Poli-ticks

Have you had enough yet?

By Arlene Violet
Posted 7/25/19

You, no doubt, are familiar with the adage, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Yet, Rhode Islanders must have a folly epidemic. …

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Poli-ticks

Have you had enough yet?

Posted

You, no doubt, are familiar with the adage, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Yet, Rhode Islanders must have a folly epidemic. You send the same people over and over again to public office regardless of what damage they do to the body politic. Here are just a few recent examples.

Gambling giant IGT wanted a $1 billion no-bid 20 year contract extension for gambling services to the state. On the next to the last day of the General Assembly session, the company’s position was embodied in legislation. Speaker Nick Mattiello acknowledged that he met with lobbyist Donald Sweitzer in April, who requested the extension with the blessing of the governor. Mr. Sweitzer is the number 2 person in the National Democratic Governors Association where he serves as treasurer and has repeated contacted weekly with Governor Raimondo who is the organization’s Chair. The governor’s office initially eschewed any involvement by Mr. Sweitzer. Later, her office stated that she had not engaged in any “negotiations” with Mr. Sweitzer regarding the contract. She may be parsing language here because she may have just "accepted" the offer as is without negotiation. In any event, she had the duty to be involved to get the best deal for her constituents so her denial of involvement is almost as bad as her (and Mr. Mattiello‘s) countenancing of this huge no-bid contract which may have violated Rhode Island law.

It is sickening to see these public leaders mortgaging the future of the state without any bidding to accommodate their “pal”. Shame on them. Again, they reinforce the perception that you have to be a “player” to get the” bennies” in Rhode Island.

Lest you think this is the only outrageous legacy these leaders are sinking us with, check out the latest CNBC study which ranks the state as the worst for business climate. The report is based on the use of 64 metrics across 10 categories of competitiveness. It isn’t an opinion poll since it is based on actual performance. The IGT no-bid contract punctuates the findings of the study that crony business tops merit.

Now you know that the state takeover of the Central Falls education system two decades ago has resulted in an education where the academic outcomes are worse than even those of the Providence school system. (I’m blushing since I suggested that the state take over the school system in Providence. Mea Culpa!). Speaking of Providence, the Wall Street Journal referred to the Capital City as “an education horror show” and a study in public school failure and lack of accountability. Now the superintendent of the failed Central Falls school system is moving to the state Department of Education to be involved in the state intervention in the Providence Schools. The deck chairs continue to be rearranged on the educational Titanic.

Factor in the $1.3 billion unfunded pension liability in Providence (plus about $1 billion in health care promises) and scores of unfunded pensions in towns and cities then Rhode Island is at its tipping point. So, have you had enough yet or will you continue to make the same political choices over and over again?

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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