All of This Would Have Been David Cicilline’s But He Chose to Violate the Charter Instead
Confronted with the “category 5 hurricane” that is Providence’s financial condition, Mayor Angel Taveras has had to implement some difficult and unpopular budget measures. Notices of potential termination to all teachers (though a majority+ will not actually lose their job) and the closing of some schools. A 5.25% property tax hike and an increase in various fees. A request that firefighters re-open their newly signed contract. And, most recently, the announcement that 60-80 cops may get laid off if concessions are not secured from the union.
The circumstances which compel these dire budget measures did not suddenly develop in January when Providence’s new mayor stepped into office. They existed when the prior mayor, now congressman, formulated his budget last year. But rather than addressing them responsibly, David Cicilline postponed them by stifling the Internal Auditor and illegally raiding Providence’s dedicated and reserve funds. By employing such one time – and again, ILLEGAL – budget fixes, Cicilline successfully postponed the tough decisions – and, most importantly, the attendant backlash – onto his successor.
Phrased more bluntly, Providence’s current budget mess was David Cicilline’s to deal with. But he was afraid that he might look bad and not get elected to Congress if he addressed it properly. So he took the cowardly way out and shoved it off onto someone else.
The congressman has framed this irresponsible budgeting as a set of legitimate decisions with which people might disagree. This is false. He made decisions, yes. But deliberate choices to obstruct a city auditor, illegally raid dedicated funds and repeatedly make seriously misleading statements about the financial condition of the city all in order to obtain a political promotion are not matters for a polite round table about budget policy. They constitute an irresponsible and gross abuse of official power.
… by the way, in the process of all of this, what false representations might then-Mayor Cicilline have made in writing to other parties of interest – the state, for example, or bonding agencies? And if he did, would this be straight forward perjury or would it involve something more because he did so in his official capacity? Just wondering.