'Rizzoli and Isles' Episode's Arsonist Fireman Blames Boston 'Budget Cuts' Which Don't Exist in Real Life

I know, we're supposed to give TV shows and the like a bit of dramatic license to push a plot line. But doesn't it seem that an awful lot of the license taken tends to be pro-big government and left-leaning?

One pretty obvious example came along Monday night during the Season 2 finale of TNTs' "Rizzoli & Isles" (which ran again late tonight). The plot of "Burning Down the House" centered around the death of a Boston fireman in a major warehouse blaze. Ultimately, the perpetrator ended up being a fireman who was upset by "budget cuts," which were mentioned twice during the episode:

  • At the beginning, one of the in-charge fireman regrets that he had to send the one who died (actually, it turn out that he was killed because he was onto the arsonist) into the building without backup, saying in essence, "That's what budget cuts will get you." He goes on talk about station closings and the like.
  • In the climactic scene at the show's end, the arson-setting fireman, who ends up being responsible for a large number of them, believes he is alone in the same burned-out warehouse with Ms. Isles and is about to kill her. Before he makes his attempt, he complains about how the city "kept cutting back and cutting back," and how "they can't keep laying us off." When asked by Isles how he would prevent it, he responds (paraphrasing) that he would "burn a few buildings."

The trouble is, the City of Boston's Fire Department Budget has increased each year from 2010 to 2012.

As shown at this graphic, which was found at Page 31 of the city's 2012 budget (large PDF), the Fire Department's actual or appropriated amounts from 2009 to 2012 were as follows:

  • FY09 Expenditures -- $165.3 million
  • FY10 Expenditures -- $173.6 million (5.0% increase over FY09)
  • FY11 Appropriations -- $176.4 million (1.6% increase over FY10)
  • FY12 Appropriations -- $181.9 million (3.1% increase over FY11)

One can argue about whether the increases are big enough, but it's hard to make a case that the city is "cutting back and cutting back." Instead, it's on track to spend 10% more than it did three years ago.

Looking at another metric, total employment per the Department's About page is 1,611 in a city of about 620,000. Cincinnati's Fire Department has about half as many employees, and the city is about half Boston's size.

In other words, the situation in Boston doesn't seem to be out of whack. It certainly isn't in some kind of radical cutback mode, and hasn't been since the 1980s (with as far as I can tell no or almost no station closings since then). In fact, it's Boston's police budget which has seen real cuts (from $288.6 million in 2009 to a projected $269.2 million in 2012, also at the graphic) during the past three years.

Unfortunately, shows like these are where many of the disengaged who nevertheless vote end up getting what they believe is valid information which conforms to reality. In this case, it's not, and it doesn't.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.