Cranston Kids Get 400% More Money than Prov Kids in Sports Legislative Grants
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello sponsored $32,000 of the total $39,000 in recreation funding from the House for his home district of Cranston, while Providence was awarded just over $20,000 for recreation centers, little league teams, and sports programs at time the city's buildings and facilities are crumbling.
SLIDES: See who got the most in 2015 legislative grants BELOW
The information on what can be awarded can be found on the Rhode Island General Assembly website, including which members requested how much, how much was ultimately awarded -- or not.
"You can go on the state's website now, but that doesn't mean the process is any more transparent than before. [Grants] are not awarded in a public meeting, they're not awarded on some sort of scoring system that's made public, there's no vote on the awarding them by joint committee on legislative services," said John Marion with Common Cause Rhode Island. "Info is more accessible now, but the decision making is just as opaque."
In total, $2.2 million was split equally between the two Chambers, for non-profits ranging from schools to community and senior centers, cultural festivals, and environmental causes -- but that's where the equal distribution of grants ends.
"First of all, what's clear when you add it all up -- the Speaker awarded himself nearly $100,000 when grants in the House amounted to about a million dollars," said Ken Block, former Moderate Party founder turned Republican gubernatorial candidate - and longtime legislative grant critic. "That's some self-interest there, it doesn't feel good for starters."
Of the Speaker's more than $85,000 in sponsored grants awarded, several were for statewide organizations, including Special Olympics, and Academic Decathlon.
The latest census numbers for Cranston show a population of 80,386 with 20.4% under 18 in 2010 - while Providence had nearly 100,000 more residents at 178,042 - and 23.4% under 18. Providence's percentage of residents living below the poverty level from 2009 through 2013 was 29%; Cranston, 10.2%.
On the House side, youth recreation programs in Pawtucket got $7500; Woonsocket got none.
A joint statement by the House Speaker and Senate President's offices outlined a process for assisting community non-profits they say is non-partisan, and based on merit.
"The grants are awarded by the House Speaker and the Senate President in consultation with the respective members of their chambers. They are done on a non-partisan basis. Each application is reviewed on its merits. The grantees must be non-profit organizations and they must clearly state the intended purpose of the grant. At the completion of the spending of the funds, the organizations must send in a detailed report of how the money was used, including receipts and invoices. The grants are also subject to audits that are done annually by the Office of the Auditor General. The grants are budgeted annually for $2.2 million, and split equally between the House and Senate. Not all requests can be fulfilled because the requests generally exceed the budgeted amount."
For recreation programs for 2015, Mattiello requested and received $7000 for Cranston Eastern Little League, $5000 for Cranston Western Little League, $5000 for CLCF baseball, $5000 for CLCF lacrosse, $3000 for CLCF basketball, $2500 for CLCF softball, $2500 for Edgewood hockey, and $2000 for Cranston Babe Ruth.
Representative and Deputy Speaker Charlene Lima got $5000 for Cranston Parks and Recreation and $2500 for Cranston street hockey.
In Providence, sports and recreation grants were awarded to Button Hole Golf course ($2500), Davey Lopes Recreation ($2000), Joslin Recreation Center ($2000), Pedro Martinez Softball ($1500), Providence Northend Forty-Niners ($1500), Providence Sport and Leadership ($1500), Elmwood Little League ($1000), Mount Pleasant Little League ($1000), Wanskuck Little League ($1000), Elmwood Little League ($1000), Silver Lake Little League ($1000), Elmhurst Cal Ripken ($1000).
While Providence received significantly less for recreation than Cranston, the city got sizable grants for the Institute for Practice and Study Non-Violence ($10,000), Billy Taylor House for workforce development ($10,000), and $18,000 for Providence Community Libraries.
On the Senate side, recreation funding for Providence saw an additional $4000 split between Davey Lopes and the Northend Forty-Niners, $2000 for midnight basketball, and $2500 for St. Pious CYO and $1500 for Zuccalo Recreation Center; Cranston got an additional $7000 for basketball, little league, and softball programs.
Block pointed out the breakdown of the Senate.
"Why are Rhode Island legislative grants so broken? Teresa Paiva Weed gives herself $81K worth of grants!" said Block. "Newport gets $89K in grants, out of $1,152,480 total."
"Speaker and Senate President largest recipients [sic] of grant program in respective chambers," continued Block. "Shockingly (not!), Cranston hugely made out in House grant program and Newport hugely made out in Senate program."
"The thing that's most lacking there's nothing in the current system that allows the system to let public know that the money hasn't been given out by leadership versus being awarded on the need and merit," said Marion. "Why do some Little Leagues get money and not all? We don't know. We don't know that Little Leagues in districts that are loyal aren't benefiting more. There's nothing in the process that lets us see how these decisions are made."
Related Slideshow: Top Rhode Island Legislative Grants 2015
Who received the largest legislative grants in 2015.
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