He was out of state all week and isn’t expected back until early this week, according to his spokesman, Jeff Neal.
“Governor Carcieri used the opportunity provided by the legislature’s spring vacation week to take time off.”, Neal told Political Scene. “He visited family in Ohio and spent time with family in Florida.”
The governor’s chief of staff, Brian Stern, was also on vacation last week. Neal wouldn’t detail where Stern had gone, saying only that Stern ‘also used the legislative break to take time off with his family out of state.’
Stern directed state government’s reaction to the now-infamous Dec. 13 snowstorm when Carcieri was in the Middle East.
So, with the governor and his right-hand man out of state last week, who was running the state?
“Governor Carcieri is leading state government”, Neal told Political Scene. “Governor Carcieri has been in touch with this office every working day while he was outside Rhode Island. He has been consulted on every decision that required his input or guidance. Throughout this period, we had the ability to contact him at any time of the day or night.”
Okay. Did he bother to tell the Lt. Governor this time? You remember what happened last winter…
Governor Carcieri was in the Middle East during the Dec. 13 storm and was out of contact with his administration until after the storm. Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, a Democrat, said she tried to act and provide leadership, but was rebuffed by Republican Carceri’s administration.
But the Governor had a way to fix it that didn’t involve giving the keys to a mere woman, and a Democrat besides…
After the Dec. 13 snowstorm and the heated public criticism that followed about the lack of leadership during the storm, Carcieri said that Maj. Gen. Robert T. Bray, who is head of the Guard and acting executive director of the state Emergency Management Agency, would be in charge if another weather emergency happened and the governor could not be contacted.
Carcieri’s decision came in a Jan. 11 e-mail responding to Journal questions about leadership in similar future emergencies. “In the future, the Adjutant General of the Rhode Island National Guard will be in charge whenever the Governor is not personally in state,” spokesman Jeff Neal wrote in the e-mail. “In the Governor’s absence, the Adjutant General will be responsible not only for overseeing the state’s on the ground preparations and response for potential weather emergencies, but also for acting as the public face and voice for the state’s effort.”
Since the e-mail, Carcieri has not elaborated on what Bray’s powers would include. The governor did not respond to several phone calls and e-mails sent through Neal.
But constitutional experts say Carcieri’s decision to put a military officer in charge, instead of an elected official, goes against the founding principles of the state and the nation.
Picky, picky, picky. So we don’t know what Adj. Gen. Bray’s powers include. And now he seems to have taken a lower profile. Maybe he’s on vacation like the Gov.
Rhode Island Adjutant Gen. Robert T. Bray, whom the governor has said is the public voice in emergencies, is no longer visible on the Rhode Island National Guard’s Web site.
Bray’s photo, welcome message and the entire ‘adjutant general’ link under the organization heading on the Guard’s home page have been removed. Visitors to the Web site wouldn’t know that Rhode Island ever had an adjutant general, except for a year-old news release about Army National Guardsmen receiving the bronze star.
Is the Guard commander’s departure from the Web site a sign of changes to come? Reached on his cell phone at an Air Force senior leadership conference this week, Bray said tersely: “I have no intentions of leaving.”
So, why aren’t you on the Web site anymore? “I’m not leaving.” Bray said. He declined to comment further.
And those annoying reporters should be ashamed for even asking. So who’s really in charge in case something needs to be decided? The Gov. says he has his red cell phone on him even when he’s swimming. You can’t expect him to be accountable the way ordinary working stiffs like us have to be. Considering the last few months, maybe it’s just as well if he stays away. He seems bored with the whole deal anyway. He’s made lots of friends in the most reactionary wing of the Republican party, and he’s probably taking time to set up his next move.