Rule by Submission

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Writing on Facebook, Roland Lavallee raises a point that we’ve made around here repeatedly over the past several months:

I had called the governor’s office for clarification of whether this were new regulations or suggestions because it wasn’t clear. I was told they were suggestions.

So, I had a suggestion that she only take a 15 second spot on the news and change her pitch. I already have a mother.

The extraordinary powers by which she’s governing Rhode Island are floating in this gray area between law and regulation on the one hand and suggestion on the other.  When she declares that children should only trick-or-treat during the day on Halloween, is that an order or merely a suggestion that she’s presenting as if it’s an order?  If that’s just a suggestion, how about when she threatens college students not even to think about having parties, because “we will bust your party. We will fine everybody 500 bucks”?  Or how about when she decrees that all businesses must close their breakrooms?

If people push back on the legality of her dictatorship, she can step back and claim mere suggestion.  If businesses or colleges don’t do as she says, she can hint about shutting them down.  This is mafia-level extortion.  Sure, you don’t have to give the big guy at the door a payoff, but if you don’t, who knows what could happen?

Having been successful thus far, Governor Raimondo is getting worse.  Here’s a tweet from Brian Crandall at the governor’s last public-decree session:

@GovRaimondo is asking teachers to talk to kids about importance of not having Halloween parties and how to be creative, asking college leaders to crack down of parties.

Is she “asking,” or is she telling?  Either way, is it her role to bypass the Dept. of Education and each local school district in setting a health curriculum?  More importantly, do we accept it as okay that the governor is seeking to use schools to push her policy suggestions?… or is this one a law?

Yesterday, news emerged that nine Rhode Islanders have filed a lawsuit against the governor on the grounds that “our whole way of life is being trashed.”  It’s about time, and the grounds for suits is expanding by the day.