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Steven Senne, Associated Press
In this Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012 photo, a cyclist rides past boarded-up windows on a building in Central Falls, R.I. The state of Rhode Island stepped in to take over financially struggling Central Falls in 2010, with a state-appointed receiver filing for bankruptcy on behalf of the city in August 2011.

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — When the state stepped in to take over financially struggling Central Falls in 2010, Rhode Island's smallest city lost something fundamental: its democratic government.

The mayor would be forced to give back his key to City Hall and the City Council was relegated to advisory status.

State Sen. Elizabeth Crowley of Central Falls says the city's 19,000 residents are now being governed without elected representation by a state-appointed receiver. Some accuse receiver Robert G. Flanders Jr. of ruling like a dictator.

Flanders says the city's economic crisis forced the temporary suspension of the normal democratic process. He filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the city in August.

Flanders was being paid $30,000 a month for his work as receiver. Starting Dec. 1, his compensation was changed to $395 per hour.