January 8, 2008

The Hole We're In

Justin Katz

And the people who keep digging. That's what my latest Providence Journal piece is about. As I said the other day: We're in a race to move the state toward change before the four groups I describe in the op-ed manage to force too many others beyond its borders.

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You run a 'public policy think tank'? That ought to piss Jerzyk right off.

Posted by: Greg at January 8, 2008 7:44 AM

With tongue firmly (more or less) in cheek, here is a little ditty I posted on Ian Donnis's site:


FY 09--- Sell the lottery.
FY 10--- Sell the bridges. Sell I-95 to private turnpike company. Sell thousands of state park acres to developers.
FY 11--- Sell state's VLT payments. Raise marginal income taxes on "the rich" to 15%. Make babysitters and crossing guards state employees.
FY 12--- Raise capital gains to 9.9%. Hispanic population hits 30%.
FY 13--- Revenues plummet further. Sales tax raised to 10% in "temporary" measure.
FY 14--- Revenues fall again. State Treasurer Kate Brewster "baffled". Only 17 of "the rich" file RI tax returns.
FY 15--- House Speaker Art Handy forces through law, over Governor Laffey's veto, for state's borders to be closed to those fleeing state. "It worked in Cuba, it can work here". Federal judge enjoins new law, calls RI "an isle of insanity". Attorney General Jerzyk promises to prosecute all clerics who promote "intolerance" with new felony hate crimes law.
FY 16--- Hispanic population expected to reach 50% by end of year. Senate President Rhoda Perry pushes for law forbidding heterosexual marriage. Newly elected Governor Grace Diaz signs proposed Constitutional Amendment changing state's name to Aztlan.

Posted by: Mike at January 8, 2008 9:48 AM

You forgot to mention Governor Diaz's never-ending crusade against cellophane.

Posted by: Greg at January 8, 2008 10:16 AM

Great OpEd.

There is no question that most Rhode Islanders believe the are voting for the "good guy" when they vote Democrat.

Think about the responses you'd get if you asked the average Rhode Islander--

1. Which party led the charge to cut income taxes for those making over $200K?

2. Which party wanted to cut back spending on education to a greater degree in 2007?

3. Which party supports an educational funding formula that disproportionately hurts middle class Rhode Islanders?

I bet about 75% of Rhode Islanders would answer "Republican" instead of "Democrat".

The Democrat majority in RI is not about a broad set of agreed upon principles. It is really about a broad set of special interest groups that have reached an accomodation with one another. However, this coalition manages to maintain a facade of being for the "average Rhode Islander".

Posted by: Anthony at January 8, 2008 11:09 AM

And those measures sound great, Anthony. The problem is that in terms of resolving our looming financial crisis(TM), they are just the first of many, many steps that need to be taken.

Posted by: Monique at January 8, 2008 2:15 PM

You're a full fledged think tank now? Yeah, that's definitely going to make the RIF folks happy. Sounds like it might be a good idea though. You do enough thinking on this website to be mistaken for a think tank -- that's certainly something that those other folks won't have happen!

PS ... I've got an idea:

FY 17 -- Governor Laffey, completely frustrated with the state legislature, declares martial law and imprisons the House and Senate leadership at the former site of the Central Landfill, which is now Rhode Island's only SuperMax prison. Attorney General Jerzyk, convinced by lure of being named to the long vacant but powerful Lt. Governor's position, goes along with Laffey's plan. At the local Gaspee Days parade, Laffey declares Rhode Island's independence from the USA. Laffey then crowns himself emperor for life. Laffey's power now consolidated, Jerzyk is then exiled to the People's Republic of Canada.

Posted by: Will at January 8, 2008 7:49 PM

For the record, the bio lines on these columns are entirely in the hands of the Providence Journal. I haven't made any suggestions or requests (except, of course, that Anchor Rising be mentioned).

