An article published in the Independent (“Chafee nominates pair to State Properties Committee,” South County Independent, Feb. 6, 2014) mentions two people that Governor Chafee has nominated to serve on the State Properties Committee. These nominees are supposed to represent the public. One of the nominees, Mary Kennedy, appears to fulfill that role admirably. I’m not convinced Robert Brunelle meets the criteria of a public representative. He was appointed to associate director in the state Department of Administration at the outset of the Carcieri administration, and later to other political offices.
The Independent’s article rightly calls attention to Ken Block’s pivotal role in pressing the Chafee administration into naming candidates for the two long-open vacancies on the committee. He also filed a complaint with the state Attorney General’s office. The governor has since renounced the Dec. 17 decision by the State Properties Committee, which approved relocation of the Parole Board to downtown Providence.
However, it should not go unnoticed that Dec. 4 – before the uproar caused by its vote to relocate the Parole Board – the State Properties Committee approved the granting of easements at Scarborough Beach and the state Department of Transportation property near the Dillon Rotary to Deepwater Wind by a 2-0 vote. This is a committee that should consist of six members. Deepwater Resistance immediately questioned the validity of this minority vote caused by Gov. Chafee’s failure to fill the two positions intended to represent the public. We asked that these easements granted to Deepwater Wind be heard again by the committee when fully constituted. It’s unconscionable that the State Properties Committee has allowed a 2-0 decision to approve the Deepwater Wind easements. The Governor also should renounce this decision, which seems to have flown under the radar.
If these two nominees are approved by the legislature, the State Properties Committee will include only one member truly representing the public. We believe it’s extremely doubtful that Brunelle could vote impartially, as the public’s representative, on matters that originated during Gov. Carcieri’s term in office.
The author is the chairman of Deepwater Resistance.