ARLENE VIOLET - Laughing until it makes you cry

ARLENE VIOLET - Laughing until it makes you cry

When I saw the Sept. 8 "DMV's stalled computer project" story, I thought "Here we go again." Almost $7 million over budget, four years past deadline, 23,000 hours wasted. Sounds like a government project to me!

Then I saw the comment by Richard Licht, director of administration, "We're now on the path to success." I absolutely cracked up laughing.


My laughter had barely subsided when I turned the page of the Providence Journal and read the headline, "Business people can ask state officials for advice." That sent me into peals of laughter all over again!

Ah, how I wished I had written such a letter to the editor. No, this brilliant and succinct missive above was authored by Susan R. Berge, who resides in Burrillville. Kudos to her for capturing the absurdity of what passes for an "explanation" in this state and the hubris of governmental officials who think they can teach the private sector anything.

I wonder why it is that these "guardians of the public purse" get a free ride? Didn't anybody in the Chafee administration notice the problems with the implementation of the DMV computer contract and stanch the flow of red ink? Didn't The R.I. House of Representatives, which scrutinizes the budget and passes on it, see any run-ups and inquire during the last four years as to what the problem was?

The Division of Motor Vehicles computer problems brought me back to the Traffic Court fiasco. Long-time residents will recall that some $6 million in traffic fines could not be accounted for, which resulted in some citizens being shaken down again for payment. No criminal investigation ensued to see if any monies went south into anyone's pockets at the court.

There were also too many tribunal judges appointed to "hear" cases, given the number of courtrooms. These quasi-judges were pulling in six-figure salaries. Without a courtroom to hear cases, they sat in chambers and learned Spanish or visited Foxwoods on state time. They also got to "walk," since the court administration didn't mandate any minimum times to work.

None of these so-called leaders would ever allow their own money to fund such skulldudgery, but as long as there's taxpayers money on the hook, it's quite OK.

Folks sometimes wonder how the 38 Studios fiasco could happen. IBM had warned the Economic Development Corporation in a report that there were continuing problems with finances and transparency issues and what seemed to be insufficient funding to release "Copernicus," the multi-player game so critical for 38 Studios success. The report dated March 2012 was met apparently with a giant yawn.

By now it should be obvious to anyone with a pulse that all the state officials do is to cover up their colleagues' bad behavior out of loyalty to these hacks and to themselves, lest we think that they also are very stupid and/or corrupt individuals. "Stupid is as stupid does" has replaced the "Ocean State" as the official motto and it's not just the miscreants to whom this applies, but also to the public's apathy. It's almost enough to make you cry after you guffaw at the "explanations."

Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general.