Josh Turiel’s Take On San Bernardino

[ed: This is a guest post from Josh Turiel because your regular Clam editors are just too exhausted and drunk to post another goddamn diatribe on our outrageous gun problem. Also, if you’re unfamiliar, “Daesh” is the word we now use to describe ISIS. According to a Globe editorial, “Depending on how it is conjugated in Arabic, it can mean anything from “to trample down and crush” to “a bigot who imposes his view on others.” And basically, ISIS hates it so let’s do it from here on out. USA! USA!]

So the San Bernardino shooters were a couple, apparently led by the woman, who were inspired by ideology to commit terrorism. Which means that OMG Daesh is here.

Except they aren’t here. What we have is a dangerous hybrid of terror wannabes who aren’t part of any organized effort. Some have been overseas and exposed to the extremism virus over there. Some have been following it here and been inspired by Facebook, news coverage, Twitter, and bajillions of things you’ve never heard of. Maybe there’s one nutty charismatic Iman at a local mosque who inspired someone.

Or maybe they broke down and went rogue after listening to this the entire goddamn length of the Pike

Or maybe they broke down and went rogue after listening to this the entire goddamn length of the Pike

In a lot of ways, that’s more scary than if Daesh were actually here in this country setting up operations, but it’s less dangerous overall. America is a pretty free nation, despite what nutters on both sides may think, and there’s always going to be that risk that a couple of people will be inspired by whatever ideology and do something horrible. We’ve been dealing with domestic terrorism for a lot longer than most of you think.

 

Remember Timothy McVeigh and his partner Terry Nichols? Yep. Domestic terrorists inspired by radical ideology to commit the Oklahoma City bombing. But it was Christian ideology, developed right here at home. The Atlanta Olympic bombing along with several others? Eric Rudolph, a member of the Army of God. Christian. The Sikh Temple shooting? Wade Page, a white supremacist. This past June, Dylann Roof killed nine people at a Methodist church in Charleston, South Carolina. Remember the guy in Colorado just a week ago?

 

There’s plenty more.

 

I’m not saying that Muslims are blameless, either. We remember the Tsarnevs pretty well in these parts. Nidal Hassan killed 13 people on the Army base where he worked (he was a US Army Major) at Fort Hood, Texas. Also that year, Abdul Muhammad killed one man and wounded another in a drive-by shooting in Little Rock, Arkansas. There are plenty of instances that a simple Google search can find of arrests and interrupted plots.

 

The reason that most of these would be terrorists are caught and arrested before they can try to do harm is simple. They organize. They set up groups and networks. A group of people acting suspiciously sets off alarms in law enforcement. They aren’t so good at keeping secrets. They’re noticed, and ultimately arrested. Our FBI isn’t perfect, but they’re pretty damned good – and working with local and state law enforcement they usually stop these plots before they go anywhere.

 

Note that in the above paragraph I did NOT say “Islamic terrorists”. Law enforcement is good at catching terrorist plots regardless of religious or ideological motivation.

 

As I mentioned at the beginning, the problem for us (and this is inherent to any society that’s even slightly free) is the lone actor. The married couple. The one angry person and his or her close friend. The brothers. They form a self-contained unit, rarely set off warning signs, and aren’t usually interested in surviving their acts so much as they are sending a message.

The scary thing about it is the simple truth that WE CAN’T STOP THEM ALL. Every city has some potential people that could fit. Every backwoods could have a rusty old trailer with a McVeigh living there. Every neighborhood can have Tsarnev brothers. We never know for sure.

 

Should that make this country into something else that’s meaner, more suspicious, and more xenophobic than it’s been for generations? I hope not. I don’t blame all my Christian friends for Eric Rudolph. I don’t blame my Muslim friends for the Tsarnevs. I also understand the actual nuance between Daesh as a fighting force in Iraq and Syria, and Daesh as an ideology that has inspired a new wave of nuts in Europe, Asia, and America. We can pretty easily defeat the military Daesh. But it doesn’t stop the people here that are motivated by them. This is the problem we face as a nation and as a people.

 

That said, if you think that this sort of existential threat is best suited to Facebook memes about Obama being weak because he understands the difference, too? Well, you’re a fool – and you’re probably not reading this article, either. You don’t get nuance. OK, it takes all sorts.

