Gifts in Derry: Pay for them yourselves
The Derry Town Council has a long-standing policy of buying gifts for departing council members. The traditional gift is a $356 chair. What a nice gesture to make with other people's money.
For weeks the council has been embroiled in a little controversy over the gifts. Outgoing Councilor Brian Chirichiello did not want a chair. He asked instead for the town-owned iPad he had been issued. He got it. Some on the council want to ask him to give it back. A lot of bickering has taken place. Most of it seems to miss three critical points.
One: Why in the world is the town paying for gifts for councilors? One council member, Mark Osborne, had the sense to see that this was an unnecessary burden on the town budget. He recommended ending the practice and instead taking up a collection from council members for any departing gifts. "The responsibility falls on us and not on the public budget," he said. Kudos to him.
Two: Why in the world do council members have taxpayer-funded computers? What an extravagance.
Sure, relying on electronic communications saves paper and printing costs, which can get expensive. But who doesn't own a computer of some sort these days?
Three: Are Derry taxpayers keeping an eye on their council? These are not the sort of expenses we expect most taxpayers to find acceptable.