Alves’ Probable Defense: I’m So Powerful, I Can Kill Any Finance Provision for Any Reason, So Who’s to Say I Did It for Corrupt Ones
Senator Stephen Alves defense against allegations that he tried to use his position as Senate Finance Committee chair to compel Rhode Island cities and towns to give him their pension business is taking shape. It looks as if Senator Alves will argue that his committee chairmanship gives him such absolute power over Senate finance matters, he is able to kill any specific item for any reason he wants, making it impossible to prove that the town of Johnston’s decision not to do pension business with him was the reason he spiked the Duie-Pyle tax deal.
Mike Stanton, for instance, reports in today’s Projo that Senator Alves is suggesting that the failure of lobbyists for Duie Pyle to approach him using proper protocol was enough of a reason for him to kill the deal…
[Senator Alves] said that he wasn’t opposed to the tax break for Duie Pyle, but that advocates for the company failed to lobby him in a timely fashion….Doesn’t this matter highlight the need for Rhode Island to reform its archaic, 19th century legislative committee system that gives just a few legislators, unaccountable to the whole of Rhode Island, nearly absolute veto power over the matters the legislature can even begin to consider?
As Senate Finance chairman, Alves helps shape the budget that the House Finance Committee passes, sitting with his House counterpart, Rep. Steven M. Costantino, D-Providence, to hash out what’s in and what’s out. Those meetings are so secretive, said Rep. Jan. P. Malik, D-Warren, that he’s not even allowed to attend — and he’s a vice chairman of House Finance.
“That’s where they barter — ‘I’m looking for this, you’re looking for that,'” said Malik. “I can’t even get into those meetings. They’re afraid that if word leaks out, then members will find out that they’re not going to get a project they want. By the time it comes out as a document, then it’s too late to start moaning and groaning.”