February 7, 2013
How Much Are Central Falls' Dilettante Officials Costing Taxpayers?
It was very tempting, indeed, to title this post: "Seriously, are certain Central Falls officials anticipating a commission from the Receiver's legal fees?" Presumably, the answer is, no, they are not.
However, as the "stand-off" between state officials and certain C.F. council members now moves, ludicrously, to mediation, an observer can be forgiven for wondering about the motives of those councilors.
Certainly, many of us opposed, and still oppose, Rhode Island's municipality receivership law. Having a higher level of government reach down, take over power from the locally elected government and impose its will, unaccountable to the voters/taxpayers, is an unacceptable and undemocratic option.
Isn't there a point, however, at which it is necessary to defer to reality? The receivership has happened. Past tense. U.S. Bankruptcy Court officially concluded the receivership in October.
The city, however, does not yet control its own fiscal situation. The state has oversight until FY 2017. Three council members (all but Councilor Robert Ferri) are miffed about this, contending that the state was supposed to have bowed out in July. The councilors are huffily refusing to attend workshops set up by the state to ensure that city officials fully understand
how the city will operate under a debt-reduction plan that was approved by a federal bankruptcy judge.
Meanwhile, as the three councilors refuse to do their homework so that they can carry out the court's orders, the receiver remains camped at C.F. City Hall. And - pay close attention here, Honorable Council Members - he ain't working for free.
The dispute carries a heavy price tag — about $9,400 a week for McJennett and his two-member staff to remain in City Hall.
To review, the receivership has come and gone. By court order, the city's budget remains under control of the state until 2017. So the only accomplishment of the three prima donna councilors is to artificially boost the billable hours of the Receiver.
But why should they care? This invoice accrues to someone else's account, not theirs. In short, someone else is picking up the tab for their childish and irresponsible actions.