 

Basically, to sum this up, we have two real military foes right now. Both are extreme fundamentalist Islamic-inspired groups – the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Daesh in Iraq/Syria. We also have a global problem with terrorism committed mainly by individuals and small teams that are inspired by these groups, and by other extreme religious groups around the world. Religious-inspired violence and terror has been a problem for societies since before the modern era. It remains one today. Here in the United States, the Islamic threat of the last twenty years or so is added to the Christian and racially-inspired terror we’ve dealt with since before the Civil War. We need to fight this as a nation without letting the fight destroy us as a nation.

 

And based on the rhetoric I see all the time, even from serious candidates for this nation’s highest office, we’re not doing so good at that. We’re better than this, people.

Ward 4 Math: Part III – NUMB3RS, Or The Magical, Mythical, Vanishing Seventeen Percent

So the linchpin to Kathryn Goodick’s entire city council campaign – its very reason for being — is her story that when she opened her property tax bill this past January, she was shocked to see that it had “gone up by seventeen percent.”

It was that shock that started her campaign first to fight, and now to join, City Hall.

That mythical “seventeen percent increase” was so hard a hit for her that, on February 24 she went right down to City Hall and testified at a City Council hearing that she had been forced to cancel her plans to remodel her kitchen because that, we now know imaginary, “17% tax increase” had walloped her family finances so thoroughly that she could not longer afford to remodel her twenty year old kitchen. (City Council Minutes, February 24, 2015)

But here’s the thing. That 17% tax increase? It never happened.

Never.

At least not in the past ten and a half years, which is as far as the city’s online tax records go.

When I pointed this out to her, her eventual explanation was simple: to deny she’d ever said it.

I had heard her wrong, she claimed. She never said her taxes had gone up 17% in one year, all she’d said was that they’d gone up 17% over the past few years.

Perhaps, she told me, “you misunderstood my message.”

What I said was my taxes increased 17% over the past few years” (words hers, my emphasis).

She’s reiterated this same story — if you’ll pardon my language — on Facebook this past Friday, October 23, where she posted (in part) “I never said my taxes went up 17% in one year.”

(See, Kathryn Goodick for Ward 4 Facebook Page)

Except that she did.

I heard her quite clearly. And so did the other people in the room with whom I’ve been in touch about this.

But you don’t have to believe any of us. Her line — “I was shocked to see that my taxes had gone up 17%, and I don’t know about you, but my income didn’t go up 17% to offset it” — is clearly part of the well rehearsed stump speach that she’s given a lot. She says that she’s knocked on over 1,500 doors in Ward 4 during this campaign, and I’m willing to bet she handed that same line to 1,499 of them.

She even says it here (link). Watch it for yourself if you like. The money quote (literally, the MONEY quote), is at about 2:07.

Or you can save two minutes of your life and just watch the much shorter clip below, where we’ve set everything she says on the 17% issue in her campaign video to music. It’s pretty much everything you need to know. Plus you can dance to it.

Missing you’ll note, just as it was when I heard her speak in person on October 16th, is the key qualifiying phrase, “over the past few years.”

Because, she didn’t say it.

The Truth is Not Irrelevant

At the same time as denying she ever made the 17% claim, Ms. Goodick also labored mightily to change the subject from whether she’d told us all a fairy tale to her insistence that taxes in Gloucester are too high in general.

Clearly,” she wrote to me, “if I misstated the numbers or you misunderstood my message, it is not really the issue.”

In other words: “whether the shocking story I tell at the beginning of all my stump speeches is completely made-up or not doesn’t matter.”

Um.

The truth IS the point.

Before we can all have a discussion about issues like taxes, property assessments or water and sewer bills, we need to establish some ground rules. And one of the first ones is no lying. Or misleading. Or dissembling.

That applies double when we’re choosing the people we want to run our city. Whatever their position on IC42 or Fuller, or the water debt, we first need to know that they’re people we can trust to speak the truth when they talk to us.

Eveyone is going to make mistakes. And when that happens, generally a simple apology and correction is really all you need to do. Here’s how easy hers could have been:

I made a mistake, I’m sorry that I misled you. My taxes didn’t go up nearly that much. I’ll be more careful about this kind of thing in the future, but I still think taxes in this town are too high.”

And done. It could have been that simple. Then we could have moved to a discussion about taxes.

But insisting that it doesn’t matter whether or not she misled Gloucester voters with an entirely bogus story in order to convince them to vote for her — that’s a problem.

