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Money-Grubbing Company’s CEO Praises Politician Who Paid Him

It’s tempting to wonder whether Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo made a governor-praising op-ed by CEO Bob Baird a condition of the state government’s tax-dollar handout to pen-company A.T. Cross:

Enter Gov. Gina Raimondo. In 2014, soon after she was elected, Governor Raimondo called to tell us she loved our history in Rhode Island and looked forward to using a Cross pen to put her signature on official documents. Later, when the governor and her team learned we were talking to other states about pulling up our roots and beginning anew somewhere else, they made it clear they value Rhode Island companies that have been here all along. The governor, Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor and their team made a compelling case that our business is best served by staying in Rhode Island and that our employees will find everything they are looking for here at home.

Most likely, though, the CEO’s public promotion of the governor was more of a wink and nod affair than a contractual stipulation, or maybe it’s simple etiquette in the you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours crowd.

I will say that I’ll never deliberately buy an A.T. Cross pen, now, although if the company decides to send a thank you gift to every Rhode Islander for our involuntary contribution to the company’s bottom line, I’ll take one.

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Raimondo Insults Your Intelligence with College Plan

This morning, I noted that legislators are the only people in Rhode Island who can promise workers a 10% increase in pay without worrying about where the money will come from.  It just magically appears in their imaginations.  At noon, I suggested that Rhode Islanders should be embarrassed that their state is so dependent on federal government welfare.

The state government’s latest revenue and caseload conference estimated that the government’s revenue will fall $52 million from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2018.  And during the budget process, last year, the state expected that deficits would climb $40-60 million per year, hitting $333 million by 2021.

So how in the world does Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo state the following — and get away with it in G. Wayne Miller’s Providence Journal article — while promising the new $30 million expense of giving all Rhode Islanders two free years of college at a state institution?

We have the money. This is affordable. It’s a smart solution.

It’s a vote-buying giveaway pure and simple that counts on Rhode Islanders’ not noticing that they’re paying the bill.  It’s an insult to our intelligence.

Moreover, we should expect that the estimated cost is laughably low.  Given free tuition, more families will use the colleges and university, and the institutions will surely increase their tuition rates once the cost to the decision makers (students and their families) is zilch (or half-price, for four-year degrees).  And this doesn’t even get into the governor’s assumptions that people who have no financial skin in the game for their degrees will actually take their studies seriously and apply themselves and that those who do will stay in the state rather than taking their subsidized degrees to states that actually have healthy economies.

One can only hope that Rhode Islanders aren’t so far gone, at this point, that they fall for the governor’s snake oil sale.

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Corporate Welfare – Are We Being Played?

For years, the insiders have conspired to create the cronyism rampant in the Ocean State. In their zeal for headlines, does the political class ever question the value of these corporate welfare deals? Just this week, we saw the results in questions surrounding the Governor’s claims in the Wexford deal. The tone-deaf Brookings report lays the ground work by recommending that we can achieve better results if, instead of taking the arbitrary approach to 38 Studios-style corporate cronyism that has dominated Rhode Island public policy for decades, we take the same approach in a more targeted and strategic manner. Nonsense.

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No More Blind Eye – General Assembly Must End Corporate Welfare Scam

In light of GoLocalProv’s blockbuster expose Friday that the Wexford job creation claim is off by nine hundred, the General Assembly needs to immediately defund all corporate welfare – and request that the Governor claw back much if not all of the taxpayer subsidies currently earmarked for Wexford.

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Big Wexford Deal, Big Exaggeration on Jobs

Kate Nagle and the GoLocalProv news team have dipped into a topic that has likely nagged at a lot of Rhode Islanders who follow the news:

Governor Gina Raimondo has repeatedly claimed that the $32 plus million in public subsidies will create 1,000 new permanent jobs in Rhode Island [at the I-195 Wexford development]. After weeks of requesting information about tenants, rents, and job creation, GoLocal was finally able to secure actual job numbers for the project and then fact check those claims.

In fact, actual jobs created will be closer to 80 to 90, at a cost of more than $32 million.

