Tue July 20, 2010
Power shift in Central Falls may be unconstitutional
By Fiona Condon
Providence, R.I. – The new legislation which allowed a former judge to demote the mayor of Central Falls and take control of the city may be unconstitutional. The law, which was passed by the General Assembly in June, gives the state broad power to intervene when a city or town faces bankruptcy. In extreme cases, the state may appoint a receiver to assume power. Steven Brown of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union says the law violates the city's right to elect its own governing officials.
"One of the specific provisions in the state constitution is that the cities and towns have the right to self-government and the General Assembly cannot take action which... affects the form of government of any city or town," Brown says.
Brown says the ACLU won't bring a challenge to the law unless residents of Central Falls file a complaint.
"If there was any sort of significant concern from the community, it is certainly something we would look into," he says.