Leading Opponents of Voter Initiative Show They are Implacable Foes of the Public Good

I have been clear about my skepticism regarding the Voter Initiative (VI).
Yet, consider these March 30 words from Tom Coyne about the words and actions by people firmly opposed to the VI:

Anybody who doubts that we are in the middle of a war for the future of Rhode Island should have been at the House Judiciary Commitee hearing on Voter Initiative the other night. To say that the disdain of General Assembly Democrats and their supporters was on full display would be a vast understatement. To begin with, they chose a hearing room far too small to accomodate all the VI supporters who came from all over the state to testify at the 4:30 hearing. With most VI supporters forced to cool their heels in the hallway, committee chairman Rep. Don Lally (North Kingstown and Narragansett) proceeded to let opponents of the proposal testify first…
And who was leading the opposition testimony — with a straight face — and waxing eloquent about the evils of the “special interest influence” that Voter Initiative might bring to our innocent Ocean State? None other than Bob Walsh, Marti Rosenberg, and George Nee. If hell has a special place for hypocrites of this high caliber, their reservations are surely confirmed. It was like watching three mafia dons defend their right to run their turf as they saw fit — the taxpayers be damned. Sadly, the Democrats on the House Judiciary Commitee gave every indication that they shared this view — belittling the 21,000 signatures (with accompanying addresses and emails) on the Voter Initiative petition as signifying nothing of consequence. I guess we’ll see about that later this election year…
On the other hand, it was priceless to watch Rep. Amy Rice become apoplectic when Reps. Jim Davey and Larry Ehrhardt decided to aggressively question Walsh, Rosenberg, and Nee’s arguments. “We’ll call the Speaker,” she shreiked.
Of course, it only got better after the first supporters began to testify at 8:30 pm, well after the press had left. All the predictable liberal attack lines were thrown at them — including accusations of being racist, sexist homophobes, and anti-undocumented worker (er, illegal immigrant) to boot. It’s comical to watch — you can set your watch by how long it takes a lefty to demand that any opponent admit to being either an angry racist sexist homophobe or still in denial and in need of more therapy. In their minds, anyone who opposes their views really has only these two choices…
The most colorful part of the evening took place not in the hearing room, but out in the hallway (and in the elevators), where the insults really got personal, and almost came to blows on more than one occasion.
What are we to make of all this? We have three reactions. The first is, of course, to keep this sad spectacle in mind during the fall campaigns for the seats now occupied by the esteemed Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee. Their disdain and insults should not go unpunished.
The second is to ask a simple question: Rhode Island now has the fourth highest tax burden in the nation, in exchange for which we receive some of its worst performance in public education, social welfare and the condition of our roads and bridges. Honestly, do you think we would be worse off today if we had had Voter Initiative for the past ten years?
Finally, the arrogance and disdain of the General Assembly Democrats, as well as Bob Walsh, Marti Rosenberg and George Nee, all beg one critical question: just what do they think is the end game in Rhode Island? It was Lloyd Monroe who put his finger on this in an acrimonious exchange with Rep. Shanley. “If the voters don’t like it, they can throw me out on my rear end,” Shanley said. Monroe pointed out that the voting had already begun, with more and more people and businesses leaving the state. Remember, Rhode Island and Louisiana are the only two states in the nation facing revenues below rather than above expectations this year. And what hurricane hit us? Decades of failed policies imposed on the state by the Democrat controlled General Assembly, perhaps?
The key point is this: even if Walsh, Rosenberg, and Nee (and their General Assembly lackeys) win this battle, they have lost the war. Their pyrrhic victory will only accelerate the decline of Rhode Island toward an inevitable date with bankruptcy. And as anyone who has looked at our exploding welfare spending and enormous unfunded public sector pension and retiree health care liabilities knows, given our dying private sector economy that day is fast approaching. The brutal truth of the matter is this (listen up teachers and other government employees): if things don’t change soon in Rhode Island, one day your pension check isn’t going to arrive in your mailbox in Florida. If things don’t change, your taxpayer financed Florida (no income tax!) retirement plans are toast. And the longer Bob and Marti and George and the boys and girls on Smith Hill (not to mention Charlie Fogarty and Elizabeth Roberts) keep battling to preserve the current system, the more they will hasten its demise and with it your nasty surprise. If we were in your shoes, we’d be asking our “leaders” a lot more hard questions about just how they think their brilliant strategy is going to keep all those welfare and pension checks coming. Because more performances like the other night are guaranteed to make things worse, not better — and Amy Rice running off to tattle tale to the Speaker can’t change that…

These people are greedy enemies of the public good. Their commitment to continue the failing status quo is why many of us will vote for the VI, even as we have some misgivings about it.

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Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
18 years ago

One again, Tom Coyne (aka the “Uniblogger”) proves he lives in a fantasy world. It is accuracte that I testified against voter initiative at the hearing Mr. Coyne attended. However, neither Rep. Davey nor Rep. Earhardt asked me any questions about my testimony, and Rep. Rice made no commentary about my remarks either.
Mr. Coyne also ignored the eloquent testimony from Common Cause’s Phil West in opposition to voter initiative.
I started my testimony by noting that there were well intentioned individuals on both sides of this debate – personally, I have know three of the initiative supporters who testified that night for over 20 years (Bob Flanders, Bruce Lang, Rod Driver). Unlike Mr. Coyne, those gentlemen are individuals you can disagree with “without being disagreeable”.
Also, for the record, while I am both personally and organizationally opposed to voter initiative, you can rest assured that I will be among the first in line to take advantage of it if it becomes law in Rhode Island.

18 years ago

Though you obviously don’t like him, you also didn’t address the points Coyne raised in the last paragraphs of his post. You’re already on record as favoring massive tax increases rather than budget cuts. Is that the “end game” that Coyne wonders about? Just how do you think RI is going to get out of the mess we’re in?

18 years ago

how do you know Voter Initiative is a worthwhile experiment?
It brings the left out of the woodwork and threatens the establishment.

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