Blogs | Ethan Shorey

Wise investments not allowed?

Some North Providence residents have suggested that local police are spending their Google money like “drunken sailors” on all the shiny new items they can get their hands on, from state-of-the-art cars and guns, to computers and tasers.

Chief Paul Martellini insists that he is focused on addressing needs over wants, that wisely setting his department up to have great resources for years to come is his highest priority with the money. But Martellini has also pointed out that his department isn’t allowed to just sit on its winnings, meaning the money must be spent or it gets forfeited.

Valley Breeze Publisher Tom Ward suggested in his column last week that town officials invest some of their Google cash with a foundation to create a permanent stream of money coming into the department.

Turns out, according to Ward’s latest column here, that town officials have already asked the Department of Justice for permission to hand over $20 million of the $60 million won in the 2012 settlement with the search giant to the Rhode Island Foundation.

Justice officials denied the request, saying it goes against their guidelines. That decision came even after police and town officials made the case that they would likely rake in at least $800,000 in annual returns by investing it.

Lombardi told me he doesn’t plan to give up easily on the idea of making a “wise investment” with the Google money, just like when he previously lobbied successfully to use $20.6 million in Google cash to fix the ailing police pension fund.

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