Josh Barro, writing in Bloomberg, proposes that perhaps some should fall and that America can “rescue its troubled cities by abolishing them.”
As evidence, he connects the horror stories of corruption and mismanagement in cities like Sunland Park, New Mexico (33 felonies for the new Mayor), Bell, California ($800K annually for a suburban City Manager), and Central Falls, Rhode Island (spent the pension fund for reasons now under federal investigation).
He then makes the connection that these cities have, “low civic engagement” – true; And, that some characters, “see such cities and towns as exploitable” – true.
However, he makes the false assumption that:
Good leaders aren’t likely to be drawn to the thankless job of running these kinds of places.
That’s where the article goes astray. Local government is full of individuals who jump into difficult circumstances specifically for the challenge of turning things right. They do it not for the glory involved but for the love of the place and the people. As a rule the start of any turn around goes back to what Mr. Barro states as a key problem, getting the public engaged.
This is much easier at the local level than the national level. Sunland Park’s problems will be solved long before Greek, Spanish or Syrian turmoil passes. Why? Because people still take personally the problems in their own geographic reach. Despite Mr. Barro’s assumption, someone who lives in Sunland Park loves Sunland Park. Now that the corruption is made plain, they are in the best position to fix Sunland Park.