The two tricks of the higher estimate (which might even make the 80-90 projection high) are:

  1. The jobs are estimated based on square footage, and a key tenant, Cambridge Innovation Center (CICO), will actually just be renting out space to start ups, which may or may not utilize the space in accordance with the rule-of-thumb guest.
  2. Many of the claimed jobs, from Brown University and CIC, would have been created whether or not taxpayers gave Wexford such heavy subsidies, simply in other spaces.

I recently described how the Wexford-Brookings-CIC package is being sold for taxpayer handouts around the country.  GoLocal’s review of the jobs claims certainly advances the impression that Rhode Island has merely bought into a pitch.  If that’s the case, the next question is whether progressive Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo was duped or is in on the scam.

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About Those “Jobs for Rhode Islanders”

While “roasting” the news of 2016 on WPRO, one of the guys joked that Rhode Island politicians constantly talk about “jobs for Rhode Islanders,” but whenever they’ve got an actual job to fill, they look to out-of-state individuals and firms.  Even more broadly than that, though, journalists oughtn’t let this particular talking point slide by as easily as it does.

The point was emphasized, for me, when shortly after hearing progressive Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo use the phrase on Newsmakers, I caught the panel on RIPR’s Bottom Line emphasizing how these companies have people commuting down from Boston, and how that’s a recruiting tool.  Here’s Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy:

The companies that really are in the information technology business, they employ people who live in Boston and take the train down, take Amtrak down.  (They’re not taking the MBTA; they’re taking Amtrak down.)  And it’s actually a recruiting point.

So the question: Was GE, for example, wooed into Rhode Island by the governor’s sales pitch, or did the massive company simply maximize its taxpayer subsidies — adding Rhode Island’s handouts to those already secured in Boston — by breaking off a piece of its business to put in Providence, with the expectation that it wouldn’t change much for business or employees except the direction in which they headed when they left their Massachusetts homes?  Some of them might even work from home, or even “telecommute” from a Boston office.

If so, yeah, maybe RI gets a cut of the income taxes, but that’s about all the benefit we get from those employees.  Meanwhile, we’re taking money out of the pockets of Rhode Islanders that we could otherwise use to advance and improve our own lives and communities.

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Rhode Island “Company of the Year” (and State Ward) Already Has a Broken Turbine

Much to the detriment of the state’s rate payers, Deepwater Wind began generating electricity on December 12. Less than three weeks later, one of its five turbines broke (oopsie). As though wind energy isn’t already expensive enough, now we have to add the cost of making repairs thirteen miles out on the ocean. (‘Cause the cost of water and seawater-related repairs is always very reasonable, right, boat owners …?)

It probably was not a coincidence that the company made this embarrassing admission on a day – the Friday before Christmas – sure to glean the absolute minimum amount of public attention.

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Drop in Manufacturing in RI Most Worrying Because of Government Solutions

Highlighting the change in the Providence area’s mix of employment, Ted Nesi reviews a study finding that the metro has seen the nation’s greatest drop in manufacturing jobs, as a percentage of all jobs, with jobs requiring a college degree increasing in the mix.

This is a percentage, not the absolute number of jobs, so all sorts of jobs could go up or down, but if they do so at different rates, the mix will change.  In that light, this metric could be indicative of Rhode Island’s government plantation approach.  As the economy shifts toward emphasis on government services, more of the available jobs require college degrees (not because, by the way, government-service jobs necessarily require degree-level skill sets, but because it suits politicians and labor unions to require degrees.)

Beyond such considerations, the response from the governor caught my eye:

In his paper, Whitaker notes concerns “that the growing industries do not provide enough work opportunities or middle-class incomes for people without college degrees.” That echoes frequent comments by Rhode Island leaders including Gov. Gina Raimondo who say the state needs to do more to encourage the creation of jobs for workers who don’t attend college.

