An open letter to RI Speaker Nicholas Mattiello

Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello,

I have been carefully watching the discussion about the effort to move the Pawsox to the Providence waterfront. I do not think it is a good idea, and the public seems to overwhelmingly oppose providing subsidies to this effort. Sometimes it appears that you are the only person publicly talking about trying to cut a deal that includes a public subsidy.

I am aware that you have said that this deal in no way resembles 38 Studios, but in one critical way so far it does. It is being negotiated without the official voice of the people involved. I think you are aware that if there had been public hearings on using the people’s money to fund 38 Studios the State of Rhode Island would not have made such a big mistake that we are still paying for. The second example I offer is one that is rarely mentioned, but may be an even more appropriate example. The proposal to build a container port at Quonset was very strongly supported by the political leadership of Rhode Island. The Governor, the Speaker, the well connected law firms all weighed in on it. But even so there was a very extensive public process, with stakeholders, studies, and public hearings. I was a stakeholder in the process so I am very aware of how well it worked, how much better everyone was informed by the process. The end result was that the more we knew, the worse the deal sounded, and eventually the proponents went away. If the State of Rhode Island had acted upon the first political impulse we would have opened a new port at exactly when the global recession hit and the people of Rhode Island would have been on the hook for about $1 Billiom dollars.

We all know the old expression, all of us collectively are smarter than any one of us. I ask one thing. Before you sign off on any deal, before you commit the people of RI to any financial support of the Providence Waterfront baseball stadium, hold public hearings. Ask the people of Rhode Island for their collective wisdom. The track record of the people on these sorts of things is very good. We saved the state $1 Billion and could have saved another $100 million if we had been allowed to participate in the process. Please publicly commit yourself to a full public process before committing any of our money to the baseball stadium.

Greg Gerritt

2 thoughts on “An open letter to RI Speaker Nicholas Mattiello

  1. Greg:
    Thank you for providing this excellent summary of how things work DO seem to better when the decision making process is OPEN and TRANSPARENT! The work you are doing to bring these two critical elements to the stadium-move proposal is greatly appreciated by the rest of us, and hopefully Speaker Mattiello will take notice as well. When RI’s unfortunate history of such public expenditure activities is considered, it is obvious that moving deliberately in this arena is the more prudent approach. Please keep up your efforts on behalf of Rhode Island taxpayers who should not be responsible for this type of private development.

  2. Even better, but earlier, examples of the public stopping bad ideas was the opposition to a nuclear power plant at Rome Point in North Kingstown
    and Ninigret in Charlestown (now both great wildife refuges and open spaces) that would have saddled us with a mulitbillion white elephant and even more “stranded costs” when New England Electric broke up. Public pressure also stopped an interstate highway from being built across the Scituate Reservoir watershed which with all its development would have been the end of our high quality drinking water for much of the state. In both cases, the insiders and power structire were for the projects, but the public stopped tham (with help of Council on Environmental Quality…)

    Right now there are variety of really bad expensive ideas being proposed of which the baseball stadium is one, a Tiverton casino in the face of an oversupply of casinos is another, a silly streetcar that does nothing to improve transit is another, and a $815 million Bay Commission tunnel and pipe project to be funded by metro area homeowners and renters is yet another. Only the public can stop such things, the connected insiders will otherwise get their way.

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