PROGRAM WOULD MAKE INDENTURED SERVANTS OF ‘SELECTED SENIORS’ … THAT’s NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR OUR ELDERLY … SURELY, EVEN THE TAX-HAPPY COUNCIL CAN DO BETTER … WHICH THEY DID NOT DO WHEN IT CAME TO $15,155.71 IN LEFTOVER MONEY
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
EDITOR’S NOTE: Being on the road, THE PLANET did not have a chance to post and reflect on yesterday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon. We shall be doing so at a later time. For now, the time calls for calm, restraint, and help for those who suffered injury or worse. The important thing, from our perspective, is for authorities to respond without overreacting. It’s a delicate balance, the true equilibrium of which will best be found in the embrace off our civil liberties and not in the imposition of more “security.” Above all, we must keep America “America.”
God bless and Godspeed.
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2013) — Our Right Honorable Good Friends on the Pittsfield City Council approved on first reading a bill that would allow senior citizens the option of offering their sweat to the city in exchange for tax breaks. Here’s hoping that the second reading corrects this mistake.
The dubious program, if passed again the second time, would become law and have these features:
* Only 25 people per year could participate in the program — This minimal number shows that even the backers of this program think it’s a lousy idea without much traction or translatability.
* The city would reimburse seniors at the minimum wage — That’s all these people are worth, what you would pay a teenager to ask “More popcorn on your butter” at The Beacon?
* The program would be for those 70 and older. — 70 is the new 50.
* What projects would seniors be doing? — No one has specified. THE PLANET guesses the work will consist of carrying large boulders from the bottom of Clapp Park Hill to the top, for what purpose we haven’t the foggiest. Perhaps the city wants to stone sledders next winter. Why else wold councilors want to make Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus required reading for the program?
Senior Work Program a Dumb idea that Got Dumber
The “Senior work for tax relief” program a dumb idea that can only get dumber the longer it lives. First, THE PLANET objects to making anyone work free for the city to get a tax credit that would be worth “up to” $1,000. There’s a lot of wiggle room in “up to,” enough to drive a (Kevin) Sherman tank. We have a better idea. Rather than keep raising taxes, our approach would eliminate the middle man, so to speak, and allow across-the-board tax breaks in the first place in the city budget. Mayor Dan Bianchi, the city council, and the school committee could start on that during this year’s budget. That would, of course, mean belt tightening, something with which neither the Bianchi Administration, the council, nor the school committee is familiar.
Second, it is an insult to offer a payment equal to minimum wage, especially to seniors. For that, the old people would be better off working at McDonald‘s or picking up soda cans on North Street. Third, for what purpose is the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, and how would this tax-credit initiative affect the RSVP program? That hasn’t been answered. Fourth, why is it that the city, state, and feds can give all sorts of “free” assistance — enough to provide a lifestyle — to ‘entitlement” deadbeats, for example, single teen moms who can’t keep it out of the slot and continue to produce baby after baby, with no dad to hang around and families that won’t assume responsibility, but when it comes to tax relief for seniors, there’s not a dime?
‘Tax-credit Workers’ Has Slavish Ring to It
The notion of “tax-credit workers” has a slavish ring to it, like “indentured servants.” The program in effect would make of these people share croppers in the municipal fields. Where is the dignity? If these elders had wanted to find work, they would either be at the RSVP or in the Dreaded Private Sector.
Councilor-at-large Melissa Mazzeo put forward a proposal that makes more sense. She favored revising the city’s property tax abatement program, making it more expansive and inclusive for seniors. Currently, the tax abatement program gives a $1,000 tax credit for means-tested people 70 or older. Mazzeo wants to lower the age to 65. THE PLANET supports that approach rather than insulting a demographic that is, in many ways, the city’s most valuable. They vote. They tend to have discretionary cash. They keep their yards clean. They’ve lived. They’ve learned. They vote.
For those keeping score at home, the first reading of this bill passed, 7-4. Voting yes: Yon, Capitanio, Lothrop, Krol, Sherman, Clairmont, and Cotton. Voting no: Mazzeo, Morandi, Simonelli, and Connell.
$15,155.71 is a Little Amount but It’s also a Big Amount
Here’s a “little” thing that is a Big thing and a good look at how government thinks and works. The city found $15,155.71 left over in a fund initially set up for equipment purchases and building maintenance. Great, eh? More than $15,000 of taxpayer money, not used and coming back to them.
There to scoop up the “free” cash was city maintenance director, Peter Sondrini, who convinced the tax-loving city council to give him the money to buy a new truck for the parks department. Actually, the money will be used to be applied toward the truck buy. It will cost much more. THE PLANET doesn’t blame Sondrini in advocating for his department. That’s his job. We would, though, also remind our Right Honorable Good Friends on the council of their job: To protect taxpayers and, at this point, begin to offer them some relief.
The assignment of the $15,155.71 illustrates the initial response of public officials, elected and appointed, whenever a penny of taxpayer money is “left over.” They want to hog it all up. Granted, in an isolated sense, $15,155.71 returned to taxpayers won’t make much difference, but if each time the city ended up with left over money it put it into an account to lower taxes, within a year, the accumulation would be significant.
Government doesn’t work that way. Councilors have as their main constituents the branches and trunks of city government. That attitude changes for a few weeks every two years, when they come hat-in-hand schlepping for your vote, but after that, they take care of their own first, and their own is The State, the connected, the special interests, and not We The People. This year, when one of the skunks comes looking for your vote, ask then, point blank, “What did you do to make my life easier? How did you serve me? By raising my taxes twice again?”
Right smart bastards, they.
“Go, little book, and wish to all / Flowers in the garden, meat in the hall, / a bin of wine, a spice of wit, / A house with lawns enclosing it, / A living river by the door, / A nightingale in the sycamore.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.