“. . . . You also should know that New Hampshire’s individual-rights vibe, along with its small population (1.38 million) and large legislature (400 representatives and 24 senators), has drawn libertarians like colonists to a tea party.
This includes the Free State Project, a movement that for years has promoted a mass migration of “liberty activists” to the state so as to seed a kind of limited-government Shangri-La. The group espouses “radical personal responsibility,” “constitutional federalism” and “peaceful resistance to shine the light on the force that is the state,” its website says.
Croydon, incorporated in 1763, is among the New Hampshire towns with a free-state vein running through its granite hills. This was hinted at in 2020, when Ian Underwood, a town selectman aligned with the Free State, proposed eliminating the police department as a way to fire its sole employee, the longtime and somewhat controversial chief.
The three-member select board adopted the approach and instructed the chief to return his badge and gear. He promptly handed over his uniform, which he happened to be wearing, and then, in hat, boots and underwear, walked out into a February snowstorm. His wife collected him down past the general store.
Croydon life continued, with yard sales at the museum, Halloween celebrations at the fire station and generally low turnouts at the annual town meetings — a direct-democracy tradition common in New England, when residents gather to approve, deny or amend proposed municipal budgets.
On a snowy Saturday this past March, the 2022 meeting began in the two-century-old town hall, where the walls are adorned with an 1876 American flag made by the “women of Croydon” and instructions to reset the furnace to 53 degrees before leaving.
Residents approved the town budget in the morning. Then they turned in the afternoon to the proposed $1.7 million school budget, which covers the colonial-era schoolhouse (kindergarten to fourth grade) and the cost of sending older students to nearby schools of their choice, public or private.
This is when Mr. Underwood, 60, stood up and threw a sucker punch to the body politic.
Calling the proposed budget a “ransom,” he moved to cut it by more than half — to $800,000. He argued that taxes for education had climbed while student achievement had not, and that based in part on the much lower tuition for some local private schools, about $10,000 for each of the town’s 80 or so students was sufficient — though well short of, say, the nearly $18,000 that public schools in nearby Newport charged for pupils from Croydon.”
They cut the 1.7 Million school budget by 50%!