Residents need to understand the urgency of change in East Providence

What will it take for the people of East Providence to understand the urgency of change? In the editorial last week, it was indicated that we need much more participation and discussion in order to get anything accomplished. The question is will anyone step forward?
Since the middle school sports issue came about, I’ve attended most school committee, city council and budget commission meetings. I’ve been asked by someone once “Why do you attend the budget commission meetings?” I thought to myself, why not? I’m a taxpayer, as well as a lifelong resident of East Providence. I lost my paid coaching position and I am now volunteering as a coach for the intramural sports that have replaced the more robust interscholastic league programs. I needed to know why, and there’s no single reason behind our problems. Sometimes the best way to get information is to get directly involved. Instead of just listening to others hearsay or just reading the paper, it’s better if you can to attend the meetings. It’s there where you can get the full story. You also may get to see or hear things or information you wouldn’t normally get.
I will say I am disturbed at times the things that come out of people’s mouths during these meetings. Especially at the budget commission meetings, I don’t understand why our department heads and other city leaders come across unsure of themselves at times. It’s almost like our city administrators are paralyzed. I understand certain members of the Budget Commission can be a bit rough around the edges, but the Budget Commission has reiterated over and over again that they will work with people. I’ve also picked up that when they are irritated, it’s because our city leaders should have acted on something that’s common sense to do and are not providing timely or accurate information to the commission.
We could achieve our goals faster when we are able to make more sound decisions without asking for help. It’s almost like when a teacher hands you your assignment back and asks for it to be completed, because there’s some holes in the input that need to be filled. At some of these meetings, even most recent, I feel like we are going backwards, even though we’ve come far since last year. At those times when I see us going backwards, I wonder just how long the budget commission will have to be here because of our recalcitrance. It’s not that these people aren’t intelligent or well meaning, but there definitely seems to be some kind of disconnect that’s keeping us from being consistent and moving forward to financial stability.
We need to work with this budget commission, instead of throwing them under the bus every time something goes wrong. I hate to tell you how many times the issue isn’t because of the budget commission, but rather our city leaders. In some cases, it’s not even a matter of giving more effort. For some, it boils down to acting mature. I‘ve noticed that there has been instances of people’s ego’s being bruised or feelings being hurt, and people no longer want to work with each other. Do us a favor, bury the hatchet. Let’s move on and let’s get this city not back to normal, better than it is now and also better than it was before. We can’t accomplish that when we allow ignorance, anger, and lethargic attitudes continue to be the walls of our failure.  If we want anything back in this city, we are all going to have to pitch in.
— By June Coan
column, june coan


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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.