Maybe I’m just getting tired of political drama, but I can’t get wrapped up in the political argument implicit in the lawsuit that the cities of Providence and Central Falls have brought against the Trump administration. It’s really just… I guess cloying is the word.
First of all, nobody should actually believe that the progressive mayors of these two cities have a principled objection to the federal government’s use of grants to apply pressure on policy goals — even barely related policy goals. We’ve just recently come off an eight-year lesson that, when the federal government is in progressive hands, the Left is happy to leverage whatever method of pen, phone, and policy will advance their ideological imperatives. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is therefore not credible when he says the following:
“We unequivocally reject this false choice,” he said. “We will not allow the federal government to weaponize federal grant funding in an effort to advance this administration’s agenda.”
Actually, the mayor included a sly wiggle: “this administration’s agenda.” Weaponizing federal grant funding would presumably be fine in order to advance another administration’s agenda.
Second of all, the amounts in question are arguably not in keeping with claims about “critical” funding:
Friday is the deadline to accept the funds that were awarded with the new conditions, they said. Providence was awarded more than $200,000 for fiscal year 2017. Central Falls was awarded nearly $30,000.
Providence has used the funding awarded in past years to pay for a bilingual liaison to work with families and pay for overtime for enforcement patrols. Central Falls has paid for technology upgrades. Police chiefs from both cities said these conditions shouldn’t be attached to grants that are crucial to police operations.
For Providence, that grant amount is just 0.03% of its total budget. It’s 0.12% of its public safety budget. If these programs are so important, the mayors can find (or raise) the money for them.
In short, this is just a couple of mayors using taxpayers’ legal resources to posture. Worse, they are doing so in order to grandstand against a requirement that American municipalities make modest concessions to the federal government’s effort to enforce federal law.
We could have a variety of debates about the wisdom of every policy involved — from federal immigration law to local reliance on federal grants — but debate would require getting past these mayors’ tiresome political rhetoric.