Sakonnet River Bridge Toll Review, in Tweets

Out of frustration with the sudden reemergence of the Sakonnet River Bridge tolls on the last day of the session, I told the tale of their legislative history via Twitter, collected herewith:

So, to review: 1. Local reps/sens gave East Bay constituents NO NOTICE that tolls were coming in 2012. (Link)

2. Even when tolls were introduced in the budget, last year, there was no calling of the troops (Link)

3. Most East Bay reps/sens voted for budget w/the toll, after a nice performance on no-chance effort to kill budget article (Link)

4. Big local outcry; predictable political pandering pandering. (Link)

4b. Yes, I typed “pandering” twice. (Link)

5. East Bay reps/sens introduce legislation that can’t possibly pass (tax the whole state to give small region a break) (Link)

6. In doing so, Rep. Edwards tells the local activists to keep their presence small at the hearing, as a courtesy to leadership (Link)

7. Reporters & advocates get a nice little surprise and performance [against tolls] on the House floor during budget night (Link)

8. On House floor, concerns that no tolls now means no tolls ever are brushed off with NO RESPONSE. (Link)

9. No warning goes out to the people of the East Bay that the work’s not done. (Link)

10. The governor “inexplicably” holds off on signing the budget, though promising to do so. (Link)

11. The last night of the session, tolls make a surprise reappearance. (Link)

12. The East Bay reps STILL do not tell their constituents to call out the troops. (Link)

Conclusion: Government versus the people is not how representative democracy is supposed to work. (Link)

To which I should add the following prequels:

  • Any minute, I’ll get the “red alert” emails that I’m sure East Bay reps told the local anti-toll advocates has to go out like now. (Link)
  • Mark the time at 20 min from my sarcastic tweet about a stop-the-tolls red alert email to the arrival of a stop-the-tolls red alert email (Link)

Here’s the surprise bill; and here’s the text it modifies, which the legislature passed last week.  Note that the new bill removes the ban on a toll increase on the Newport Bridge.

A bit of Rhode Island political wisdom: The only way to have influence on the legislature is to be able to threaten the position of the leadership in each chamber.  That means that, in order for voters to change the direction of the bills, their representatives and senators have to go if they support the leadership in their chamber, even if they appear to be advocating for local interests within the rules that the leadership allows.

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