Tales from the BudComm - So how do you rectify those two statements, Sean? - Granite Grok

Tales from the BudComm – So how do you rectify those two statements, Sean?

BudgetAs I said in the last issue in this Tales from the BudComm series, I became real concerned when freshman Joe Wernig first said, and then Chair Sean Murphy assented, that we weren’t supposed to be changing GL accounts – the line items in the “recommendations” (verbiage from RSA 32) that the School District / Municipality give to the BudComm.  The troublesome verbiage in the transcript is after the jump.

So this past meeting, I decided to pin Sean Murphy down on his assent on Wernig’s supposition that changing any amount is MicroManagement and that’s no our job.  Either we do change the GL Line item amounts because we think that the recommendations are too high (or too low), or what are we doing is a farce and waste of time.  And I told him that.  Here’s the snippet from the hour long meeting when Sean Murphy recognized me during the meeting to raise the issue.

In the end, Sean had to back down as you can’t hold two diametrically opposite views on the Proper Role of Government at this level and be able to do anything.  Now, as I have said for years, sure, listen to

Please note that Kirsten Snow, also a freshman on the BudComm, wasn’t too pleased with me for raising the issue as Joe Wenig was absent.  It is quite clear, if you listen to the video, the focus was on Sean Murphy and not Joe Wernig.  I told people that for full context, Lakes Region Public Access had posted the entire video (I always URGE people to watch the full videos because context matters).  Even after the meeting, she didn’t want to discuss it.

I started off with “what do you see the role of the Budget Committee being if we don’t discuss and manage the BL accounts

Silence from Sean (I’m really straining not to put in “strained” as a modifier there).

I added “Because if we’re not doing anything at the GL account level (the line items), this whole process is a farce and a waste of time.

More silence

Sean finally starts to say “We aren’t here to tell this gentleman and his board and that gentleman and that board what to do. Thta is not our role…that is not the role of this committee.

Of course, I couldn’t let that go by: “What IS the role of the BudComm if we aren’t going to do anything?”.  Had to be asked because he wasn’t answering the question.  I’ve been through this politico rodeo before so I brought the focus back again.  And then Sean said something that made my head hurt:

We’re not a rubber stamp but were not here to tell them what to do.

To me, that smacks of “do nothing but it sounds good”.  Again, time to get an answer:

Then how do you rectify those two things, Sean, How do you rectify those two statements?

I’ve been told that I’m rude when I pursue people like this – I really don’t care.  This is a “what is the Proper Role of Government” question at this level – WHAT are we supposed to do and the Chair, Sean Murphy, was pretzeling himself not to give an answer.

More silence. Then finally “I don’t want to come across like that” was the final response.

Watch the actions; words are secondary when it comes to politicians (even me!).  But what this came down to was a grudging admission that “micromanagement”, as defined by both he and Joe Wernig, doesn’t mean that we won’t be changing the budget.

And, apparently, Kirsten Snow thinks I’m dirt for making this an issue.

I disagree – I have no intention of wasting my time just attending meetings, yak a lot, but not take action when needed.  Is it our duty to tell the Town and the School Board what to do?

It most certainly is when it comes to monies expended.  If it is too much, we can and SHOULD tell them “NO!  You can’t do that with other peoples’ money”.  You see, the “needs” never end because most politicians and bureaucrats can’t (or won’t) tell the difference between needs and wants.

From the previous meeting:

00:24 Joe Wernig: But if you’re getting into school uniforms and that stuff, one that’s the athletic director, then the school board oversees that, and then the Superintendent oversees that, so now we’re getting into…

Sean Murphy:  That’s almost micro managing it

Joe Wernig: …yeah

Skip Murphy: But that’s what we’re supposed to do. We are…

Joe Wernig: that’s micromanagement

Skip Murphy:  By RSA we are not allowed to look at the bottom line number we just can’t come in look at the number at the very bottom it’s a 24 million, 12 million and say no we’re going to add 10%, oh we’re gonna subtract 15% we cannot do that because of a court decision. We are mandated by RSA to go through every single line item and that’s what you’re gonna be doing when you go to the subcommittees.

Bring that report back to the whole budget committee, unless it was decided that a particular compartment was just gonna be handled by the whole committee for whatever reason, and you write a committee report and you make your recommendations up down, add to this sub GL subtract from this other one or what have you, here’s the bottom number and then the budget committee goes through it and votes up or down.

Joe Wernig: So that every line item that we’ve been through / you’ve been provided in the past by the school and the town, why can’t we just continue to do that, with the Narratives?

Skip Murphy: Because the narratives aren’t a line item. I’d be, you know, do you have a copy of this…

Joe Wernig: Yeah, I have it right here.

Skip Murphy:  …Again, going back to to trying to do A/B comparisons, if I asked you to take an Excel spreadsheet right now, if I gave you, you know, 10 years worth of data which I’ve got at home, and all those Narratives, how long is it gonna take you to put those into a format that you can go okay this year was less, that year is more, this one’s a little more now, now this one is down; you’re not gonna be able to do that, that’s why…

Joe Wernig: I don’t WANT TO DO THAT!

Sean Murphy:  That should be not, that should be their job, not ours. We’re not here to micromanage them, Skip.

So, if we weren’t to change the line items, why bother doing this?