At first look, it mightn’t concern Rhode Islanders from elsewhere that the Tiverton Town Council just spent a half-million dollars buying a waterfront gas station that will now not only pay no taxes, but will be part of a renovation project costing taxpayers an estimated “$2.3 million [for] renovation over the next few years.” But look again:
On the funding side, [Town Solicitor Andrew Teitz] said, $200,000 would be coming from RIDOT, and $208,000 from RIDEM.
Yes, that’s the same Department of Transportation whose director was recently making news whining about a lack of resources. Let me refresh your memory:
Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis has a message for those traversing the state’s shoddy and weatherworn roads: Get used to it.
Crumbling roads and bridges across the state, Lewis told The Breeze, aren’t likely to get fixed anytime soon because the department’s funding sources are drying up …
Here, once again, we see the pattern of officials’ taking your money at the state level (where they’ve got such a lock on the electoral system that even extreme displeasure can’t unseat them) and giving it to local governments so they can commit local taxpayers to projects without anybody’s ever getting a vote. In the recent national discussion over Russia and the Ukraine, I heard one analyst note that, while the West was wringing its hands, Vladamir Putin was changing facts on the ground.
That’s the strategy, here. It’s not difficult to slip through purchases and programs when people don’t think they’re paying. Once they own it, though, it’s their responsibility to pay for renovation and maintenance. Welcome to the facts on the ground.
Even worse, this entire deal appears to have happened in closed executive session. Many of us were waiting for the public debate of how the Town Council could possibly have the authority to make such a purchase. Oh, well.
I don’t know what to call this outrage, but it’s not democracy.
I also don’t know how many people actually stand to benefit from this. I’d wager mere hundreds of Tiverton’s 15,000 residents even pass by this spot on a regular basis, let alone stop by to rent kayaks, or whatever. And now you, no matter where you live in the state, have helped to pay for the feel-good shopping spree of my town’s little tyrants.
(Click “Continue reading” for addenda.)