Meet the New Toady, Same as the Old
Charles Wales, of Cranston, makes the argument that they were, indeed, the bad old days back before public-sector unionization:
Yes, they were indeed bad times: Elected and many non-elected persons held sway over municipal departments. Favors, assignments and promotions were granted, often without the smallest indication that merit was considered. Lackeys, sycophants and toadies were the winners from the lowest worker up to department heads. City departments had become the playthings of those ranging from the very prominent to shadowy figures patrolling in the political background.
My fellow non-union Rhode Islanders may wonder, upon reading that passage, what has really changed. Well, obviously, what’s changed is that unions are now integrated with that corrupt spoils system. Remember Mayor Laffey’s battles over the crossing guard union? His run-in with the fire fighters? And let’s not limit ourselves to Cranston, especially when we’ve got the Iannazzi-Ruggerio connection so fresh in our minds.
If the situation was as Wales describes it, one could argue that having employees who weren’t part of the spoils system helped to permeate government with whistle blowers on the taxpayers and voters’ side. Now it’s possible to collectively buy them off… “possible” being used, here, in exclusion of the question of whether the local society can afford to support the system in perpetuity.