Only the naysayers can argue the gist of the Budget Commission’s mission and motives. Despite their beliefs, its readily apparent the state-appointed governing body has done far more good than harm in its first eight-plus months on the job, ridding East Providence of some ridiculous redundancies while creating a concise and cogent consolidation plan.
In doing so, the Commission took on the tough decisions, the difficult choices all too many of our past and current politicians failed to make. Instead of punting, they went for it on fourth-and-short, though did so obviously without fear of reprisal at the ballot box or from their neighbors next door.
However, now that much of the dirty work has been completed, the Budget Commission has or is entering uncharted territory for a like entity. The Commission is being tasked to consider the future of East Providence and its residents not just based on financial forecasts but in large part on its vision even though its members have no lasting ties to the city.
It can be argued it’s overstating the case when using words like taking the heart and soul out of the community to describe the Commission’s choices to end middle school sports and preclude several non-profits from keeping their property tax-exempt status.
It isn’t farfetched, though, to state by doing things such as that, the people of the city aren’t truly the ones calling the shots. Of course, we aren’t, but we bare much of the responsibility.
We’re the ones who voted for the politicians who failed in their civic duty well before the Budget Commission arrived. It’s an unfortunate reality many residents and office-seekers still won’t admit all these days, weeks and months later.
Ultimately, we all share in the blame, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t lament the loss of our ability for self-determination for a little while. But in the end, what we must resolve to do in the future is to be more vigilant in determining who represents us and that they’re held accountable for their decision-making or lack thereof.