Governor RSS feed for this section
palmcrossandpictures-featured

An Unconstitutional Palm Slap

Of all the deprivations that Rhode Islanders generally and Catholic Rhode Islanders specifically have had to endure during the past month or so, the inability to collect palms on Palm Sunday is not the biggest.  That said, it is critically important to note that it was patently unconstitutional for Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo to direct that they not be provided:

Cranston Police Chief Michael Winquist confirmed Sunday that officers responded to St. Patrick’s Church after someone called to report palms were being given out.

“It turned out that the doors to the church were left open with a basket of palms left in the vestibule for parishioners to take one,” Winquist said in an email. “No clergy were present.”

He said police did not take any action, as Gov. Gina Raimondo’s directive not to hand out palms did not come with an official executive order.

Raimondo announced Friday there would be no distribution of palms for the holiday, which marks the start of Holy Week for Christians.

St. Patrick’s is not part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, so the suggestion of Bishop Thomas Tobin that parishes should comply with the “directive” did not apply.  Within his scope, however, it would have been preferable for Bishop Tobin to assert that the ban on palms was his decision, not the governor’s, rather than just cede his authority to her.

If the First Amendment means anything when it comes to religion, it means that the governor cannot decide what religious implements are “essential.”  Fundamentally, that is the government’s chief executive implementing her own religious worldview as the law (and her support for abortion proves that her worldview is not Catholic).  Flowers from the grocer are permitted.  Beer is permitted.  Delivery of newspapers is permitted.  Pickup of sporting goods, office supplies, and more is permitted.

In other words, Governor Raimondo isn’t only saying that palm branches distributed through churches are not “essential,” but that they are uniquely dangerous.  Satan, no doubt, agrees.

This is a travesty against our Constitutional rights. The governor could ask religious leaders and individuals to (please) consider whether a particular implement or ritual is “essential,” but she cannot direct that it is or isn’t.  If religious Rhode Islanders don’t protect this liberty during our slow-rolling crisis, we may never recover it.

raimondo-COVID-19-chastisement-featured

Rhode Islanders Are Adults and Have a Right to Explanations

Here’s a clip from WPRI’s coverage of Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s latest daily COVID-19 statement that shows an absolutely unacceptable attitude from the governor:

Asked about the latest projections from the University of Washington — which now predict nearly 1,000 Rhode Islanders will die due to COVID-19 and the outbreak will peak in the state later this month — Raimondo said the school’s model has been updated after conferring with Rhode Island officials. She again declined to share the state’s own predictive modeling, but indicated she thinks the peak could be as late as mid-May.

“If anyone tells you they know exactly when Rhode Island’s peak is, and what the number of hospitalizations will be at that peak, they’re not being honest with you,” she said.

The governor is making decisions that have profound effects on our lives, including the exercise of direct executive authority to do things that would not normally be permitted in a representative democracy.  She has an obligation to explain herself to the public.  “Take my word for it; I’m the boss, and I have the best of intentions” is not good enough.  (That’s a characterization, not a quotation, if you weren’t sure.)

How many deaths does the governor project Rhode Island will experience, and how many does she expect to avert by taking this or that action?  These aren’t idle questions from a Don’t Tread on Me enthusiast.  Every new restriction on our activity comes with a price-tag in health and lives.  In rough numbers, Rhode Island experiences just under 400 suicides and drug overdoses each year; how much is poverty, isolation, and idleness going to drive up those numbers?  Does the governor have a model for that? 

Tough-gal talk about driving around the state and “you’re not going to want to be in that group” if she has to “break up any crowds” is (maybe) how you manipulate teenagers, not how you communicate with adults.  Declaring a slow-rolling state of emergency for months on end does not make us subjects, and the governor’s legitimacy requires complete transparency so we can evaluate for ourselves whether her actions are justified.

Of course, it doesn’t help that our legislators are proving that they lack the courage to fulfill their role in our government during this tricky time.

statehouse-upchart-featured

COVID-19: A Plan To Restore Financial Security to RI

In these trying times, with well over fifty thousand Rhode Islanders recently laid-off, common-sense public state-based policy can help mitigate the destructive economic impact of the Rhode Island COVID-19 crisis … and can help restore a sense of normalcy and financial security.

We need your help to tell lawmakers you want them to take action.

golferinjail-featured

Social Distancing Between States: RI Arrests Massachusetts Golfers

Welcome to the world of social distancing.  As a person-to-person strategy to slow a contagion, it’s absolutely reasonable, but it’s starting to sound like an ominous act by government to tear us apart.

