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    Jesse Gordon for Randolph Town Council > Economic Justice

    "Economic Justice" means getting our fair share for Randolph from the Commonwealth and from the federal government.

    Randolph residents have been paying into the Commonwealth tax system for decades with less returned than we pay in -- that isn't right!

    The solution is a Town Council that pushes for more state and federal resources for our schools, for our parks, and for our town.

    “ Most residents of Randolph work hard for long hours -- and when they're home they want to spend time with their families -- most don't have time to deal with politics. Wealthy communities have the luxury of time to participate in political action -- and the result is that wealthy communities reap economic benefits -- that's how “the rich get richer.’ Randolph needs a Town Councilor who will look at what other towns are getting, and then get Randolph the same -- I will be an activist Town Councilor to ensure that we get our fair share! ” -- Jesse Gordon

Gateway City Status

Randolph's population was counted by the 2020 United States Census at 34,984 -- that's 16 shy of the cutoff for "Gateway City Status." So we petitioned the Census Bureau and they agreed (in July 2023) that they under-counted by more than 16 people -- now we need a "Home Rule Petition" to be eligible. Here's what it's about (click for details):

  • Gateway Cities are eligible for all sorts of state grants, from planting free trees to bilingual education to empowering small businesses. The Commonwealth makes numerous grant programs available for all small cities like Randolph.

  • Besides population over 35,000, Randolph's eligibilty depends on being under the state average in "education attainment at the B.A. level" (we are, since we're a "city of nurses"), and under the state average in "median family income" (we are just barely under the state average, approximately the 48th percentile). Here are our two relevant statistics (click to see for yourself):
    Statistic descriptionRandolph StatisticMassachusetts statisticInterpretation
    Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2017-2021
    Link to U.S. Census
    30.5%45.2%We're a "city of nurses" with many AA degrees but not so many BA degrees
    Median household income (in 2021 dollars), 2017-2021
    Link to U.S. Census
    $87,869$89,026We're at about the 48th percentile of household income -- just below the state median

  • Naysayers spread rumors about Gateway City status, that eligible small cities must take on prisons or drug rehab facilities or other negatives -- but those rumors aren't true. This sort of rumor is based on the common fallacy where people mix up correlation and causatio -- they say "Brockton has a drug rehab facility and Brockton is a Gateway City -- therefore Brockton has a drug rehab facility BECAUSE Brockton is a Gateway City" -- that's simply not connected! Randolph can decide, if it ever comes up, whether to have a drug rehab facility -- but that decision has nothing to do with Gateway City status. There are "strings attached" to each grant that we DO recieve, of course, but not to Gateway City status itself -- there are no obligations.

  • Naysayers also say we're categorizing ourselves as low-income and low-education -- but we're not -- Gateway Cities do exclude wealthy towns like Braintree, or educational centers like Cambridge -- they want to reach regular small cities like Randolph. We simply look at the Census figures and Gateway City status is based on that -- I'm proud of Randolph being "in the middle" of the Commonwealth's statistics! If the Census had not under-counted Randolph, the state would have "automatically" looked at our other statistics and put Randolph into the Gateway City list -- we only have to ask because the Census Bureau under-counted us. Let's look at the stats for Braintree -- they also just barely exceed the 35,000 population cutoff, but are NOT eligible for Gateway City status:
    Statistic descriptionRandolph StatisticMassachusetts statisticBraintree StatisticInterpretation
    Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2017-2021
    Link to U.S. Census
    30.5%45.2%46.3%Braintree is just above the state average in BA's and hence not eligible
    Median household income (in 2021 dollars), 2017-2021
    Link to U.S. Census
    $87,869$89,026$114,916Braintree is well above the median household income and hence not eligible

  • We need your help getting past the naysayers -- the Town Council has to vote to approve the Home Rule Petition, and they won't do so if the naysayers are the only ones talking. The naysayers will spout conspiracy theories like "Gateway Cities mean they'll dump a prison here" and we need sensible people to say "that's ridiculous" (I asked many people involved with the Gateway City program and they said it's so ridiculou that they don't want to come and address it). And the naysayers refuse to click the U.S. Census links above, instead repeating their mantra "we're not sure we're eligible" -- so please click the links above and report what you see!

