McKee’s excuse for extending the state of the emergency isn’t very good.

In fact, when pressed for justification, Governor Dan McKee ends up illustrating how fully our government operates along lines of special interests. From an Alexandra Leslie article on WPRI:

The governor said there were a few reasons behind the decision, including keeping certain opportunities extended to businesses in place, like allowing takeout beer, wine and cocktails.

“You take away the emergency situation, you take away that ability for those restaurants to actively operate,” McKee explained. …

“If we get rid of the emergency order, then all of a sudden we are not allowed the same flexibility that we have right now,” he added.

McKee also said that keeping the emergency order in place allows the public and members of local and state boards and commissions to continue to participate in meetings remotely.

The problem with this answer is that the restrictions he wants to avoid are written into law, not on sacred tablets.  The General Assembly is in session, and legislators prove every year on the last few days of their session that they can move quickly when they’re handing out favors.

Indeed, this is a good opportunity to evaluate whether there’s any reason to take away “opportunities extended to businesses” during the pandemic.  If loosening regulations is desirable even though we’re no longer in an emergency, then maybe the thing that needs to be justified is putting them back in place at all.

As for remote meetings for government agencies, it’s time for that to end.  At least to my experience, those that continue to do so are using it as an excuse to shut out the public and host secret meetings just shy of a quorum.

On that front, the governor shouldn’t be concerned about how they might plan for the return to normal “at a short notice.”  Under McKee, the Department of Labor and Training slammed the work-search requirement for the unemployed back in place at pretty short notice.  Whether or not that was good policy, the contrast tells us something about how government works in the Ocean State.

Insiders and special interests get deference and time to plan and adjust.  Regular Rhode Islanders just have to get with the program.

It’s not surprising, then, that state-of-emergency-style government works just fine for the powerful, which is more reason to be concerned that they’ll be looking for opportunities to bring it back from now on.

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4 months ago

[…] suggested in this post from last month, it is inappropriate for the governor to continue using an emergency declaration to […]

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