The Leadership Dance
Part 2 of Tim White’s investigation into misuse of public resources and time in the Providence Sewer Department mainly concerned supervisor Algot Abrahamson’s use of a city truck for a spin to a known gambling house. More intriguing, in my opinion, is the similarity in some of the supervisor’s phrasing to that of Mayor David Cicilline on White’s related Newsmakers show. Says Abrahamson:
What I’m saying is a picture doesn’t convince me there is any wrongdoing here, you’d have to speak to the director. I know the men, they are two of the best workers I have. … Yeah, well, I guess I’m responsible for a certain amount of it, yes. I have so many guys, I can’t follow everybody everyday.
And says the mayor:
The city of Providence has about 6,000 employees. We have extraordinary leaders in each of the departments in city government, and I would say without question that what you just saw was an aberration. …
[Talking about issues in the Providence tax office:] Ultimately, the responsibility for that office, and all of the city offices is mine, but in any organization you have a director of administration, or any government, you have a director of finance who ultimately direct supervises.
Compliment one’s workers, accept nominal responsibility, pass the blame down.
Cicilline dodged Arlene Violet’s persistent questioning of why it took Tim White to discover abuse, and how he (the mayor) could possibly assert that the workers caught were in no way representative of a larger problem. Referring back to the transcript of White’s report, I see that arguably the most egregious of the abuses uncovered — the backhoe traveling across the city with a load of publicly owned sand for the foreman’s house — occurred on the very first day of surveillance.
Quite a coincidence.