Truth In Numbers: RhodeMap RI Spends $0.00 on Economics

December 23, 2014

Providence, RI — Precisely zero dollars were spent on actual economics by the RI Division of Planning in constructing its so-called economic development plan, RhodeMap RI, based on initial information provided by the state and published today by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

According to partial figures released by the RI Division of Legal Services last week in response to an open records request by the Center, about $723,000 was spent on eight vendors involved with housing, land, social equity and transportation planning, while another $152,000 was spent on two vendors for outreach activities such as civic engagement and marketing. Despite having admitted that they are not economic development experts themselves, the state’s planners did not retain any outside economic expertise as of last summer.

“That not a single penny was spent on economics experts, economic modeling tools, or any other form of economic policy or jobs forecasting is just more evidence of what we’ve been saying all along; that the RI Division of Planning is perpetrating a ruse on Rhode Islanders by attempting to position RhodeMap RI as a credible economic development plan,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Our state is in serious economic trouble and we need serious people to put together a serious economic plan. RhodeMap RI must be taken off the shelf and ripped out of the official State Guide Plan.”

In an earlier email, Peter Dennehy, Deputy Chief Legal Counsel for the state, informed the Center that the Division of Planning spent $1,259,866.88 from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Partnership for Sustainable Communities grant plus another $359,566 in “non-Partnership for Sustainable Communities grant funds” as of September 30, 2014. In a subsequent email, Dennehy also indicated that Kevin Flynn, head of the Division of Planning, did not have records of expenditures broken down by recipient, “particularly since there are multiple vendors and subcontractors.”

Although the $875,000 in spending that was subsequently broken down and provided last week, about $375,000 of the stated spending has not been provided by the Division of Planning. Further, according to the original grant application to HUD, the RI Division of Planning should have received $1.93 million in revenue from HUD. This means that potentially $1 million in cash spending is as yet unaccounted for.

Another $451,000 or so in matching, non-cash staff contributions was also promised from local sources, in the state’s application to the federal government, including eight Rhode Island cities and towns and various other state agencies and local partners, many of which were members of the RhodeMap RI consortium.

The $359,566 figure provided by the state may be part of this non-cash direct grant match. In effect, the agencies and municipalities paid their own staffs to work on RhodeMap activities.

This means that only about one-third of the total contributions to the RhodeMap RI project has been publicly released in a detailed accounting. The Center calls on the state to release a complete accounting of every revenue and expense transaction for the RhodeMap RI project, including a breakdown of staff contributions by any state or municipal employee.


Includes invoices dated prior to July 31, 2014

Sustainable Living Organizations: Land & Housing Area of Expertise TOTAL: $722,914
Bonnie Heudorfer, Harvard, MA Housing & Community Development Planners $89,697.08
Goody Clancy and Associates, Boston, MA Architecture and Urban Planners $55,254.50
Dodson and Flinker Inc., Ashfield, MA Landscape Architects and Planners $83,310.00
Horsley Witten Group, Providence RI Sustainable Environmental Planners $254,166.99
Interaction Institute for Social Change, Boston, MA Social Equity Planners $40,723.93
Mapping and Planning Services, Jamestown, RI Mapping Services Planners $83,446.01
4Ward Planning, Hopewell, NJ Landscape Councilors & Planners $107,522.75
Nelson Nygard, Franklin, MA Sustainable Transportation Planners $8,792.52
Outreach & PR Area of Expertise TOTAL: $151,866
Place Matters, Denver, CO Civic Engagement and Process Planners $125,040.89
Virtual Marketing Associates, Wood River Junction, RI Virtual Marketing $26,825.50

From 2011 RI Division of Planning application to H.U.D.

HUD Grant Revenues  $1,934,961.00
Non-Cash Staff Contributions Total: $451,694
Housing Commission Coordinator $30,000.00
PROVIDENCE, Dir. Long Range Planning $16,968.00
EAST PROVIDENCE, Plng. Dir & Chief Planner $26,250.00
NORTH KINGSTOWN, Plng. Dir. & Prin. Planner $28,192.00
CRANSTON, Principal Planner $13,186.00
PAWTUCKET, Sr. Planner $5,184.00
BURRILLVILLE, Town Planner $22,500.00
NEWPORT, Planning Dir. $14,550.00
WESTERLY, Town Plnr. & Ass’t Planner $35,418.00
RI DEM, Administrator $30,000.00
RI EDC, Dir. Community Relations $30,000.00
RI DOH, Community Development Specialist $33,000.00
RI HOUSING, Dir. Intergov’t Relations … $56,556.00
GROW SMART RI, Exec. Dir. … $47,736.00
RI LISC, Program Officer $31,734.00
RI LEGAL SERVICES, Community Lawyer $30,420.00


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