An Emblem of Bad Government: Vacation Dave, the Contract Isn’t a Defense, It’s the Problem
The mayor of Providence has once again been busted for a quizzical expenditure of scarce city tax dollars. This time, it has emerged (kudos to GoLocalProv) that he has handed out an extra half million dollars in bonus vacations.
As recently as this morning’s debate on WPRO, the mayor of Providence attempted to deflect criticism by saying that he did nothing that wasn’t called for in a contract.
The contract defense. Where else have we heard that? Oh, yes. It’s the maddening explanation offered by school committees, reluctant to muck around with the compensation of a special interest lest they damage their own political careers, as they slash all sports and extra curricular activities. “We’ve cut everything. All that’s left is the contracts and, of course, those can’t be touched.”
Along with the profligate mayor of Providence, misguided school committees cite The Contract as though the terms negotiated were eminently reasonable and the contract itself is completely immutable.
Of course, the contract is not immutable if both sides wish to renegotiate. (Many RI public employee unions are to be saluted for doing exactly that over the last two years.) As for reasonable, unfortunately, the level of our property taxes and overall state/local tax burden are stark testimony that too many of the contracts negotiated by our elected officials have not been at all reasonable.
The Contract, in short, has gotten this state into some serious fiscal hot water. City-funded driver and car; his brother’s bounced check; excess vacation time for certain favorites in his administration: the mayor of Providence is now in fiscal hot water of a different nature. Far from mitigating this situation, the mayor’s citation of The Contract only aggravates it as it is the traditional refuge in this state of an elected official caught in the act of placing personal ahead of public interest.