Honesty is not irrelevant.

NEXT: She Changes Her Story Completely

Then when the sun came up the next morning, she changed her story completely. A stunning 180 degree reversal.

uturn

At 5:45 the next morning Ms. Goodick wrote to tell me (paraphrasing) “Hey, you know what? Forget all that stuff I wrote about how I didn’t say my taxes went up by 17% last year and how you misheard me. You didn’t mishear me, you heard me just fine. I should have said that my taxes DID go up by 17% last year.”

That 17% claim that I’d heard her say in person, that she then insisted she hadn’t said at all, had now reappeared. Magic!

Here’s what she actually wrote to me that morning:

[One] more fact for you.  My quarterly property bill for 2014 in August 2014 was $1,460.80 compared to my tax bill due on February 2015 was $1,712.93.  . . .

Let me help you with the math:  it is a difference of $252.13…or 17%!!!

She posted this same nonsense on her campaign’s Facebook page on Friday, October 23rd (but without the offer to help with the math).

. . . the fact is that my numbers substantiate that comparing two quarters in two separate years my taxes indeed went up 17%. Seriously look at what you are quivering [sic] over?!?

Oy.

At best, either she never said that her taxes went up 17% in one year, OR she did say that and she was right to say it. It can’t be both.

Here actually however, it’s neither. She did say it and she was wrong when she said it.

Failing to Understand How Gloucester Taxes Work

wiggum

So that brings us to where this mystical 17% number came from in the first place, and it’s pretty clear. She just didn’t plain understand her tax bill. Or how property taxes bills work in general.

Now in 2015 the only, repeat ONLY, reason all of our property tax bills spiked was the city’s decision to shift the cost of our sewer improvement project off of our water bills and onto our property tax bills. A dubious proposition if you ask me, but pretty much everyone in town knew about it.

That shift onto our property tax bills was put into the first two quarters of the year instead of being spread out evenly over all four quarters. Which is pretty much how it works in Massachusetts.

So her February 2015 bill was indeed 17% higher than her August 2014 bill. But then her final two quarterly tax bills of 2015 had a 0% increase, so in the end her actual property tax increase for the year was 8.6%.

Which is exactly what we’ve been saying all along.

But not what she’s been saying on the campaign trail.

What happened was: she didn’t understand her bill, and then she based her whole campaign on that misunderstanding.

There are a lot of ways to dissect this in more detail, but Jim Dowd of this very Gloucester Clam you are reading right now captured it best in the email he shot me after he first saw Ms. Goodick’s explanation for her “17% shock.”

I bought 14 gallons of gas last night on my drive home from the client meeting at $1.99/gallon (Beverly exit 19, motherfuckers!!!). It cost me $27.86. Holy shit, last week I bought 7 gallons at a total cost of $13.93! I’ve suffered a 50% increase in my gas bill!!!

IMPEACH

That about sizes it up.

The “Evidence” — A Single, Incomprehensible and Meaningless Spreadsheet

At this point, the Cape Ann GOP jumped into the fray. Amanda Kesterson, chair of the Cape Ann GOP posted this at Cape Ann Online, demanding a retraction:

The author of this misleading article from The Clam offered to retract it once Kathryn provided evidence he was wrong. She sent the evidence to him yesterday, and here it is.  We’re still waiting for the retraction, though.

https://www.facebook.com/KathrynGoodickWard4/photos/a.1466567313659517.1073741828.1466400910342824/1507571072892474/?type=3&theater

Evidence?”

Using that word in this context is making John Henry Wigmore himself roll over in his grave.

Wigmore Grave Roller

Trying to figure out Ms. Goodick’s nonsensical spreadsheet without assistance will just make your head ache, so here’s a marked up version that clarifies it all. It was sent to me by someone with an M.B.A. in Finance from UCLA. (If you’ve been following this saga from the beginning it will no doubt be familiar to you.)

WheresThe17Percent

Nothing in that cryptic and nearly incomprehensible spreadsheet says that Kathryn Goodick’s taxes went up 17%. To the contrary, it says, just like we have from the beginning, that her taxes went up 8.6% last year. And that was the most they’d ever increased.

thinkitmeans

The Water Bill Offset: Does She Not Understand the Missing Piece of the Puzzle?

