Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

EDITORIAL >> Cabot doesn’t fit stereotype

Cabot has a reputation as a predominantly white, predominantly Republican enclave where taxes are about as welcome as warts on a baby.

So local residents raised a few eyebrows over the last 10 days when the city embraced a black family of 40, evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, and approved a bevy of new taxes aimed at improving their community.
“I’ve never seen a town pass taxes by margins like these,” David Menz, who makes his living working with towns and counties passing taxes and floating bond issues, told the city council Monday.
On these pages last week, we called it a landslide.

By a count of 927 for and 187 against, voters decided to extend an existing sales tax for seven years instead of doubling sewer rates. Most of the other questions won by roughly a 2-to-1 margin, including a sewer treatment plant, matching money for a railroad overpass, taxes for a new community center, street improvements and a new animal shelter. The one-cent sales tax extension is worth $28 million. Much of the credit goes to some of the councilmen and to Concerned Citizens of Cabot, an ad hoc group that bought newspaper advertisements exploring the pros and cons of the various issues.

Fleeing before Hurricane Katrina Aug. 29, Linea Baker loaded clothes, kids and the family dog into her car and steered north. Now, Baker and about 40 of her closest relatives live in a Cabot apartment complex and some say they will stay for the higher salaries and the more agreeable climate. Baker said Cabot residents have been nothing but kind. They have invited them to their churches and provided everything they need to survive until they find work. Baker, a college math instructor, did notice the absence of black hair-care products at the local Wal-Mart.

In the midst of a prolonged growth spasm, Cabot residents reached out to help new neighbors and reached deep in their own pockets to help themselves.