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 8, 2008 7:54 PM

You mentioned the Poverty Institute. I have also noticed that they testify continually for more money and higher taxes.
I decided to try to find out what the Poverty Institute is. For those who don't know, it is a part of the Rhode Island College Foundation. They have a website that lists six apparently permanent employees. I asked the Rhode Island College Foundation for the total compensation of these employees. They basically refused, in perfect bureaucratese, to provide this information. They did provide the Foundation's IRS 990. Extrapolating from this data, I would guess that the total compensation of these six approaches $250,000!!! It is also interesting to find, from their website, what it is that they do. Basically, analyze, publish and testify.
It is also impossible to determine their sources of funding.
The Governor wants to cut funding for Meals on Wheels - why not have less analysis, get rid of these people, fund Meals on Wheels and contribute the balance to the deficit.

Posted by: Al at January 8, 2008 10:55 PM

Al is onto a long brewing scandal that nobody in RI -- from the liberal writers at the Projo to the Democratic AG's office -- want to touch.

The PI is part of the RI College Foundation -- to which alums make their annual contribution. The PI also receives funding from other sources.

Whether the PI's lobbying efforts violate federal tax laws, or whether the PI's activities have put the RI College Foundation in violation of different laws or regulations, is the radioactive issue on Mt. Pleasant.

Then again, the long hand of justice eventually caught up with Rep Ray Gallison (and the other hand may still be coming around to hit him with a roundhouse right). So there is hope that the folks at the PI who have lobbied with alumni, foundation, and who knows, maybe even state or federal money may yet have their day in court.

Posted by: John at January 9, 2008 12:27 PM


The Poverty Institute, Rhode Island College Foundation is not going to cough up the golden egg to you just because you asked!

First what is the legal business status of The Poverty Institute (for profit or non-profit) and what relationship does it have to Rhode Island College (part of the RI State College or renting space as a store front)? What does the name imply; “The Poverty Institute at Rhode Island College, School of Social Work”?

How many employees? You say 6 and from reading The Poverty Institute web page I read 5 full time employees however, there is an indication in the text that The Poverty Institute merged with Parents for Progress.

You got to look at who’s giving them the grants and funds per their web site: The Rhode Island Foundation • The Stoneman Family Foundation • The Carter Family Charitable Trust • The United Way of Rhode Island • The Annie E. Casey Foundation • Mott Foundation • The Women's Fund of Rhode Island • Hasbro Charitable Trust • The ADDD Fund.

The Rhode Island College Foundation is not listed as one of The Poverty Institutes’ grant contributors on their web site but after a Google search it appears the Rhode Island College Foundation gave them for 2006 a $135,000 grant and also listed on the page was the following listing: “RELEVANT PRIOR FUNDING OVER PAST 3 YEARS:
2005 $135,000 for The Poverty Institute.
2005 $8,300 for Strenghtening the Family Independence program
2005 $25,000 for One Rhode Island
2004 $135,000 for The Poverty Institute
2004 $10,000 for “Making the Child Support System Work”
2004 $5,000 for the Education/Property Tax Research Agenda
2004 $15,000 for the One Rhode Island Campaign”

