March 6, 2009

On Laffey and Movement Building

Justin Katz

I imagine that even people who've had reservations about Steve Laffey have a feeling of "what now" upon hearing of his intention not to run for governor. For my part, I wanted to listen to his entire conversation with Dan Yorke before commenting, as well as Dan's interview of Harry Staley and Jim Beale from the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition.

Laffey sounded relaxed and comfortable, contemplative, and to be honest, I found my comfort level with him rising. My experience with the man isn't sufficiently broad for me to know whether this represents a change or just a face that I hadn't previously seen, but given the context, I felt a sadness that it hadn't been more prominent earlier.

But the real shame of his announcement is that Laffey's message seems to be, "Rhode Island isn't ready for me yet." There's no movement for him to grab hold of, and that being the case, it's probably a shrewd move to avoid the expense in money and effort of a high-profile political race. I did not get the sense, however, that he intends to help such a movement to germinate. Oh, Laffey has donated to and promoted candidates for office, and he may continue the practice going forward, but that's not the same as the slow, tedious work of motivating people and changing a civic culture.

Each person has his or her own interests, corresponding with unique talents, and in a functioning system, they'll fill different roles in the machinery of progress. That is to say that it doesn't necessarily indicate selfishness when a particular person declines to take up a particular task. Quite apart from Mr. Laffey, though, we should all hope that the process of putting together a reformist machine brings forward leaders from whom he'd have difficulty wresting the wheel when he feels that the state is ripe for harvest.

In the meantime, we're in for a number of painful, discouraging years. Shoulder to the stone!

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Sorry Justin but there is/was no "what now" reaction from me with Laffey's decision not to run for Gov. It fits Laffey's MO. I've never bought into the "savior" mantle that so many of you seem to attach to him. Steve Laffey was the mayor of Cranston for a whopping 4 years. Only 4 years. And why only 4 years? Because all the real reforms, all the real heavy duty heavy lifting was yet to come with the union contracts. There were no more crossing guards. The "savior" had no appetite to take on the really big union boys in Cranston and he walked away.
He's walking away now because he knows no Republican is winning the governor's chair in this state in 2010.
There is nothing noble behind his decision not to run.
Laffey is an opportunist not a leader.
He showed that to you when he walked away from Cranston.
He showed that when he walked away from the state Republican party.
He's showing you again right now.
When will you start to view this guy for who and what he is??

Posted by: Tim at March 6, 2009 7:30 AM

"all the real reforms, all the real heavy duty heavy lifting was yet to come with the union contracts. There were no more crossing guards. The "savior" had no appetite to take on the really big union boys in Cranston and he walked away."

What you say Tim is absolutely correct. But in fairness insane state laws (Caroulo Act, Arbitration statutes, unfunded mandates, minimum staffing levels) combined with intense judicial scrutiny make the "heavy-lifting" a true impossibility. Like trying to make a point of 13 at a craps table.

Posted by: Mike at March 6, 2009 8:19 AM

"he knows no Republican is winning the governor's chair in this state in 2010"

Well, if Caprio or Lynch wins the primary they will be the next governor.
If the noxious Looney Left Liz can sneak in (a good possibility) the Republican will win, whoever that may be.
I have no doubt that Trillo would beat Looney Left Liz. Of course he will be as ineffectual as Carcieri as the people will return a 90% jackass GA.

Posted by: Mike at March 6, 2009 8:26 AM

It's too bad that Tim or Mike have idea of what they are talking about. The only union contract that Laffey did not negotiate was the fire dept. And those pigs were simply going to wait him out and never negotiate knowing that while they had an expired contract, it would continue until they could get some political coward/whore in office (like they did with Napolitano) and get another sweetheart deal that screws the taxpayers.
Perhaps Mike and Tim could get some facts before sounding so stupid.

Posted by: Mke Cappelli at March 6, 2009 9:20 AM

Mr. Cappelli is absolutely right. Laffey negotiated a Laborers contract and a police contract that includes increased co-shares and HSA's. The CFD contract was the only one left and the fire union held out for the give-away mayor Napolitano.

Tim is a Chafee twerp from the TV-Land days. He's part of the problem. May you live a very long life in the Ocean State Tim. I'm outta here.

Posted by: George at March 6, 2009 10:03 AM

If and when George moves out of Rhode Island, he will be following a long line of others who looked at what it would take to change the state, and decided it was either impossible or that they had better things to do with their time. The core of the reform movement you hope will one day materialize has left. They have been driven out by the union and poverty advocates, who will now reap what they have sowed. And all those former Rhode Islanders will undoubtedly regret what might have been when the final collapse comes, then get on with their new lives.

Posted by: John at March 6, 2009 10:56 PM

I communicate very frequently with ex-Rhode Islanders (it's amazing, this new internet thing the kids have nowadays). Every one of them to a T, while they miss Rhode Island for the bay and the general closeness of everything, really don't miss at all what Rhode Island has become over the decades -- which is a fermenting cesspool of corruption and filth.

They are generally quite happy about their spacious new abodes, lower tax rates, and bountiful private sector career opportunities in other parts of the country, be it New Hampshire, Tennessee, Florida, or Idaho.

Although I now work out of state, I've stayed in Rhode Island purely for family reasons, not economic ones. My family, which is quite large, has been here for several generations, and I would hate to have to leave that.

PS How about we change the state motto from "Hope" to "Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here." It's a bit more truthful, and it even acknowledges some Italian cultural heritage (Dante's Inferno).

Posted by: Will at March 7, 2009 2:12 AM
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