A Fortieth Municipality

At a time when common wisdom is marching straight toward a cliff labeled “consolidation” (at the bottom of which are sharp rocks of incumbency, special interests, and political corruption), I’m encouraged to see that the independent spirit lives on in some corners of the state:

Started in early December by Prescott Avenue resident and Riverside native William J. Hurley, a group officially titled the “Coalition to Secede The Riverside from East Providence” has expanded over the last five weeks to include more than 100 members. While many have joked in the past that Riverside should become it’s own town, Mr. Hurley and his peers say they want to see the idea come to fruition.

Of course, Riverside residents should be made aware of the huge additional cost of going it alone, but if they’re comfortable bearing it, then the desire for more local control is a healthy one. One East Providence city councilman puts his finger on the most prominent benefit (emphasis added):

City councilman Bruce DiTraglia, whose ward is contained entirely to Riverside, said the idea definitely has its advantages.
“I would like it,” he said. “I would think it would be a lot cozier and a lot more personal. I think you could get a lot more people involved. I think it’s a good idea.”

When the playing field to change policies is smaller, more people will think it worth their time. As gravity pushes control out to state and national governments, more and more people conclude that the possibility of change is so remote as to make civic engagement fruitless. Moreover, as the pain of errors in governance spreads more broadly, it takes a higher degree of incompetence to teach the electorate the lessons that it needs to learn.

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