She may have said such a thing somewhere, but the emphasis of her policies has been on “well-paying” jobs in trendy fields.  More importantly, her premise about government effort is wrong. State politicians and bureaucrats are not well positioned to create targeted jobs.  And even if they were, they haven’t the right.  When the government attempts to create specific jobs, it is either manipulating the public to match politicians’ preferences or replacing residents who don’t fit the plan with outsiders who do.  Note this:

A study earlier this year by Boston Fed economist Mary Burke reported manufacturing employment in Rhode Island plunged by 57% between 1990 and 2015, and found a growing number of the state’s skilled jobs requiring college degrees were going to out-of-state workers.

If the state government is to maintain democratic legitimacy, it has to represent the people who are here, not a marked-off place on the map or a collection of preferred industries.

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Rhode Island-Style Economic Development’s Inevitable Failure

Put aside any partisan — or individual-politician — loyalty.  Clark Judge offers a valuable lesson for Rhode Island in his recent Wall Street Journal article, “The Rust Belt Is Right to Blame Obama“:

First, and no surprise here: From 2010-15 regulatory risk jumped—an average increase across all industries of 79%.

Second, and more surprising: As regulatory risk climbed, annual capital expenditures fell, a total drop of nearly $32 billion when comparing 2010 to 2015. This negative relationship was strong across the board, but it was statistically tightest for “industrials” (heavy manufacturing plus railroads and airlines).

Third, as regulatory risks grew and capital expenditures shrank, major corporations also cut jobs by more than 1.1 million. Among the biggest losers were heavy manufacturing, airlines, railroads, information technology and consumer products—America’s industrial core.

Fourth, while the business of making things and moving them to market was eroding, the value of gaming the government increased. The Vogel and Hood team constructed two trial portfolios composed solely of companies that ranked high in lobbying strength. From 2010-16 these portfolios outperformed the S&P 500 by 22% and 27%.

In short, with the expanded reach of regulation (as well as the increased propensity to continue that expansion), companies stop investing in their businesses, both their capital and their labor, and focus attention increasingly on getting government to help them out.  This has obvious benefits for elected and appointed government officials, and it has benefits for established companies that game the government in a way that hobbles their competition.  But it hurts everybody else, from entrepreneurs to workers, and leads to inevitable decline.

This dynamic covers regulation, taxation, and even the Raimondo-esque corporate welfare programs that compensate politically favored companies for the inconvenience of doing business here, and it’s an across-the-board failure.  Not only are more-innovative companies washed out, but the companies that survive produce less and innovate less, because they’re focused too much on redistribution.

Forcing our elected officials to get us off this one-wheeled bandwagon — focusing instead on family prosperity — should be Rhode Islanders’ resolution for the new year.

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The Unsustainable System of Money-Grubbing Companies

The thing about handing out other people’s money for political gain is that it’s very, very easy to look only at the upside, because the future is, obviously, not yet known, and when it arrives, few will check the record, and responsible parties may no longer be in place, anyway.  Thus, Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo is free to say things like this, from a Ted Nesi article on Johnson & Johnson’s agreement to put a location in Providence with 75 employees for the low-low government welfare handout of $5 million:

And 10 years from now, when GE has 700 employees there and J&J has 700 employees there and Virgin Pulse has 700 employees there and it’s tens of millions of dollars of revenue for the state, great, I did my job.

Note the assumption that the government can pick these winners.  It sounds great to think that every one of these subsidized companies will succeed and expand by multiples over the next decade, but if that were feasible to expect, investing would be easy.

Meanwhile, the money handed out to them won’t be in the state’s economy serving other purposes that might be more productive. The simple fact of these companies’ competing in the Rhode Island market with the benefit of subsidies will have a largely untraceable effect on others. And we can be confident that some of them will seek more public money down the road (like 38 Studios) to secure the state’s “investment.”

Moreover, we’re already seeing the insidious contagion of corporations’ government dependency:

A.T. Cross, the maker of fine-writing instruments and accessories founded in Providence in 1846, celebrated its move back into the capital city from Lincoln on Wednesday, after nearly $1.9 million in economic incentives from the state helped fund the company’s $2.1-million move.

Taxpayers are nearly paying the whole bill to move this company from one Rhode Island municipality to another.

