A Thirteen Member Scapegoat
Barring the inconceivable possibility that it will be empowered to change the policies that overburden the Rhode Island economy, the Economic Development Corporation will continue to function mainly as a scapegoat for the elected officials on whose conscience the state’s condition ought to rest. If anything, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed’s legislation appears to go in the other direction:
… the bill did not follow the panel’s advice to give the governor greater flexibility in appointing EDC board members.
The review panel had said members should be “selected based upon their skills, their passion for economic development and their willingness and ability to help drive change, not because they represent a particular constituency, group or geographic area.”
The legislation, however, retains a slot for a labor leader and a seat for a small-business owner. The legislation specifically says that “the membership of the board shall reflect the geographic diversity of the state,” and it adds a requirement that one board member represent the state’s higher-education institutions.
So, the group will be enlarged to thirteen members and designed to represent various points of view, rather than develop a point of view of its own to pursue. Moreover, not mentioned in the Providence Journal article is the fact that the legislation (PDF) also modifies the General Assembly’s permanent joint committee on economic development in such a way as to reduce the minority party’s representation by two seats and to give the committee new powers and explicit authority to oversee the EDC.
Considering that the EDC executive director would be made a member of the governor’s cabinet, it’s a little surprising that Governor Carcieri isn’t expressing reservations — not the least that legislators are slipping into their habit of violating the intent of separation of powers.