Not So Fast Mr. Speaker
Today, RI House Speaker Gordon Fox put out a letter to members of his district. Andrew has already asked one question about it. If there is no political hay to be made about the 38 Studios debacle, then what is fair to talk about? Specifically, Speaker Fox wrote:
It is disappointing that there are people who want to use the 38 Studios issue as a political weapon as opposed to learning from our mistakes and focusing on how to move our state’s economy forward. Partisan politics doesn’t create jobs.
Very interesting. I’m certain that he feels the same way about his friends using this “political weapon” against former Governor Don Carcieri too, no? Or it’s merely he who should be shielded? This just sounds too eerily familiar where a crisis was just beginning to bubble up right before an election and got tamped down until after the votes were counted?
However, the Speaker makes some other interesting points in his letter.
But I always remembered what [my father] preached to me about the importance of education. I saw an advertisement for Rhode Island College in the newspaper and I decided I could afford to take classes while still working. I rode the RIPTA bus to RIC and got absorbed in my studies, earning a degree in 1985 while majoring in both political science and history. I am tremendously grateful to the RIC professors who inspired me to work hard because that led to a full scholarship to Northeaster University School of Law and my career as an attorney. As I said to the students when I was RIC’s commencement speaker a few years ago, Rhode Island College truly saved my life. A quality and affordable public education was my life preserver and I will never, ever forget that.
Apparently, he did forget that. While he was a member of the RI House and even while he was the House Majority Leader, the Providence Journal noted:
State support for Rhode Island’s only public research institution has fallen so dramatically in the past decade that the mission and future of the University of Rhode Island are threatened, according to a national report that echoes the concerns URI’s leaders have voiced for years.
A recent study by the National Science Board found that Rhode Island’s per-student financing of its flagship research university has declined by an inflation-adjusted 47 percent since 2002 — the second-largest cut in the country. And the amount the state spent per student in 2009-10 ranked Rhode Island 48 out of 50 states.
Additionally, he’s well aware of the fact that he was a part of this when he told Newsmakers:
“Shame on us,” he said. “I was part of that, and shame on me for doing it”
Here we have the Speaker telling us that he’ll “never, ever forget that”, but in his history, he shows us the exact opposite. Should we believe what he says he’s going to do or should we believe what he has already done?
But wait, there’s more to this letter. On a different topic, we also hear about how the State House is a democracy, everyone’s equal and if someone has a bill they want considered, his door is open to listen. Then at the same time, we hear of people like Rep. Spencer Dickinson telling us how it really works behind closed doors and how no bills ever see the light of day without Speaker Fox being on board. Anything he doesn’t like simply gets “Held for further study.” All of which, of course, gets denied by House Leadership. Except when he lets little things slip like:
“Moving forward, I will continue my decades-long fight to support and defend a woman’s right to choose. I will do everything in my power to make sure that any legislation that doesn’t respect women’s reproductive choices is never brought before the House.”
I’m not saying anything about the issue he brings up. My point is he is admitting to using his powerful position in the House (“everything in my power”) to not let legislation be brought before the House. It’s his will. His way or the highway. At least now we have the admission from the Speaker himself. He cherrypicks bills that he likes and allows them to pass and gives the judgmental thumbs down to bills he doesn’t like and those die off somewhere. Is that really how the RI Constitution was written up? Is that the kind of power that we want just one person to have? Why does he have that power?
Lastly, in his closing, Speaker Fox wrote
“Negative ads don’t cut red tape for small business owners. Anonymous attacks don’t increase investments in college affordability and adult education.”
With all due respect Mr. Speaker, nor do you or your General Assembly. However, he goes on.
“But I promise you that I will. I will work every day for you and your neighbors to grow this economy, to create jobs and to do whatever it takes to put Rhode Island back on top again.”
To quote Ronald Reagan, “There you go again.” Telling us what he’s going to do, yet he has a clear record of doing the opposite. In fact, he’s even contradicting himself right in this very message. He has said that he’s looking to get a vote on same-sex marriage in January. What in the world does that have to do with growing the economy and creating jobs? If the highest priority is fixing the state’s economy, then why isn’t that the stated primary focus for January?
Why do we let these politicians constantly tell us what they’re going to do and we just go along believing them, even when we have evidence to the contrary? Gordon Fox has been in the RI State House since 1992 and has been a member of the House Leadership since 2002. We’ve seen the damage that Gordon Fox has done to this state, we have a concrete history of his actions. We have absolutely no reason to believe him that he’ll be any different going forward and he’ll do anything differently. Clearly, it’s time for a change at the State House, starting with the man in charge. Gordon Fox has failed us and he gives us no reason to believe things will get better.