The economic system that these money-grubbing companies are ushering in is clearly unsustainable.  The key marker of success will quickly become whether a company has the political connections or leverage to get money from the government to offset the high taxes and suffocating regulations.

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Pryor’s Boss Too Obviously the Governor, Not the People

One expects appointed department heads in government to support the policies of the elected officials who hired them and even, to some extent, their political interests. But Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s Secretary of Commerce, Stefan Pryor, seems to go beyond reasonable boundaries to the point of being a pitch man for her individually.  Here he is appearing on a recent Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR) Political Roundtable:

Ian Donnis: Maureen, how would you evaluate how things are unfolding in the I-195 district?

Maureen Moakley: Well, I think it’s important to keep in mind that this is public property. It’s very different from an existing structure that’s privately owned, so we have to make this kind of investment. Having said that, when you talk about the pedestrian bridge, that’s been in the works for a long time, and I think the problem is…

Stefan Pryor [interrupting]: But it didn’t get done. Now it’s getting done.

Moakley: But the plan was there.  I think the problem is, we’ve got to start seeing some action.  There’s a political question, here, in the sense that, while the governor has wisely invested in the long-term kind of things, she’s up for reelection. We’ve got to see some results.

Pryor: Well, absolutely, and we’re seeing it. Now, there’s plenty more work to do, but this is the administration that gets things done.  There may have been plans… ideas… figments of people’s imagination regarding a bridge.  Now, it’s actually entering construction, fully financed, rolling.  That doesn’t get done by itself.

The tone of voice is important, so listen to the whole show (which is only 9 minutes).  There’s something about the way that Pryor dismisses all who came before his queen and the work that they did as he layers in the political marketing slogans (e.g., The Administration That Gets Things Done™).  One gets the sense that Rhode Islanders can have no confidence that he’ll do anything for the state that isn’t in the direct, immediate, and planned interests of the governor as a politician rather than an office.

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About That “Investment per Job”

I recently came across this Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR) Bottom Line segment from August, in which Dave Fallon discusses with Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy the value of business incentives financed at taxpayer expense.  At one point, Murphy mentions an Attleboro company that the state promised $500,000 of incentives over five years to move 20 employees over the border and to hire eight more.  He insists that the deal works out to less than $4,000 per job, which he clearly implies was a worthwhile use of taxpayer dollars.

This sort of thinking reveals a systemic desperation that has worked its way into the psyche of Rhode Island opinion-makers.  So what if Rhode Island technically has a few more jobs on paper?  The likelihood that the 20 existing employees will move based on a corporate hop over the border is low, and the likelihood that any movers would choose high-tax Rhode Island is even lower.  As for the eight new jobs, they’re scarcely more available to Rhode Islanders than they already would have been.

Putting that aside and looking more generally, to believe that this $4,000 per job is worth the expense, you have to believe that (1) the jobs wouldn’t have happened anyway and (2) the money given to the company wouldn’t have been used for something better if left in Rhode Islanders’ own accounts.  After all, if we believe that a relatively small subsidy is creating new jobs, there’s no reason to believe that the market wouldn’t have found an even better use than moving an existing company a few miles.  Somebody, somewhere — or maybe multiple people in multiple places across Rhode Island — was not able to do something that might have been more valuable, in the long run, because politicians claimed the authority to pick a company for giveaways.

What taxpayers actually bought with this half-million dollars was a quick talking point for the state’s Secretary of Commerce, Stefan Pryor, allowing him to proclaim the success of Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s policies on the grounds that people are willing to take free money that she claims the right to dole out.

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What a Democrat Governor Can Do to Medicaid

Ted Nesi has changed his Saturday quick-hit column back to “Nesi’s Notes.” I wonder if one of the items on his list in today’s edition was the inspiration.  Writing of Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s proclaimed savings from Medicaid initiatives:

The governor’s office frequently touts roughly $70 million in state-level savings from her Medicaid initiatives in 2015-16. But most of that money didn’t come from changing how care is provided; $19 million was from lower payment rates to hospitals and nursing homes, $13 million was from higher taxes on hospitals, $9 million was from cuts to managed care, $7 million was from maximizing federal funding, and so on. There were plenty of other 2015-16 initiatives, some of which achieved their promised savings and some of which didn’t, but that’s where the big money was saved.

