There ought to be a “dealing with government labor unions” workshop for prospective officials who set out to pull Rhode Island back from the edge. The scene at last night’s East Greenwich Town Council meeting is absolutely textbook, as reported by Donita Naylor in the Providence Journal. Out-of-town union thugs? Check. T-shirts printed for union members? Check.
About seven minutes after the 7 p.m. meeting began Monday, the floor was opened for public comment. Resident William Higgins was concluding his remarks when someone shouted from the hall for him to speak louder. …
As Higgins sat down, Cienki asked the council’s solicitor, David D’Agostino, to explain why Corrigan could hire and fire, but people in the hall shouted that they couldn’t hear.
Cienki asked for quiet, but people shouted for her to move the meeting so they could all see and hear. “We cannot move the meeting,” she said, and tried to explain that the meeting had been advertised as taking place at Town Hall.
Her explanation was drowned out by the chant, “Move the meeting!” As the chanting trailed off, someone called out, “Why are you so afraid of the people?” and another urged, “You have to move the meeting.”
This scene could have been any public meeting at which the unions want to intimidate elected officials and enable the narrative that left-wing activist Bob Plain pushes on RI Future, that the town “doesn’t have a functioning government right now.” To the extent that’s true, it’s because labor unions have deployed their six-figure-salary activists to disrupt it. Plain provides the single biggest tell-tale sign:
“You have to move the meeting,” yelled NEA organizer [and former owner/editor of RI Future] Pat Crowley, from the balcony of the Council Chambers.
As I observed years ago in East Providence (audio here), the unionists just want a bigger venue so they can create a bigger scene. One really can’t blame East Greenwich Town Council President Suzanne Cienki for attempting to reason and then argue with the people in the audience, but doing so only makes the poor behavior look like a mutual escalation.
Elected officials attempting to bring necessary reforms should look back to former East Providence School Committee Chairman Anthony Carcieri for an example: Just accept it all as the staged performance that it is and move forward with business. Of course, then the unions will just get their bought-and-paid legislators to change the law in their favor, but at least the people of Rhode Island will get additional clarity.