Receivership as a Way for Mayors to Grab Total Control of City Government?
Yesterday was the second consecutive day on which Buddy Cianci, during his WPRO (630AM) radio show, referenced an earlier interview with Central Falls Receiver Robert Flanders, where Receiver Flanders had apparently suggested that Rhode Island Mayors could deal with their fiscal problems by approaching the state and having themselves appointed receivers of their own communities. I’d be very surprised if state legislators had this kind of process in mind when they passed the “fiscal stabilization” law in 2010.
(Under the fiscal stabilization law, the state can move to immediately suspend municipal democracy in a community, without first passing through an “overseer” or a “budget commission” process first)…
In the event the director of revenue determines, in consultation with the auditor general, that a city or town is facing a fiscal emergency and that circumstances do not allow for appointment of a fiscal overseer or a budget commission prior to the appointment of a receiver, the director of revenue may appoint a receiver without having first appointed a fiscal overseer or a budget commission.I didn’t hear the original interview and haven’t been able to find it on the WPRO website, so based on Mayor Cianci’s account, I’ve put the following set of questions via email to Central Falls Receiver Flanders’ office:
1. You have been quoted on the Buddy Cianci radio show as having said that some sitting Rhode Island Mayors should approach the state government and ask to become the receivers for their cities. Is this indeed a course of action that you advocate?
2. Conflicting accounts of the rescinding of the recent parking ban in Central Falls have been presented to the public. Most recently, W. Zachary Malinowski of the Providence Journal attributed the rescinding of the ban to the Governor of Rhode Island and not the Office of the Central Falls receiver (February 4 Providence Journal, “The next day, Governor Chafee, reacting to a public outcry, suspended the parking ban”). Could you clarify the process by which the parking ban was rescinded?
3. In Federalist 47, Montesquieu was quoted by James Madison: “There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates”. Do you believe it is a wise course of action to tell the people of Central Falls, of Rhode Island, of the United States and of the world that fiscal crises justify restructuring of government in a way that removes what some of the great thinkers of the Western political tradition believe to be an essential safeguard to liberty?