in town meeting is that I support this form of government rather than Mayoral-City Council model for Brookline. Thus, we need to invest full authority in our elected executive branch—the Selectmen. I don’t believe a Town Manager, no matter how competent, should make executive decisions.

B. Why (or why not) should more power to hire and fire department heads – e.g. Police, DPW, Planning – be given to the Town Administrator, and less to the selectmen, as proposed by a majority of CTO&S? (See summary at http://www.wickedlocal.com/brookline/archive/x1658508653/Article-would-give-more-power-to-Brooklines-town-administrator or at http://www.brooklinepax.org.)

Please see above 9A answer. I disagree with the CTO&S position about ultimate decision making on hiring. I do endorse the extremely active involvement of the town administrator and department heads in advising Selectmen in these hires.

10. Are NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ISSUES (usually the subject of non-binding “resolutions”) sometimes proper for debate and votes in Town Meeting? Explain.

I prefer that the Town Meeting discussions and debate focus on issues which we can most readily affect and change, that is: local budget issues; the expenditure of tax dollars; the allocation of funds; setting priorities for the delivery of local services; the Town Capital Improvement Plan; infrastructure development including schools, libraries, parks, and recreational opportunities; land use planning; consideration of the Town Bylaws; and other local issues that emerge. However, I recognize the importance of communities taking a stand against policies that it considers as injustice; and thus, to a limited extent, support TM’s consideration of such issues.

Candidate Statement: Michael F. Oates

April 27, 2010

I have been a Brookline resident for 17 years, and have been a Town Meeting Member since 2007. I serve on the Advisory Committee, and on its Public Safety Subcommittee. I am the father of twin 1st grade girls and have a son in 8th grade.

I am an active board member in the Fisher Hill neighborhood association and have served as its Email Secretary for over 10 years. I created and maintain the neighborhood email list, and help in regular mailings. I work to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood through helping with social events such as our annual dinner. I serve on the Carbon Reduction committee, where I helped our neighborhood win 1st place in the BNA Green Neighborhoods Challenge. I have also been working to ensure appropriate zoning and development in our neighborhood and throughout town.

I have a passion for education. I am the CTO of an education technology company. I donate time and services to meet the needs of at risk children through my work with both public schools and non profit organizations.

Many of you may know me through my efforts to improve the design of Runkle School. Although I ultimately failed in my efforts to advocate for a school design that met the needs of both students and neighbors, I did force the town to correctly interpret zoning for other projects in town such as the proposed Mormon Church on Route 9. Because of my strong support for education, I ultimately decided not to pursue the design issues further. However, the design and permitting decisions for Runkle have created a dangerous zoning precedent and put a spotlight on what the Town is capable of doing in support of a favored project. I plan to use what I have learned to advocate for and protect other residents and neighborhoods. If you are interested you can read more about the Runkle project from my perspective at http://runkle.wordpress.com.

As a TMM, I support quality of life issues including: the recent proposition 2 ½ override for the elementary world language program, neighborhood initiatives for traffic calming and noise abatement, and neighborhood-friendly zoning. Brookline has a long tradition of preservation, quality of town services, and participatory government. If re-elected, I will work for stricter adherence to our zoning by-laws to limit over-development, and to protect both individuals and neighborhoods. I will also continue to advocate for excellent town services and schools, and I will work to improve the transparency of town government.

It has been a privilege serving precinct 12 and I hope you will support me on May 4th.

Candidate Statement: Catherine P. Brown

April 26, 2010

I believe in engaging and giving back to my community of residence. I have been a life-long Democrat, involved in many local and state level campaigns. My professional work of nearly 35 years has been in government health care operations in the public, private and academic sectors. Throughout my career in health care operations and program management, I have implemented and led several privatization and consulting projects of varying scale. Most recently, I served as the Project Director of the Massachusetts universal health care reform initiative, the Commonwealth Care Program. As Project Director, I directed the operations of the statewide Commonwealth Care Customer Service Center providing member education, enrollment, and premium billing services via multiple channels on behalf of the Connector Authority. Under my leadership, we continually improved and expedited service levels being provided while advancing and integrating many programmatic changes; including multiple open enrollment periods; enforcement of the individual mandate; issuance of refunds and changes to the affordability schedules.

Around Brookline, in addition to being a TMM of Precinct 12 for the past three years, I have served on the Board of Overseerers for the 21st Century Fund; was an active parent at BHS, including serving as Chair of the Auction Committee of the ATTP for many years. My daughter Sarah graduated from BHS in 2008. She attended SWS and is currently attending the Gallatin School at NYU. I am currently involved with the Roxbury Prep Charter School and volunteering to fight lung cancer by funding innovative research and increasing awareness of the disease, including persons who have never smoked.

In my role as TMM, I believe I serve as one of many fiscal and socially responsible stewards of Brookline’s town government and services. On behalf of all her citizens, we are responsible to make or buy services of the highest quality for the best price. I have extensive experience leading privatization of government services to help government serve the people. I evaluate each situation by listening to all voices and concerns and then choose my choice with my conscience, experience, and current circumstances.

Please feel free to contact me at brownkate99@gmail.com or call me at 617-734-8535.

Campaign Season in Full Swing

April 15, 2010

Last night the Brookline Neighborhood Alliance sponsored a candidate’s night at the Brookline Access Television studios. The BNA heard from the candidates for all the town-wide offices. The panel presentations will be broadcast by BATV this Sunday.

As a reminder to all Precinct 12 residents: the week of April 26-30, Neighbors Building Brookline will be posting candidate statements, one per day, to allow you to get to know the Town Meeting Member candidates we support for election this year. For the record, NBB supports re-election of all five of our current incumbents whose terms are up this year:

Catherine P. Brown
Bruce B. Cohen
Michael F. Oates
William E. Slotnick
Donald C. Weitzman

We also support NBB member Michael A. Burstein in his bid for a third term as a Library Trustee; his campaign website can be found at Burstein for Brookline.