June 14, 2007

SignGate: Ciccione v. Yorke & More

Marc Comtois

RI GOP Chair Gio Cicione went on the Dan Yorke Show to defend himself and the RI GOP regarding the now infamous "1,000 Worker layoff" sign. Yorke's position is that the sign provided the unions with an excuse--or added weight to their rhetoric--that the Governor was unfeeling and "gleeful" over impending State Worker layoffs. Yorke's larger argument is that the state GOP isn't coordinating well with the Governor and that Cicione should be focusing solely on party-building and nothing else.

Cicione said he isn't always going to coordinate with the Governor. He also stated that the unions would be beating up on the Governor, anyway--sign or no sign. As for the party-building angle, Cicione said that he's doing that, too, and that these sorts of political battles help to "brand" the RI GOP.

Yorke then entered sarcasm mode and stated that Cicione was obviously smarter than he and the Governor and anyone else who found SignGate to be a bad move.

In the end, Yorke correctly noted that there is a difference between governing and politics and that Cicione was engaged in politics at the expense of the Governor's attempt to govern.

And so it goes...

All of this amid calls for Cicione's resignation and for a "recall" of the Governor.

UPDATE: Incidentally, Cicione stated that we've been seeing a decrease in the number of state workers for a few years now, to which Yorke responded that we've never seen 1,000 cut. Here's some numbers:

Year / State Work Force / Difference
2001 - 18,502
2002 - 18,239 ( - 263 )
2003 - 17,921 ( - 318 )
2004 - 17,623 ( - 298 )
2005 - 16,890 ( - 733 )
Total Reduction of 1612 State Jobs

SOURCE: Dep't of Labor and Training - "Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages Data Tables"

Presumably, there were more in 2006, but these are the latest stats I could find. Don't forget, this occurred via natural attrition such as retirement and relocation, etc. The Governor isn't talking only about layoffs. (Which makes the GOP sign inaccurate, btw).

OK, here's more fun with numbers. As the State Work force as declined, their wages have increased.

Year / Total Wages / Difference
2001 - $779,920,202
2002 - $830,627,091 ( + $50,706,889 )
2003 - $831,316,689 ( + $689,598 )
2004 - $853,435,289 ( + $22,118,600 )
2005 - $846,633,861 ( - $6,801,428 )
Total Increase of $66,713,659 in wages paid....to 1612 fewer State Workers.

That is why reducing the State workforce--both union AND non-union--is one feasible solution. Another is to reduce the amount of money/benefits (total compensation) paid. Remember, private corporations are faced with this dilemma all the time.

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Dan is more often than not on the right side of good gov't issues.

But he definitely has his dark side. His negative over-reaction to the yard signs and his lengthy, over the top flagellating of Gio was in that category.

Contrary to what Dan says, Gio and the RIGOP has no obligation to run everything by the highest elected Republican. Nor do they have an obligation to stick only to recruiting candidates and raising money. Yet as Gio politely stuck to his guns on those points, Dan didn't let it go and move on. Instead, he got nastier and nastier, making it clear that he was a lot more interested in having someone kiss his butt by deferring to his advice than in discussing the underlying issues.

Does Dan think he is being productive by harping on the tone of the message rather than the issue itself? Dan was one of those loudly complaining that the RIGOP has been anemic and accommodating. Now that the new RIGOP leadership is engaging the issues and educating the public about the problems with our gov't, Dan is bitching about that.

At some point, it stops being about good gov't and starts being about someone who likes to hear himself bitch for the sake of bitching.

Posted by: SusanD at June 14, 2007 4:17 PM


how is "1,000 state layoffs? That's a start!" educating the public?

Posted by: bill at June 14, 2007 4:26 PM

Good observation. Although most of us wholeheartedly support the governor, the party is (or at least should be) about something bigger than just the governor.

As for Dan, we all know he can be unpredictable at times. It's in his nature to be a contrarian. He's just not used to the RIGOP being on the offensive, which puts them in the same position that Dan is used to occupying all by himself. Perhaps he doesn't like the competition?

Posted by: Will at June 14, 2007 4:27 PM

I'm not wholeheartedly supporting the gov. He's been asleep on the couch for most of his 1 1/2 terms and from the looks of things he's been screwing things up pretty good. While I'm ALL FOR whacking a few thousand union whores I think he could probably save as much or more money if his "Big Audit" wasn't a friggin "Big Joke".

