When the Municipal Dictator Has a Political Boss
Apparently, when a municipal dictator (i.e., a “receiver”) deals with those who previously held power locally, it’s one thing when that power derived from the voting public, but it’s another when it derives from an organization that’s politically connected at the state level:
Frank Flynn, president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, which represents Central Falls, said he had appealed to Governor Chafee.
“We haven’t met with the receiver, but we have spoken to the staff of the governor and we told them it was our intention to go to court and get a temporary restraining order,” Flynn said. “The governor’s office, through the receiver, asserted his authority to intervene.”
And since the teachers’ unions have such sway in the state:
Receiver Robert G. Flanders Jr., who is overseeing the bankruptcy filing of the state’s smallest and poorest city, notified Gallo Friday afternoon that her authority to negotiate with the union was being revoked. He also revoked her plan to unilaterally impose new terms on the school district’s 330 teachers on Sept. 1.
The district’s negotiation team, which included Central Falls Board of Trustees Chairwoman Anna Cano-Morales and two parents, is also no longer included in the negotiating process.
Instead, Flanders or his designee and Deputy Education Commissioner David V. Abbott will participate in the talks. …
“I asked him if the teachers’ union negotiating team was also being replaced and he said no, they would remain,” Gallo said.
Unless Flanders moves to impose new contract terms that are more harsh than Gallo’s, the entire process will have further proven the bone-deep corruption of Rhode Island’s political system. Voters across the state ought to be concerned at the ease with which democratic processes are being swept aside for the benefit of particular parties. And public-safety retirees from Central Falls ought to be livid.
But the city only funds the school district up to 1 million for buildings and grounds…and they’ve never really done that. So how does Flanders have the right to do this? The 44 million from the state is for the schools. It’s not like he can use the money to fund the DPW or whatever else the city is on the hook for.
“Unless Flanders moves to impose new contract terms that are more harsh than Gallo’s, the entire process will have further proven the bone-deep corruption of Rhode Island’s political system.”
So your objection to the move by the CF receiver will not stand if he is harsher than the superintendent to the union teachers.
The question before yours is the more important and long-standing one: Why does Central Falls have authority to negotiate the use of state money? (Which leads to: Why should the state fund the city’s schools so completely?)
But that’s only tangentially relevant to the particular matter at hand, because the state isn’t arguing that its funding of the school gives it a right to negotiation, but that its receivership powergrab gives it that authority.
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying; it’s a simple matter of logic.
1. The union pressured the governor to get Flanders to change the terms of their negotiations (i.e., the people with whom they’re negotiating).
2. Flanders has done so.
3. Therefore, if negotiations now turn in the union’s favor, it will be evidence of corruption in a way that will not be true if negotiations turn away from its favor.
Large scale bankruptcies are frequently a party. Think of Cumberland Farms filing bankruptcy in the 90’s, just an attempt to finagle the Bank of Japan. The same management team that got a company in trouble continues to pull a paycheck while they look for another job. I don’t know why a public bankruptcy should be off on another foot.