August 18, 2010

Because Once You Suspend Democracy and Make a Single Public Official Into an All-Powerful Governor-General with the Power to Spend Money Any Way He Sees Fit, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Will John Hill's reporting in today's Projo help convince people that suspending democratic governance really doesn't address the source of the fiscal problems we have here in Rhode Island...

The court-appointed law firm that oversaw [Central Falls'] finances from May to July has advised the state the bill for its two months of work and other related services will be about $306,400, state official said.

Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for the state-appointed receiver, Mark A. Pfeiffer, said state officials were "dumbfounded" by the figure.

"It’s staggering to us that the cost of the tenure of the judicial receiver would exceed $300,000," Kempe said. "That’s close to 15 percent of the city’s 2009 deficit."

More to come on this subject, in the near future...

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But is he doing the job? Is he fixing the problem?

This is like having a worn-down old house on a a couple acres of land. Someone buys it and builds a strip mall instead. Then the money people say "You spent $4M to build that strip mall? The house on it was only worth $200,000!!"

But the strip mall may end up being profitable.

Will Pfeiffer turn CF's finances around and at least get them to a balanced budget? If so, it'd seem that his compensation is deserved and a small price to pay.

Posted by: Patrick at August 18, 2010 9:14 AM


The $300,000 is being paid to the pre-Pfeiffer receivership crew. I'd like to see an accounting of what they did in three months that's going to save the city more than $300,000, that couldn't have been done for less, for instance by the Mayor and City Council.

Posted by: Andrew at August 18, 2010 2:24 PM

Ahh. That sounds like a Bouthilette rate.

Posted by: Patrick at August 18, 2010 2:49 PM

I would wonder why no agreement on the price did not precede the contract.

If you hire a lawyer at $150.00 per hour, and then ask him to sweep floors and bang nails, the priceis gong to astound you. You would think that you could get floors swept and nails banged for less, and you would be right. But, you hired the guy at $150.00 an hour.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 18, 2010 7:51 PM


The answer to your question is that Rhode Islanders don't believe that fiscal problems like those in Central Falls can be solved by something as direct hiring a fresh pair of eyeballs to advise a city council cut here, here, and here.

No, in Rhode Island, we realize that total control of all mechanisms of government has to be given to someone with super-powers, so he can do the things that mere mortal elected officials couldn't possibly do.

Posted by: Andrew at August 18, 2010 9:47 PM

Mr. Faust hit the mark.

An example of fiscal irresponsibility is bringing in someone (or in this case a firm) to do something and not knowing, or even asking I'm sure, what the cost is going to be. Most of us who manage money daily would ask for something called an estimate, a quote, a bid and then stipulate award for services up to that amount.

Yep, the taxpayers get poorer and the lawyers get richer. Seems to be a theme lately.

Posted by: John at August 20, 2010 9:25 PM
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