Meet three golfers trying to walk the line between their state of Massachusetts, which closed golf courses, and the neighboring state of Rhode Island, which closed the state to outsiders who can’t quarantine for 14 days:

An Attleboro man and his two golfing partners are being charged with playing a round in Rhode Island in violation of a ban on people coming into the state for nonwork-related reasons. …

They were apprehended at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant, where police say the men changed cars to drive to the course in a vehicle with Rhode Island license plates.

Taunton and Attleboro, where the men are from, are part of the regular lives of Rhode Islanders.  The quarantine restrictions don’t apply to Rhode Islanders who travel across the border or to people heading in either direction for work.  In this case, the three of them came to Rhode Island to give a local business some money and to walk around a giant outdoor lawn for a few hours.

Perhaps in our current environment this outcome is a matter for reasonable debate (although some would surely say no debate is allowed and I’m wrong), but this seems to me to be an indication that we’re beyond the reasonable line.

depetroshow-logo-featured

Politics This Week with John DePetro: Government and Twitter Flames

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for March 30, included talk about:

  • Raimondo v. Cuomo
  • Cheit v. Fung
  • Rhode Islanders v. the state budget
  • Democracy v. mail ballots
  • and the U.S. Senate as the means of grabbing money

I’ll be on again Monday, April 6, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

notfornothinbutrhodeislanddoesntheedwarningsverywell-featured

Government-Distancing Can Help Keep Rhode Islanders Safe And At Work

We see the federal government considering bold ways to keep businesses running and money in people’s pockets. Here in Rhode Island, we’re calling on lawmakers to provide online sales tax relief to residents concerned about their physical and financial health.

Our state must do its part… The government-distancing we are recommending can help people remain at home and practice healthy social-distancing. Every sales tax dollar saved might be vitally important to families who are suffering a loss of income during these trying times.

depetroshow-logo-featured

Politics This Week with John DePetro: Remarkable & Worrying Times (With Hope!)

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for March 16, included talk about:

  • The Virus and the politicians
  • Britt bends the insider rules
  • RI Women for Freedom & Prosperity
  • Closing the GOP primary

I’ll be on again Monday, March 23, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

depetroshow-logo-featured

Politics This Week with John DePetro: They Value What They Promote

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for March 9, included talk about:

  • Unionist Pat Crowley’s promotion.
  • More grand jurying around the speaker.
  • Gina and her endorsements.
  • Minimum wage.
  • Anti-Second Amendment tax honesty.

I’ll be on again Monday, March 16, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

depetroshow-logo-featured

Politics This Week with John DePetro: Rhode Island’s Civic Infection

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for March 2, included talk about:

  • The degree of confidence in the state government to contain a contagious disease.
  • The effect of distrust on public perception of the Veterans Home debacle.
  • The meaning of Weingarten’s texts to Infante-Green.
  • The ubiquitous Mr. Nee.

I’ll be on again Monday, March 9, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

notareflectionofthestatehouse-featured

The Independent Man Needs YOU: Consider This Call To Civic Action

Is it time for you to get involved… to save our state? If we are ever going to change the policies that are driving away families and crippling businesses, the sad truth, my friend, is that we are going to have to change the players.

Rhode Island’s political class is so beholden to so many special interest groups and agendas, that they are paralyzed when it comes to considering common-sense, pro-growth policy reforms.

giantraimondo-featured

The Governor’s Conflicting Projects

Rhode Island’s Democrat governor, Gina Raimondo, has been pledging to do “whatever is needed” for a lot of people who aren’t Rhode Islanders, lately.  First she became one of six co-chairs of a new PAC called “Organizing Together 2020.”  As she says, “good organizing takes time.”  The she became a co-chair of Mike Bloomberg’s campaign for president, another national political effort that is not focused on Rhode Island.

Rhode Islanders might wonder what they’re paying her for.  We should also worry about what we’re paying her for.

After all, her fellow activists in Organizing Together are in large part labor unions:

The group includes labor unions — Service Employees International Union, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — and a collection of progressive advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood Votes, the Color of Change PAC, the NAACP and VoteVets, according to a news release.

One of the major challenges of the remaining years of her gubernatorial administration is going to be the improvement of Providence schools.  The state has taken over the district; the governor has hired a new education commissioner; and the commissioner has hired a new superintendent.  Whether the officials involved will admit it publicly or not, this project is going to require pressure to be put on the teachers union.  How does that play out when the governor has made common cause with their national organizations?  How can the families of Providence trust that she’s fully on their side as their governor?

