Looking for Change with All the Wrong Task Force


Frankly, Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s new Municipal Resilience Task Force is one of those groups that politicians seem to convene mostly as a means of appearing to be doing something.  Its members will have some meetings and generate a report (all additional to whatever public responsibilities they are performing with varying degrees of success), and that’ll be it.  Probably, they’ll provide cover for some plan the governor (or activists behind her) already has in the works.

But let’s play along and assume that the goal really is to develop innovative “strategies and policies to prepare for a post-COVID-19 future… quantifying the impacts of the pandemic, developing methods to create resilient municipal budgets, exploring intergovernmental and shared services, exploring the implementation of innovations and technologies, and reviewing municipal revenues, costs drivers and state mandates.”  Is this really the sort of group to which one would look?

The task force will have eight members from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, including:

  • James Diossa, mayor, Central Falls, and president of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. Diossa will be chair of the task force.
  • Jorge O. Elorza, mayor, Providence.
  • Kate Michaud, town manager, Warren.
  • Andy Nota, town manager, East Greenwich.
  • Joe Codega, chief economic policy analyst, R.I. Office of Management and Budget.
  • Steve Coleman, chief, Division of Municipal Finance, R.I. Department of Revenue.
  • Michael DiBiase, CEO and president, Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.
  • Michael D’Amico, finance consultant, D’Amico Consulting.

Count them up: two mayors, two town managers, two state bureaucrats, Raimondo’s prior director of administration, and a consultant who seems to be a government employee working via a series of independent contracts.

This is a group that is surely competent to explain how things are done, but it isn’t clear where any innovation would come from.  As usual, the focus of Rhode Island’s governing elite is, at best, on finding ways to preserve the system as it exists.

  • Lou

    Sounds like more jealousy, Justin. You mean to tell us that if they needed a PR flack (that paid better than the Koch bros.) to tout the virtues of this group you wouldn’t hand in your two weeks notice?

    • Joe Smith

      Actually Lou – got to side with JK on this one. 2 mayors of cities utterly dependent on the rest of the state to finance (including another bail out again of CF schools, although in fairness the STATE runs it so..).

      Town managers of two towns hardly representative of the rest of the suburban areas, and both in pretty hard financial situations (at least if you read what the EG town manager says).

      If the Gov had wanted to listen now to the RI League of Cities and Towns, she would have listened when they overwhelmingly told her not to pass those evergreen and firefighter bills.

      Want to have resilient town budgets — well, transition folks off the defined benefit plans. Stop giving out OPEB like candy — lol, maybe MEDICARE for all will fix that but note even with Obamacare the unions were unlikely allies with the GOP in fighting some aspects of Obamacare that impacted the more generous municipal health packages.

      Prioritize charter school and even private school vouchers to kids in 1 and 2 star schools; usually I’m a bit skeptical on those but partially because some charters are just psuedo-private schools for parents with decent public school options who could afford private schools if they want to prioritize (or vouchers subsidize the same type of households). Fix the charter lottery to start with families in 1 star schools so you can actually close them if they don’t perform.

      Get real that the majority of “fire” calls are EMS — where real competition exists with the private sector. Reform the minimum manning and response protocols (in an era of 24/7 surveillance and drones we can’t have some regional fire departments focused on fire only?)

      This is basically a group who maybe know the problems but aren’t going to advocate anything to upset the apple cart..

      • Lou

        The devil is in the details and if you notice Justin doesn’t have any. It’s the usual criticism without any solutions, whereas you have some great ideas (with the exception of vouchers). If someone proposed a workable plan for vouchers, that might work too.

  • ShannonEntropy

    Maybe after the MRTF is done with its work they can live on in State gum-mint as The Department of Redundancy Department