Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, February 21, 2011

Where's Obama On Central Falls, Rhode Island Now?

President Accountability and his corporate education management organization secretary Arne Duncan both applauded when all those teachers at Central Falls, Rhode Island were fired as a result of Obama's Race to the Top program.

Somehow they managed to blame all the problems in that school on the teachers.

But here's how bad Central Falls, Rhode Island is AS A COMMUNITY:

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — These are trying times for the people of Central Falls, a city so close to fiscal collapse that the state seized control of City Hall last summer. Taxes have risen nearly 20 percent to help solve the immediate crisis, unions have agreed to givebacks and the city of 19,000 — all 1.29 square miles of it — seems tinged with defeat.

But to hear Mayor Charles D. Moreau tell it, his own suffering may be worst of all.

Mr. Moreau, a Democrat serving his fourth term, has not set foot in City Hall since July 19, the day that a state-appointed receiver took control. The state police knocked on his door that morning, he said, demanded his city-owned car and cellphone and keys to City Hall and handed him a letter announcing his salary of $71,736 was being cut to $26,000. His role was now advisory, he was informed.

“I was told they’d call if they needed me,” Mr. Moreau said recently in a rare interview. “They haven’t called since.”

Across the nation, cities and states are trying myriad ways of righting their fiscal ships as the recession plods on. But locking the mayor out of City Hall is generally not one of them.

A number of local governments are so financially distressed that states have assumed an oversight role. Several cities in Michigan have emergency financial managers appointed by the state, for example, and in New York, a state board seized control of Nassau County’s finances last month. But in those cases and others, local elected officials have retained some role.

“The circumstances that have led to the difficulties in Central Falls may actually be widespread,” said Christopher W. Hoene, director of research for the National League of Cities. “But not very many cities are in that dire straits.”

Mr. Moreau, 47, is suing the state, asserting that the law allowing the takeover of financially troubled cities violates his constitutional right to due process, among other things. He appealed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court after losing the first round and is awaiting a ruling.

Meanwhile, the blunt-talking mayor is working at his brother’s real estate office, down the street from City Hall, and stewing about the situation he finds himself in. He has rebuffed calls to step down and, in fact, said he was already planning his 2013 re-election campaign.

“My bumper stickers are ready to be printed,” he said. “I’d win re-election with 90 percent of the vote if the election was today.”

Listen, I don't care anything about this mayor, that his feelings have been hurt by his lockout or that his alleged corruption has played a part in his treatment by the state.

What I do care about is that the jackboots from Washington - Obama and Duncan - used this town as an emblem for the "failure of public education" when clearly THERE ARE SO MANY PROBLEMS IN THIS TOWN THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM.

Somebody should ask Obama why it is he thinks teachers should be held accountable for all the problems in that town - from high alcoholism and addiction rates to high abuse rates to the extreme poverty rates to the high unemployment rates to the town's fiscal insolvency and stewardship by the state.

Because that is EXACTLY what he did when he applauded the firing of those teachers.


  1. It is interesting when the whole story gets told. But of course it wasn't in Obama's interest to tell the whole story. This was another example of framing public education issues in a way that displace the blame for all of society's problems onto teachers and schools. Of course it's a half-truth at best, a lie at worst. Unfortunately the corporate media isn't interested in telling the whole story.