Only High-Paid Executives Need Apply
We can all appreciate the benefits, from an administrative point of view, of bringing in strong-willed people to help shock some of the Rhode-apathy and corruption out of state government, but we’re barely three months past this announcement:
Less than a day after a Supreme Court justice blocked the first of 12 proposed government shutdown days, the state has imposed a complete hiring freeze, with no exceptions made for even the most critical jobs.
So how can Governor Carcieri justify this, from the Providence Business News:
The R.I. Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday morning to appoint Ioanna T. Morfessis, a consultant from Phoenix with a Ph.D. in economic-development policy, as the agency’s next executive director. …
The board voted to give Morfessis a three-year contract that will pay her $250,000 a year plus benefits. The state also will cover her relocation costs and provide her with an automobile.
Morfessis’ compensation would be more than double that of the EDC’s last executive director, Saul Kaplan, who made just under $100,000 a year before he resigned in December 2008.
It’s beginning to seem as if the only jobs in Rhode Island are for extremely high-paid government executives from out of state. Furthermore, as I suggested when Education Commissioner Deborah Gist was lured to the state with an outrageous compensation package, Rhode Island’s executives appear to be suffering from a case of “employer’s vanity” whereby the people who control hiring spend as much as they can as if salary and success are directly proportional.
To the contrary, we may be charging toward some unintended consequences: Strong-willed people — those with “big personalities,” as Hasbro Chairman Alfred Verrecchia says of Morfessis — will often usurp what power they believe themselves to need to accomplish what they want to accomplish. With Rhode Island’s leadership class demonstrably lacking in the spine and in the head, we may soon find ourselves being governed by an oligarchy of unelected directors. They will, no doubt, be competent and admirably focused, but not only must we remember that power corrupts, we shouldn’t forget that our current stars will eventually hand all of the authority that they’ve grabbed over to somebody else.