Maybe the Mistrust Is Indicative of Knowledge, Not Ignorance
Here’s an interesting tidbit from last week’s Political Scene. The Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, which collects dues from the state’s municipalities in order to act as their advocate to the state — thus lightening the necessity of representatives and senators to do their job, one suspects — held some focus groups while stratagizing about its legislative agenda:
And Daniel Beardsley, the league’s executive director, says he was surprised by what he heard: “I was absolutely shocked at the disappointment, disgust and cynicism that those 30 people, representing a broad spectrum, showed for local and state government,” he said during a recent taping of Rhode Island PBS’ “A Lively Experiment.”
Typical symptom of the problem that he appears to be, Beardsley’s conclusion isn’t that his organization should strive to help local governments figure out the ways in which they aren’t satisfactorily doing their jobs. It isn’t to seek legislation that would force local governments to operate in more admirable fashion. Rather, the league is thinking that it might spend the taxpayer money that it collects as dues in order to persuade taxpayers that their local governments are making good use of their tax dollars.
Elected officials would do well to take another approach. A public that does not share an undying love for government might be asking for better execution of public duties — and perhaps a smaller scope of activity — when it expresses “disappointment, disgust, and cynicism.”
In related, news, I note that, two items down, Political Scene also mentions four state Representatives who attended a labor union rally at the State House. David Bennett (D, Warwick) said he was there both as a union member and as a government official. “We have to stand up and speak for ourselves,” he declared, not apparently hearing the question in the air: Against whom?