Have Keene Free Staters finally started to free Keene?
Keene area free staters have saved 100s of people, if not 1,000s of people, from parking tickets over the years. However, they haven’t directly influenced taxes in the past. That might all change on March 12th, 2013. On Monday, February 11th, the Keene School District had the First Session on the annual Winter meeting where the voters were allowed to amend the warrant articles that will be voted on during the March 12th Second Session of the annual Winter meeting. Five free staters were at the First Session meeting. At the beginning of the almost four hour long meeting, a motion was put up to a vote to amend the Keene school budget as proposed by the Keene School Board. The motion was to increase the proposed budget by $50,000. The motion failed with 46 yes votes and 51 no votes. Three additional amendments to increase the proposed budget were put up to vote. All three motions lost by an even larger vote margin than the first motion. Towards the end of the meeting, a motion was made to increase the proposed budget by an amount equal to three of the four failed motions. Perhaps the person putting up the motion thought she would be able to get support from several special interest groups represented at the meeting. The motion failed 43 yes votes to 49 no votes. The difference between yes and no votes for the first budget motion was equal to the number of free staters in the audience. The difference between the yes and not votes for the last budget motion was equal to the number of free staters in the audience plus 1.
The voters of Keene still have to approve the proposed budget at the Second Session of the annual Winter meeting on March 12th. If the voters approve the proposed budget, as expected, Keene area free staters will have likely saved the Keene taxpayers at least $50,000 in taxes.
These kind of close votes happen in towns and cities throughout New Hampshire. Votes in Grafton, NH, for example, have been so close in the past that a coin toss was used. Some people even credit free staters with preventing a budget increase in another New Hampshire community this year. And come March, Keene will likely be added to the list. With that, the question, can local political activism by Keene free staters improve the lives of everyone in Keene, will be answered with a yes. Yes it can.
Though, technically, this doesn’t mean free staters in Keene are actually freeing Keene. It just means that they are able to stop some of the growth in statism. Still, that’s a big improvement from what was possible in Keene, politically, even a few years ago. It might even be worth celebrating.
Note: Vote counts are unofficial and might be slightly off. When the official vote counts are released, this post will be updated.
Correction: Keene Sentinel reporter Kaitlin Mulhere claimed the vote on the first budget motion was 46 yes votes to 53 no votes. That’s a difference in the number of free staters in the audience plus 2. Ms Mulhere also claimed that the vote on the last budget motion was 46 yes votes to 49 no votes. That’s 2 less votes than the number of free staters in the audience. If that is correct than free staters didn’t save the people of Keene $50,000, they saved the people of Keene $170,000. Additionally, Ms. Mulhere claims that less than a half a percent of the district’s nearly 17,000 registered voters showed up and voted during the First Session meeting. That’s a pretty low voters turnout.