As for the Bloomberg move, what’s notable is the focus on career moves.  The promise of a local campaign office for a presidential candidate who is a billionaire many times over gives the governor jobs to hand out out to allies… jobs that have nothing to do with governing Rhode Island.  And the responsibilities of a national campaign co-chair will give the governor reason to be outside the state, networking and building her brand in key battleground states that aren’t Rhode Island.

Again the question arises:  Does Gina Raimondo want to end her terms as governor on a high note from the perspective of the people of Rhode Island, or from the perspective of an ambitious career-building politician?

raimondo-hunter-featured

A Surprisingly Unknown Raimondo Pension Story

Reading Edward Siedle’s recent Forbes column, which is the text of a speech that he gave to a “Rally for Pension Justice,” involving the Rhode Island Retired Teachers Association, one can’t help but wonder why his claim isn’t more widely known around the state:

In 2007, Rhode Island current governor and former state treasurer, Gina Raimondo was a co-founder and partner in a very small local venture capital firm with very little money under management and a very short investment track record.

Miraculously, Gina succeeded in convincing the $8 billion state pension to invest $5 million in a brand new fund her nascent, unproven firm was offering called the Point Judith Venture Fund II.

According to Siedle, that one deal grew Point Judith’s portfolio by 33%, but the state considered the investment reasonable because the firm “had a billionaire hedge fund investor in New York backstopping” it.  Then, the state gave Point Judith a 2.5% fee, even though the sales presentation only asked for 2%, which is the industry standard.

There’s more.  Per Siedle, Point Judith gave Raimondo an ownership interest in the pension investment, with a $125,000 minimum payout per year, no matter how the fund did.  That revelation puts a much different light on the annual story we hear about Point Judith extending its contract with the pension fund without the state’s consent due to secret provisions allowing its investors to do so.

How is this not a regularly revisited investigative story in the Rhode Island press?  Granted Siedle was talking to a very interested crowd and telling them something sure to keep their interest, but he’s a credible guy in this area.  After all, the article appeared in Forbes.

Maybe the layers of secrecy and PR professionals, combined with the specialized knowledge to investigate it, move this down local reporters’ to-do list, especially given the flagging journalism industry, which can afford fewer and fewer specialized investigators.  (I’ll admit to being unable to devote time to the story, myself.)  Whatever the mechanism, though, it seems as if a healthy civic environment would somehow get this story into the awareness of more Rhode Islanders.

There’s something very similar between this story and the conspicuously timed clean-out of the JCLS offices just as the Speaker of the House is under fire for that agency’s activities.  That’s easier to speculate about, though, because white-collar schemes aren’t as easily understood.

depetroshow-logo-featured

Political Monday with John DePetro: The Corrupt RI Filter

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for February 3, included talk about:

  • Raimondo’s anti-Trump special-interest PAC.
  • Will the new Providence superintendent earn his pay?
  • Everybody could be right, but is wrong, on the Convention Center.
  • RI gambling giants’ form a super-crony organization.

I’ll be on again Monday, February 10, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

notjustaprettyplacetopassthrough-featured

Q & A On TCI, The Transportation & Climate Initiative

Q. What is TCI?

The Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is a multi-state regional agreement designed to drive up the price of motor fuel (gasoline and on-road diesel). As a regressive tax, the TCI Gas Tax will disproportionately harm low-income families, especially those who live some distance from commercial centers or their workplace.

SRBtoll-featured

Tolls: What Happened to Gina Raimondo’s Promise to Hold off on Gantries Until After Lawsuit?

As public attention understandably turns to legal developments in the toll case and the very visible construction of toll gantries around the state, it is important to note how the governor explicitly broke her word on the critical matter of when toll gantries would go up and highlight the heavy financial consequences to which she has needlessly exposed Rhode Island residents with this completely unprincipled volte-face.

riconventioncenter-featured

Convention Center Controversy: Heads They Win, Tails You Lose

If you’ve been around government and politics in Rhode Island for a while, you probably know people who’ve been audited at conspicuous times… like after having spoken up publicly about some issue.  This may be part of the reason ripples of excitement have followed indications that Democrat Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello of Cranston might be caught red-handed flipping the switch on the familiar weapon.

