Discover more from Apt. 11D
Keeping the Lights on at City Halls and Schools
Inflation is a wrecking ball on local finances
My friends think I’m crazy, because I find school board and town council meetings highly entertaining with their intense battles over parking meters and reading curriculum. During our meet-ups for happy hour at the local pub, the girlies will even tolerate a short explanation of the subtext in some recent debate, but at the end of the day, they still think I’m crazy. They keep me around because I can switch gears and also talk about kids and vacations and the best way to make turkey chili.
Unusual as it may be, attending these meetings are a window onto a world that so many miss. Other political junkies focus on DC, where major issues like abortion and student loans programs are at stake. But it’s at the local level where so much of our day-to-day lives are decided, everything from the recyclable pick-up schedule to the reading books in your daughter’s first grade classroom. Once you buy a house and have kids, those decisions might matter even more than the big issues debated in DC.
Inflation and the budget is a theme that keeps coming up in these local meetings. Towns and schools crafted their budgets a year ago, with very specific allocations for things like grounds maintenance and transportation. They are locked into those allocations, and can’t take a dollar from grounds maintenance and give it to transportation. Once the money runs out for transportation, there is no more money until the next budget cycle. In the past year, the costs for construction and labor have gone up by double digits, so these local entities are going to face serious difficulties as the year goes on.
One mom told me that her daughters’ elementary school needed a new playground. So, the parents organized a fundraiser and purchased the equipment. After the equipment was installed at the beginning of September, the principal requested that the school board purchase the mulch for the play area. In the four weeks that it took the school board needed to approve a payment for the protective ground cover, the playground was surrounded by yellow caution tape. After the mulch finally arrived, a branch fell off a nearby tree on the newly functioning playground. Since the district can’t afford to hire a tree company to remove other dangerous tree limbs, the yellow caution tape is back on the playground, and the kids can’t use it.
A huge theme in all these meetings is that they are feeling the crunch of rising costs for supplies needed to maintain the town infrastructure and to hire workers like special education aides and social workers. While the lights are still on in the schools and the trash is still collected, there is absolutely no funds for innovative programs, and there are hints that there could be major problems in the future.
While the news focuses on inflation’s impact on consumables like eggs and gas, inflation is going to hit us in other ways that are essential the running of our leafy suburbs. Other issues will impact on middle class lives, too, like the cost of college tuition prices and air travel. Rent is so high, the twenty-somethings will need to live at home.
The elections in November will reflect this pain. While Biden, like any president, has little control over the economy, people always hold the president responsible. These economic woes are more complicated than usual downturns, because many people believe that the recession is tied to Democratic spending during COVID. Now, I’m not an economist, so I won’t weigh in on the causes of the recession/inflation, but I do listen to people at these meetings and as I go around town. The stress levels are high.
With all the drama going on, maybe I’m not so crazy for going to these meetings.
How many streaming services to you subscribe to?
Really loved this interview with Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile. Carlile is one of my Spotify favorites.
Liz Truss is out. The UK is a mess right now.
First known Neanderthal family found in a Russian cave. They most likely died around the same time of starvation. A tragedy from ten thousand years ago. An echo of sadness.
Reading instruction in this country is awful, especially for children with dyslexia. There are too many charlatans making a big buck by selling our schools snake oil. At some point, I’ll have to write about “consultants” and “education experts.” Math curriculum needs work, too.
On a permanent diet, I’m eating pasta to once-a-month treat. Therefore, I want to make all these recipes.
I am completely obsessed with the midterm elections right now. Listened to the Pod Save America podcast about the midterms on this morning’s walk.
A broken boiler, electrical repair in the kitchen, and all sorts of various boy expenses are adding up. We’re definitely keeping an eye on money issues right now. If we’re getting hit hard by the economy in our home with a fixed rate mortgage, others are in deep pain. People are mad and are — fairly or not — blaming Democrats. The New York Times reported that Americans think that our Democracy is in trouble, but they will vote based on the economy. Maybe because everybody has their own reason why they believe that democracy is in peril.
Who wants to live in an Irish Castle? I DO!
The New York Times is reporting a slight edge for Republicans this November, as voters worried about the economy. There’s a lot to unpack in this chart including the lack of a gender gap.
On the Pod Save America podcast, Obama talked about the growing defection of many Latinos and some African Americans from the Democratic Party. He said that he thought the Democrats should be building coalitions based on class, not race.
Because Ian has had special therapy for 18 years, I find linguists fascinating. Here, John McWhorter talks about Black kids who are misdiagnosed with a language-based disability, because they speak Black English.
Migrants in New York City need work. The city supports are struggling to deal with this huge need. And the border states are laughing at us.
You know I like vintage items, but I would totally redecorate Clarence House. There’s a way of living with old things without living in a time capsule from 1950. Floral porcelain lamps should be smashed! Rip out all that wall to wall carpeting! That place makes my OCD itch.