February 1, 2009

The Leadership Dance

Justin Katz

Part 2 of Tim White's investigation into misuse of public resources and time in the Providence Sewer Department mainly concerned supervisor Algot Abrahamson's use of a city truck for a spin to a known gambling house. More intriguing, in my opinion, is the similarity in some of the supervisor's phrasing to that of Mayor David Cicilline on White's related Newsmakers show. Says Abrahamson:

What I'm saying is a picture doesn't convince me there is any wrongdoing here, you'd have to speak to the director. I know the men, they are two of the best workers I have. ... Yeah, well, I guess I'm responsible for a certain amount of it, yes. I have so many guys, I can't follow everybody everyday.

And says the mayor:

The city of Providence has about 6,000 employees. We have extraordinary leaders in each of the departments in city government, and I would say without question that what you just saw was an aberration. ...

[Talking about issues in the Providence tax office:] Ultimately, the responsibility for that office, and all of the city offices is mine, but in any organization you have a director of administration, or any government, you have a director of finance who ultimately direct supervises.

Compliment one's workers, accept nominal responsibility, pass the blame down.

Cicilline dodged Arlene Violet's persistent questioning of why it took Tim White to discover abuse, and how he (the mayor) could possibly assert that the workers caught were in no way representative of a larger problem. Referring back to the transcript of White's report, I see that arguably the most egregious of the abuses uncovered — the backhoe traveling across the city with a load of publicly owned sand for the foreman's house — occurred on the very first day of surveillance.

Quite a coincidence.

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The little mayor was in full "fast-talking lying his ass off" mode on the show.
When Arlene pressed him on his brother's scofflaw status involving thousands of dollars in parking tickets,she should have asked the obvious-why wasn't the car booted?
Was this forbidden by Esserman?I wouldn't be shocked to find that out.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 1, 2009 7:55 AM

What?? Parking tickets were also waived for the mayoral sibling? Who is the mayor going to blame and then fire for that?

Posted by: Monique at February 1, 2009 9:02 AM

I wonder if the cable show, Parking Wars, would have like to do a segment about Cicilline's parking tickets? Perhaps the meter maids in Philly could show them how to do it?

I wonder if the mayor could have shown Ceprano the same show of support? Instead, the mayor requested three shiny RIPTA busses to line up in succession for a publicity stunt show called Name That Scapegoat where those busses try to jump over Ceprano.

Seems to me those 'extraordinary leaders' in the city have been the targets of many a scandals. How extraordinary.

Posted by: Roland at February 1, 2009 10:38 AM

>>he (the mayor) could possibly assert that the workers caught were in no way representative of a larger problem.<<

Yeah, really interesting how Tim White follows a couple guys...busted. He follows their boss...busted. Keep it going Timmy, keep checking people out. Let's see how deep the rabbit hole goes. However, I suspect that White picked those three based on a tip, not some deep undercover research or investigating that he did on his own. Just start randomly picking some city workers and follow them for a day.

Or like the NP mayor is fighting with, why not head to the local Stop & Shop and ask the firemen inside with the ladder truck outside, why they're doing grocery shopping, while on the clock with the truck outside? As Matt Allen keeps saying, why not send just one guy to do the shopping, in his own vehicle? The answers that Matt has been getting are hilarious. Ranging from "that's how they learn to drive the truck" to "Have you ever put your life on the line?" Yeah, that last one's really relevant.

Posted by: Patrick at February 1, 2009 4:17 PM

Patrick- calls don't wait for dinner. The crew needs to be together in the event of an emergency. I've seen many occasions where a crew has to leave the supermarket to take a call. If they weren't together, the ones arriving at the call would be that much less effective. Even worse, the firefighter in his private vehicle could get in an accident rushing to meet them.

But they're just public servants, so we don't care.

Posted by: EMT at February 1, 2009 5:48 PM

EMT, spare me. How many firefighters are on call at any one time? You're going to tell me that if there is a call, if one guy shows up a couple minutes later (how about the rookie?) that it's going to affect the whole crew? If that's the case, we have bigger problems with the fire departments. Or hmm, how about do your freaking shopping on your own time! I don't jet out of my office mid-day and do my grocery shopping and I sure as hell don't take the company vehicle. If you're on for a 24-48 however many hour shift, go shopping ahead of time. I bring my own lunch to work, so you can you.

Posted by: Patrick at February 1, 2009 10:45 PM

In fairness, given the nature of the work, I believe firehouses stock their own kitchens and cook meals for the crew on duty. So, the run to the grocery store wouldn't be for one guy's personal provisions, but for the group.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 1, 2009 11:04 PM

Justin, I'm not questioning who the food is for, I'm questioning the appropriateness of using a fire truck and whether 4-5 firefighters need to all do the shopping. Why can't either just 1 person go in his own vehicle or do it before their shift?

Posted by: Patrick at February 2, 2009 8:49 AM

So Patrick, tell me what happens when the guy using his personal car for shopping gets in an accident-who's responsible for damages? Injuries? You say go shopping before the work shift-what happens when you're ordered to stay for overtime, and have to be there for 48 hours straight? Do you go hungry? You and your anti-union maggots were either too fat, too stupid, or too much of a coward to become a professional unionized firefighter-just look at your buddy Matt Allen-he couldn't get his fat slob body through a doorway-never mind rescue someone. Why don't you and your scab lovng friends move to some right to work, anti labor state down south-we won't miss you here.

Posted by: proud union firefighter at February 2, 2009 4:39 PM
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