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EDITORIAL: Question #5, It Smells Like Low Tide

Sunday, November 06, 2016

 

Too many aspects of Question #5 smell like low tide. 

First, the $20 million for ProvPort and its for profits management company was jammed through the General Assembly at the last moments of the session with little review and disclosure.

Second, ProvPort is a bit of a shill for the management company, as the non-profit employs only one employee — a lawyer for $225,000 annually.  Half of the entity's revenue is paid to a for-profit company in management fees — over $11 million in over three years.

Third, one of the co-owners of the for-profit management company — California investor Ray Meador — was linked to the highly questionable financial scheme that lead to the bankruptcy of the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls.

Fourth, an independent investigation by former State Auditor General Ernie Almonte conducted 2011 and subsequent Forensic Investigative Report in 2013 found Ventetuolo, AVCORR and others guilty of conflict of interest, potential breaches of state law and financial abuse. 

In 2014, after years of struggling financially, the prison went into receivership. The prison had at the time over $93 million in outstanding bond debt.

The owner of ProvPort’s sister for-profit company was hired to serve as the “financial advisor” to the Wyatt Detention board in the early 2000s. Simultaneously he was the de-facto owner of ProvPort. Meador purchased ProvPort from former-Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci’s administration in 1994.

Fifth, the implication of buying significant amounts of waterfront property with public money and turning it over to a private group for use and profit that refuses to disclose financials seems like a disaster waiting to happen and a perversion of public borrowing.

GoLocal urges the legislature to reconsider this structure. In 2018, give voters the opportunity to vote separately for funding for Quonset — a state project versus Providence — which is a private project.

We urge voters to reject Question #5.

EDITOR'S NOTE: GoLocal choose not to accept advertising for this ballot question.

 

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