Take a deep breath, we’ve almost gotten through this. But there’s still one more thing that’s really important.

It’s what economists call, and I apologize for having to use a technical term here, but it’s really the only way to accurately describe it — a “ginormous problem with your analysis you dunderhead.”

It’s this:

When the city did the big 2015 water bill/tax bill shift, the plan was to reduce everyone’s water bill in an amount that would offset the increase in everyone’s property tax. Pretty much, that’s what happened across the city.

So if you complain that you’re shocked, SHOCKED that your property tax bill went up but don’t account for the fact that at the same time your water bill went DOWN, you’re either:

  • intentionally playing fast and loose with the facts or

  • entirely clueless

    Either way you shouldn’t be managing the $100 million dollar city budget you want to get your hands on.

But because throughout her campaign Ms. Goodick has focused on only the tax increase half of equation, someone needs to shine a light on the other half.

And the esteemable Martin Del Vecchio has done this for us in his posts at Ms. Goodick’s Facebook campaign page and at Cape Ann Online this past week.

The bottom line of all Marty’s figuring though is that, just as it was supposed to, the 2015 Goodick water bill at 10 Dogtown Road did go way down. In fact it went down by enough to offset nearly the entire amount by which her property taxes went up.

Taking into account

  • all the money she saved on her water bill,

  • the 3.3% increase in the assessed value of her home between 2014 and 2015,

the net effect of the 2015 increase on Kathryn Goodick’s half million dollar home was eighty-four dollars.

Eighy-four dollars. Seven dollars a month.

And if she itemizes her deductions, she’ll get an additional $499 deduction for the increasead property taxes she paid that she wasn’t getting for paying her water bill, and that deduction will more than wipe out that $84 increase. Bottom line: she probably ends up making money.

But even if she doesn’t take that deduction, we’re still looking $84 which amounts to a net increase in her 2015 tax/water bills of not 17%, not even 8.6%, but a paltry 1.4%.

actual

Yep. Her combined tax and water bill increase for 2015 was a grand total of $84. 

Like details? Marty does. Do check out his careful work here.

Good thing for Gloucester voters that all our utility bills are available online where Marty could check them. I wonder if Karthryn Goodick knew that was possible.

Not surprisingly, I hadn’t yet gone through the water bill part of this equation when I first wrote Ms. Goodick to ask about her phantom “17% tax increase.”

But now that I have, once again, I feel a bit misled. Don’t you?

It sure looks like throughout her entire campaign, knocking on over 1,500 doors in Ward 4, she’s been overstating her tax increase by a factor of 100%, leaving out the offsetting reduction she got in her water bill, and scaring voters all over Ward 4 with a fake story of a fake tax increase.

View post on imgur.com

– – – – –

Stay Tuned. Next time: I’ll look at her claim that her children wouldn’t be able to pay the taxes on her house if she and her husband outright gave it to them. (Hint: This might be a wee bit of an exaggeration.)

In Which We Do the Math in Ward 4: Part II – The Force Awakens

Steven Voltz, Guest Blogger, takes over again:

A few hours after The Clam posted my guest blog on Wednesday morning, I got an email from Kathryn Goodick, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner and promising a substantive response soon. Shortly before midnight, it arrrived.

Since that first piece on Wednesday there’s been a lot of sometimes quite energetic discussion about it online, here, at Cape Ann Online, and elsewhere.

And among other things, there’s been a demand from Ms. Goodick that I apologize and from the Cape Ann GOP that I retract my piece.

I will not be doing either.

Here’s the latest on what’s been happening.

How It All Started

On Friday evening, October 16th I attended a coffee at a friend’s home at which Kathryn Goodick was campaigning. The next day, Saturday, October 17th I sent Ms. Goodick a private email, with a courtesy copy to the couple who had hosted the coffee on the previous night. In that private email I mentioned three things, each of which I explained in some detail, that had left me feeling mislead, once I got home and was able to to a little fact checking. I asked her for clarification and to correct any errors I might have made in my fact checking.

On Sunday morning, in response to my email, our host emailed us both, saying in part “I’ll look forward to what Kathryn has to say about the budget.”

But by Sunday night I had no response to either of those emails.

By Monday night, Ms. Goodick still had not responded.

I then sent her a third email, in case you had somehow missed the first two. I wrote:

Hi again Kathryn,

Haven’t heard from you re my email from Saturday.

