A handful of people hijacked the first night of Town Meeting by gaming the system. For each line item in the budget, they brought up “amendments” that were either illegal or unlikely to be accepted. One person wanted to hold the School Department budget hostage in order to revisit the School Department contract with the teachers. Evidently, this individual had not attended any of the public meetings on the subject, where objections might have been raised. A different “amendment” wanted to take out money allocated for school administrators, which would be illegal under state law. Yet another group wanted to reduce the entire School Department budget as a “protest.”
The real target of the attacks, the real agenda of this obstructive group was the retired town employees, like me, who get health insurance through the town. I won’t mention the name of the individual who stopped the meeting at the line item for sewer and water. He wanted to put forth an amendment, and came with a prepared slide show. In it, he showed a hypothetical town worker who works a 20-hour week, works for 10 years and at age 55 retires and collects health insurance. This is a phony straw man that is used in debates. You set up a false figure and then knock it down. That worker doesn’t exist.
I am a real retiree who worked a 20-hour week. We are the people who are on the circulation desk at the library or provide support in Town Hall and other departments. We didn’t make much money to start with. We had money for the pension system and Medicare taken out of our paychecks over the years. Looking at my own retirement payment, I calculated that a person who retired after 10 years would get about $7,200 per year, which is well below the national poverty standard. Workers at this level frequently have to continue working beyond age 65. I pay to Medicare $1,200 annually, with an additional $700 for supplemental health insurance.