The Transition to Reinvigorated Decline
Bob Walsh is on Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee’s transition team? National Education Association Rhode Island Executive Director Bob Walsh is preparing the way for Rhode Island’s next governor? Boy, they (you know whom I mean) aren’t even trying to hide it anymore.
Two hyperbolic scenarios arise in my imagination. In the first, a simpering Chafee begs, “Please, Mr. Walsh, don’t make me put you on my transition team. They’ll know!” In the second, he ambles into Walsh’s office: “Gee, Bob, you’re so smart and savvy. I really need your help to bring me the final steps to the State House.” Being thoroughly convinced of Chafee’s cluelessness, I suspect the latter is closer to the truth.
And so, Ed Achorn writes:
The real problem comes when [Chafee] turns to fiscal and economic issues. He ran on a platform of hiking the taxes of some of the state’s poorest and most vulnerable people to, in effect, redistribute their meager wealth to some of its richest political interests — the public-sector unions. Rather than insist on deeper staff and benefit cuts at the local level, Mr. Chafee favors a 1 percent sales tax on essential items such as food and medicine.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. He also favors expanding binding arbitration, which is at the top of the unions’ wish list, because it tends to benefit them at taxpayer expense.
Will he also support another union scheme — postponing contentious pension reform by refinancing the state’s pension debt? That delay would add billions of dollars to the obligations of Rhode Island taxpayers and make our problem vastly more difficult to solve.
Today’s paper articulates what we who’ve paid attention have known all along: that Chafee owes his success to the public-sector unions:
Here’s the way it worked: the big unions — including the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association of Rhode Island, the United Nurses and Allied Professionals and District 1199 of the Service Employees International Union — contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Ocean State Action which, in turn, spent the money on Chafee’s behalf. …
The NEA “advocacy fund” gave Ocean State Action $102,000 to help Chafee; the Federation of Teachers, $50,000; the SEIU, $9,500, UNAP, $2,500 and the Ocean State Action coalition, which includes nonunion groups such as Clean Water Action and Marriage Equality Rhode Island, contributed $35,500 toward its “victory campaign.” The Sierra Club kicked in $250, and the National Organization for Women, $125.
From its headquarters next door to the NEA on Bald Hill Road in Cranston, Ocean State Action then spent roughly $187,228 to help Chafee, according to its latest “independent expenditure” filings with the state Board of Elections.
And then there’s the built-in campaign force — and a certain number of guaranteed votes — of people who make their comfortable livings from government coffers.
You know Rhode Island has made a reckless pick for governor when you find yourself hoping that the General Assembly will offer a reasonable restraint…
It’s not as immediate a concern, in the context of a state governor, but let’s not forget that Chafee has also tapped former Planned Parenthood Medical Director Pablo Rodriguez, as well. It says nothing positive about our pending — looming — governor that he’s seeking transition assistance from a man who finds affirmation in his experience of performing abortions in a room filled with Christian images.