In Mayor Mark Kaczynski’s recent commentary he said that he sought to bring some “clarity” to the budget process, that “will be helpful to the taxpayers of Berlin.”
Unfortunately, instead of clarity, Mr. Kaczynski further muddied what actually occurred during the budget process.
Mr. Kaczynski and the Berlin Republicans spent thousands of dollars to advocate for a change to the Town Charter to create a Board of Finance, arguing that this would allow greater expertise and political independence in the budget process.
Now that they have their sought-after Board of Finance, they are doing all they can to ignore it.
Consider some of the deceptions from the Mayor about this year’s budget process.
Mr. Kaczynski repeatedly references his concern about Berlin being $105 million in debt. But he forgets to mention that it was the Republican majority that proposed a budget that would have increased this debt, in order to avoid paying for capital items through the operating budget.
So much for “acting responsibly.”
Consider that Mr. Kaczynski talks about the need to listen to voters, when last year he and the Republican majority ignored Berlin residents when they voted that the Board of Education budget was too low. So much for “listening to voters.”
All of these alternative facts pale, however, with the cynical partisan gamesmanship of Mayor Kaczynski and the Republican majority concerning the approval of the budget.
Consider that the Mayor and his party, for both budget referendum votes, voted to approve a budget and send it to the voters, and then campaigned with signs, letters, and robo calls to defeat that very budget.
In fact, signs urging the defeat of the revised budget were put up by Republicans before the budget was even finalized and approved by the Republican Council.
It is as if the Republican Council is saying, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I know it’s going to be bad.”
The level of cynicism and naked partisanship exhibited by this conduct is breathtaking and unprecedented in Berlin politics.
Leadership calls for honesty by those who would be considered leaders, and asks that leaders stand by their decisions.
It’s the least that we should expect of our leaders.
By this standard, the Mayor and his Republican colleagues have failed miserably.
The Republican Council hopes that Berlin voters forget the dishonest and cynical way that they conducted the budget process.
Mayor Kaczynski talks about taxes and budgets and debt service, to avoid talking about a lack of honesty and transparency and leadership. Words that are noticeably absent from his political vocabulary. And Berlin is the less for it.
Richard Paskiewicz is chairperson of the Berlin Democratic Town Committee.