Basic Government Functions

A water drop and ripples

Doesn’t RI have more fundamental financial needs than high-speed rail and an aquarium?

By Justin Katz | November 1, 2021 |

Sometimes RI’s most essential problem (the failure of its insider class to recognize reality) comes at us from all directions.  One example is the call from Joseph Paolino to use the feds COVID gift to Rhode Island government  “to change our economy.”  How? Let’s look at what our state really needs and invest in them…

A water drop and ripples

Officials should factor in their own incompetence before imposing things like vaccine mandates.

By Justin Katz | October 28, 2021 |

Katherine Gregg frames her story about state health facilities’ challenges getting by without unvaccinated employees for the Providence Journal in terms of the government’s incompetence at replacing them: Despite promises made to the state Department of Health to bring in replacements for unvaccinated staff, neither the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital nor the Veterans Home has…

An overpass held up by blocks

The General Assembly’s “Recommendation Portal” is misleading in a way that shows RI’s problems.

By Justin Katz | October 28, 2021 |

The Rhode Island General Assembly is calling its page for information about ideas and proposals related to its federal COVID handout the “American Rescue Plan Act State Fiscal Recovery Fund Recommendation Portal.”  The Associated Press article about the portal maintains that framing: Rhode Island’s legislature has created a website to post the proposals it’s receiving…

National Grid outage map for RI

Tired of living in a Third World state, yet?

By Justin Katz | October 27, 2021 |

The featured image for this post is the power outage map for National Grid at 7:00 a.m.  Power is out across the entire state. It doesn’t have to be this way.  Wires could be put underground, except that our government squanders as much money as it can so as to charge us additionally for basic…

A utility pole and wires

Government should focus on its basics to maximize the Internet (and utilities) in RI.

By Justin Katz | October 26, 2021 |

Understandably, the president and CEO of the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association, Tim Wilkerson, is striving to get out ahead of rumors that the state government might give government-run Internet a try.  Not only do such projects have a track record of failure, but also: Rhode Island already is one of the best states in…

Construction workers reviewing a site

Expensive Statistical Analysis Doesn’t Justify the Systemic Discrimination of the State

By Justin Katz | July 30, 2021 |

Introducing discrimination into state contracting based on “equity” demands will create dreams deferred.

Map of best and worst run U.S. cities

Where Providence is run poorly is where it matters (and Warwick, too).

By Justin Katz | June 25, 2021 |

On first look, Rhode Islanders might not be inclined to despair that our capital city ranks 89 among 150 cities reviewed for on the WalletHub list of “2021’s Best- & Worst-Run Cities in America.”  Our state has been run so poorly for so long that being (roughly) middle-of-the-pack on a list is something of a…

A streetlight

The state is finally going to start paying for streetlights on its own roads.

By Justin Katz | June 17, 2021 |

One long-time wish list item from Rhode Island cities and towns has been for the state to start taking ownership of the fixtures that illuminate roads the state owns, and it is now doing so.  Of course, with new lighting technology, the savings to municipalities won’t be huge by local-budget standards (averaging a little more…


Lincoln’s lowering standards for police officers is a trend worth watching.

By Justin Katz | May 20, 2021 |

If the development on which Nicole Dotzenrod reports for the Valley Breeze begins appearing in other communities, it could be a sign of a worrying trend.  In the town’s most-recent hiring effort, five applicants met the minimum standards, one chose a different career path, another didn’t pass the interview and background check, and one rejected policing…

Mark Zaccaria on Rhody Reporter

Rhode Island municipalities probably aren’t prepared for escalating cyber crime.

By Justin Katz | May 19, 2021 |

Mark Zaccaria argues, for Rhody Reporter, that local officials should start getting used to having a line item for cyber-security as more and more of their activities move online. Of course, it would be nice if the costs of new technology could be offset (and then some) by the savings in labor and productivity that high-tech…