The Value of Transparency After the Investigative Report

In 2014, Tiverton Fact Check noted that the second-highest-paid employee in town was Police Lieutenant Timothy Panell.  In fact, our transparency application shows that he was the second-highest-paid employee for three of the four years for which we have data (we don’t yet have fiscal year 2016), and third highest for the other year, all of them over $100,000.  Over those four years, overtime averaged about 30% of Officer Panell’s total pay, but it was around 40% for the two most recent years.

It is therefore not surprising, although still disappointing, to see Tim White of WPRI reporting that Panell has been charged with 58 counts of stealing overtime pay:

Tiverton town solicitor Anthony DeSisto said Panell worked the overnight shift and would go home when he was supposed to be working.

“The town’s allegations include many repeated charges arising from separate incidents of thefts of service,” DeSisto said. “The allegations are for prolonged periods of time he was at home while being paid.”

DeSisto said another set of counts arise from “paperwork filed in connection with overtime work that the Lt. was paid for but the town alleges he did not perform.”

When Tiverton Fact Check first started posting this data, some in town accused us of invading privacy and maligning hard-working employees.  The lesson of government transparency is that results that look unusual often are.  If only elected officials more often treated locally active taxpayers as allies rather than the opposition.


Justin Katz

Justin Katz is a writer and researcher focusing on Rhode Island policy and politics. For more about Justin, see our About page. (401) 835-7156.

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