More Connections on the Innovation Officer Front

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Over the weekend, Bill Rappleye asked Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo about growing concerns about the manner in which she hired the state’s new Chief Innovation Officer Richard Culatta, although 10 News Conference does not appear to have been available online since October.  Today, the Providence Journal’s Patrick Anderson digs a little more deeply into the hiring, with two sections deserving of highlights.

Before he accepted the Rhode Island innovation job, Culatta had started a paid “design residency” with IDEO, a Silicon Valley consulting firm, said Raimondo spokeswoman Joy Fox. The residency is mostly “virtual,” Culatta will do it primarily on his free time, and this is the kind of tech-sector collaboration Raimondo expects the innovation officer to do, she said. Fox said Culatta is expected to spend a lot of time traveling and there is no minimum amount of time that he is to spend in Rhode Island.

We can argue about whether a quarter-million-dollar employment package ought to entitle an employer to an employee’s total devotion, but the Culatta’s side gig deserves attention for a more significant reason.  IDEO is a for-profit company, so information about its operations is limited, and with an admittedly brief look through its named employees, I didn’t find a direct link too the Brookings Institution or any other initiative visible in Rhode Island.

That said, the company is definitely in the “design the world” school of thought that Brookings is bringing to Rhode Island and that has apparently become a key factor in how the state will allow companies and organizations to utilize the former I-185 land.  Upon a quick glance, it appears IDEO has a bit of progressive tint around the edges.  For example, one of its fellows, named Barry Katz (for whom I could neither confirm nor rule out a family connection with Brookings’s Bruce Katz), includes in his biography a book that he wrote about Herbert Mercuse, who receives a central name check even in short Internet videos describing cultural Marxism.

IDEO’s nonprofit wing points in a similar direction, which strives to bring the company’s design methods to resolving social problems.  A thumb-through of its projects suggests that the organization tends to define “problems” from a left-wing perspective and its free “Field Guide to Human-Centered Design” presents a familiar approach to conceptualizing problems and handing over a solution, with a characteristic lack of concern for the opinions and rights of those who might object to its central premises.

The other notable aspect of Anderson’s article comes with this:

Edwin R. Pacheco, RIC Foundation associate vice president of development and external relations, acknowledged that unrestricted funds are highly valued because many large donations come with strings attached, but said excitement, not concern, has been the overwhelming campus reaction to the creation of the innovation office.

Note that the article doesn’t mention that Pacheco was a Democrat representative in the General Assembly and chairman of the State Democratic Party so recently that his Wikipedia page hasn’t been updated to reflect his moving on.  Odd how political past is relevant to the Providence Journal when describing the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, but not the nonprofit that’s acting as a hiring loophole for our progressive Democrat governor.



  • ShannonEntropy

    Gina obviously graduated from the Obozo College of Executive Branch Governing

    The main Lesson =► When you can’t get what you want thru the legislature … just bypass ’em and use ‘Executive Orders’ or what·the·hey create your own shadow gum·mint

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