The Idea of “Consolidation” Takes Its Biggest Hit Yet, as Senator Frank Ciccone Enthusiastically Signs On

State Senator Frank Ciccone (D – North Providence/Providence/Anyone with a Monetary Interest in Dog Racing) has introduced a bill to implement about a strong as consolidation plan as is possible in Rhode Island — abolishing all city and town governments in Rhode Island, replacing them with county-level government (h/t Brian Hull). To make sure that no uppity city or town tries to keep control of its own affairs, Senator Ciccone’s package of legislation will include this little bit…

To allow the state to seamlessly transition into a county-type form of government, Senator Ciccone will also introduce a bill to eliminate all home rule charters- which allow cities and towns to adopt their own forms of government.
At the same time, the Senator wants to make the current legislature full-time but smaller…
Saying that Rhode Island needs a General Assembly comprised of legislators who answer solely to the people who elected them, he also plans to reintroduce legislation to establish a full-time legislature….
He also plans to introduce a bill to reduce the size of the General Assembly from 113 members to 75 members. Under his proposal, the House of Representatives would be reduced from 75 to 50 and the number of senators would decrease from 38 to 25.
Conclusion: Rhode Island’s union Democrats are apparently so unhappy with officials in cities and towns who view high-levels of government spending as a problem that needs to be addressed, they want to eliminate the local self-governance structures that can produce results like the current East Providence school committee or Charles Lombardi as Mayor in North Providence, replacing them with a structure that maps more closely to the structure of the state legislature.
By the way, Senator Ciccone’s district includes part of North Providence. Yes, the union-backed state Senator from North Providence wants to take out the Mayor of North Providence — who has never been hesitant on multiple fronts to challenge his town’s municipal unions. Draw your own conclusions about what’s going on here.
Beyond the politics, for reasons that I outlined a few months ago, in response to former Providence Mayor Joseph Paolino’s six-region consolidation plan, I’m skeptical that dumb consolidation, i.e. top-down consolidation, imposed within legacy boundaries, can actually save much money without reducing the quality of public services in many places. Here’s the example I used before…
The town of Foster still uses a volunteer firefighting force; how will a consolidated Providence address this issue going forward? Will residents of Former-Foster pay the same taxes as everyone else, but receive no municipal fire-service in return? Or will some kind of sub-jurisdiction be created, where Former-Foster residents pay a different tax rate and receive a different mix or services? And if the answer is the latter, by the time you have created the administrative structure capable of dealing with the variations in the different communities that get merged together, is it realistic to believe that the result is going to be any more efficient — and less expensive — than separate municipal governments?
How does the Ciccone plan deal with details like this — beyond, of course, implementing standard the Obama-era progressive philosophy of giving more power to more remote units of government, then having them figure out the details later.
Turning back to politics for a final note: Without the intention of endorsing any particular opponent, but instead to show how popular Rep. Ciccone seems to be with his constituents, here are the results of the 2008 Democratic Primary in Senator Ciccone’s district
  • Frank A. CICCONE, III (DEM) 1114 54.8%
  • Catherine E. GRAZIANO (DEM) 920 45.2%
…in case anyone is thinking of mounting or supporting either a 2010 primary or a general election challenge in District 7 — where a central question would be: people of North Providence, are you ready to have your town run out of Providence City Hall?

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14 years ago

Hey, two Nick Gorham comments in two days:
Where’s Scott Pollard to mock this plan too? It’s the schtick that got Pollard elected in the first place, so I wonder if he’s attacking Ciccone too.

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