Editorial: In East Providence, politics is a full contact sport for sure

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Someone famously and quite rightly once said, “Politics, like football, is a full contact sport.” It is, even to those perceived to be on the periphery of the profession, a person, for instance, like now former East Providence City Manager Peter Graczykowski. Mr. Graczykowski was unceremoniously removed from his position by the City Council on Tuesday night, Nov. 5.

That Mr. Graczykowski was a casualty of city politics should come as no surprise to he himself or any others in East Providence who pay close attention.

Mr. Graczykowski chose what proved the wrong battles to fight, the wrong side to back, and for that he lost his job. He is not unlike any number of other administrators, not unlike football coaches referred to in this comparison.

Of course, in such situations, the person at the center likely is the most to blame for his downfall. Mr. Graczykowski didn’t often help his own cause. While he certainly played a role in helping East Providence rebound from its financial doldrums, he did so mostly at the behest of the former Budget Commission.

He also didn’t endear himself to many residents by attempting to remove East Providence Police Chief Joseph Tavares and by recently seeking a $20,000-plus raise in his compensation package. In a lot of ways, Mr. Graczykowski, to use card game parlance, overplayed his hand, did so one time too many. And when you do that, as any seasoned gambler knows full well, you lose more often than you win.

In Mr. Graczykowski’s defense, he never really had much of an opportunity to offset his perceived missteps. Because of the almost immediate presence of the Commission, which was seated barely two months after he actually began in his position, his ability to direct the city was muted. In the end, his errors in judgment and policy became magnified because in all reality he had a chance to make only just a few.

It’s likely the Council made the best decision for the city to remove Mr. Graczykowski at this time. It may also prove to be best decision for him. Mr. Graczykowski probably deserves another chance to administer a municipality.

But like a lot football coaches, however, he’ll have to do so at another place. His program might work. It’s just didn’t work here.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.