Chariho School Parents’ Forum

June 16, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Filed under: Hopkinton Town Council — Editor @ 9:08 am

Good news out of Hopkinton last night – we voted to approve a resolution supporting the elimination of the straight party ticket.

For those who don’t know, this is when a ballot has the option to vote Democrat or Republican for all offices with one stroke of the pen. Opponents, like me, say that if we eliminate it people will be more inclined to only vote for races where they know what is going on. Or at least give thought to each person they are voting for.

Secondly, as the current system is made, if you voted for one of the parties but then wanted to vote for an independent or someone not in the same party farther down the ballot, it would disqualify your ballot all together because they would conflict.

The council voted to approve it 4-1 or 3-1-1.  Not sure how Bev Kenney voted – I didn’t hear her. Tom Buck voted against it.

While I consider Tom a friend and a nice guy, that’s the second thing he did last night that surprised me.



  1. This isn’t the first time that this issue has come up. It’s been around for a while and our wonderful, Democratically controlled legislature won’t change it. I agree with you, we should eliminate straight party voting.

    BTW, you’re wrong on one item, even though you mark off one party or another you can vote for another party further down. Where is the problem occurs is when it’s for a contest like Town Council and more than one vote is needed, you then have to cast your vote for the 5 you would want in that race. The straight party vote is voided once you cast a single vote within a multiple seat race. I know this for a fact, check with the RI Board of Elections, they’ll explain it.

    Comment by CharihoParent — June 16, 2009 @ 10:14 am | Reply

  2. It is a good idea, only vote for the races where you have knowledge of the candidates. You could be voting for someone you don’t agree with.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — June 16, 2009 @ 10:18 am | Reply

  3. CP,
    I have heard that but it was also presented that it does the same thing for single seat races. Either way, it is void and the voter doesn’t know. I will check

    A perfect example of how the party switch has influence was the Pinga/Alves senate race. In 06 Pinga ran as a republican and got killed by Senator Alves – chair of the senate finance committee. In 08 Pinga ran as a democrat and beat Alves in the primary and is now a senator (and only 1 of 2 who voted against the “never ending contracts.”

    Comment by Bill Felkner — June 16, 2009 @ 10:52 am | Reply

  4. Set the ballot up anyway you like, most people will still be uneducated on the ballot questions and candidates; yet they know everything about who won on the latest episode of Idol, or any of the other TV reality shows (sorry I can’t list them …..just don’t know what they are).

    Comment by RS — June 16, 2009 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

  5. Amen on that one, RS. As I have said to a co-worker this morning when discussing the current debate on national health care and our wonderful congress wanting to the tax health benefits, too many voters are ignorant of who does what in congress, that goes for both state and federal. My stance on this is that I don’t want the government involved with heath insurance at all and stay the hell out of my pocket!

    Comment by CharihoParent — June 16, 2009 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

  6. I’m not so sure that making health benefits taxable is a bad thing. The reality is that some get health insurance that is remarkably better than others and this has a real financial impact on people. Take the Chariho insurance, it is much better than mine, there is an actual cash benefit to this, why shouldn’t it be taxed?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — June 16, 2009 @ 1:58 pm | Reply

    • So the best reason you have for taxing health benefits is because you want those who have a better rate or plan(meaning more money) to pay more because why……jealous, believe in robin hood, or just never met a tax youd didn’t like? How will this raise the level of productivity for those who get something for nothing?

      Comment by RS — June 16, 2009 @ 4:02 pm | Reply

  7. Gene, who is the government to tax anyone’s health benefit? You want to pay more taxes than you do now?

    Comment by CharihoParent — June 16, 2009 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

  8. I don’t want to pay more taxes, but I would like taxes distributes in a way that is pratically looking at “income”.

    It’s part of our union vs private sector gaps, public employees get far superior health benefits than private sector, but thaþ part gets forgotten when pay ngotiation comes up, so let’s call a spade a spade and realize health insurance is no more than extra benefits. If your company pays $5k for yours and $15k for another guy, then the other guys deserves to pay his share.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — June 16, 2009 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

    • No different than a family of 3 paying the same rate as a family of 6, who makes out better if averaging the cost over the number of family lets tax the larger family more, because why…based on the fact their per person cost are lower? or heck lets base the amount on the usage rate of insurance, that’s what really drives the costs, you use it more than me , you pay more.