As I noted last February, Raimondo’s “Reinventing Medicaid” seems to have a clear news-coverage advantage over the reforms championed by Republican Governor Don Carcieri (with help from the Bush administration), to which it bears a marked similarity.  The main difference was on emphasis, with the Republican looking for accountability from consumers while the Democrat has turned more to increasing revenue and shifting costs to private insurance, where the government is less likely to take any heat.

Or maybe the difference in how the program is treated isn’t so much a partisan thing as simply a better name…

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Raimondo Admin’s Dodgy Non-Response to ProJo’s APRA Request

So as you probably know, Rhode Island’s new computer system (UHIP) for qualifying applicants and disbursing social program benefits is a mess. The problems have been well publicized to the point of infamy: a backlog of applications; benefit payments delayed; nursing homes (who have no easy way to stop their expenses) wracking up serious amounts of uncompensated care; even a security “glitch” that could have exposed the personal information of 200-1,000 customers.

It has gotten to the point that the feds were compelled to step in again – this time, breathing fire.

The agency continued to warn that the DHS could soon lose federal funding for administrative costs because of the system’s “failure to meet FNS statutory and regulatory requirements.”

And a Rhode Island House committee held its second hearing into the matter on Monday.

The question is, who is responsible for all of this? Was this a failure by the vendor setting up the new system, Deloitte Consulting? Or did the Raimondo administration force a transition to the new system from the old too quickly? (This, in fact, was a blunt warning by the feds to the Raimondo administration in early September.) If so, why?

In order to shed some light on the matter, the Providence Journal’s ace reporter Kathy Gregg sent the Raimondo administration an APRA request on September 7 for

all correspondence between the state and the company that designed it: Deloitte Consulting.

We pause here to go back, review and note that the subject of Gregg’s request was “correspondence”.

Gregg reports in yesterday’s Providence Journal that six weeks later – on the night before Thanksgiving, to be precise – the Raimondo administration gave her a thumb drive that purported to respond to the request. It contained only reports from Deloitte – and those only through September 6. Critically, the thumb drive contained no correspondence whatsoever between the Raimondo administration and Deloitte.

To reiterate: Gregg asked for correspondence. What she got was reports. (In the same way, Gregg might ask a Raimondo-operated fruit stand for a bag of oranges and receive, instead, a small bag of turnips.)

This non-responsive response by the Raimondo administration would appear to conform to neither the letter nor the spirit of Rhode Island’s APRA law. Nor is it the action of a Governor who, in an interview with Rhode Island Public Radio thirteen months ago, claimed to be “deeply committed to transparency”.

I asked the CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (full disclosure: I work with the Center), Mike Stenhouse, if he had a reaction to this. He responded,

A curious, honest, and relentless free-press is vital to preserving democracy in our free society and in holding elected officials accountable to the people. In this case, the administration’s pitiful non-response certainly makes it appear as if they have something to hide.

When a reporter like Kathy Gregg asks questions, she isn’t just asking for herself and her newspaper, she makes the request on behalf of all Rhode Islanders. Something went wrong with the launch of a major new state computer system – a system, remember, that has come in at over triple the originally budgeted cost. We are all minimally owed answers about the why and how of all of this. It is time to move from the dodgy non-responses to the straight answers and transparency to which the Governor herself has indicated that she is “deeply committed”.

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Forgotten Families

Will the political class in Rhode Island learn the lesson of the election? It is time to remember forgotten families. As President -elect Donald Trump, and Sen. Bernie Sanders have been claiming for a long time, the system is rigged. While other states are decisively moving forward, Rhode Island is falling in the wrong direction. The Ocean State needs to dare to disrupt the status quo and boldly evolve itself into a regional outlier so that we can become a magnet – on our own – for businesses, jobs and families.

The biggest election impact in the Ocean State is status quo politicians may no longer have their government-centric schemes funded by the federal government! We want a government that works for all of us, not just the chosen few. We understand that if the Ocean State is to become a better home destination, we must offer a better life for American families by creating an environment that will organically produce more and better businesses so as to create more and better jobs.

