BTA charter, voter recommendation process biased

Taxpayers Association’s charter, voter recommendation process bias apparent

To the Editor:

I wish to highlight the apparent bias in the Bedford Taxpayers Association’s charter and voter recommendation process this past election season.

I purposefully waited to send this letter until after the election was over as my intent was not to influence or engage in a debate on which candidate to vote for. I am also not necessarily questioning their actual recommendations (some of which I agree with). Instead, I want to draw attention to the BTA’s partisan viewpoint that seems to extend beyond taxes and is in conflict with their charter.

In his Sept. 24 letter to the voters, Mr. Roy Stewart (BTA president) said “BTA’s charter indicates no political party affiliation and its bylaws also compel it to consider primarily the impact on taxes of certain legislative proposals and the likely tax consequence of programs espoused by those running for office.”

It sure didn’t seem that way during this election cycle (or past elections for that matter). While BTA may not officially identify with any one political party, they are extremely favorable towards all those running on the Republican ticket.

For example, in this same Sept. 24 letter ahead of the primary elections, the BTA had no opinion on any Democratic candidate running for office. Their recommendation to the voting public was “You decide.”

Really? BTA has no factual information or detailed opinion on any Democratic candidate? BTA can’t make a recommendation on one over the other to help the Democratic primary voter who may have a concern about tax policy?

I think the reason is they didn’t intend to recommend a Democrat in the general election regardless of their view on taxes. For example, during the primary season BTA released their sample ballot for both parties. On the Republican primary ballot, every single race had a “X” checked-off recommendation. Even the unopposed candidates. However, on the Democratic primary ballot, not one candidate is recommended or has a “X” checked-off recommendation. Not one. Even the unopposed candidate.

For example, Lee Nyquist was on record as opposed to a sales or income tax. And I don’t think he had any tax voting record to speak of as a town moderator. Yet he was not endorsed on the Democratic primary ballot. This was a primary election and BTA couldn’t offer more than a “You decide” to the Democratic voters or follow the same standard for unopposed candidates as they did on the Republican ballot?

This bias was again prevalent on the BTA’s mid-term election sample ballot. Every candidate they recommended was a Republican. Now I realize in general, Democrats (as opposed to their Republican candidates) are not generally viewed in a positive light when it comes to taxes. Many of these candidates I would clearly expect the BTA to support and with good right. Many are fiscal conservatives as opposed to their Democratic counterpart. But I highlight three examples of the Republican bias.

First, Bill Barry was not endorsed on the Democratic primary ballot while James Hardy was on the Republican primary ballot. Yet both were a “You decide” on the mid-term ballot. Why was their no Democratic primary endorsement for Bill Barry?

Second, on the mid-term sample ballot, there was several non-tax, partisan descriptors used. For example: Nyquist is “a New Boston liberal lawyer working in Shaheen’s office.” Scott Brown “opposes failed Obamacare.” Shea-Porter a “puppet of big spender/taxer Nancy Pelosi…” Scott Brown “understands foreign affairs.” These are very partisan remarks that do not advance the tax discussion and are outside of BTA’s charter.

Lastly, Walt Havenstein’s and Brown’s military backgrounds are also highlighted in the sample ballot. Why? Their military service has no bearing on taxes. And if it does, then Democrats with military service should also get the BTA’s backing.

Why mention all of these non-tax attributes examples unless there is a conservative bias permeating the BTA’s ranks that extends beyond taxes. As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, BTA can recommend whomever they like for whatever reason they wish. If BTA truly has no political affiliation then I expect non-partisan, fact-based tax recommendations of all candidates from all political parties in accordance with their charter. It should be devoid of other conservative/liberal ideas and agendas.

But if the BTA is just going to recommend all Republicans, then I suggest the BTA alter its charter. Or at the very least stop sending out sample ballots. Just submit a letter to the editor recommending we vote for all the Republican candidates. Then you can save the BTA the “$2,800 or more for each edition” it cost to send a sample ballot to the voter.

Scott Reed

Bedford