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.

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