Rhode Island has the worst business climate in the nation. It ranks 48th on both the Family Prosperity Index of the American Conservative Union and the Jobs and Opportunity Index of our Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. It has virtually zero population growth, and it has suffered the ignominy of dozens of other near-bottom rankings. Despite all this, our Rhode Island political class appears content not to rock the boat. We need to empower entrepreneurs, families and all of the people of Rhode Island to make the decisions for our state.

Unless we want our home state to continue with failed rankings, we must switch tracks and focus on policies that broadly help families and small businesses. Haven’t you had enough? Rhode Island has been crippled by a rigged system for far too long. Big spending, high taxes, and insider handouts have led us to where we are now. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, there are empty chairs at our holiday dinner tables. We all know people forced to leave Rhode Island. Your voice is powerful. Continue to speak out and the wave of change will come to the Ocean State.

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CVS and the Governor as Feudal Lord

This raises questions of political philosophy:

The governor said she’s committed to helping displaced CVS employees find new jobs through the state’s job-training and job-placement programs. She said they’ll all be employed or paid through the end of the year. …

“CVS is a large, growing, strong company,” Raimondo said in an interview. And although CVS is eliminating some jobs as part of its annual strategic planning, Raimondo said the company is adding in other areas: “They’re still hiring.”

Why do we expect our governor to provide us information about the corporate decisions of CVS and to have a “commitment” to individual employees’ job searches?  That is, why does the governor have any role in this story at all, let alone a headline?  Why do we need her intercession and reports on matters that we, private citizens and journalists, can approach the leaders of our fellow private citizens and business leaders to discuss?

The questions become deeper with other news in the same article, after a few paragraphs about the governor’s quest to bring PayPal offices to the state:

Raimondo said she doesn’t know when GE Digital may sign a lease for permanent space in Providence for its promised information technology center. GE Digital spokeswoman Amy Sarosiek said Friday the company hasn’t yet signed a lease.

But, Raimondo said, she dined with GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt earlier this week at the New England Council’s award dinner in Boston, when Raimondo and Immelt were among three winners of the business organization’s “New Englander of the Year” awards.

Why is it the governor’s responsibility to be targeting specific companies for special attention (and special breaks)?

Unfortunately, all of these activities have become only natural, because these rich insiders have built a system in which they’re interconnected as a ruling class and in which the important deals and decisions happen not in our communities, with each advance and innovation of a Rhode Island business owner or worker, but while our elite feudal lord”dines” at bogus insider award ceremonies with other elites.

This is the progressive vision, and it’s only going to become more pronounced as we give government more control over our lives and more responsibility for making sure we never have any difficulty.

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Imagining a Counterfactual State Police Colonel

Is State Police Captain Ann Assumpico the most qualified person on the planet, or even among the Rhode Island State Police, to take the reins of the department at this point in time?  I don’t know, but I’m sorry to say the appointment strikes me as unavoidably tainted.

According to Providence Journal reporter Katherine Gregg, Assumpico is (or was) the seventh in command in the department.  That seems like a rather large jump.  That seems like a rather significant number of professionals who’ve put in years of dedicated service to the state who were skipped over.

Even then, I probably wouldn’t say anything, but the person doing the appointment, Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo, annually conducts an official, unconstitutional, and sexist contest that discriminates against boys in Rhode Island schools.  She’s a politician who actively supports an astonishingly corrupt presidential candidate explicitly because she’s not a man.

Imagine the outrage we’d be hearing from all quarters if a male governor who hosted a no-girls-allowed contest and told voters they should pick the man running for president because of his maleness proceeded to skip over six higher-ranked women in the State Police to appoint a man.  This imaginative exercise is rated “too easy even to bother.”

All the journalists on-hand for Assumpico’s appointment as I write this just tweeted her statement that “she didn’t have any female role models in law enforcement growing up.”  That’s an unfortunate remnant of our societal evolution, but it’s one that our current cultural trajectory would likely eliminate within a few generations even without putting thumbs on scales.