Bus Petition

    We passed the "Bus Petition" and now the Town of Randolph has until June 2024 to produce an implementation plan. We need YOU to ask the Town Council and Town Manager "Please start the Feasibility Study" -- or better yet, volunteer to serve on it! Here's what it's about (click for details):

  • Wouldn't it be great if you could walk to a shuttle bus near your home, and ride it every morning to the Braintree T station or the Holbrook Commuter Rail station?

  • Wouldn't it be great if there were a reliable shuttle bus to go shopping, or a means for our kids to go visit their friends across town?

  • There are many housing complexes in town that are well over a mile walk to the nearest MBTA bus stop and even further from other community resources. Residents must pay the high cost of maintaining a car -- but with a shuttle van we can reduce the need for cars just to get around town -- reducing costs and reducing traffic too.

  • We propose a shuttle van that connects housing complexes with transit hubs, workplaces, and community resources -- and we're asking for your signature on our petition to get a shuttle van set up.

  • There are state-funded programs for "Mobility Hubs" like this -- our petition requires the Town of Randolph to figure out the funding and then set up a "Mobility Hub."

School funding

About half of the town's annual budget goes to our public schools -- that means that the most important duty of the Town Council is to allocate funds for our kids' schools. Jesse Gordon wants to get more resources for our schools and our kids -- not by raising taxes! -- but instead by finding new sources of funding that improve our schools permanently.

    Some of Jesse's ideas for improving funding for our schools:

  • Randolph Foundation for Education: Jesse co-founded a non-profit organization to bring in private funding for our public schools. The RFE's first program was to award grants to reimburse Randolph teachers for their classroom expenses. The RFE has awarded grants to all six public schools in Randolph.
    For more details: Newspaper article April 22, 2018 Teachers can receive grants through new RFE; newspaper article Jan. 3, 2019 Randolph Foundation Awards 2018 Education Grants.

  • School Free Meals program: Randolph is eligible for a state program that provides free breakfast and lunch for every student in the public schools, without individual enrollment. The existing program requires that individual parents enroll in the program, and the enrollment paperwork causes a budget gap of over $20,000 per year, as well as keeping kids from getting fed enough to learn. Jesse Gordon organized a "Charter Petition" to garner public support for the Randolph school system to participate in the "Community Eligibility Option" which would replace the existing program with free school meals for all students.
    For more details: Newspaper article May 12, 2019 Randolph ed group fills school meals gap, pushes for change; RFE website's program to fund the past school meal budget gap.

  • Full-time grantwriter: Randolph years ago had a grantwriter whose job was to find outside resources for our public schools. There are state and federal grants available out there, and we just need to find them! The 2019 Randolph Town Council exercised a line-item veto for a school system grantwriter position. This position would bring in more money than the salary would cost! Jesse Gordon would work to reverse that and fund a full-time grantwriter.
    For more details: Newspaper article Oct. 20, 2017 Gordon calls for full-time town grant-writer.

School construction budgets

Newton Massachusetts got $200 million for constructing a new high school a few years ago. The newspapers called it "the Taj Mahal of schools." Randolph High School got a few replacement windows via the same state program.

Was Newton's school system in need of a new building? No, they already had an excellent high school, Newton South. The new building was to make Newton North better than Newton South. Could Randolph High School have used some of that $200 million for helping more students that in Newton? I think so!

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts allocates about $500 million to $1 billion every year for school construction projects. That's state money -- from state sales taxes that we in Randolph pay -- not property taxes like for school operating budgets. Newton got one of only a handful of state construction mega-grants that year. How did they get that? And how do we get our fair share for Randolph?

Newton got $200 million because Newton's political representatives asked at the right time and in the right place. It's time to demand our fair share. It's time for Randolph to have political representatives who know how to ask at the right time and in the right place -- so we can get $200 million for OUR kids' education.

Jesse Gordon is an expert in how budget rules work. When he lived in Cambridge, he actually read the city budget, and identified $8 million that had been unaccounted for -- and Jesse got the Cambridge City Council to return that $8 million to the taxpayers of Cambridge. Before that, Jesse wrote his Harvard Master's thesis detailing energy inefficiencies resulting from how the Commonwealth's budget was misallocated for public facilities. Jesse isn't afraid to look "under the hood" of the budget process, and fight to do what's right, rather than what's easy.

