Mattiello: Transparent in all the wrong ways

Mattiello: Transparent in all the wrong ways

In an age when the Rhode Island electorate is clamoring for more transparency and government accountability, our esteemed Speaker of the House, Nick Mattiello, seems to be moving in the opposite direction from public opinion.

Last week, Mattiello held a closed door meeting with Gov. Gina Raimondo and the managing partners of the PawSox ownership group, Jim "Moral Obligation" Skeffington and Larry "Corporate Welfare Queen" Lucchino. Mattiello has also announced that the General Assembly meeting held on May 6 will be a closed door session. Oh, to be a fly on that wall...

Also in the news this week, Mattiello hired a consultant - at a rate of $225 per hour - to advise the members of the General Assembly on the merits of any proposal to spend taxpayer dollars on the construction of a new ballpark on the I-195 land on the Providence waterfront.

Unfortunately for the residents and taxpayers of this state, the consultant hired is sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, who was recently quoted on Rhode Island Public Radio as saying, "This ballpark is spectacularly situated. It's close to downtown, it's on the river, coming along with a riverwalk, it probably will promote hotel development there, there's going to be a miniature baseball field, lots and lots of parking. It's just a wonderful synergy possibility."

Clearly, Zimbalist has already made his determination about the heavily taxpayer subsidized stadium proposal, and insofar, cannot be an impartial judge of the proposal on its merits.

I, for one, never questioned Mattiello's commitment to government transparency. Bluntly, he has none.

What is transparent about Mr. Mattiello, however, is his clear disdain for the will of the people of this state, a complete disconnection from the financial realities faced by the vast majority of Rhode Islanders, and commitment to the shady "that's the way we've always done it" deals that invariably soak the taxpayer.

To even entertain the idea of a taxpayer subsidized stadium in Providence should be a poison pill to any elected senator or representative in the General Assembly. I imagine that there are people all over the state that are seriously considering running against any elected official that supports this absurd proposal. One does not have to search far and wide to find a person who is vehemently opposed to this project. Finding supporters, on the other hand, is the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Let we, the voters of Rhode Island, make a commitment to transparency on this one issue. The choice has to be clear to members of the General Assembly. Zero public dollars spent on this project, or zero chances of reelection. Call your representatives and senators and tell them as much.

Dave Fisher