Particularly intriguing is the way those ripples have caused turmoil among people and entities that tend to unite around good-government issues.  Thus, as Mattiello claims to be targeting the Convention Center Authority with an audit to fix what former Republican House Minority Leader and gubernatorial candidate Patricia Morgan calls “a poorly run, incompetently managed building [that] works as a favor factory,” we get current House Minority Leader Blake Filippi filing a lawsuit claiming that Mattiello abused his influence over the Joint Committee on Legislative Services (JCLS) to order the audit, followed by the Providence Journal editorial board, led by Ed Achorn, belittling the Republican’s suit as “partisan animosity.”

If the good guys are tripping over each other, the bad guys have wind at their backs.  The Convention Center has rejected the audit and called for an investigation of Mattiello by the State Police, which has lost some of its objective luster in recent years for seeming to align too eagerly with Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo, who has (1) given indications that she sees Mattiello as an obstacle and (2) proven her intent to use political means to advance her agenda through the legislature (including, for example, raising campaign funds to go after legislators at the ballot box).

Interested observers face that old puzzle about whether the enemy of your enemy is your friend.  Do good government forces benefit by helping a progressive governor knock out the more-conservative speaker, or by turning a blind eye to what might be raw corruption on his part?

Why everybody can’t be right?  Yes, the Convention Center should be audited.  Yes, the whole JCLS should meet and take action in a transparent fashion.  Yes, it’s worth having some agency look into whether use of the legislature’s auditing power is being abused. Yes, we should be suspicious that a politicized State Police might serve the governor’s political interest.

This is how divided government is supposed to work, making it in everybody’s interest to seek leverage against the others.  The problem is that state government in RI is so one-sided that it’s always “heads they win, tails you lose.”

sten-regionalTCImeeting-jan2020-featured

We’re Backing The TCI Gas Tax Proponents Into a Corner

It is not by accident that the proposed Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is losing support among many of the states it has targeted… to the point where some proponents are considering a Plan-B.

Last week, I traveled to Boston to meet with other organizations from east coast states who oppose TCI, a regional compact targeting 12 states and Washington DC that seeks to impose a 5 to 17 cent per gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, with the intent of forcing Rhode Island to drive less often and into more costly and less convenient electric vehicles and public transportation options.

depetroshow-logo-featured

Political Monday with John DePetro: Budgets and Politics

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for January 20, included talk about:

  • The governor’s budget (and popularity)
  • The speaker’s interest in the Convention Center
  • The women’s march
  • Big money state jobs, especially corrections

I’ll be on again Monday, January 27, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

windfarm-featured

Executive Order of Priorities

Of course, an executive order like the one that Rhode Island Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo just released, saying that Rhode Island will be 100% reliant on “renewable energy” by 2030, is subject to all the usual political caveats.  Most notably, she’ll be long out of office by the time that date rolls around, and even by the time any imposed restrictions start to really bite.

Reading the press release, however, something else jumps out:

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today signed an executive order committing Rhode Island to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by the end of the decade. Her executive order directs the state’s Office of Energy Resources to conduct an economic and energy market analysis and develop actionable policies and programs to reach this bold, but achievable goal.

“When we meet this goal, Rhode Island will be the first state in America to be powered by 100% renewable electricity,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “We’re already leading the fight against climate change, but we have to take increasingly aggressive action if we want to avoid catastrophe. As governor of a coastal state and mom to two teenagers, I’m fully committed to protecting the beauty of our state and our way of life for future generations.”

Where’s the executive order that 100% of Rhode Island students will graduate from high school… and with performance at grade level?  Where’s the executive order that everybody who wants a job will have one?

Now, I’m not actually asking for executive orders on these issues, because I think they’d be a foolish approach to policy, but the governor’s global-warming order is foolish for the same reasons.  It does, however, show her priorities, and one suspects her perpetually bad approval ratings are evidence that Rhode Islanders don’t share them.

houseforsale-featured

Rolling Effects of Housing Wealth Redistribution

As hints had suggested Rhode Islanders should expect, Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 (beginning July 1, 2020) includes a new program with new dedicated funding to build affordable housing.  (Naturally, Democrat Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, of Providence and North Providence, a Laborers Union careerist, loves the idea.)

