Bob Goes to the Statehouse

I’m thinking that Bob Venturini might be my choice for lieutenant governor. After all, this is precisely my argument against Robert Healey’s “abolish the office” platform:

Venturini said he would turn the office into “the ultimate watchdog and policy center,” and use it as a “bully pulpit” against “waste, abuse and corruption.” He added, “I’d cause enough noise and embarrassment that people would have to pay attention.”
He wants to restructure the office to provide “much more manpower and performance for the same price.” That includes cutting the lieutenant governor’s salary by half, dividing the chief of staff’s job duties among several people and establishing policy task forces and a whistleblower program. He would also push for better access to public records “to keep our government in check.”

A million dollars in the hands of somebody who isn’t habituated to the insiders’ rules for government spending could hire a significant group of people to investigate and analyze the functioning of state government. Pick a good-government group in Rhode Island and imagine it with the sudden windfall of a million dollars in funding. That’s the potential of the office.
Unfortunately, many of the folks who populate and support the good-government groups are charmed by Healey and the appeal of his small-government thumb in the establishment’s eye. At best, if victorious, he’ll save the state a minuscule portion of its deficit until another Democrat comes up with a strategy for returning the office to its current state. At worst, he hands it back to Elizabeth Roberts to keep her political machine idling while she strives to advance progressive causes.
Somebody who’d actually made a case for a positive use of the office all along would have had a real shot. Perhaps a respectable showing for Venturini will convey that message.

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mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

Maybe Healey’s angle should have been ‘I’ll bring in my Operation Clean Government friends and tear this thing apart from the inside, politely’.
I had a discussion with a candidate for the office and asked why staff couldn’t be deployed to GA committee meetings both to report on votes and to act as ‘taxpayer’s lobbyists’. She thought it was a great idea. I get the feeling that anyone who can spend enough time up there on the hill gains a certain amount of sway, especially if they can direct ‘outside investors’ to contribute to campaigns on their behalf.

Scott Bill Hirst
Scott Bill Hirst
10 years ago

Hi!
My concern with this office is the GOP handling of this situation this year. One would have to question whether a Democrat would be the best watchdog over the General Assembly. The last time the GOP controlled either chamber was the Rhode Island State Senate 1957-59,. The R.I. House was last controlled by the GOP was 1939-41,. 1939-41 the GOp controlled all Geberal Officers, both houses of the state legislature and both U.S. House seats as a result of the 1938 election.
I went to Barrington last night for a GOP state central committee meeting and we were far from a quorum.
Regards,
Scott

chuckR
chuckR
10 years ago

This doesn’t work for me.
1)he’ll have 4 years until he’s knocked out of office by the corruptocrats
and
2)unless this is institutionalized in the office’s duties then its over.
Tell me again what we have an AG for?
Doing nothing at no to low cost is an interesting experiment. It gets the voters used to the idea that possibly there are other areas where doing nothing at no cost beats every alternative. You know, unless zerObama keeps stroking out $500 million per year to RI in perpetuity.

Will
10 years ago

Justin,
I like Bob and Bob’s TV show as much as anyone. However, he hasn’t exactly run the most visible campaign. He’s polling in low single digits, to the extent the media has even bothered to include him in the polls. To be blunt, he has about as much a chance of winning as Todd Giroux does for governor. While he’s running as an independent, he’s been a long time Democrat, and has a lot of what one might call “insider” friends.
My personal support of Bob Healey for Lt. Governor (I’ve voted for him before) has nothing to do with his pledge to save taxpayers $4 million. I know that if he were to save it, the General Assembly would find a way to squander it almost instantaneously.
I support small, constitutionally limited government and the reduction of unnecessary bureaucracy. I do not support finding “make busy” work for someone in what’s basically the equivalent of a “no show” job.
While the idea of using the Lt. Governor’s office as some kind of government watchdog could be appealing, it’s not the LGs role. That’s the role of the Attorney General. Plus, the Lt. Governor wouldn’t have subpoena power or any more access to information than any member of the general public.
Lastly, if there was no other reason to support Healey, a very good one would be to force Liz Roberts to actually have to find a real job, instead of getting to be in a permanent campaign for some future office on our dime.

George
George
10 years ago

If Bob V is going to do all those things as Lt. Governor, that’s great.
But then, lets get Bob H. to run for Atty General, and eliminate that office?

Oric
Oric
10 years ago

Government watchdog?
Is that the Bob “the nose” Venturini who sniffed out the corruption while involved in
the Pawtucket Brian Sarault administration? If he knew, shame on you. If he didn’t,
shame on you.
Mr. Venturini may not be a million dollar sniffer.
If you read Baron’s story in the Pawtucket Times, Baron seems to
think that unpaid Healey would be a far greater thorn in the side of the
powers that be on Smith Hill. I agree with Baron.
Besides, did Venturini really say “I’d cause enough noise and embarrassment that people would have to pay attention.”
Would he really cause enough embarrassment that people would have to pay attention?
Did you abandon the smaller more efficient government concept? Is this real or just an attempt to
draw comment?