Even so, in order to accelerate the process (and give powerful politicians credit for breaking the cultural speed limit), is it worth sending boys growing up now the message that they have no chance because of past history?  That they have to be seven times better than any girl in order to get any breaks?  Because the evidence suggests (see herehere, and here) that that’s the message they’re getting.

As for identity politics (seen in today’s earlier post, too), one gets the feeling that the people in charge, like our governor, don’t actually think that the jobs that we’re hiring people to do are the most important considerations, but rather the employees’ demographic qualities — which we used to be encouraged to see as superficial.  And if that’s the case, let’s just get government out of all of these apparently unimportant activities and pay people to be female or to have dark skin.

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Empty Chairs At Our Holiday Dinner Tables

The Providence Journal’s endorsements of House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, spending bond questions, and incumbent congressman are, in essence, support of the status quo. Such endorsements should be made with a broad, external-looking, national perspective, not with a narrow, inward-looking local lens – as we see so many in our political and media elite continually do.

This perspective is vital for voters. The political class believe that large corporate handouts and small, targeted tax cuts are good for economic development. As compared with other states, these measures are insignificant and ill-directed.

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Enough Of The Insider Machine

It is a result of the failed status quo of increased government intervention in our personal and business lives that the Ocean State ranks so poorly on so many national indexes. It is not acceptable that we rank 50th with the worst business climate in the nation, 48th on the national Family Prosperity Index, and 48th on the Center’s Jobs & Opportunity Index. It is up to voters to review all the data, and decide whether or not to hold lawmakers accountable for their voting records this November.

This week, the Center released a new voter guide for the upcoming ballot questions. In heaping over $321,000,000 of additional debt burden on Rhode Island families, as well as on future generations, we are recommending to voters that they “reject” bond Questions #4-7. Just like families who must tighten their credit card debt and avoid luxuries they cannot afford, voters should reject the exorbitant spending proposed by the state, much of which is earmarked to benefit special interest insiders. Only Question #2 – to amend the state constitution restore Ethics Commission authority – received an “Approve” recommendation from the Center.

Haven’t you had enough of the broken status quo here in the Ocean State? We have seen over and over again that the special interest thinking is failing the people of Rhode Island, while enriching the elites. You and your family deserve more. The headlines are full of examples of regular people being kept out of the process and silenced. It is time to stand up to the same old way of doing things here in our state. It will be up to voters to decide this November if they want to continue down the path our state is on or to change things here in Rhode Island.

I think Rhode Islanders have had enough of the insider machine. It is time to make a complete turnaround from the poor scores and last place rankings. We must adopt the free market reforms that can make our state a place where our families can be prosperous. You are powerful. You do not have to tolerate the cronyism and elitist attitude any longer. Don’t be on the sidelines. The rigged system in the Ocean State has kept too many people out of the process. Now is the time for you to speak out and make sure your legislator does more to make Rhode Island a place where our families can achieve their hopes and dreams.

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Take-Aways from the Blockbuster Curt Schilling Interview?

Rhode Islanders for the first time this morning started getting some straight answers about the 38 Studios debacle that put us all on the hook for $89,000,000 as 38 Studios founder and CEO Curt Schilling broke his silence for three riveting hours on the John Depetro Show on WPRO.

So many interesting items came out of the interview. Two of the bigger ones – but by no means the only big ones – for me are:

1.) Gordon Fox crony Michael Corso played a huge role in putting the deal together and acted as traffic cop for the lucrative contracts that arose from the company coming to Rhode Island. Were all of his actions legal? And were the Rhode Island State Police permitted to conduct an adequate investigation of this question? Or was it … um, shepherded by the Attorney General so as to narrow its scope?

2.) Rhode Island and Providence have some of the most onerous building and fire code requirements in the country. Yet the newly built-out 38 Studios headquarters NEVER OBTAINED A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY because at least in part, Schilling said, he signed autographs for people. (Editorial comment: We pass highly intrusive laws and they don’t get enforced??? ARGH!!!)

Ahem. What were your take-aways?

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