A Glimpse of Another Way in RI

Over in Tiverton, firefighter overtime is back in the conversation (even though it was still the second-lowest in 12 years for FY20).  That really isn’t surprising, considering that the town is now being run by Patricia Hilton and Denise deMedeiros who followed up their recall-election coup by driving the town administrator and fire chief out of their positions.

Negotiating an innovative cost-control measure that had the additional benefit of requiring regular communication and cooperation between the town administrator and fire department was one of the most satisfying achievements of my involvement with Tiverton, thus far:

What finally made the agreement possible was a cost-control measure that required the town administration and fire department to continue having honest give-and-take discussions about staffing, which itself was a positive.  We gave the department a bucket of overtime to work with, and if it started draining too fast, the chief could schedule one fewer person per shift to bring things into line.  That said, the plan was to avoid doing that by communicating regularly in order to resolve vacancies and other problems right away.

We negotiated that deal with a lot of good will despite our state representative, John Edwards the Fourth, pushing through a meddling law that may undermine that sort of cooperation in the future, and despite constant hostility from the locals who were out of power.

For a moment, though, we had a glimpse of a different way — one in which people with very different ideas and incentives are honest and open and work toward a compromise, replacing kick-backs and showboating with mutual understanding.  A lot of powerful people in Rhode Island are surely terrified that such a thing might catch on.


Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?

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