Large Field of Central Falls Charter Review Commission Applicants Still of Ambiguous Import

The news that a wave of applications for appointment to the Central Falls Charter Review Commission brought the total to 51 may or may not mitigate my argument that municipal receivership eases the path to turnaround too much to spark change in the most critical area: namely, voter apathy.

  • The applications could mostly prove to be representative of existing political factions.
  • The members ultimately appointed could be too inclined to follow the receivers lead — or alternately, bend to the intentions of local insiders — if they don’t arrive with some non-political authority.  (That is, if they’re not community leaders in their own ways.)
  • Or Central Falls could turn out to be unique, by being a nationally known first for Rhode Island.  In that sense, receiverships could be of declining quality.  (And how many cities is Leadership RI going to canvas, looking for volunteers?)

Don’t mistake my meaning:  Democracy is a messy process, and in some respects, the messier the better.  It’s too early, however, to say whether a municipal receiver can successfully guide a municipality through avoidance of the hard lessons that democracy is prone to teaching about the responsibilities of self governance.