Board of Selectmen to express frustration about lack of federal relief funds in letter to lawmakers

Dec 15, 2020

Frustrated with what appears to be a refusal from the federal government to include money for municipalities in the upcoming coronavirus relief package, the Wareham Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to send a letter to Massachusetts’ members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

“As Congress wrangles over this stimulus bill, there seems to be quite a bit of fighting over whether there should be aid to states and municipalities included with it,” said Selectman Peter Teitelbaum. “Or whether it should simply be another corporate bailout and maybe ‘let’s mail some people checks’ — you know 300 bucks or whatever to add to their unemployment to get them through the holidays.”

With this in mind, Teitelbaum proposed the board write to Massachusetts’ members of congress. 

“To implore them to push to get some damn state and local funding in any relief bill that comes through Congress,” he explained. “I’m sick and tired of being on the bottom of the totem pole while these people wrangle over nonsense and try to slip in stuff that’s not appropriate — both sides do it.” 

Teitelbaum said it was time the board expressed its displeasure about how Congress seemed to be ignoring municipalities’ concerns, and members of the board agreed.

Selectman Jim Munise pointed out that municipalities were facing significant and direct economic loss due to the virus, “because of less tax revenue being collected at all the restaurants and other places.”

Selectman Judith Whiteside added that she didn’t “want Tom Brady or a whole bunch of other people who have more money than God” getting Paycheck Protection Program money from the Small Business Administration. Her example elicited some laughs, and she asked that Teitelbaum include her request in the letter he planned to draft. 

Selectman Alan Slavin said members of the federal government “forget where they came from” and don’t understand the hardships municipalities are facing.

“We’ll probably see a stimulus package again, January or February, with the same deal,” he said. “Where money goes to the biggest corporations — the ones that have the most assets to apply for the different funds.”

He proposed that, along with sending a letter to federal officials, the board also draft a letter to state legislators in support of Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed $700 million economic recovery plan.

“That $700 million will go a long way to every one of the 351 communities,” Slavin said.

The board voted to have Teitelbaum draft a letter to state legislators along with the letter to Massachusetts’ federal lawmakers.