Perhaps our CNHT blog section should have a category devoted to Outrage of the Week. This story would be a perfect fit.
As you may already know the Rochester Concerned Taxpayers Association were successful at bringing a tax cap to the citizens of the City of Rochester by way of a Democratic vote. The voters then approved it overwhelmingly by 72%.
Soon afterward, John H. Larochelle, the Mayor of Rochester, asked to sit down with the RCTA president and his wife, at their home.
In the request, he asked that they not “talk back…”
Apparently he wanted only to deliver a lecture, not engage in a dialogue.
Nevertheless, they allowed him come over to hear what he had to say.
Apparently, he spent an hour essentially questioning their christianity and patriotism for their actions, instead of not simply trusting the government to do the right thing.
He also used the gavel on an RCTA officer and member down at a recent committee meeting where public interaction has always been allowed. He even went so far as to tell the City Manager to call the police in order to silence the member.
This is an example of the way some city and town officials are reacting to the realities of today’s financial situation. The Mayor needs to undergo an attitude adjustment.
Later, we see this article in Foster’s where the editor seems to be mildly critical of what the RCTA has done and admonishes them, rather snidely, to do charity work instead…
More than one way to help the hard-pressed
Thursday, December 11, 2008
At this week’s Fiscal Affairs Committee meeting, several leading members of Rochester Concerned Taxpayers Association expressed their concerns that an ordinance soon to be put before Rochester City Council will not reflect, in full, the wishes of the people regarding the tax and spending cap.
Last month, by a 70 percent to 30 percent vote, Rochester voters came down in favor of amending the City Charter in order to curtail increases in the annual property tax rate and municipal spending. The result reflected the general population’s perception — and a pretty accurate perception, when the numbers are studied — that property tax hikes have been out of sync with the inflation rate in recent years, and are testing many people’s ability to pay.
Regular, some would say generous, pay and step increases along with robust health benefit packages, for public sector workers have not been reflected, universally, across the private sector over the past decade, and therefore it is understandable that there should be a move by voters to apply the brakes.
It seems to us, though, that the City Council is getting the message. While there was an initial move to create wiggle room with the suggestion that county taxes and the state assessed portion of school taxes should be excluded from calculations, this idea was dropped in the acknowledgment that these, too, impact the local taxpayer.
Voters who support the tax and spending cap will take comfort from the fact that the RCTA is continuing to act as a watchdog, but this latter group should not overplay its hand. Understandably, having championed a winning issue, the RCTA leadership will want to convert its popularity into seats on the City Council, next November, but we do think the public will weary of any manufactured criticism that goes on for many months.
As budget season approaches, we think councilors, having been given very clear guidelines, should be accorded the space to do the job they were democratically elected to do. In April or May, next year, if the RCTA feels the charter amendment is being breached or circumvented, by all means have at it.
Right now, as winter approaches, perhaps those activists with spare time and energy, could better serve the financially hard-pressed section of Rochester by volunteering to help SHARE, or by taking an overnight stint at the Homeless Shelter. That would show true generosity of spirit.
We are not sure the purpose of the above editorial article. If it is to diminish the accomplishments of Rochester Concerned Taxpayers Association for their successful tax cap effort, it failed.
The RCTA are heroes for helping people across the board.
However, the group is NOT a charity. Whether their members personally involve themselves in these charitable activities suggested, is voluntary depending on their individual financial situations. Perhaps if the tax cap is allowed to do its job, there will be more people able to donate and volunteer.
Nevertheless, the Mayor of Rochester and JN from Fosters should know that charity begins at home, as the saying goes, and if more people took the time to take care of their ‘own’, we would not have to rely on ever-increasing government to do it for us.