Mollis’ Gold Plated Computers
I was blissfully away on vacation for two weeks (where I was again reminded that most people don’t really care about politics, btw) but was greeted by this politics-as-usual bit in today’s ProJo Political Scene column:
To fill the long-vacant position of director of e-government and information technology in his office, Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis hired William Barbieri, the former Rhode Island Public Transit Authority employee accused of using his state computer to send an e-mail urging his fellow RIPTA employees to support Mollis during the lead-up to last fall’s election, Political Scene has learned.
Mollis announced most of his staff roster in December, before his inauguration. The $93,480-a-year information technology position remained open until Barbieri began work in April.
Last July, Mollis’ opponent in the Democratic primary, Guillaume de Ramel, alerted the media to Barbieri’s e-mail. A RIPTA spokeswoman said at the time that the agency was considering disciplining Barbieri for violating RIPTA’s written policy on computer use, which stated that the computers should be used for RIPTA business only.
Barbieri — a resident of North Providence, where Mollis was mayor before becoming secretary of state — was a database systems manager at RIPTA, where he had worked since 1977.
Last summer, Mollis called Barbieri “a very good friend” and said Barbieri had done volunteer work for his campaign including designing the campaign Web site.
The secretary of state issued this comment through a spokesman Friday: “Bill Barbieri’s professional background as a network administrator and a database systems manager is second to none. When our two top IT staffers left for the private sector, I turned to a man whose talent I have complete confidence in.”
Isn’t this what they call “patronage”? Are the computers gold-plated? And if that’s the going rate for government IT work, I wonder how anyone in the private sector can hold on to them!