Senior officials from Rhode Island recently embarked on a business trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but their actions during the visit have sparked allegations of blatant sexism, racism, and unprofessional conduct. The officials, David Patten and Jim Thorsen, were involved in an unfortunate incident that came to light thanks to the Rhode Island attorney general, leaving the smallest state in the nation making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Rhode Island, renowned for its beautiful beachfront properties and culinary delights, now finds itself under scrutiny as these officials’ behavior has tarnished its reputation. The incident occurred when Patten and Thorsen traveled to Philadelphia on March 10, 2023, with the aim of touring a recently renovated historical building. This visit was part of the state’s efforts to gather inspiration for a significant project worth $55 million.
Before their arrival, Patten sent a text message to Lindsey Scannapieco, a managing partner at the firm they were visiting. The message included an inappropriate request for fresh coffee with milk and sugar, as well as the best croissant in Philadelphia, seemingly demanding special treatment. Patten went on to make a remark about Scannapieco’s husband, suggesting that his presence would have made a difference. Furthermore, he expressed his dislike for China and awkwardly apologized to an Asian-American woman, adding insult to injury. Patten’s list of unreasonable demands continued, including requesting a Michelin-star lunch and mocking homeless people. To top it off, he expected vegan cheese and free sneakers from the host’s tenants.
The recipient of these offensive remarks, Lindsey Scannapieco, wasted no time in sharing an email detailing the incident with her colleague and forwarding it to the Rhode Island governor’s office. The email highlighted the bizarre, offensive, and unprofessional behavior exhibited by Director David Patten and Jim Thorsen during their visit to Philadelphia. Scannapieco and her colleague expressed their embarrassment, shock, and frustration at having to deal with individuals who displayed such blatant sexism, racism, and unprofessionalism. They emphasized the negative reflection this incident had on the State of Rhode Island and its leadership. Despite their efforts to maintain a professional and organized tour, the officials’ behavior created an environment of confusion and disbelief. They raised concerns about the underlying reasons behind such behavior, including possible mental health challenges, substance abuse, or simply a lack of competence in interpersonal interactions.
In the aftermath of this disturbing incident, both Patten and Thorsen faced consequences for their actions. Patten, identified as the main offender, was placed on medical leave a mere three days after the Philadelphia visit and is currently on administrative leave, according to the Department of Administration. Thorsen, on the other hand, returned to his work in the U.S. Department of Treasury, as confirmed by Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, a member of the Democratic Party.
The revelation of Patten’s reprehensible behavior and Thorsen’s failure to intervene reached higher authorities thanks to Scannapieco and her colleague, shedding light on the urgent need to address such misconduct. Their email to the governor’s office expressed the urgency of the situation and their disappointment with the officials’ conduct. It questioned how to effectively collaborate with individuals who demonstrate such blatant disregard for basic principles of respect, equality, and professionalism. The incident not only tarnished the reputation of Rhode Island but also raised concerns about the underlying reasons behind such behavior.
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