I’m hoping you’ll let me know if I’m mistaken in my understanding of things or if there’s anything important you’d like to add that you feel I may be missing.

Thanks in advance,

Stephen

Tuesday.

Still no answer.

Finally, after three days and three unanswered emails, I concluded that she did not intend to respond.

At that point I forwarded my original email on to the Clam together with a few pargraphs of background on how it had come to be written and on my unsuccessful efforts to get her to correct anything I had gotten wrong or to let me know of anything else you thought was relevant.

The Clam Posts and Lo and Behold . . .

At 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning The Clam published my letter (and to my surprise, the few paragraphs of background I had hastily written) as part of this blog post In Which We Do Some Math in Ward 4.

Coincidentally — or I suppose possibly not coincidentally — at 7:49 that morning Ms. Goodick emailed me with this:

Sorry Stephen for it [sic] responding to you earlier.   

I will get back to you shortly.  

I’m traveling at this moment.  I do apologize that with several email accounts to check on, I missed yours.  

Kathryn 

Odd, I thought that she’d be traveling out of town at the height of campaign season, and odder still that, while travelling at such a critical time she would not check, or have someone else check, the email coming in to the address she had listed on her campaign literature.

Regardless, I immediately wrote to the folks at The Clam and told them she was preparing a response, and that if as a result we learned that anything in my piece was inaccurate we would have to correct it promptly.

And next I wrote her back:

Hi Kathryn,

Glad to see you’re on this now.  I’m looking forward to your response.

In the mean time, I should tell you that after waiting three days and sending you two emails all without a response, I concluded that you were yet another politician who wasn’t going to respond.  So yesterday afternoon I passed my letters, along with some background of how they came about to the folks at the excellent local blog, The Gloucester Clam.  You might know them from the top notch work they did covering the Market Basket situation a year or so ago.  Often it was their coverage that was picked up and repeated by the local and national news outlets covering the story.

They published my letters this morning.

I have already written to them to tell them that I have now heard from you and that they need to give you an opportunity to respond in some way at the Clam as well as to me, now that my concerns are more public.

Here’s a link to the post that went up this morning

If I have gotten any relevant facts wrong I will work with you to make absolutely certain that the Clam corrects them prominently and immediately.

Stephen

She responded an hour or so later:

Stephen

Again [sic] I am not a politician and am very sorry you felt the need to do so [sic] on a social media website.  I was alerted to this fact this morning by others who read it.  

Since items that people have written on these sites and particularly about me directly have been a [sic] character assassination I do not read these any longer. 

Again I apologize for not responding sooner.  I am at work this morning but will get back to you when I take my lunch break.  

Thank you for understanding 

Kathryn

Lunch time came and went.

I got nothing from her.

Dinner time came and went.

Still nothing.

A Substantive Response

I finally got ready to go to bed at about 11:45 and checked by email one last time to discover that at 11:15 Ms. Goodick had emailed me a 1500+ word response along with two xls file attachments.

Now Ms. Goodick hasn’t yet asked The Clam to print her full email to me, although I believe it is willing to do so (omitting some potentially libelous material).

[Editor’s Note: The Clam has this morning offered Kathryn Goodick an opportunity to post the portions of this her email that are relevant to the issues raised in our original piece. -Ed.]

Suffice to say for now however that the gist of her email as it related to The Clam piece were her claims that:

  1. Contrary to what I have written, she never claimed when she spoke at the coffee on Friday night that her taxes had gone up 17% in one year. What she said was only that they had gone up 17% over the past few years.

  2. Her children could not, in fact, afford to live in her house even if she gave it to them because, although as she put it: “as you accurately stated my taxes are $1,600 per quarter . . . [nonetheless] . . . they [still] couldn’t afford it” because they would also have other bills to pay such as food, utilities and student loans.

  3. Her claim that the city budget isn’t available to the public was correct because the full proposed budget isn’t made available to the public until the day it is voted on, at which point it is too late for any meaningful review.

After I read her email yesterday morning, I saw that she had also sent a second follow up email several hours later in which she offered to “help me with the math.”

Me [one] more fact for you.  My quarterly property bill for 2014 in August 2014 was $1,460.80 compared to my tax bill due on February 2015 was $1,712.93.  Again this was due in part to the city’s decision to put the entire water debt shift on two quarters vs spread out over four quarters.  

