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.