WPRI’s Eli Sherman summarizes the plan:

The budget, which will now be vetted by lawmakers during the coming months, suggests creating a two-tiered tax system that doubles the so-called “conveyance tax” to 0.92% on all property sales – both residential and commercial – totaling more than $500,000. The current rate — 0.46% — would apply to the first $500,000 of any transaction. …

State officials estimate the new tax would generate about $3.6 million in state revenue next fiscal year, and $8 million in each budget year afterward. The money would create a dedicated funding stream that would go into a restricted receipt fund at Rhode Island Housing, a quasi-public agency, and be controlled by the Housing Resources Commission.

This scheme brings to mind some analysis I did of tax rates in Tiverton back in 2018.  My conclusion was that the exorbitant tax rate was suppressing home values at the high end of the market.  At the same time, broader market forces were increasing house values at the low end.  Because the tax rate is uniform across the town, and because the tax rate is set in order to match the town’s budget (not the other way around), this had the effect of moving the tax burden toward the working class neighborhoods.  Their houses were worth more, while the expensive houses were worth less, so the taxes followed the value.

Of course, adding a couple thousand dollars at the point of sale will have much less effect than a tax rate that charges that amount every year, but the principle is the same.  Taxing high-end houses more will make them less valuable, shifting the real estate tax burden down the scale.

At the same time, the state projects that it will be building an additional 250 “affordable houses” every year.  Increasing supply at the low end of the market will tend to reduce prices there, too.  So, while the increased stock will expand the low-end’s share of total value, taxpayers’ bills will decrease with the value.  Whether this helps spread municipal tax bills to more homeowners will depend on whether the affordable houses are distributed evenly across the state.

This leaves the middle of the market, which will see upward pressure on its annual tax bill, while also being nudged toward the $500,000 line, where it will be more-expensive to sell.

raimondo-emperor-adjusted-featured

Living the Governor’s Dream

On a number of topics, Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s interview with Kim Kalunian of WPRI was disturbing, with the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) taking the lead.  The segment points directly to her political philosophy and presumption of authority.

In pushing for a new tax on gasoline, she envisions herself as a sort of superhero, pushing forward regional plans for incremental socialism in order “to save our kids and to save us.”  Such is the arrogance and bad-faith-argument of all demagoguery.  Well, look, if you want to save the planet, you have to give me money and power.  You do want to save the planet, don’t you?

Not to worry, though.  The governor also sees a benefit for you right now:  “Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to drive your car to work?”  If your answer to that question is “no,” Raimondo doesn’t seem to have a good answer for you.

Of course, progressives have an answer to every specific point you might make:  Government will take care of you.  Perhaps you dread the idea of being forced into taking public transportation to work because you don’t know how you’d manage to get one child to day care and the other to school and slip out for errands at lunchtime all according to a bus schedule.

Not to worry!  Government will subsidize day care and before-school programs so you can spend less time with your children and deliver them under the wings of the state earlier, so as to catch the bus.  Government will also change zoning to force all workplaces into condensed areas so that all of your errands will be within walking distance of your job.  (And don’t forget that government will help you sterilize yourself so you don’t have to worry about any more children complicating your life.)

All of your needs will be answered, if you just sacrifice your freedoms to the better judgment of the governor.  You do want to save the planet, don’t you?

moneyclock-statehouse

Political Monday with John DePetro: Doubting the People in Charge

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for January 13, included talk about:

  • A union president accuses race heretics
  • OPEB swamping Providence and Warwick
  • Fear about “red flag” laws
  • The legislative session starts
  • RI losing claim to a Congressional seat,
  • The rolling fundraising party of the State House

Open post for full audio.

brayton-featured

TCI Gas Tax Unnecessary; RI Already Won the War on Carbon

As you probably know, Governor Gina Raimondo is proposing that Rhode Island sign on to TCI (Transportation and Climate Initiative), a regional carbon cap-and-tax program on transportation that would involve, among other things, Rhode Islanders paying an additional tax on gas and diesel of seventeen – twenty four cents+ per gallon. A couple of Justin Katz’ excellent posts about TCI are here and here

Let’s discuss the stated purpose of TCI. According to the governor, it is to save the planet by getting Rhode Islanders to give up their cars. This is not an exaggeration; below is what the governor says about TCI in this December interview with WPRI’s Kim Kalunian (starting at minute 03:15).

notfornothinbutrhodeislanddoesntheedwarningsverywell-featured

Political Monday with John DePetro: Bad Positions for Political Actors

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for January 6, included talk about:

  • RI Congressmen’s bad alignment with the enemy
  • Projo points to key issues for the legislature
  • Linc finds another party to run with
  • RI pols try to get out of the way of the Census

Open post for full audio.