A Rubber-Stamp Commerce Board and Political Give-Aways


In my more-innocent days, I used to think the advantage of incumbency had mostly to do with things like name recognition and people’s general aversion to change.  Whether I’m just less innocent, these days, or our elected officials are becoming more brazen, I don’t know.

Take, for example, a new press release from Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s office:

At North Providence Town Hall this morning, Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation announced that nine cities and towns throughout the state have been awarded Main Street RI Streetscape Improvement Fund grants.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they often find their home in Main Streets across Rhode Island,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “By investing in our Main Streets and making them more attractive places to spend time and money, we’re supporting our local economies. We’ve seen great success in cities and towns that have received previous rounds of funding through this program, and I can’t wait to see the improvements from these new projects.”

Please consider a voluntary, tax-deductible subscription to keep the Current growing and free.

So, about a week before an election, the governor announced just over $1 million in taxpayer funding for nine municipalities.  Here’s the kicker:

The projects will go before the Commerce Corporation Board of Directors for a final vote at their next meeting.

The press release doesn’t mention this, but the board’s next meeting is November 19.  Even just to keep up the illusion that the Commerce Board has some sort of independent authority, shouldn’t the governor have waited until then to announce the awards?  Or shouldn’t her press release at least say that these communities “may be awarded” the money?  I guess there’s less to be gained, politically, from prudent governance.

To our civic shame, we’ve allowed legislators to enact various rules restricting our political speech, especially around election time.  Maybe what we really need are laws preventing government officials from announcing grants and other giveaways within 60 days of an election… especially those that haven’t yet been officially approved.

  • Monique Chartier

    “The projects will go before the Commerce Corporation Board of Directors for a final vote at their next meeting.”

    … and the comments and attitude of those local officials during the coming week about the governor will factor into the final vote.

    Bigger picture and as Justin alludes to: strategically filled state jobs, communication people who don’t, tolls, a deliberately broken benefits system (“what difference at this point does it make?!”), a botched state slogan, corporate welfare, legal bribes at every level – there is nothing too big or too small that Gina Raimondo is not prepared to compel taxpayers to fund solely to advance herself and her ambitions.