Clay Pell's campaign for Governor issued a statement regarding the first time his automobile went missing in December. In the past week, Pell and his wife Michelle Kwan reported that their car had been stolen. Providence Police are investigating.
THE STATEMENT FOLLOWS:
“On December 17 of last year, Clay went to a meeting at a coffee shop near his home. While he drove to the coffee shop from another meeting, after he had finished, he walked back to his home – as he often does. The next morning, he went outside and found that the car was not parked on the street in front his home, where he believed he had left it.
“He called the Providence Police Department and reported the car missing. An officer arrived quickly, and took his statement. Afterward, Clay walked to the coffee shop near his home, and noticed the car was parked nearby. Roughly twenty minutes had passed since Clay had spoken with the officer, and he immediately called the police and informed them he had found the vehicle.
“The dispatcher told Clay another patrol would be sent to take his statement. Clay waited for nearly two hours for the officer to arrive, and when he did, the officer never stepped out of his patrol vehicle. He asked Clay if he had misplaced the car, and Clay replied that he had.
“The incident report errs on several key details. The report of the first officer, who took Clay’s statement that the car was missing, notes that he arrived at Clay's home at 2:25 pm. The report of the second officer, who took Clay’s statement after the car was found, states he arrived at 2:00 pm – before the first officer had taken Clay’s statement, and long before the second officer and Clay actually spoke.
“The report notes the car was running when the second officer arrived, which it was. Clay had started the car because it was cold and he had been waiting for nearly two hours. Additionally, the report claims the doors were locked and the interior showed no sign of damage – neither of which could have observed without exiting the squad car. And, finally, the report does not include either the officer asking Clay if he had misplaced the car, or Clay’s response."
Related Slideshow: 10 Questions Pell Has to Answer When Running for Gov of RI
Seriously – Another No Private Sector Experience Governor?
Voters should understand that two sources of revenue have funded Clay Pell’s adult life – the federal government and trust funds. His public service in the Coast Guard is admirable, but Clay Pell has never had to worry about:
Mortgage, rent, car, health insurance, groceries, credit card, electric, oil/gas, telephone, cable, cellphone, college loans, tuition, or even yacht payments.
There is no indication that Clay Pell has ever had to make a significant management decision in his life. We all saw how David Cicilline struggled with managing Providence’s budget – Mayor’s offices and Governor’s offices are tough places for on-the-job learning.
Like their decision making or not, both Taveras and Raimondo have had to make executive decisions – Pell is going to need to assure voter he can make management decisions (See tough decisions below).
Most of the places Clay Pell spent his formative years, Rhode Islanders have not experienced. The reason why – they are private clubs, top-flight private schools and colleges. The Thacher School to Harvard to Georgetown Law School. Each of these premier schools has an annual tuition of more than $50,000 a year.
While Pell may claim to be committed to “ordinary” people (as he said in a WJAR interview), he needs to demonstrate that he is can understand the plight of unemployed and underemployed Rhode Islanders.
Progressives and Unions are in Love with Pell, is that good for RI?
Two powerful and influential groups in the Democratic primary are progressives and public service unions. With Rhode Island’s unemployment the worst in the United States and the economy, de facto, still in the recession, the next Governor will have many difficult decisions.
The decisions will include difficult budget choices – not likely to be popular with public sector unions and progressives.
As the Wall Street Journal wrote this week, "...makes him attractive to public unions who are likely to spend heavily in the primary. Robert Walsh, the executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, has already welcomed Mr. Pell's entry into the race. "Suddenly, an opportunity appears."
Rhode Islanders love a good celebrity and Clay Pell’s wife Michelle Kwan is certainly a celebrity. She won her first ice-skating World Championship in 1996 when she was just 15 years old. And had qualified for the Olympics in 1994 at age 13 only to be bumped by the recovering Nancy Kerrigan.
The two-time Olympian Kwan will wow Rhode Island during the campaign, but will she overshadow her husband?
The venerable Claiborne de Borna Pell retired from the United States Senate nearly two decades ago. While older voters may be fond of the deceased Senator’s legacy – many Rhode Islanders were not old enough to vote or did not live in the state when Pell was in office.
While the Pell family name may have some limited impact and young Clay Pell’s campaign will dredge up lots of legacy stories (so many you may think Clay was the author of the legislation creating the Pell grants).
Pell’s ability to skate between Raimondo and Taveras to win the Democratic primary in a coalition of union and progressive’s support will force him to win from the left.
Coming out of the primary will have defined him to the general election voter as a liberal of the highest degree. Brookings Institute Vice President Darrell West recently told an audience during a speech at the Newport Art Museum that progressives are back in vogue (citing the recent election of ultra progressive Bill deBlasio as Mayor of New York), but with Rhode Island’s economy stuck in a recession, Pell may have a difficult time convincing voters in the General Election that he is viable.
Remember in the past five elections – Rhode Islanders have elected Republicans to the Governor’s office four times (Almond twice, Carcieri twice) and in the last election while a liberal Lincoln Chafee won, more than 60% of the voters cast a ballot for the conservative Frank Caprio (D), GOP candidate John Robitaille or the business leaning Moderate Party candidate Ken Block.
Either GOP candidate will be able to paint Pell as too liberal for the challenges facing Rhode Island’s stagnant economy (9.1% unemployment).
Pell graduated from law school in 2008. That is right; Clay Pell has only been out of school for 5 plus years.
It is hard to believe that his experience in Coast Guard as a junior officer and his White House Fellowship qualifies him to be the chief executive of a state – he has never managed senior staff (he has never been senior staff), never managed employees of any significant scale, he has never managed a major budget, and he has zero economic development experience – a trait that some voters might look for after Chafee’s term.
Both Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras demonstrated in the past three plus years in office the ability to make “tough” decisions.
Taveras had to clean up the Cicilline budget mess that had nearly bankrupted the City of Providence and Taveras even fired all the teachers in the Capital City. Of course, he walked that dog backwards during the following months ensuring a lack of trust with both teachers and fiscal conservatives.
Raimondo’s pension reform effort has drawn passionate support and venomous scorn. Regardless, it has demonstrated Raimondo is battle tested.
Pell’s professional career is not only short (5 plus years), but also been advisory – the buck has never stopped at Clay Pell’s cubicle.