I was taken aback when I received a letter from Santa! There in black and white was his Christmas list of Rhode Island leaders who have been either naughty or nice. One politician dominated the …
I was taken aback when I received a letter from Santa! There in black and white was his Christmas list of Rhode Island leaders who have been either naughty or nice. One politician dominated the naughty list. Santa asked me to let you know who is on which list. Who am I to disregard his request?
Naughty – Gov. Dan McKee
The governor is metamorphosizing into the Panderer-In-Chief. Awash with money from the CARES ACT and Rhode Island taxpayers, he is throwing money at constituencies that he wants to support him in his upcoming gubernatorial race. He is so anxious to win their endorsement and support he is making atrocious policy.
Take, for example, his giving a $3,000 bonus to all state workers vaccinated against COVID-19. That makes about as much sense as awarding similar bonuses to taxpayers for being vaccinated. Actually, if his motive truly was getting more folks vaccinated he would have a $3,000 state tax rebate for Rhode Islanders vaccinated by Dec. 31.
Beyond the obvious pandering to the union vote, this terrible public policy will set precedent for other state and potentially municipal collective bargaining agreements covering thousands of more workers. It will incentivize public employees to hold out in the future for any vaccinations until they get paid to secure it. The idea of a “commonwealth” where people do the right thing because they care about their neighbors has now been gutted by a new ethic of: “Show me the money.”
This is quite a civics lesson for students that money counts more than social responsibility.
Without so much as a cost analysis, he blithely awarded pay increases of 10 percent over the next four years, along with the bonus. The governor’s largesse also extended to doubling the number of sick days and expanding bereavement leave.
What really disturbed Santa was his knowledge that so many unvaccinated public employees are not working right now since they will use their sick days to stay home after they exhaust their unemployment benefits on the basis of “stress” at the prospect of having to think about getting a vaccination. Santa knows of nurses at state and school jobs who are out until the spring of 2022 collecting these benefits because of all their “tension” over vaccination.
Nice – Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott
Despite the lackluster performance of the governor, who asserts how many people are vaccinated while the state had more than a 6 percent infection rate during the last week of November, Dr. Alexander Scott continues to urge people to wear masks indoors at the risk of her job. Santa likes brave people.
Naughty – Gov. Dan McKee
Gosh, here he is again on the list. Santa didn’t like his no-bid, $5 million education contract to a consulting firm with ties to his long-time supporter.
Nice – Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green
Despite opposition from the Providence teachers’ union and the ultimate capitulation by Gov. McKee to a lackluster contract renewal that gutted reform, she maintained her credibility by maintaining the call for reform until the governor removed her from the negotiations.
Naughty – Gov. McKee
The governor is naughty again for whining about the media pressure on him when his chief of staff secured a favorable ruling from DEM after a prior application was nixed.
So Santa says!
Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.