Let me help you with the math:  it is a difference of $252.13…or 17%!!!”

Again [sic] as an attorney, you understand that [false and potentially libelous material redacted] is not looked upon very kindly.  So with that, I would ask you to take down your harsh and [false and potentially libelous material redacted] comments; and I will await your apology.

Silence [sic].

Kathryn Goodick

At 9:56 yesteday morning she posted this to her campaign’s Facebook page:

For those who have questioned my claims regarding my tax situation during this campaign, this should answer your questions. My quarterly property bill for 2014 in August 2014 was $1,460.80 compared to my tax bill due on February 2015 was $1,712.93. Again this was due in part to the city’s decision to put the entire water debt shift on two quarters vs spread out over four quarters.
It is a difference of $252.13…or 17%!!!

And The GOP Wants A Retraction

A few hours later, (in a post time-stamped 1:02 yesterday afternoon), Amanda Kesterson, head of the Cape Ann GOP and one of Ms. Goodick’s early supporters, posted this at the Cape Ann Online Home Forum:

The author of this misleading article from The Clam offered to retract it once Kathryn provided evidence he was wrong. She sent the evidence to him yesterday, and here it is.  We’re still waiting for the retraction, though.

https://www.facebook.com/KathrynGoodickWard4/photos/a.1466567313659517.1073741828.1466400910342824/1507571072892474/?type=3&theater

Wow. Don’t quite know where to begin here. This is quite an impressive post because although it’s so short, it gets so many different things wrong.

Briefly,

1) my “article” was not misleading, it was accurate.

2) I never offered to retract it (I offered to correct it if anything in it was incorrect), and

3) The spreadsheet Ms. Kesterson’s post links to was in no way “evidence” that anything I had written was incorrect.

Oh and also, “We’re still waiting for the retraction?”

Seriously?

At 1:00 yesteday afternoon the electrons on Ms. Goodick’s 6:00 a.m. email were barely dry.

I had given Kathryn Goodick three days — and she had been sent and failed to respond to three separate emails — before I finally concluded that she didn’t intend to answer me and I moved on.

I, on the other hand, got a six page midnight email with two spreadsheet attachments along with a crack-of-dawn follow up email with entirely new numbers and a new and contradictory story, and yet a few short hours later the Cape Ann GOP was publically outraged that I hadn’t yet responded.

Apparently they have different rules for themselves than for the rest of us.

WheresThe17Percent

Stay Tuned

So, that’s where we are.

But stay tuned.

In my upcoming posts over the next few days, I’ll be addressing Ms. Goodick’s puzzlingly conflicting claims that:

  • she never said her taxes had gone up 17% in one year, only that they had gone up by 17% over the past few years, and

  • she was totally right to say that her taxes went up 17% in one year,

as well as her claims that:

  • her children really could not afford to pay $530 a month for housing, and

  • the Gloucester budget process is so hopelessly opaque that no ordinary citizen can meaningfully participate.

There will not however be an apology.

In Which We Do Some Math In Ward 4.

It’s local election time, or as we at the Clam like to call it, “the time of the year we yearn to be eaten by coyotes.” We’ve noticed a few local city council races heating up, especially in Ward 4. So our guest poster today is Stephen Voltz, a lawyer and partner at Eepybird! He also wrote the book “How to Build a Hovercraft,” which is awesome because it teaches you how to build a goddamn hovercraft. Anyway, he had an interesting thought about Ward 4 candidate Kathryn Goodick. 

Last Friday evening I went to a small Coffee with the Candidate event for Kathryn Goodick at a friends’ house out on Wheeler’s Point.  I had been invited by the couple who was hosting it, both of whom I’ve known for some time, and both of whom I know to be smart, thoughtful and extremely nice people.

There was some cocktail party like conversation to begin, then we all sat down in the living room to listen to her speak for about 10 minutes or so on why she was running for city council.  The focus of her pitch was that taxes in town are too high, that the reason they’re too is that there’s so much waste and unnecessary spending in the city budget, and that the politicians who run the city won’t let the citizens see the budget in enough detail to meaningfully review it.

She opened her talk with a very effective story about how she became involved in local politics not long ago when she opened her property tax bill to discover that she’d been hit with a shocking 17% tax increase.

Her taxes were now so high she told us, that if she and her husband were to give their house to their children, her children still wouldn’t be able to live there because they wouldn’t be able to afford pay the real estate tax on the property.

