My Town Blocked me on Twitter

tl;dr Can your local, state, or federal government block you on Social Media? My town blocked my Twitter account and I have no idea why. And I suspect neither do they. What does this mean in the “digital age” and e-government? Time to ask some questions and hold them accountable.

I’m Blocked on Twitter

I was going to ask the Brookline Dept of Public Works (DPW) a question about the new Pay-As-You-Through (PAYT) trash system. So I went online, looking for their twitter handle. Other neighboring Depts. of Public Works are online in CambridgeDPW and Boston DPW, Newton DPW. So the Town of Brookline is on Twitter, FaceBook, and even Instagram, but the Brookline Dept. of Public Works isn’t. Too bad.

Brookline DPW not on twitter? Ok, I’ll fall back to the general “Town of Brookline”. But strange, I couldn’t seem to find that one either. Until I went directly to the page after looking up their handle on a search engine (and using a private/incognito mode in the Browser). 

Well, hello – I’ve been blocked on Twitter by the government of the town in which I am a resident.

What I saw when I went to @TownOfBrookline on Twitter.

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Being a Good Steward

I enjoy reading the Brookline Beacon for keeping up-to-date on happenings in Town. A recent entry talks about the next 40B project in Town at 21 Crowninshield Rd.  I don’t have a dog in the fight other then hoping folks will be good stewards of Brookline. Topic of this article – stewardship. Or rather, lack of it.

The threat of this development is propelling neighbors to push for a Local Historic District. There is Article 11 “Proposed Article to Establish a Crowninshield Local Historic District” on the 2015 Brookline Town Meeting warrant.

The only thing I’ll add is a comparison of the before and after. Because that kind of thing is pretty easy to do now. And particularly striking in this case.

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Per-Pupil Spending Over Time

Are We Spending More or Less on Kids?

It’s stated frequently, the statistical factoid (statoid? statisticoid? hmmm.) that per-pupil spending in Brookline Schools has fallen during the enrollment boom, i.e. between 2006 and now. We’ve added kids, so of course, we are spending less on each kid. We’ve cut to the bone. We’re already underfunding our schools.  Only the maximum extent possible override (MEPO) will retain your property value or keep our schools excellent.

And looking at the data, yes, we’re spending less. But on what?

  • Less on interest payments for building the New Lincoln School in 1990 (Brookline’s first override ever after prop 2 1/2) and renovating the High School in 1995 (Brookline’s second override ever).
  • Less on health care because Brookline joined the GIC, saving us a bunch.
  • Less on out-of-district special education placements by providing equivalent services at less cost in-district.

But not less on School Budgets or teachers or kids. The Brookline School Budgets keeps going up. In fact, we’ll see that from 2006 to 2014:

  • Enrollment in Brookline Public Schools went up 21% from 6014 to 7288 kids;
  • The Brookline School Budget increased 41.7%, from $60M to $85M;
  • The Brookline School Budget increased 4.48% per year on average.
  • Per-pupil the School Budget is doing just fine, too, thank you very much, having increased 17%, from $10,046 to $11,751;
  • Yes, even inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending is just around 0% (-0.67%) over the last 8 years.

I guess we do love our kids here in Brookline.

Let’s dig into the data.

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