The Franklin Common Council meeting that took place on Tuesday of this week (08/21/18) was like, okay, bear with me please, the Ali-Foreman fight in October of 1974.
The Rumble in the Jungle?
Yes, an analogy. Probably not the best, but again, stay with me, okay?
For all intents and purposes Muhammad Ali should have lost that night to the human destroyer George Foreman, an absolute monster.
Franklin aldermen wanted so desperately to approve a referendum to be placed on the November ballot, something, anything in the name of increased property taxes in this Tax Hell, and they would do so invoking the importance of police and fire and EMT services to play upon the guilt of taxpayers.
Think about it. Who could possibly oppose Mom, apple pie, and the American flag?
But their hopes had been dashed by community survey results that essentially showed a split among residents on whether taxes should be increased or not to pay for additional safety personnel. City officials publicly stated they worried police, fire, and EMTs all bundled up into one referendum could pass.
On the ropes with not much place to go, the Franklin Common Council copied what Ali did nearly 48 years ago. They took the only way out.
In Franklin’s case the Common Council voted on Tuesday to put an almost sure to be approved tax increase referendum on the ballot in November.
But not before some interesting discussion.
Proposed firefighter referendum
There were three proposed referendum questions. One idea was to ask voters to surpass state-imposed property tax levy limits to allow the addition of nine firefighters in Franklin.
A Franklin Fire Department official told the Common Council there was no need to “rush it through,” that it “would be okay to delay a year or two.”
From his perspective the official said, “We only get to ask this once.”
In other words, there was a feeling a referendum pertaining to the Fire Department would fail.
Presiding over the August 21, 2018, meeting was Common Council President Mark Andrea. The Franklin alderman was the acting mayor because Mayor Steve Olson, for the second Common Council meeting in a row, was absent.
Dandrea argued “postponing (a firefighter referendum) for a year isn’t a bad thing” because it would give time to “educate our stakeholders.”
Alderman Steve Taylor jumped in with a point I’ve made recently.
“I don’t really like when we talk about educating the public, like they’re ignorant or something. It’s almost degrading.”
Alderman Taylor then directed his attention to the absent Olson.
“I blame the mayor (who’s) not here to give his position, what he would do. If we were going to do it (the survey) this year it should have gone out in spring, right after the spring elections.”
Taylor argued that would have allowed more time for people to consider that could have resulted in more positive response figures, making the outcome of a referendum clearer.
“For some reason he (the mayor) wanted to run this thing himself and now he’s run it into the wall,” said Taylor.
Referendums shot down
The council rejected a referendum adding firefighters, 4-1. Alderman Dan Mayer was the sole positive vote. Acting Mayor Dandrea could only vote in the event of a tie and did not vote.
The aldermen then voted 5-0 to approve a referendum for this November’s ballot that would add three police officers.
Aldermen also voted unanimously against placing an advisory referendum on the November ballot that would ask the state Legislature to approve bills to do away with the so-called “Dark Store” loophole. Not wanting to, as Dandrea said, “beat a dead horse,” the aldermen voted 5-0 against the meaningless referendum.
Council members had three shots to put referendum questions on the ballot in November. In the end they opted for the only choice they thought had a strong possibility of being approved by voters.