She gave her pitch very effectively. I suspect she’s done it before and will be giving it again and again in living rooms all over Ward 4 until the election.

After she finished there was a Q & A session in which I asked a few questions primarily directed to asking her to talk about what plan she had, if any, for addressing the problems she raised. Because of another commitment I had that evening I had to leave before the Q & A was done.

After I left however, I did some fact checking into some of the things she had told us, and was disturbed by what I found. Saturday evening I sent her the email shown below.  She never responded.  On Monday evening I sent her another email asking for a response.

Radio silence.

I’m passing this all onto the Clam because it now looks to me as though Kathryn Goodick’s standard stump speech, the talk she’s likely giving in living rooms all over Ward 4 as she campaigns to be one of our next city councilors, is based on stories she simply fabricated. Her taxes haven’t gone up by 17%. Not recently, not ever.  At least not as far back as the 11 years easily available records go.Over the past 11 years she’s had an average annual tax increase of about 2-3%.And the story about her kids also appears to be less than plausible. And so does the claim that a regular citizen can’t get the details of the city budget. It’s very discouraging.

Initial Email, sent Saturday evening:

Hi Kathryn,

I was the tall bald fellow in the brown shirt who asked a few questions and had to leave your coffee early last night. Again, my apologies. I really wish I’d been able to stay.
I’ve been thinking about what you said last night though and some things are concerning me.
First, as I recall you told us that a normal person can’t get to see the city budget, and as a result none of us can really know how City Hall is spending our money. When I asked you what your plan was to address the financial concerns you were raising, you said that you didn’t have a specific plan because you hadn’t been able to see a detailed budget.

 

That made sense. But then when I looked online this morning, I found this.
Gloucester Massachusetts Budget FY 2016
There’s 142 pages of budget detail here. That seems like more than enough to outline a fiscal plan for the city.
I feel a little misled. You also told us that the reason you started to become involved in city politics was because you had had opened an envelope not too long ago to find a 17% spike in your property taxes. You said that your taxes are now so high that even if you gave your house to your children now they wouldn’t be able to live there because they wouldn’t be able to afford the taxes

That’s a really compelling story. But it’s hard to fit with the numbers I’m finding today. And maybe I’m missing something, if so, please let me know. According to the city’s records, in 2006 the real estate taxes for your home at 10 Dogtown Road were $4,852. Eleven years later, in 2015, they had risen to $6,347. That’s a nominal 2.8% annual rate, and in line with Proposition 2½. And it’s pretty much what every homeowner in the state gets hit with every year.

The biggest spike I see for your property was from 2014 to 2015 when all our taxes got the big water and sewer bill shift. But even that year your taxes only went up from $5,843 to $6,347. More than usual, but still, a one time increase of just 8.63%. The 17% spike you told us about last night would be twice that. Am I missing something?
And of course when we all got hit by that 8-9% spike we all knew what it was from. It wasn’t sudden overspending by the city, it was just the shift of the cost of the water/sewer debt the city has from our federally mandated sewer overflow project off our water bills and onto our property tax bills. (Not a good decision in my book, but it wasn’t the kind of irresponsible overspending you were telling us about last night.)

And after I left last night I also realized that I don’t really understand how you say to us that if you gave your children your house they wouldn’t be able to live in it because they wouldn’t be able to pay the taxes. Real estate taxes on 10 Dogtown Road are $6,347 a year. If you gave your children your house, living there would only cost them $530 a month. That’s more than affordable. Where else in Massachusetts can you rent a house for $530 a month?

I’m disappointed to say that the more I think about what you told us last night the more I feel misled.
I would very much appreciate anything you might be able to tell me to clear any of this up.
Thanks in advance,
Stephen Voltz

Follow up email, sent Monday evening:

 

Hi again Kathryn,

Haven’t heard from you re my email from Saturday.

I’m hoping you’ll let me know if I’m mistaken in my understanding of things or if there’s anything important you’d like to add that you feel I may be missing.

