A Fox Watching the RIPEC Henhouse? Simmons et al Should Answer Salary Questions Once and for All
This week, we’ve discovered that Gary Sasse is leaving RIPEC to take over the RI Department of Revenue. Sasse’s replacement will be John Simmons, Providence Mayor David Cicilline’s Director of Administration. Simmons himself has been at the heart of a controversy concerning who were the anonymous sources of a large portion of his compensation (via the RI Foundation managed Fund for Providence) up until about 2 1/2 years ago. Dan Yorke and former mayor Buddy Cianci aren’t buying Mayor Cicilline’s explanation about “safeguards” in place to prevent favor-buying via this mechanism.
RIPEC has traditionally been a good government sort of organization. According to its mission:
Through its in-depth research, program monitoring, advocacy and public information activities, RIPEC aims to accomplish several missions.
The Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council:
* Suggests approaches to help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government agencies;
* Promotes fiscal responsibility and sound management practices;
* Assists elected officials and their staffs in the development of sound policies and programs;
* Enhances understanding between the private sector and state and local governments;
* Provides objective information and conducts educational programs for the benefit of Council members, public officials, and the general public;
* Builds coalitions with other community groups to promote sound public policies; and
Promotes a public policy agenda to promote a climate for economic opportunity.
How will this change at the top affect RIPEC’s image? Even assuming that everything between the RI Foundation, Fund for Providence, Cicilline and Simmons was on the up-and-up (and there’s nothing to prove otherwise), it still doesn’t look good that the public doesn’t know the identity of the private donor who paid Simmons’ salary. How can RIPEC continue to champion “fiscal responsibility and sound management practices” when a fundamental question that lay within the realm of good government still remains unanswered?