Posted by: Greg at June 14, 2007 4:34 PM

Dan Yorke embarrassed himself today with his condescending attitude towards Gio Ciccione but be clear about the source of that animosity. Donna Perry is a new director in the Republican party leadership and she's ....drum roll please...John Depetro's sister. This is the source of Yorke's three day long diaper soiling exercise over a yard sign. lol
Yorke is good on some good government issues but he can't escape one major reality in his world. Dan Yorke rubs and tugs the Lynch Bros on a regular basis and he can never justify that away. Loses major credibility because of it.


How has the governor been asleep? His big audit has produced multi-millions saved. When he finds things are amiss he gets after fixing them. The reason he could fix Beacon is the people he put on that board whistleblew about the dirty deeds going on. The problem at DOT was his dept head never let him knew what was happeneing. BTW Capaldi was a lifer state worker at DOT. Once again the lifetime pigs in the pen are at the trough. I don't know about you but I've been very pleased with the governor's hammer he's used with DOT. Let's face it nobody is paying attention to the DOT story because of the 1,000 layoff frenzy so the governor could have very easily low-keyed in dealing with DOT but he's not. He wants the place cleaned up and he has the feds and staties on the case. The guy takes action. He's got the unions so shook up their soiling their diapers. Only 100 at their rally?? Threatening to recall the governor?? lol
As a great American once said "go ahead make my day"

Posted by: Tim at June 14, 2007 6:01 PM

Permanent yard signs/bumper stickers should bear the new GOP slogan-

Posted by: Mike at June 14, 2007 7:11 PM

Every day brings Buddy's radio free agency one day closer. Sounds like Dan's angling for a high-level job in the gov's office should PRO decide to put Buddy in afternoon drive.

Posted by: rhody at June 14, 2007 7:14 PM


The 2005 numbers you cite come out to about $50,126 per person, meaning 1) benefits aren't included and 2) it is likely that that the expedniture-per-person increases even more steeply over time, after the rising costs of healthcare are factored in.

Posted by: Andrew at June 14, 2007 7:46 PM

Andrew, I actually got a few more number from the DLT site, but didn't get a chance to look/find info regarding the benefits. Though I suppose we could figure it out...right now I think the family plan is around $15,000, most of which the state picks up. Then there's the pension, etc.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at June 14, 2007 9:13 PM

Dan Yorke is like a rabid dog - you never know what you are going to get. For the most part he is for the right things, but boy, sometimes he just doesn't make sense. What really made me laugh was when he was insisting that the dialogue should be more "mature and thoughtful" - and I thought of the maniacal, off the wall screaming he often engages in. What's with that, Dan?
This sign thing is a distraction being used by the unions - and Dan Yorke has bought into it hook, lineSˇ¦ sinker. What a putz!

Posted by: Ron Curtin at June 15, 2007 9:42 AM

To Marc:

The difference is that Government is not in business,it produces nothing.

It is not a profit making business,therefore the comparison to private corporations is false,unless one wants government by corporations.

Posted by: free at June 17, 2007 12:53 AM

That's fine, free.

Does that mean our state gov't has to be too big? Does it mean we have to pay state employees exceedingly good wages, benefits and retirements while they work a 35 hour work week? Does it mean all the talent and qualifications to work a state job are mysteriously vested principally in the family members and friends of Democrat members of the legislature?

Does it mean we needed to create a new upper class - the state employee - in this state?

Posted by: SusanD at June 17, 2007 9:08 AM

I think Dan has a good point. Why throw something out there that the Unions can just use as propaganda. As much as the state needs to cut jobs (and more than 1000), the slogan on the signs was not a well thought out idea. Whether people understand how necessary it is to cut the workforce in RI is one thing; but giving the opposition the opportunity to paint those of us on the side of reform as mean-spirited people who would rejoice in anyone losing their job is just a really dumb idea. In this of all states, where there is such a wealth of egregiousness, I'm sure someone can come up with a more effective message. Shame on the RIGOP leadership for this thoughtless blunder.

Posted by: Noted Skeptic at June 17, 2007 10:37 PM
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