Thanks in advance,

Stephen

10 Dogtown Tax History

Link: Real Estate Tax History – 10 Dogtown Road, Gloucester, MA (Douglas and Karthryn Goodick), T by E

Fiscal Year

Tax

Increase (Decrease)

% Increase

2006

4852

2007

4801

-51

(1%)

2008

4841

40

0.8%

2009

4886

45

0.9%

2010

5054

168

3.4%

2011

5326

272

5.3%

2012

5561

235

4.4%

2013

5658

97

1.7%

2014

5843

185

3.2%

2015

6347

504

8.6%

2016

6,320*

*Estimate based on (Q1 and Q2) x 2

 

A visitor’s guide to Gloucester Harbor Etiquette

by Josh Turiel

Good morning, Clam Nation. Most of you know me here as the Clam’s representative from Over The Bridge. Well, besides that and my work as a Actual Elected Official™, I am also a member of the boating community – being the proud owner of an ancient 25’ powerboat that I keep in my home port of Salem.

 

As a boat owner, one learns the etiquette of how to behave properly while boating. For instance, you should learn the boundaries of a harbor’s no-wake zone and always keep your speed below 5 knots (a knot is a mile that took steroids to add bulk). You should always give way to a vessel under sail, or one that is less maneuverable than you are. Blasting your horn once when leaving a dock is proper, and three short blasts indicate backing up (mainly ignored by small boats).

 

In my travels for fun and the pursuit of fish, I’ve learned certain rules also apply in different areas. Today I’d like to share a few of the things I’ve learned about boating in and around Gloucester Harbor, with explanations as needed.

 

Rule number 1: WE REALLY NEED THIS FISH!!!

 

Explanation: Not only are commercial fishermen and people who think they are commercial fishermen all over the place, they’re in a hurry. Some of them have decided that the next great catch is right in the middle of the channel, too – and they couldn’t care less that you’re trying to transit.

 

Rule number 2: Kayaking is a great and healthy fad.

 

Explanation: It is customary in Gloucester to speed up when you see kayaks nearby, in order to provide a wake for them to enjoy. This textural element eliminates the boredom kayakers experience when paddling on an otherwise smooth ocean, and their shouts of “Thanks. Thanks a lot.” are not sarcastic at all.

 

Rule number 3: Make fellow boaters aware of your presence.

 

Explanation: It’s been explained to me by a reliable native that one should approach at a high speed, whilst standing nude on the bow and broadcasting “Ride of the Valkyries.” Also be drinking. Sounds reasonable.

 

Rule number 4: When cruising at night, don’t forget to blast your music.

 

Explanation: Since you’re out on the water and away from everyone, you can really pump out every decibel that boat stereo can produce without worrying that you might wake the neighbors. After all, if you can’t hear them yelling from shore to turn it down, they can’t hear you. This also has the wonderful effect of making yourself noticeable at times where being nude on the bow just doesn’t work.

 

Rule number 5: Bridges were made to be open.

 

Explanation: There’s no reason to queue up at the Blynman Bridge. Motorists in Gloucester love to wait 20 minutes so you can slip in all by yourself. Think of the things that they throw at you while you pass as the confetti of love and welcome.

 

Rule number 6: The Inner Harbor is a welcoming place.

 

Explanation: People in working boats like nothing more than to be visited by Muffy and Skip while they are busy loading or unloading, or trying to get in or out of the harbor so they can work. They love to stop and explain their chores to the passers-by, and the larger the yacht that pulls up the bigger the tip should be given for their enchanting sea tales and salty language.

 

Also, a few hints about the sights you’ll see there: the beautiful sailboat with the screams coming from it is not a secret sex dungeon. It’s just the residence of one of our favorite local entrepreneurs. Be aware of drones flying near Rocky Neck (it’s science!) or any time there’s a local event of note. The Clam has a number of drone enthusiasts among us. And a tip on fuel – come well-stocked. Marine gas is always more expensive than mainland gas. And Gloucester gas is the priciest of all.

 

And one last thing to bring up about procedure. I consulted with Clameditor Jim Dowd as I prepared this piece. He told me that the proper way to enter Gloucester Harbor was to, and I quote:

 

“Come in under flying topgallants, Salute the Fort with starboard guns, dip flag, display pennants, pipe aboard the Mayor and her retainers. All ratings in dress uniform, man-jacks in Sunday wear.”

 

I’m no googin, but I’m pretty sure that’s about 90% made up. Or it may be a Gloucester thing. I’m not certain.

 

Keeping this local knowledge in mind should help you greatly in your navigation of scenic Gloucester. I encourage more tips in the comments, so we can produce an updated copy of this later on.