August 16, 2006

Dartmouth Screws Self

Dartmouth voters strike down library, $750,000 for officer

So, Dartmouth voters decided not to build a new library. No huge surprise there, but this caught my eye:

Voters yesterday rejected both a $750,000 override to pay the medical expenses for a police officer who suffered a catastrophic injury[…]

The vote for a Proposition 21/2 override to pay the medical bills of David Mello, a 47-year-old officer who was severely injured in an accident last November, failed 2,119 to 1,962.

Since it was determined that Officer Mello was injured in the line of duty, the town is responsible for his medical expenses. Officials last night said the money now must come from the town’s regular operating budget.

Wow! So, people voted down the override which would have paid this officer’s medical bills by raising taxes slightly, spread out over a number of years. The town has to pay this debt, because the officer’s injury happened on the job. This vote wasn’t about whether to pay him or not, it was about whether to raise taxes to do it.

In rejecting the override, the cash-strapped town now has to pay this debt this year out of this year’s budget! Dartmouth had already cut the budget and reduced expenses by trimming the police and school payrolls (i.e. they let people go). So, now what do they do?

Fran Pettengill said he voted for the override because many layoffs would be likely if it didn’t pass. “If you don’t pass it, it will put the town in turmoil cause they will have to get the money from somewhere and with 85 percent of the budget in salaries … it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where they’ll get it from,”

That town is so screwed. First, they’ll probably cut after school programs that keep kids occupied in productive ways. Hey, maybe the kids can hang out at the mall now? Who needs after school programs when you’ve got a mall in town? They won’t be able to hang out in a new library.

I’m going to guess that you can’t get a 10th of the money just from cutting after school programs. So after that it’s teachers and police. Maybe the teachers and the police can hang out at the malls, too!

Voter turnout was very low, around 20% of the town. The vote was decided by about 100 vote different between for and against. Around 10% of the town have screwed the whole town over. But I’m sure that the Dartmouth voters had a good reason to put themselves into this situation.

Some who voted against it said they generally don’t like the idea of overrides, while others worried about the impact on their taxes. Town financial officials had said the average taxpayer would pay about $40 more per year in taxes.

Pure genius!

Posted by James at August 16, 2006 5:26 PM
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I love it that people have been trained to respond to "higher taxes" by acting like stupid sheep.

Posted by: pippa at August 16, 2006 6:45 PM

I love how whenever there's a case of cops beating or killing people, the immediate public reaction is to talk about how the cops have the most dangerous job (which is untrue, fishermen do) and how they unconditionally support the police.

But then when a police officer actually needs support, they look the other way.

It reminds me of something a friend of mine said when everyone turned into flag-waving morons right after 9/11. He said "all of this newfound patriotism is a mile wide and an inch deep. Do you think any of these people will agree to pay extra taxes to fund a war? Or if they cheat on their taxes now, do you think they'll stop out of patriotic duty?"

It's why I get so fucking mad at people who want to attack city and state workers as being lazy and undeserving of their "overly generous" pay and benefits package (the ProJo has allied with Steve Laffey over the years to try to strip RI public workers of their health benefits and to make them the scapegoats of all of our problems). Because people want everything for free. They want firefighters and cops and teachers, they want roads they can drive on and traffic lights that work and sewer systems that don't back up and gargbage to get hauled away and roads to get plowed and street lights to get fixed... but they don't want to pay a dime for any of it and are so willing to screw the very people who serve them at the drop of a hat.

Posted by: DG at August 18, 2006 10:18 AM

Yeah, pretty much.

Posted by: James at August 18, 2006 2:23 PM

Because people want everything for free.

DG, you said what I've been saying for years.

I work in biotech, and the masses expect drugs to be pretty damned cheap, if not free, and, of course, no drug, device, or biologic should come with any risks (as if science is magic).

As for all these people who espouse the line that "police have the most dangerous jobs" and that they back the police 100% until it's time to put their money where their mouths are, I wonder: Are these the same witless idiots who have "Freedom Isn't Free" stickers on their Hum-Vs?

A mile wide and an inch deep, indeed.

Posted by: Patti M. at August 18, 2006 2:35 PM

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