ARLENE VIOLET - Can somebody find the ‘old Gina?’

ARLENE VIOLET - Can somebody find the ‘old Gina?’

Recently, Gov. Gina Raimondo embarked upon a 1,000 days (in office) celebration tour throughout the state. To be sure, she has accomplishments that she can crow about. While I think the number of toll locations is overblown, nonetheless, something had to be done to repair the crumbling roads and bridges. Despite all the public relations attacks by owners of big trucks, the fact is that large trucks do wreak havoc on the infrastructure, so it seems fair to have them pay their fair share. I’m not in the camp of those who believe that it’s unconstitutional to put a toll only on trucks. Under the able leadership of Transportation Director Peter Alviti, repairs have been made with far less traffic disruption than in the past.

The governor has also made progress on the jobs front. While the tax credits program can be criticized (and I am a critic), nonetheless, it is an honest opinion to do it her way, albeit contrary to my perspective. A computer science course being mandated in every grade in every school district is a step in the right direction. Progress has been made in trimming Medicaid costs. She also showed flashes of the “old” Gina Raimondo when she vetoed a bill for “evergreen” contracts for public employee unions and the legislation that extended a presumption that any heart disease suffered by a firefighter was caused as a result of the job, thereby entitling the person to a tax-free disability pension.

On the other hand, she stumbled badly in forcing UHIP online before it was ready. Remember, though, that this contract with Deloitte was entered into far before she assumed office. The criticality of the problems at DCYF have been chronic for years, and the General Assembly’s cutting of program money for children has exacerbated the problems. It is, therefore, somewhat unfair to foist all the blame on her.

Where I wish the “old Gina” would return is with the fortitude she showed as general treasurer. The pension system had to be reformed, although the over-allocation of monies in hedge-funds was ill-advised. She blinks when it comes to school reform when the issue of confronting the special interests pops up. She and her commissioner of education have gone along to get along. Her 73 public relations staffers sprinkled through the administrative branch have slowed the release of timely information.

Her recent support of the PawSox proposal notwithstanding, no vetting of the profit/loss sheets of the operation by her Commerce Commission makes her support look foolish. Insisting that the proposal is at no risk to taxpayers should insult her intelligence, since any billionaire unwilling to put personal guarantees on the $33 million he says he is putting into the project (by bonds backstopped by taxpayers, instead) or to use the team as collateral for payment of the bonds, flies in the face of her supposed expertise garnished as general treasurer. On the same day that she yahooed the PawSox proposal, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner sobered up Rhode Islanders with the $2.1 billion needed to repair schools via additional bonding. Pretending that the state can do it all is pretty preposterous.

The “old “Gina Raimondo would not have cozied up to her PawSox owners campaign contributors at the expense of the taxpayer. Would somebody please be on the alert to find the former Gina?

Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general.