URI economics professor Leonard Lardaro can’t believe the inaction in the statehouse:
To my utter amazement, in spite of all these economic difficulties and the lessons to be learned from our past mistakes, our leaders apparently have yet to see any need to meet or do anything to deal with this crisis. I have even heard several of them say that when the recession is over, they will see what they can do at that time.
It’s been obvious for years that, among legislators, there is no plan. They’re just trying to get by, siphon off what they can, and allow Rhode Island to keep being Rhode Island, even when that means being on the wrong side of every list.
I suspect that William Colleran is not surprised:
The Web page of the state Board of Elections is www.ricampaignfinance.com/ripublic/contribution.spx. It is the source of my research on contributions during the 2007-08 General Assembly session. I focused in on the period from Jan. 1, 2007, through Sept. 15, 2008.
Over this period, the incumbents (75 representatives and 38 senators) received some $2 million. A whopping $850,000 — or 43 percent of that sum — flowed to the top leadership. That would include the House speaker, the Senate president, the two majority leaders and the two Finance Committee chairmen. Fully half of this swag found its way into the coffers of Speaker William Murphy and Senate President Joseph Montalbano. This money, coincidentally, was just about evenly shared, with Murphy receiving $250,000 and Montalbano pulling in $215,000.
One might think that the majority leaders (Senate Leader M. Teresa Paiva-Weed and House Leader Gordon Fox) would take in the next highest amounts; but one would be wrong. The two Finance Committee chairmen came in second; and they were pretty evenly matched, with House Finance Chairman Steven M. Costantino and Senate Finance Chairman Stephen Alves each raking in $110,500. That great political scientist, Willie Sutton, really put his fingers on the pulse when he remarked that he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is!”
Rounding out the top 10 recipients of this largess were those labor legislators, Sen. Domenic Ruggerio and Sen. Frank Ciccone III, followed by Rep. Arthur Corvese, chairman of the House Labor Committee, and Rep. Brian P. Kennedy, chairman of the powerful Corporations Committee.
Powerful people are invested in Rhode Island’s current predicament, and they don’t know how to get out of the predicament while continuing to benefit from their power. So they wait. They hope for money from nowhere. They promise to fix things when times are already improving.
Rhode Islanders are — I think and pray — beginning to wake up to the possibility that things are just going to turn around on their own. Lardaro alludes cryptically to “what’s going to happen when a national recovery takes place,” and I’ve suggested before that, if Rhode Island fails to lead the recovery, its the rate at which its talent and taxpayers flee will increase.