I bet if you searched the above foundations and trusts you’d find how much was contributed to The Poverty Institute due to reporting requirements.
There is also an endowment fund (Nancy H. Gewirtz Fund) which direct funding is derived from contributors: Guy Abelson • Tom Ahearn & Simone Joyaux • Bill & Amabel Allen • David Ames & Carol Landau • Arlene Andrews • Bernie Beaudreau • Martha Bebinger • Wendy Becker & Mary Norton • Carol Bennett-Speight, Ph.D.• Ray & Nancy Benoit • Susan Berkman • Joseph Bevilacqua • Gerry Billings • Jane Borelli-Loomis • John Brewster • Kate Brewster • Lisa & Barry Brotman • Steven Brown • Patrick & Kimberly Butler • Joesph & Rosemarie Cabral • Sherry Campanelli • Joseph Cardin • Nancy Carriuolo • Anna Caruolo • Stephen & Carol Chase • Steven & Linda Cohen • Steve Crosby & Helen Strieder • Dianne Curran & Linda Katz • Judith & Murray Danforth • Dr. Richard & Penny Dickerman • J. Ashley deWardener • Elisa Delbonis • Samuel Disano • Joyce Dubow • Lori Duffy • Joseph & Linda Dziobek • Jorge Elorza • Embolden Design • Sandra Enos • Pamela Nelson Erskine • Gateway Healthcare • Judy Grant • Nancy Falk • Rabbi Alan Flam & Judy Semonoff • Rachel & Josh Flum • Fred & Linda Franklin • Kerri & Anthony Frattarelli • Barbara & Paul Friedman • Marie Ganim • Joan Gelch • Alan Gewirtz & Elizabeth Bien • Elliot & Barbara Gewirtz • Henry Gewirtz • June Gibbs • Beatrice Hanft Glucksman • Max & Leah Goto • Judy Grant • Rabbi Leslie Gutterman • Brian & Jodi Hainse • Roberta Hazen Aaronson • Michael & Maria Heffernan • Harriet Hickey • Kathryn Hopkins • Ellen Hunt • Deborah Jesdale •Brian & Judy Jones • Marilyn & Fred Katz • Herb & Christine Kaplan • Barry Karas & Bruce Green • David Karoff & Barbara Hunger • Sister Ann Keefe, SSJ • Jill Ker Conway • Donald Laliberte • Roberta & Steven Lasser • Lennette & Ben Lessing • Barbara Lewalski • Annette Lochrie and "The Newton High School Girls" • John Martone • Daniel & Ivy Marwil • Michael Mazerov & Andrea Levere• Dan McCarthy • Robert McDonough • The McGahan Family • Karen McLennan • Marilyn Murphy Meardon • Rita Michaelson • Nicole Milman • Rebecca Minard • Barbara Morgan • Dennis & Linda Murphy • Milton & Rona Nachbar • Alan Newhouse • Staff of Nuclear Cardiology at Mass General Hospital • Randy & Wendy Oftedahl • Linda Ohsberg • Ellie O'Neill • Trisha O'Reilly • Ricardo Patino • Maxine & Stephen Richman • Arthur & Judith Robbins • Bruce & Nancy Rollins • B. Jean Rosiello • Jim Ryczek • Carol Scotto Brotman • Hinda P. Semonoff • Eunice Shatz • Noreen Shawcross • Dick & Linda Silverman • Peter & Julia Anne Slom • Sally Strachan • Jennifer & Michael Rachlin • Deborah Siegel& Frederic Reamer • Jonathan Sigman • Susan Smulyan • Donald Tencher • Jack Walsh • Jack & Betsy Walsh • Nancy & Donald Watson • Melvin Zurier.

You just have to dumpster diving into all of the documents archived on the web and collect them! Watch the way you use your search terms.

It appears Kate Brewster and The Poverty Institute collect a lot of money in grants each year and but still want more from the taxpayer.

Posted by: Ken at January 9, 2008 9:23 PM

Interesting re Poverty Institute - Ms Brewster refuses to answer emails. All requests for info are forwarded to Ms Brown at the RIC Foundation. She is a master of the bureaucratic runaround. It would be neat to see a P&L and balance sheet for the poverty Institute.

Posted by: Al at January 9, 2008 9:59 PM

Justin excellent think tank analysis.
Any truth to the rumor Matilda Jerzyk is fuming because people only refer to her blog as a 'tank'?

Mike love your Progresso Destroyo ditty.

Greg title of Grace Diaz forthcoming autobiography:
'Lost In Translation'

Anthony people in Rhode Island are so uninformed/underinformed because our local media does a very poor job of informing the public on what really goes on and who the power players truly are.
That poor job extends to talk radio. They routinely beat up the politically weak as they avoid naming names and holding the power players accountable. Until that dynamic changes then nothing else will.

Posted by: Tim at January 10, 2008 7:32 AM

Good point, Tim. Yorke and DePetro will never attack Murphy and Montalbano, because they're all kindred spirits when abortion or gays, which they viscerally hate more than the state's economic problems, make the news.

Posted by: rhody at January 10, 2008 11:37 AM