As a Fall River resident, homeowner, taxpayer, and terrified potential shooting victim, I’d like to thank the F.B.I. for getting rid of Pay-As-You-Throw in the city of my birth.
I’d also like to thank the Internal Revenue Service.
In addition, I’d like to thank both those agencies for getting the roof of the Fall River Public Library fixed after a long wait. I would also like to thank individual agents of those agencies for dragging Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia out of a house in Bridgewater and encouraging more frequent street repair here in Potholeopolis.
It’s not easy being one of those agents. Day after day, you sit in a too-brightly-lit office, poring over tax records, and records of business expenditures. Day after day, you drive to Fall River to question a terrified (and not too bright) cast of characters.
Finally, nearly dead, you stumble into your boss’ office, weakly clutching a piece of paper in your hand.
“Look at this,” you say to your boss.
The boss looks at the piece of paper.
“Fraud,” he says. “Tax evasion. Arrest the guy.”
“We’ll have to find him first,” you say.
“Try Bridgewater,” the boss says. “Where else would you go if you wanted to arrest the mayor of Fall River.”
“Lotta houses in Bridgewater,” you say. “This could take a while.”
“Look for the house with the Fall River city vehicle out front,” the boss says.
“Should we take the machine guns?” you ask the boss.
“You ever SEE Jasiel Correia?” the boss says. “This isn’t the kind of guy who has a couple teardrops tattooed under one eye.”
You go to the house. Correia, as the cops say, “is arrested without incident,” like a kid being sent to the principal’s office. Later, coming out of a courthouse, with the feel of the handcuffs still on his wrists, Correia will smirk like the same kid walking out of the principal’s office after getting a good talking to about his behavior. One thing that kid knows is that he better start sucking up to the teacher immediately.
In that spirit, it now begins to rain money in Fall River, with the $10 bills falling like feathers off a sick snow owl.
It doesn’t rain much money, of course. Fall River is full of poor people. The tragedy isn’t that we can be bought, but that some of us can be bought for such small amounts of money. People in this city frequently degrade themselves for $40,000-a-year city jobs.
This is as it must be in a place with a long and rich tradition of short money, long hours, high unemployment and a steady diet of lies fed to us by our masters. Our masters are usually people who now live in a “good neighborhood,” but who retain the accents and attitudes of the tenement neighborhoods where they were raised. One of those attitudes is that, when you finally become a “boss,” either on a loading dock or in Government Center, you use your position to reward your friends and punish your enemies.
While the fingernail of an invisible hand scratches “13 indictments” on the wall of his office, Correia, who now wants everyone to be his friend, shows us what a really motivated mayor can accomplish with other people’s money.
We the people, so long lied to that we do not expect the truth, so long poor that we are grateful for a $10 bill, we the people, forget about the colorless little man in the too-brightly-lit office, who adds up the numbers, and follows the scent of money through jewelry stores, and through the less brightly-lit world of “adult entertainment.”
That guy doesn’t give a damn for your $10 bill, or your purple bags, or the selfie you took with Jasiel Correia at the Inaugural Ball. That guy’s pension will be more than your salary, he spent more than $10 on lunch today, and he lives in a suburb where Pay-As-You-Throw is a decade old policy.
It is possible for that guy to cancel the results of our last couple of elections, and possibly our next two. Whatever the end result is, here in Fall River, we wait patiently for someone to tell us what to do next.