      Comment by RS — June 16, 2009 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

  9. I take it you mean public vs private since many unions at private companies don’t get anywhere near what public sector unions get. I’m all for correcting that gap, not a problem there but what irks mean is when anyone says someone else “deserves” pay more. Sorry, I just can’t agree with that concept. To me it’s the same as someone saying they are “entitled” to something.

    Comment by CharihoParent — June 16, 2009 @ 3:40 pm | Reply

  10. CP, the root of my issue is the high cost of public union health cost. It’s a back door way to increase “actual compensation”. If it had to show up on a W2 then it would be hard to hide.

    Generally people don’t understand how much health care costs, if they did, docotors would be challenged on procedures much more often.

    Maybe we should all buy health insurance like we do for cars?

    Wouldn’t their be more competition and options?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — June 16, 2009 @ 3:58 pm | Reply

    • Any benefit offered to an employee is very simple to calculate, payroll departments do it everyday. There are no hidden costs, just look at the budget for your town, the health costs are printed in black and white.

      Comment by RS — June 16, 2009 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  11. It’called having a level playing field. The gov’t taxes adds imputed (taxable) income for my company cell phone, company car, and education the company pays for … So how’s health any different?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — June 16, 2009 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

  12. Exactly who is the one that will be in charge of “challenging” the doctors? They are already challenged, by the insurance companies who have on staff……doctors.

    Health care is a very complex system with no single answer to its problems, but when the richest people in the world(Saudi Sheiks) choose to come to the US for medical procedures, this says something about the quality of our health care system.

    Comment by RS — June 16, 2009 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  13. Agreed, so anything that adds more discussion on health I’m happy with.

    Problem is that the health gets a huge cut of GDP, can we continue to afford it? When does medicare/medicaid go broke?

    I think if individuals had a real skin in the game on health they would question. I just learned the lesson the hard way, one unnecessary test cost me $650 that didn’t need to happen. You bet I’ll be paying more attention now.

    Cost of health care is important to this discussion. How many people know how much their employer pays for one’s health coverage?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — June 16, 2009 @ 4:24 pm | Reply

  14. Hi!
    In simply partisan terms the Democrats benefit from straight ticket voting in Rhode Island since they are by far the dominant party. Even in Hopkinton there are more registered Democrats than Republicans.
    If one reads the sample ballot last November, it notes if you vote a straight ticket, then vote in a multiple candidate race, it invalidates that office straight ticket votes.
    None of the Chariho towns as I recall, had neither a full Democrat or Republican Town Council slate in 2008. In Hopkinton, for example there were two independents(Capalbo,Felkner); three Democrats, Buck,Capalbo, and Kenney; and two Republicans, Abbott and myself. It can be assumed a number of Hopkinton residents after using the straight ticket option, then those who wanted to use a full five choices instead may not have voted for their party choices individually for town council because they assumed it was already done and did not need to be repeated, when voting for other candidates of the other party or independents to get to their full five limit.
    Despite 2008 being a Democratic year NOT one Democrat was elected to the Charlestown Town Council which defied a partisan trend in favor of the Democrats.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — June 16, 2009 @ 5:32 pm | Reply

  15. Gene,
    You’re trying to level the playing field between public vs private but who will ultimatly get hurt the most doing that? IMO, I believe it would end up being the average John Citizen that happens to work at a private company that has better health insurance than what you do.

    Are health insurances charged the same throught the country? Are rates lower in some areas than others? If you charge a tax based on the benefits could it end up being that just because you live in a certain section of the country you get charged more because the rates are higher yet you don’t get as much coverage? Plain and simple, the goverment shouldn’t be involved in this. I’m ready for a flat tax percent on wages, period, no deductions for this or that, no tax breaks for anything, your earnings are taxed at the same percentage as me no matter what else you or I do. That way there’s no someone “deserves” to get taxed more or some is “entitled” to more.

