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Interview with Steve Frias, on the Work of the Constitutional Convention Preparatory Commission


The excerpt I would pick to introduce my interview with Steve Frias, about the work the preparatory commission for a constitutional convention has done, would be this one

Steve Frias: There will be an argument that there are reforms that people want in this state that are not happening, because the General Assembly refuses to give them serious consideration, for instance, the line-item veto. Rhode Island is one of the few states not to have it. On Ethics Commission jurisdiction, the Supreme Court made their decision in 2009, I believe, and five years later, while there have been votes on it in one chamber or another, it hasn’t been adopted yet….

This is a way for the people to amend the Constitution, and get things into it, that the General Assembly has shown by its behavior in recent years that it is just not willing to do.
However, when I asked Commissioner Frias directly what the most important thing he thought people could get out of the commission’s report was, his answer was
SF: That the 1973 Convention was really cheap.
(In 1973, the convention cost about $20K, to be exact)

The entire interview, including a view on what a complete cost-benefit analysis of a constitutional convention should involve, is available below the fold.

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Mark Zaccaria on Issues Facing the US Senate


After his campaign announcement, Republican Senatorial candidate Mark Zaccaria answered questions posed by Anchor Rising on the subjects of:

The guiding principle and vision of American foreign policy.

Where to go on Obamacare, from where we now are.

The institutional way to deal with executive overreach.

The gulf between the elites and the people, on illegal immigration.

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Mark Zaccaria Announces for Senate


Mark Zaccaria: “[Y]our taxes, your food and your housing costs are all up as a result of what the Federal Government has done, and Jack Reed has voted yes for every single one of those increases, certainly during the last couple of terms. I contend that Rhode Islanders are ready to vote no, and it’s about high time.

But they have to have a choice to be able to do that, to be able to vote for better monetary policy, or smaller government that costs less, so that it takes less money out of your pockets. You have to have that alternative on the ballot. I hope to be the face of that message to the hard-working, tax-paying men and women of Rhode Island during this campaign.

There is another way, folks. We can do that. And I will be making that point, to anyone who will listen to me, every day between now and the fourth of November…you don’t have to vote for the guy you voted for last time. In fact, it might be better if you voted for somebody new.”

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A Constitutional Convention for Rhode Island? The Pros and Cons of Democracy and Rights


Steven Brown of the RI Chapter of the ACLU: “The votes that voters get to choose across the country are on some of the most divisive, controversial, social, ideological issues there are; abortion, gay rights, same-sex marriage, anti-immigrant. We are deluding ourselves if we think we can hold a convention and not have those issues come to the fore….What’s troubling about that is that we are talking about individual rights that should not be subject to majoritarian control. You’ll hear about all of the safeguards that are in place; first you have to elect the delegates, and then the convention has to vote to approve an amendment, then it’s up to the voters to approve or reject it….They aren’t safeguards, when you’re talking about minority rights”.

Professor Jared Goldstein: “On a basic level, the concern that we’ll have a runaway convention, or that they’ll pass recommendations that are contrary to our fundamental rights is really a point of view that expresses simple, profound distrust of the people, that is, we can’t trust the people the enact legislation that will help us because they may take away our constitutional rights….Don’t we want the people to decide these fundamental questions about what our society is like?…If the answer is no, then who do we trust? Do we just want the judges to decide what our rights are? What are they basing them on?”