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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Comments on “Police Chief To Be Paid In Bitcoin, But Mostly As A Publicity Stunt Gimmick”

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out_of_the_blue says:

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


Bitcoin Doomed


“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. ]

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Let no publicity stunt go unmentioned on Techdirt!

Bitcoin Is Broken

Mike already set you straight on that one:


But hey, keep on repeating previously debunked stuff. It makes you look soooooo informed.

As for the other link. I read Adrian Chen’s NYT’s Op-Ed and you know what? He doesn’t really give any reasons as to why he thinks that Bitcoin is doomed other than his personal feelings on the issue.

PaulT (profile) says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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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