RI Tea Party Meeting
Rather than traverse the state all night, I came straight to the RI Tea Party meeting in Quonset. People other than me have finally begun to arrive, which is good, because I was fearful that the channel 6 reporter would interview me simply out of boredom.
The cocktail hour has officially begun, and the room is filling up very quickly. The advantage of arriving at events before even the hosts is that it’s easier to pick a presumptuous seat right up front. The disadvantage is that I’ve ended up at the speakers’ table, and Colleen Conley asked me to prevent the rabble from taking places at it, which really isn’t an activity toward which my personality lends itself. I scrawled a quick “Reserved” sign, which has helped, but I have had to issue a few “Colleen told me to” proclamations. (Sorry, Will!) I’m trying to look mean as I type, but it isn’t keeping folks away. If only I looked more like my Anchor Rising drawing.
Here’s the scene:
I just had to block Governor Carcieri from sitting at the speakers’ table. Just kidding; I haven’t had to do that… yet…
Several cameras and radio coverage from the left (Ian Donnis) and right (Dan Yorke). Ian found a satellite loophole to the speaker table block, pulling up a chair right next to me, but away from the table, and Dan sat next to him. I’m not sure it’s really applicable, but for some reason it occurred to me to call this a sort of Rhode Island Follies for the Rhode Island right.
Dan Yorke told me that he came by to see if there would be a “rock star effect.” His judgment is that there is, and here are two of the reasons:
There’s also a clear and direct link of the atmosphere to the Senator Scott Brown win.
Colleen Conley’s talking about the “Colorado model” that progressive billionaires used to turn Colorado from red to blue.
I didn’t expect it, but Colleen including Anchor Rising among the necessary pieces (perhaps to justify my seat — literally — at the table):
- Legal arm to be determined
- Anchor Rising
- RI Tea Party
To this list, she’d like to add a People’s PAC to help candidates. Me, I’m interested in the plan to find four billionaires…
Steve Laffey has taken the microphone.
A participant who had expressed an intention to get an actual head count just handed me a piece of paper to say that two counts have confirmed 315 people in the room.
Laffey mentioned that people are fleeing the state, and now he’s going over the PowerPoint presentation that he released recently (PDF). Driving around the country, he said, he couldn’t help but notice that people from coast to coast live better: “People in Boise, Idaho, live better than we do.”
Laffey is summing up very well the many things that we talk about so frequently on Anchor Rising that are wrong and happening in the state. He noted, too, the conspicuous departure of so many people from state government, retiring, relocating, taking other jobs. The image that’s been presented in our comment sections is of rats jumping off a ship.
On a performance analysis point, I’ll say that Mr. Laffey has honed his speechifying from the night I saw him at a Portsmouth Republican event some years ago. I’ve commented before, liveblogging from an event with national-level speakers, that the speeches were definitely at another level from those given locally (even those that are good). Laffey’s certainly there, although the more-than-friendly, very enthusiastic crowd is definitely helping.
Very compelling bit about how people in other cities that have big airplanes and large trains running through the state, and so on, don’t complain because “they see jobs.”
Beginning with the example of cigarette taxes, Laffey said that Rhode Island should always be just below the taxes of our neighbors. “But you need to be running surpluses to do that.”
He then showed a map of right to work and non-right-to-work states. “All that means is that you can work at a union shop and not be a part of the union. Nobody gets hit in the head, or anything.” He pointed to the sea of non-right-to-work states in the Northeast and said that we could be like Switzerland for workers rather than bankers.
“There has to be a direct confrontation with the powers that be.”
He’s saying that people in media and in government respond when people show up and make a stink. I’ve certainly seen that on a small scale in Tiverton, and we all know the reality: This has to happen at the state level.
“It’s beyond a Democrat/Republican thing. The people in power need to leave!”
“There’s no magical way [to balance the budget]. It’s over. Not coming back. The choices are to take extraordinary risks (which this general treasurer has done).”
Bill Felkner’s up.
Bill’s going over the tools that Ocean State Policy offers. One thing he mentioned was that OSPRI has made it easy to search the names of people in local government, citing Monique’s November 2008 post on the relatives of former Senator Alves currently or formerly employed by Rhode Island state or local government.
Candidate for Congress Mark Zaccaria is giving a quick teaser for what he can do to help people who want to run for office:
Noting that Steve Laffey is a graduate, Sandra Thompson of Operation Clean Government is explaining what the Candidate School is, whom it’s for, and how to sign up.
“No more should we have offices for which there’s no contention and incumbents get elected.”
Describing what would be happening for the “breakout” sessions, Colleen noted that there are candidate recruiters here for the Republican Party. She called the Democrats, but they didn’t return her call. She called the Moderates, but their answering machine was full.
Just to clarify: Bill Felkner has included Anchor Rising in his vision of the “movement” since he first heard about the Colorado model quite some time ago. In other words, I wasn’t surprised to be mentioned; I just didn’t assume that I would be.
I should also clarify that Governor Carcieri wasn’t at the event, as far as I know, so I never had to tell him that he couldn’t sit among the VIPs.