Justin Katz
10 years ago

Will,
My support for Venturini is incidental. I don’t think the LG’s office should be a “watchdog.” I’m envisioning more of a small-government research center to publicize all of the mandates that could be eliminated, regulations that should be lightened, and taxes that needn’t be levied.
Admittedly, part of the attraction of Venturini is that he’s unlikely to win, and part of it is that, if he did, it’d probably make for some entertainment, anyway. At any rate, Healey fell off the table, for me, when Heidi Rogers disenfranchised Republican voters.

Will
10 years ago

If he did manage to come from last plan and win, it’d make for an excellent federal investigation.
What you envision isn’t something that will ever happen in the real world. The Lt. Governor has no duties, because the General Assembly wants it that way. Only one Republican in the last 100 years has won the office. In large part, that’s because it’s structured to allow the occupant to take donations, give out the same donations to friends, have lots of free time to campaign for others, avoid blame for lack of results, and perform no constitutional duties.
Even, if in a fantasy-world, Venturini won that race, he would still have no power to perform any of the functions you mention, and no budget beyond what the General Assembly allocates to that office. If he used his staff to snoop around the G.A. too much, they’d probably eliminate it.
As for the Healey-Heidi hullabaloo, I can’t say that I care enough about the office of Lt. Governor to offer further opinions beyond that which I’ve already expressed.
To me, this is an easy choice. It’s between a nice, but very entitled and well-connected politician, or the guy who believes in constitutionally limited government, who wants to make her unemployed.
Regardless of the result, it won’t affect my life or that of pretty much anyone in RI in the least. Therefore, because nothing the office does frankly matters, that’s reason enough for it to be eliminated.

MadMom
MadMom
10 years ago

“I’m envisioning more of a small-government research center to publicize all of the mandates that could be eliminated, regulations that should be lightened, and taxes that needn’t be levied.”
Please name one official or department in any elected government position that has maintained its position as the voice for small government advocates in perpetuity, throughout election cycles.
Government cannot police itself. Good government groups are good government groups because they are separate from government. They are able to maintain objectivity and avoid being tainted by political games, lobbyists, insider baseball, money, and power.
NH gets along just fine without a LT Governor and does far better than RI by virtually every measurable standard- schools, infrastructure, business and personal freedom, taxes, regulations, and lack of cronyism and corruption.
What we need here in RI is something akin to the Colorado Democracy Alliance, written about in “The Blueprint”. That’s how we tackle these issues; outside of government structure.

Justin Katz
10 years ago

Two points, Madmom:
1. Being powerless, the lieutenant governor is essentially “outside of government,” anyway. Nobody has any more incentive to bribe her or him than there is incentive to bribe any prominent person in any field.
2. Rhode Island is not New Hampshire. We share the goal of bringing the former closer to the latter, but starting with the lieutenant governor race doesn’t strike me as optimally productive. What I’m proposing is to use the office to bring about more substantial change.

MadMom
MadMom
10 years ago

No elected office is “outside of government”. And if the post were to be used for a more intense agenda of small government advocacy, instead of ribbon cutting ceremonies, you can bet that the hounds would be at the door using whatever it takes to have their say pertaining to that agenda.
But you still didn’t answer my question. Show me an example of where this has worked in government.

George
George
10 years ago

“Healey fell off the table, for me, when Heidi Rogers disenfranchised Republican voters”
dittos!

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

“Healey fell off the table, for me, when Heidi Rogers disenfranchised Republican voters”
“dittos!”
I never liked team sports. You’re against Healy because of the letter next to his name, or because the candidate you voted for thought he would do a better job? I think Healy is appealing to core conservative ideals here, you want small government, and he’s delivering it. The office is limited so much that Rogers would be handcuffed and whipped by the GA if she tried to police things.

Justin Katz
10 years ago

I think Healy is appealing to core conservative ideals here, you want small government, and he’s delivering it.

That might be an accurate assessment if conservatives took a liberal approach to political contests. In reality, at least for some of us, an open and reliable process of government operation and feedback (i.e., elections) is a higher good than smaller government.

Justin Katz
10 years ago

if the post were to be used for a more intense agenda of small government advocacy, instead of ribbon cutting ceremonies, you can bet that the hounds would be at the door using whatever it takes to have their say pertaining to that agenda.

In what way? Are you suggesting that that the General Assembly would rewrite the rules pertaining to the office of lieutenant governor actually to give it some sort of authority, so that they could attempt to twist that authority? I’m afraid that you’ll have to describe an example for me, because as it stands, I’m unable to see any application of what you’re saying to the reality of the office in question.

Show me an example of where this has worked in government.

Show me an example of a government like Rhode Island’s turning around with any strategy.

helen
helen
10 years ago

“NH gets along just fine without a LT Governor and does far better than RI by virtually every measurable standard- schools, infrastructure, business and personal freedom, taxes, regulations, and lack of cronyism and corruption.”
I don’t think that NH’s successes depend on whether or not the state has a Lt. Governor. You haven’t given any example of how not having a Lt. Governor has made NH do better according to the standards you mention,than does our state.
It’s interesting,however, to make a few little comparisons of NH with RI. I remember reading somewhere that the NH State Legislature is the largest legislative body in the world,meaning more accurate representation.
Also,that the members of their State legislature are paid $100.00 a year plus travel expenses to and from the State House. That’s the total of their compensation. Might be not be exact pay today but I’m pretty sure it’s close.
Also,NH doesn’t have a state income tax,nor does it have a state sales tax.

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