    Comment by CharihoParent — June 16, 2009 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

  16. Lots of things are different around the country, fuel, groceries, housing, etc.

    My point is simply that health insurance is a benefit just like lots of other benefits that are taxed.

    I do firmly believe out health care (and pension) system is going to implode without aggressive action by people to understand the cost implications. Sharing a percentage of the cost does this as well.

    Am I jealous that other people have better health insurance than I? Sure, who wouldn’t, just like people like to make more money, what’s so strange about that?

    How let’s get to the employeer paid insurance system … how’s it fair to the businesses to eat these costs? Why shouldn’t it be like getting car or home insurance?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — June 16, 2009 @ 11:19 pm | Reply

  17. Unless of course, y’all support a nationalized no fault health care system …

    Wasn’t McCain’s idea to give everyone a $8000 tax break to go spend as one saw fit?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — June 16, 2009 @ 11:21 pm | Reply

  18. Private health care can’t be given an honest taxable value. Private insurance subsidizes government insurance. Employers and individualo pay more for private insurance to make up for lower than market rates the government pays. We also subsidize Canadian drugs by paying more here to make up for the less they pay there. I don’t want to be taxed on something we don’t even get!

    Stop worrying about illegal aliens without medical coverage. Stop employing them and stop curing them. They’ll go home. Stop worrying about 20-somethings who choose to party rather than have insurance. Been there lived through that. Stop forcing insurance coverage for psychologists, social workers, chiropractors, and every other quack known to man. Our healthcare system is the best of the best. Canada, England and other socialized medicine countries are the ones with inferior care, not us. Want to improve our costs? Tell the government to get the hell out of the doctoring business!

    Comment by Concerned — June 17, 2009 @ 11:03 am | Reply

  19. I see where you are coming from Gene with the taxation of benefits. I would think the health care benefits are looked at differently because unlike a phone, car, and other tools that help employees to be productive and make money for their employer, health beneftis do not increase productivity unless it is assumed they keep the employees healthier……I’m not a subscriber to this philosophy. Another and probably more important reason is the unwillingness of the politicians(in part due to a strong lobbying effort) to tax an important benefit of many of their constituents for fear of backlash.

    Comment by RS — June 17, 2009 @ 12:42 pm | Reply

  20. Sometimes a little history helps in understanding some of the things we deal with. The idea of not taxing health care benefits did not originate as a big philosophical question but rather was the consequence of a decision made by an aircraft maker during WW II.

    During that war there were wage and price controls in the United States as a measure to prevent or at least limit inflation. There was also competition for workers with particular skills. Wage controls limited the ability of companies to attract workers by offering higher salaries, so a Texas airplane manufacturer began offering health insurance at no cost to the employees as a means to attract workers without violating the wage controls.

    They did that, but at some point the local IRS office said that the cost of that benefit that the employer was paying was in effect income and should be taxed. There was no precedent to base the decision on and the question was taken to an IRS arbitrator or some local court. The finding was that the benefit was not income and should not be taxed. Subsequently others started offering the same benefit, but the decision was never appealed to a higher tribunal and what was a decision of great importance to national policy became almost by accident something that has governed how that benefit has been treated since WW II.

    I’m not arguing it is right or wrong, but rather that something that has evolved into a major question of policy was originated almost casually without the usual examination of matters of such importance.

    The company, incidently, was Consolidated-Vultee which ultimately became Convair which became one of the early Divisions of the General Dynamics Corporation.

    Comment by Thurman Silks — June 17, 2009 @ 4:29 pm | Reply

  21. History is fine. Evolution can be good or bad. Private health care now pays part of the freight for below market rate government health care. Unless the government gets out of the health care business quantifying the real taxable value of private healthcare would be very hard to do. Pray your parents get you a private school education. Work hard. Everything will fall into place. The American way.

    Comment by Concern — June 17, 2009 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

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