Jim Baron of the Pawtucket Times, on Governor Donald Carcieri’s response to the RI Senate’s Government Oversight Committee hearings into his adminstration’s temporary-staff policies…
An uncharacteristically tough-talking Gov. Donald Carcieri lambasted the Senate Government Oversight Committee Thursday, accusing its members of “abusing…manhandling…berating and harassing” administration staffers during hearings and making demands for information that are bringing the operations of the state purchasing division to a halt.Katherine Gregg
Moreover, Carcieri threatened to sic the Bureau of Audits and even the State Police on legislators who may have exerted “inappropriate influence” over the awarding of past contracts and to make public, by posting on the Internet, a log of any calls legislators make or have made to the administration requesting that a certain company win a state contract or a constituent get a state job….
Carcieri said the purchasing division of the DOA is “currently at a virtual standstill” because department officials have spent approximately 500 hours identifying, locating, retrieving, photocopying, collating and delivering “over 10,000 pieces of paper” to the committee. “It is my understanding that the committee hasn’t even bothered to open many of the boxes of paper we have provided. Every hour expended to respond to the committee’s requests is an hour that an employee is not performing their usual duties.”
There is also a concern that we will not be able to close the state’s fiscal books by the end of June,” he said. “I cannot allow state government to grind to a halt in order to accommodate these many voluminous document requests”…
Carcieri suggested two remedies. He said if the committee wishes, he would instruct DOA “to give Senate and Senate staff unfettered access to all of the purchasing documents in the state’s possession” that are not being used as part of an active procurement. “You and your staff will be allowed to inspect the documents personally, determine what is of interest to your committee and make any necessary photocopies.
“If your committee is unwilling to make that effort,” Carcieri told Lenihan, “I will hire an outside copying firm to photocopy every document related to state purchasing from 2002 to 2006 in order to provide them to the committee as quickly as possible.” That, he estimated would cost taxpayers $400,000 to $600,000….
of the Projo
, on the same subject…
While denying that he was seeking to divert attention from the Senate’s inquiry into his administration’s use of a private company, Smart Staffing Service, to supply hundreds of state workers, Carcieri said in an open letter to J. Michael Lenihan, the chairman of the Senate Government Oversight Committee: “It appears that committee members are less interested in seeking facts than they are in scoring points in the media. I can no longer allow this harassment of hard-working state employees to continue.”
He accused the lawmakers of “abusing,” “manhandling” and “verbally berating” state workers at their public hearings. He also accused the committee of creating “chaos within state government” and jeopardizing the year-end close of books with “its voluminous inquiries”….
But Carcieri said: “I cannot allow state government to grind to a halt in order to accommodate these many voluminous document requests. I also cannot allow these hearings to be used as a vehicle for abusing hard-working state employees.… That is not acceptable.
“I understand that committee members may have political problems with me as governor. That’s fine. But that cannot be used as an excuse to manhandle department employees,” he said.
And Steve Peoples
of the Projo
, on $80 millon in expected revenue that Rhode Island won’t be receiving this year…
The state probably won’t receive $80 million of anticipated revenue in the coming fiscal year from American International Group — the insurance giant that agreed last year to pay various states and investors more than $1.6 billion in restitution and penalties for filing false financial statements.
Rhode Island is due to receive the largest share of the settlement — nearly $100 million, including interest. State officials, thinking they were moving conservatively, projected revenues of $80 million in May from the settlement.
Yesterday they learned they would probably receive nothing in the next fiscal year.
“It is my opinion that the AIG settlement will enter long and protracted [litigation] in the next four to six months. We don’t expect the revenue for 2008. We’re just at a standstill at this point,” said A. Michael Marques, director of the state Department of Business Regulation.