Randolph High School does pretty well with the resources it's provided -- a tribute to the hard work of our teachers and administrators. But Randolph's state politicians have failed Randolph's school system utterly, by just "going along" with the establishment. Imagine what Randolph's schools would be like with an extra $200 million -- that's $200 million that the taxpayers of Randolph helped send to Newton, instead of keeping here in Randolph.

The Massachusetts school construction budget is a beast that needs to get poked by politicians -- the beast responds to the sharpest sticks poking it, by spitting out money. It'll be a tough fight, but I will be Randolph's sharpened stick, and I'll poke that budget beast until Randolph gets our fair share.

School operating budgets

If you ask the establishment politicians why Randolph's schools can't get better funding every year, they'll answer dismissively, "Oh, that's all in the Chapter 70 school system formula!" as if that ends the discussion. The Commonwealth does have a formula that allocates funding for each town -- but that formula is made by politicians, and can be changed by politicians! Pretending that the formula is out of our control is really politicians' way of saying "I just want to go along to get along."

The school funding formula was last updated 24 years ago, in 1993, with some minor tweaking in 2007. The goal of that 1993 update was to better fund school systems in communities with higher minority and immigrant populations -- communities like Randolph. But that formula update needs updating again. The 1993 formula included "English Language Learners" (ELL) as a formula item -- an attempt to equalize funding based on demographics -- that was the right approach to address the needs of towns like Randolph, but our relative funding has fallen since 1993.

The 1993 formula update also included "Free Lunch" as a formula item -- because the number of students qualifying for free school lunch correlates with less-wealthy communities. But the federal government controls the qualifications of "Free Lunch" -- and those qualifications have changed a lot in 24 years. And Randolph's share has gone down.

So what can Randolph do to benefit from the school formula? As it turns out, Randolph is the most diverse town in Massachusetts (not a surprise to anyone walking down Main Street). The United States Census produces an official measurement of ethnic diversity every 10 years -- Randolph is currently first in the Commonwealth, and has always been near the top of the list. What if "diversity" were part of the school funding formula? Randolph would be a big beneficiary of that change. So would Chelsea, Brockton, and Lawrence -- other towns high on the diversity list, which also are towns that have schools desperately in need of additional annual funding. In other words, accounting for diversity would help the school systems the most in need.

And that's not a coincidence. It's challenging to run a school system with kids from dozens of countries, who speak dozens of languages at home, and who have dozens of different cultural and religious backgrounds. Randolph's diversity is something to be proud of -- but let's get the state to recognize the extra educational costs that result from diversity.

The "Free Lunch" and ELL formula items tried to capture a proxy for diversity. They worked ok, for a while, but politicians from wealthier towns in Massachusetts tweaked the system so Randolph gets less money than we used to. It's time to update the school funding formula in a way that can't be tweaked -- let's stop using proxies for diversity, and directly include the Commonwealth's diversity measurement.

Further details in newspaper article: Gordon pushes for change to School Funding Policy, Sept. 18, 2017

Randolph Redevelopment Authority

The Randolph Town Council recently voted unanimously for "Redevelopment Authority" to take over abandoned or unused ("blighted") properties. The power of "eminent domain" applies to privately-owned storefronts as well as publicly-owned land. Randolph's redevelopment must be done right, and overseeing it will be the most important role for the Town Council for years to come.

Randolph's population is increasing, and our economic development has to keep up with a process towards smart growth, like...

  • Learn lessons from other redevelopment plans, like Stoughton's and Brockton's.
  • Appoint "Citizens Advisory Group" which reflects Randolph's diversity (as should all Randolph appointed committees).
  • Select properties for development, with public input, such as:
    • Long-empty stores in downtown
    • Open unused public land for public use
    • Connect disconnected parks
  • Activate public spaces with art and events
  • Establish zoning incentives and tax incentives to encourage new social services and academic institutions
When can Randolph benefit from all that? I see my role as navigating through the complex process, keeping the public informed and involved, and getting quick results.

Further details in newspaper article: Randolph Redevelopment Authority, Oct. 3, 2017


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