Friday April 19, 2013

The April 15 letter to the editor by Jennifer Breen was shocking, to say the least. Ridiculing people by name who disagree with her only shows her lack of maturity and professionalism.

Her disparaging remarks about former Mayor John Barrett III were uncalled for in light of his long and distinguished career as mayor. While he and I did not always agree, I always knew that his first priority was the citizens of North Adams, especially the young people. His record on improving the quality of education in North Adams was perhaps his greatest legacy. While he was chairman of the School Committee, a new Brayton Elementary School was constructed which included saving the YMCA building and the organization from bankruptcy. In addition to Brayton a $22 million renovation of Drury High School was completed on time and on budget.

Mayor Barrett also understood that there was more to improving education then just constructing buildings. Through his leadership, class sizes were reduced, North Adams was the first school system in the state to provide laptop computers for every middle-school student, a curriculum coordinator was hired, and the curriculum expanded to include a program in the arts for students in all grades. He even found money for new uniforms for the Drury High School band, which he considered the city’s goodwill ambassador.

Ms. Breen and others are making attacks upon him because they want people to believe he opposes the renovation of Conte for political reasons. Nothing could be further from the truth, as John Barrett’s opposition to the renovation of Conte is not new. He opposed it when he was mayor and chairman of the School Committee.

Councilor Breen wants us to listen to a mayor who has no credibility, the same mayor who told us that if we didn’t pass a Prop 21Ž2 override it would bring devastation to our school system. Not only did this dire prediction not happen, but less than a year later Mayor Alcombright gave out pay raises totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars to certain employees! Now he wants us to believe that the funding for this project will have no impact on our taxes.

I will trust the crusty politician, as Ms. Breen refers to John Barrett, over Mayor Alcombright who has no credibility. I urge the voters of North Adams to Vote No on April 30. Our kids deserve better, and our city deserves better.

MARY E WILLEY

North Adams