America, meet the Cranicks. They are the family who now live in a trailer near the charred remains of their home in rural Obion County, Tennessee, all because the local fire department refused to extinguish a fire that destroyed their home. Why? Because they had not paid a $75 fee (on top of taxes) for fire fighting services from the nearby town.
Firefighters Let House Burn Down Over $75 (starts with the Local News Coverage)
The Young Turks -- Oct 5, 2010
And the Tea Partiers couldn't have been happier about it, as I recall, from listening to the Fox News coverage at the time.
'If you don't pay your way -- you don't eat/sleep/or deserve the time of day..." etc. etc.
As per usual, the stalwart of the Progressives at the time, had his own unique take on this Tea Party-inspired outcome:
A look now into the America envisioned by the Tea Party. A home catches fire. Firefighters arrive on the scene, and watch the place burn down. All because the home owner did not pay an extra fee. Our number one story. Pay to spray, just a preview of what would come in a kind of a la carte government. In a moment, the man victimized by this policy, where its already in effect, will speak out.
It happened in rural Obien county in Tennessee. The grandson of Gene and Paullette Cranick was burning trash nearby the family home when the fire got out of control. The Cranicks called 911 several times, but the fire department would not respond. Why not? Because each year, county residents must pay a 75 dollar fee on top of taxes if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. The Cranicks did not pay. The fire department eventually did show up when the fire spread to the property of a neighbor who did pay the 75 dollar fee. Fir fighters put out the blaze on the neighbor's property while the Cranick home continued to burn. South Fulton's Republican Mayor David Crocker defended what is a 20- year-old policy.
DAVID CROCKER, SOUTH FULTON, TENNESSEE MAYOR: Anybody that's not inside the city limits of South Fulton, it's a service that we offer. Either they accept it or they don't.
OLBERMANN: Crocker telling the area newspaper " The Messenger" that if the fire department operated on a per call basis outside city limits, there would be no incentive for rural county residents to pay the fee. " The Messenger" reporting that Mr. Crocker likened the policy to auto insurance. "As an analogy, he said if an auto owner allowed their vehicle insurance to lapse, they would not expect an insurance company to pay for an unprotected vehicle after it was wrecked." In Obien County, three out of eight municipal fire departments require a subscription fee. Two of those fire departments, including South Fulton, state they will not respond without payment. While the Kenton Fire Department puts itself down as a maybe. Meanwhile, the County Commission's latest report on its fire services applauds the county's progressive credentials. " Fire service is, without question, a basic life, property-saving emergency service. It's no less important than law enforcement, rescue, and energy medical services." Joining me now, as promised, Gene Cranick, whose home burned down as a result of this pay as you go policy. Mr. Cranick, thanks for some of your time tonight under these circumstances. Allow me to express our regret here over the loss of your home.
GENE CRANICK, HOME DESTROYED BY FIRE: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Thankfully, your family is OK. You're now reduced to living on a trailer on that property there, as I understand it. Can you tell us what was lost in the fire?
CRANICK: Everything that we possessed was lost in the fire. Even three dogs and a cat that belonged to my grandchildren was lost in it. And they could have been saved if they had put water on it. But they didn't do it. That's just a loss.
OLBERMANN: When you all called 911, as I understand it, you told the operator you would pay whatever was necessary to have the fire fighters come put out and prevent the fire from spreading to your house. What was their response?
CRANICK: That we wasn't on their list.
OLBERMANN: And did they say -- when they finally got there and finally started to work on the flames, because they had spread to the adjoining property, what did the fire fighters say to you? Were they sorry about this? Did they express any regret?
CRANICK: They put water out on the fence line out here. They never said nothing me. Never acknowledged. They stood out here and watched it burn.
OLBERMANN: So if your neighbors hadn't paid either, and the flames jumped to their house, that would have burned down too. If nobody out there had paid, we would have had the entire rural community on fire?
CRANICK: It was -- it was in a corn field. It had already harvested. They had a tractor in the distance. They had the flame contained in the field. The man that owned the field told help to put the water on the house. They said they couldn't do it because it wasn't on the list.
OLBERMANN: Has the fire department, to your knowledge, ever made an exception to the rule?
CRANICK: Yes, they have. Back when we had a real fire chief, he had enough gall about him that he would do things. About three years ago in December, this December, had the fire up here in my boy's house. And they waved the fee until the next day. But we had the thing out before they got there, which don't make any difference. But they still waived the fee until the next day and I went in and paid it.
OLBERMANN: Have other houses in the area burned down while the fire department watched because people hadn't paid the fee?
CRANICK: Yes, sir. They let -- as far as mine -- I know for sure, they let three. And I heard of four. And then on the other side of Union City in a community, they let a barn burn that had horses in it. So I don't know what about that.
OLBERMANN: Is your insurance going to help at all in this?
CRANICK: My insurance is -- I talked to the adjuster today. They're right on the ball. So insurance is going to pay for what money I had on the policy, looks like. But like everything else, I didn't have enough.
OLBERMANN: Oh, goodness. Gene Cranick, I don't know what else to say, other than we appreciate your taking the time to explain this to us. Again, our sympathy on what happened. It's unbelievable.
CRANICK: I like to say one more thing.
CRANICK: If I can.
CRANICK: The mayor up here said I refused to pay. I did not refuse to pay. I told them I would pay whatever it took. But I had forgot this thing, and I know people don't think you forget things like that, but you do, and just so happened that I forgot it. Now, I have to suffer the consequences for it. So --
OLBERMANN: Yes. Well, you paid your taxes. One would think it would be covered in that. I'm sorry to end the interview on that note. But, Gene Cranick, I thank you for talking with us.
Given this stark vision of what a Tea Party America would ultimately look like,
-- I will simply wish us all, Good Luck.