Violet Arlene-6-13_381

Anthony Silva, chief of staff to Gov. Dan McKee, earns $187,421 plus benefits. That’s why I thought it was curious when he recently resigned from his $7,500 yearly post as Cumberland’s assistant director of emergency management since 2007, stating that next to his family his second love is the town of Cumberland. Where’s the love, I wondered, for the state of Rhode Island, which pays him a whopping salary, when he also had time to do that part time job for Cumberland, works part-time at Roger Williams University and Community College of Rhode Island as an adjunct professor, has a position in the R.I. Municipal Academy and is involved in My Hero Construction? Mr. Silva was on the state job less than a month when he contacted Mayor Jeff Mutter to join him on a weekday morning for a cup of joe to discuss his development of a lot in Cumberland, which was 93 percent wetland. As the reader knows, the R.I. Department of Management turned down the application before Mr. Silva became chief of staff to the governor, and reversed itself, approving the project on June 3, 2021.

I was reminded of an attorney who lost his license when a disciplinary complaint was made against him. He had a private practice and was legal counsel to various municipalities. When his billing records were scrutinized, it showed that the attorney had “worked 23 and ½ hours per day, seven days a week, for years.” Just how much time does the chief of staff spend doing his state job? Obviously, not enough to develop a love attachment to Rhode Island taxpayers.

Mr. Silva stopped the bleeding by resigning. Good move! His story of involvement in the Cumberland project is riddled with inconsistencies. He most certainly was deeply involved in trying to get construction approval. Even were one to believe his story, since when does intervening on one’s son’s behalf somehow exonerate your use of your position to influence?

The Hail Mary pass was to try to have the attorney general give him a clean bill of health. It was a good political move. The primary role of the attorney general here is to ascertain whether any criminal law was violated. The “I know a guy” syndrome isn’t a crime yet otherwise taxpayers would need another Supermax. The “I know a guy and that guy is me” also isn’t a crime. Yet, it personifies the very malignancy of Rhode Island politics.

Attorney General Peter Neronha has done an impartial job so far as the state’s top cop and he, no doubt, will do so here. Yet, if he finds that no crime was committed, which is more likely than not, his good name gets dragged into this unsavory political stew. The state police also may get tarnished for the same reason as it investigates the former Cumberland chief of police.

Mr. Silva finally stopped dragging everybody into his sad saga of influence-peddling. Gov. Dan McKee has a self-inflected wound on his reputation by not requiring the resignation on the basis of the facts already established. The attorney general’s findings won’t have any impact without a crime. Mr. Silva may have looked at his business name, My Hero Construction, and decided to emulate it by stepping down.

Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general.

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