The Governor-Elect and his Transition Team Decline to Answer Anchor Rising’s Civics Questions, Citing Disagreement with Their Premises
I submitted the Anchor Rising list of Gubernatorial civics questions to the transition team of incoming Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee — who, you may recall, stated during his campaign that “Rhode Island state government must be open, accessible, and accountable to its citizens” — and asked if the Governor-elect would be willing to sit for an interview on them. A spokesman for the Chafee transition team declined the offer, saying that…
We do not agree with the premise of these questions.The questions that the new administration is not willing to discuss, premises included, are listed below.
- The previous legislative year began with the creation of a Teachers’ Health Insurance Board, which on its face looks to be a violation of the separation-of-powers provision of the RI Constitution. We ended the year with the passage of a municipal fiscal stabilization bill, that can be basically used to suspend democratic governance in any RI municipality.
Are we living through times right now that are so extreme, that basic principles of democratic government need to be shoved aside?
- One set of criteria in the new fiscal stabilization law that can trigger a municipal takeover by the state involves decisions made by bond-rating agencies. The 1990s RI Supreme Court opinion which will likely be used to justify this new law begins with the statement that “on or about July 16, 1993, Moody’s Investors Services, a recognized bond-rating agency, downgraded the town of West Warwick’s municipal bonds to a grade Ba”.
Do we now live in a society that believes that financial-industry needs take precedence over democratic voice?
- There has been speculation in national media that several states facing long-term fiscal problems — a category that can be fairly said to include Rhode Island — may ask for a Federal bailout, or that Federal laws will be changed to allow them to declare bankruptcy. Do you believe that either of these options are possibilities for Rhode Island in the near term?
- The combined state and municipal budgets for Rhode Island have grown steadily (adjusted for inflation) over the past 10 years, a period of time which includes September 11, 2001 and its immediate aftermath, the end-of-the-financial world as we knew it in 2008, and the relative lull (at least domestically) in between.
Is it by design or by accident that government has been growing as if on autopilot — or would you disagree with that characterization entirely? Compared with 10 years ago, are Rhode Islanders getting more in return for their increased spending?