A Question of Leadership in the Governor’s Office

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Is it me, or does it seem as if Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo and her collection of well-paid communications and public relations personnel have been sticking with the “stay positive and move forward” line a bit too much?  Whether the subject of controversy is tolls or a botched marketing campaign roll-out, it seems the line is, “We’re excited to be doing what our talking points say we’re doing, and we’re not going to hold back the state by responding to people with legitimate concerns now that we’ve won the political fight.”  In this case, spokeswoman Marie Aberger put it this way:

The Governor is excited we are moving forward with a coordinated, statewide, marketing effort to get our state in the game, drive tourism, attract business, and grow our economy.

She then goes on to suggest that all of the attention the mess-ups have brought to Rhode Island is a “bright side.”  After a year of having this face turned to it, the Rhode Island public would be justified in feeling as if the governor doesn’t quite subscribe to the “the people are the bosses” philosophy of representative democracy.

In fact, the public’s impression should go a bit farther.  Addressing the marketing controversy with Dan Jaehnig, Raimondo’s response about the outright error of using Icelandic video in the Rhode Island advertisement was inadvertently telling:

Look, [the production firm] made a mistake.  People make mistakes.  We’re going to hold them accountable.  It was a local firm.

As if it would be unreasonable to expect a local Rhode Island firm to do its job.  That’s the sort of redirection of blame one would give to investment bigwigs outside of the state, who might be sympathetic that the governor had to use some small local businesses for political reasons, and that some sacrifice of quality was to be expected.

That’s not leadership.  Leadership is not blaming the firm for failing to follow “explicit instructions.”  Leadership would be stating that mistakes happen and acknowledging that the bigger responsibility falls on the managers within the governor’s administration who didn’t check that their “explicit instructions” were followed by requiring the production company to explain from where in the state each and every clip originated.

But that sort of leadership might draw even more attention to Raimondo’s out-of-state hires, and it’s beginning to appear that Rhode Island’s governor is more invested in the competence of the national and international elite that puts her on a top-50 world leaders list than the competence of the people of her state.

This perspective permeates not only her public relations approach, but also her attitude toward policy.  The economic development vision of the Brookings Institution/RhodeMap central planners, for example, is for state, national, and international “experts” to design our communities for us and then push us toward careers that suit their peers in the private sector.  It starts with them, their beliefs, and their visions, forcing us to fit as best we can rather than starting with our dreams and capabilities.



  • Rhett Hardwick

    I am reminded of a line from “Mad Men”, “I don’t sell advertising, I sell products”. Unless some real changes are made, I think all of the happy talk and positive attitudes are just “selling the sizzle”.

  • Mike678

    “But that sort of leadership might draw even more attention to Raimondo’s out-of-state hires, and it’s beginning to appear that Rhode Island’s governor is more invested in the competence of the national and international elite that puts her on a top-50 world leaders list than the competence of the people of her state.”

    That would tend to support the rumor that she is positioning herself to replace the not-often seen or even useful Sen Reed.

    • ShannonEntropy

      Mike … you gotta be kidding about Gina ousting Reed

      The last time Jack faced the voters in ’14 some political site [[ sorry ferget which one ]] ranked his seat the *safest* in the country … he ended up winning with 71% of the vote

      We can’t even oust Senate Clown-in-Residence Whitehouse who next faces re·election in 2018 … he would be a much better target for Gina who would be ending her first term that year

      … or she could hope to get re·elected and then term-limited wait for 2022 … the first election after we lose a seat in the House [[ I have previously predicted Langevin will retire then for “health reasons” ]]

      There is no doubt that she sees herself as the next Billary … exactly how that will play out remains to be seen

      • Mike678

        Target? No target–a planned succession of our political elites. Rumors are that Reed is getting tired and wants to try something else. Could be like most rumors (and Sheldon): worthless.

      • Joe Smith

        .
        All depends on HRC winning in Nov.

        Whitehouse would be a replacement for Garland on the SCOTUS; a seat warmer who won’t run fills the spot until 2018 when Gina runs; Magaziner is primed to run for Gov;

        Reed exits in 2020 when Cicilline runs for that seat; giving a new chosen one the chance to run for Congress and set up for the single seat in 2022 when Langevin gets eased out for the favored one who replaces Cicilline and Langevin gets set up at Harvard or some other place in return for bowing out..

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