Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Using 9/11 To Rip Off The Public

Just 18 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts, sits tiny Peabody, a small town sitting on the intersection of I-95 and Route 128. Not much happens in Peabody, as the police at headquarters on Allen Lane will attest to. At this time of year, the most heinous crimes are speeding tickets being given out like Halloween candy to the thousands of tourists who flock to New England in order to view the fall foliage.

But something new will be occurring in Peabody come September 11th of next year due to the vigorous efforts of the Police Department's Union. All Peabody police officers will be given the opportunity to take the day off, or to work it and receive holiday pay. That's right. Even though not recognized as either a state or federal holiday, the cops in Peabody will be treated to an extra one any way.

Only the second city in the entire nation to do this for their cops, it would seem to be only natural for the reader to believe that New York is the other city. But you'd be wrong, as it's actually another New England town called Derry, New Hampshire. Derry, about 20 miles southeast of Manchester, New Hampshire, is even smaller than Peabody, but they too get to enjoy an extra day of fun and laughs at taxpayer expense on a day when the rest of us stop to remember the victims of the largest catastrophe of our time.

Even as the families of some of the World Trade Center victims in New York expressed outrage that cops in areas not even affected by the disasters are being given special perks at a time when state budgets are strained to the breaking point and services are being slashed everywhere, police unions in nearby towns see the move as a great idea. Medford, Massachusetts police officer Harry MacGilvray, who is also the head of that town's police association, says that he thinks it's a great idea and one that should be adopted by other Massachusetts towns and cities.

The brother of one of the victims, who was contacted by the media says" “I’m really shocked, They’re just taking advantage of a tragic event for their own gain, and I don’t appreciate it.” Other families expressed outrage, with several calling and mailing the city of Peabody, but the union pretty much had the city over a barrel. In addition to the holiday perk, the city also had to agree to use only paid off duty cops at road construction sites as well as give in to a 13 per cent pay hike.

Somehow, this stinks to high heaven. The nation is going through a financial meltdown, and citizens everywhere are being forced to tighten their belts and close their wallets. Prices are spiraling out of control, rents are shooting upwards, the housing market has tanked, and the costs of heating your home are going to make last year seem like a walk in the park. But yet, despite all of this, the cops in New England believe they deserve a perk not shared by anyone else in the country, including the very cops who were on the scene when the towers came down.

The cops who lost their brothers and the families of the firefighters who lie beneath the rubble of the crumbling towers do not seek to exploit a day of national mourning for personal gain. The soldiers killed at the Pentagon certainly have loved ones who could use an extra day off of work every year, but yet, there is no law giving relief to the very people who should be receiving it.

How then, do these who were not even there on the day that evil struck and slaughtered thousands feel they deserve special treatment? How dare they besmirch the memories of the fallen and the wounded survivors who will go through the rest of their lives with psychic scars or others with death sentence breathing problems. granted, a few of the cops from these two towns showed up after the fact to try to help in the cleanup, but that little bit of service does not in any way grant license to a lifetime of reward. And what of the city officials who caved in to this outrageous demand at a time when they are thinking of cutting services for schoolchildren? At the very least, should they not be forced to visit ground zero, be forced to witness the real cops and firefighters who were there that day, and be forced to listen to the horror stories of the departments who should be receiving that extra perk, but ask for nothing?

If the cops in Peabody, Massachusetts and Derry, New Hampshire had any honor, and aren't just trying to rip off the taxpayers on the backs of dead heroes, they would turn down the day off and extra pay, or take the pay and donate the money to the upkeep of the 9/11 Memorials. Because memories of a life changing event are one thing. But the exploitation of those events for personal gain are cynical stains upon the still open wounds of an entire nation. Shame on the cops of these two towns for their blatant extortion of their respective cities, and for the wasteful use of taxpayer money in order for them to have another summer barbecue.

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