Michael J. Gagne, the town's executive administrator, said it marked the first time in his 27 years in local government that a governor came to Dartmouth to discuss local issues and answer questions.
Our Governor came to Dartmouth to spend some time with local elected leaders to discuss local problems. Imagine that? Before I read the entire article, I commented to my roommate, "Can you ever imagine Mitt Romney - or any Bay State Republican Governor - doing that?" Then, about ten seconds later, I laughed: according to Michael Gagne, the answer would be an authoritative NO!
We, the voters, elected Deval Patrick for two reasons: to actually show up and listen to what's going on, instead of just playing Mr. Governor and showing up for photo ops during disasters, and to come up with innovative ideas to actually - you know - solve problems (and use his bully pulpit to actually help pass them). That means a Governor has to stay in tune with the people and then actually do something about what they have to say.
Fortunately, at Dartmouth, Governor Patrick did both things. He's come to offer what help and services he can to a town struggling to pay the bills (and a relatively affluent one at that) and he just so happens to have an idea that could help the situation: his Municipal Partnership Act.
The plan includes several measures that are attractive to Dartmouth officials, including a 2 percent local meals tax option that would translate to $1.1 million in new revenue for the town.
Dartmouth is also eyeing an increase in the hotel and motel room tax and the removal of the 1915 telecommunications tax exemption.
But the governor said there are other components to his plan that would help Dartmouth and other communities.
They would be eligible to transfer their pension plans and group insurance programs into the state system under the governor's proposal.
Imagine that? A 2% tax - which would be optional for Dartmouth - could help the town raise upwards of $1.1 million dollars. For a town of a little more than 30,000 people, that's a lot of money. Most importantly, it's not an unfair tax: my dinner tonight at Texas Roadhouse would have cost 76 cents more - something even I can afford.
Sort of like a sappy commercial: for just 76 cents a day, little children in Dartmouth will get to go to school and continue to learn instruments and everything! Wow!
The Municipal Partnership Act clearly won't solve every problem, but it's step one in revamping Massachusetts for the 21st Century. If Governor Patrick's recent visit to Dartmouth is any indication, steps two and three will be right on their way as soon as the Municipal Partnership Act is passed.