While they shouldn’t give up hope, Rhode Islanders looking for signs of a changed focus from (all-but-certainly) incoming Governor Daniel McKee won’t obviously find it in his appointments to his COVID-19 advisory group.
By my count, he’s staffed the board of 20 with five members from the medical community, five from the union/progressive contingent, and ten whose role is defined by their jobs with government or the public health bureaucracy. Among the government voices, one overlaps with the medical group and another is the only one with anything hinting at broader small-business/economic interests.
While nowhere near as offensive as (please-be-certainly) outgoing Governor Gina Raimondo’s sexist belittling of the effect of COVID on men in the state during her State of the State and Farewell Address, the gaps on McKee’s panel are huge. Really, if he’s going to create a panel of twenty people, why not make room for broader perspectives? Maybe a conservative legislator. Maybe somebody representing the interests of the students whose education is being ground into the dirt. (Note: Teacher union leader Bob Walsh is more of an adverse party to these kids than an advocate for them.) Throw in a few business folks from multiple industries.
With this panel, McKee seems to be sending a signal about who really matters in the state. That may not be his intent, but it’s something upon which he’ll have to improve quickly now that he’s achieved the big chair.