Police Chief To Be Paid In Bitcoin, But Mostly As A Publicity Stunt Gimmick

from the seems-a-bit-questionable dept

A few folks have been passing around variations on this story about how police chief Tony Vaughn of the small town (population: ~330) of Vicco, Kentucky, is likely to get his wish to be paid in Bitcoin very soon, after the city commission approved a measure saying that such a system is acceptable (taxes will be taken out in dollars before its converted to Bitcoin). While the story is interesting, the whole thing appears to be a publicity stunt. Vicco got a lot of attention a few months back when it was featured on the Colbert Report for having a gay mayor and passing a "fairness ordinance" against discrimination (the video is amusing, basically mocking those who falsely assume that "small town America" is anti-gay):
Police Chief Vaughn is among those featured in the video, talking about how Mayor Cummings is his best friend. After that show, the town discovered that a bunch of folks wanted to donate money to the town.
All together, the pledges and grant applications amount to more than $200,000, approaching Vicco's annual budget of about $300,000, Cummings said. Still, the town has only a tiny fraction of that money in hand.
However, both Cummings and Vaughn have talked about "capitalizing" on the attention, including appearing on a reality TV show:
The town may even become the setting for a reality-based television show. Cummings said he expects to review a contract proposal soon from a production company, but doesn't know which network might be interested.

He said he wants the show to focus on revitalizing the town.

"I don't see us being that entertaining, but somebody else seems to think we're a little unusual," he said.
A reality TV show where they show off how "unusual" they are? Suddenly the idea of a wacky police chief who gets his salary paid in Bitcoin seems like yet another "hook".

Also, Cummings and Vaughn seem to recognize that staying in the news -- and potentially getting more donations -- is part of the plan:
"I'm excited about it; it's a first for Vicco again," Vaughn said, referring to the city's fairness ordinance passed in January that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The city was the first in the region to approve such a law, and at the time only the third in Kentucky.

But Cummings added that publicity isn't necessarily the only reason for the city to take such a step. Since the city's passage of its fairness ordinance and a subsequent appearance on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," officials have received several donations, including several pieces of playground equipment for a new park near City Hall. And now the city's upcoming website will be set up to accept Bitcoin donations, something Cummings said could help the small town of 300 people better afford projects to improve local infrastructure.
That's not to say that the plan isn't real, but it seems reasonable to ask if this isn't just another way to get a small town extra attention after its recent attention (and donations) started to die out. Vaughn's salary is still being based in dollars and just converted to Bitcoin, so his "salary" isn't in Bitcoin, he's just "paid in Bitcoin." And given the fact that the town itself is doing this at the same time that it's seeking donations and has set itself up to accept Bitcoin, it appears that this may just be a somewhat silly way to keep this small town in the news... and trying to get donations.


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    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 5th, 2013 @ 11:17am

    "A reality TV show where they show off how "unusual" they are?"

    I'd rather watch Northern Exposure.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 5th, 2013 @ 11:36am

    Let no publicity stunt go unmentioned on Techdirt!

    What else would Mike re-write?

    In other and more important Bitcon (sic) news:

    Bitcoin Is Broken

    http://hackingdistributed.com/2013/11/04/bitcoin-is-broken/

    Bitcoin Doomed

    http://cryptome.org/2013/11/bitcoin-doomed.htm

    "Libertarianism" isn't a coherent philogsophy: in practice it just asserts your "right" to be exploited by the ruthless and privileged in a "free" market.

    07:35:56[i-226-2] [ This suppresses the kids from fraud of using my screen name. ]

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Dec 5th, 2013 @ 11:40am

    So?

    it appears that this may just be a somewhat silly way to keep this small town in the news... and trying to get donations.

    Good for them. It appears to be working.

     

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      Arthur Moore (profile), Dec 5th, 2013 @ 11:50am

      Re: So?

      You can't argue with advertising. Even if it super gimmicky. I'd rather have people like that running things than the people in Detroit.

      On the other hand, does anyone know the specifics of this anti discrimination ordinance? Discrimination sucks, but I would like to double check how this affect free speech.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 5th, 2013 @ 12:14pm

      Re: So?

      Good for them. It appears to be working.


      Fair enough. I just see some making it out like this is a turning point for Bitcoin, and I don't think it is.

       

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    OldGeezer (profile), Dec 5th, 2013 @ 2:52pm

    The video won't play for me. Anyone have a working link?

     

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    Thomas, Dec 5th, 2013 @ 3:29pm

    Isn't this illegal?

    I'm pretty sure it's illegal to not pay someone minimum wage in dollars. Otherwise company will start up with corporate currency again.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Dec 5th, 2013 @ 8:42pm

      Re: Isn't this illegal?

      If I'm reading it right, he'll still be paid and taxed normally, with any bitcoins donated to the town converted into 'normal' currency before being used to pay him, the 'paid in bitcoins' bit is just a PR thing, to make the situation sound more interesting.

       

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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Dec 5th, 2013 @ 3:34pm

    Vaughn's salary is still being based in dollars and just converted to Bitcoin, so his "salary" isn't in Bitcoin, he's just "paid in Bitcoin."

    Better to be paid in Bitcoins than gum.

     

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    Steve, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 12:39am

    Publicity Stunt

    This is definitely a publicity stunt, he'll still be paid in normal currency

     

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      PaulT (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 2:48am

      Re: Publicity Stunt

      or... he's paid in a currency that has the potential to significantly appreciate in value (yes, the reverse is also true).

      That makes me think - would this be legal otherwise - e.g. if a salary was paid in casino chips or stocks, would that be allowed or is this only acceptable due to bitcoin's nature as an alternative currency rather than a holding of a private entity?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 7:59am

    And given the fact that the town itself is doing this at the same time that it's seeking donations and has set itself up to accept Bitcoin, it appears that this may just be a somewhat silly way to keep this small town in the news... and trying to get donations.

    Meh, I'm just glad to see news talking about a police chief and no one was hurt.

     

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