January 8, 2010

Friendship and Politics: Avedisian @ Chafee

Monique Chartier

All this week, WPRO's Dan Yorke has heavily questioned the party loyalty of Mayor Scott Avedisian (R-Warwick) for attending A Certain Gubernatorial Announcement, going so far as to call for the RIGOP to throw him out of the party. This culminated yesterday in an extensive and frank interview with the Mayor [podcast not yet available].

As the interview progressed and it became clear that hizzoner was not going to back down, Dan got to the nub of the matter, saying somewhat incredulously to the Mayor (paraphrasing), so you put friendship ahead of a political structure.

Actually, no, he didn't. He attended an event that was important to a friend. As he apparently will not be supporting the candidacy in any substantive way, the fact that the event was a campaign announcement was secondary. But let's say the Mayor had put friendship ahead of a political structure. The General Treasurer put a political structure ahead of his friend the Governor in a big way. Does Dan think this was just peachy? Of course he doesn't and I agree.

Would the Mayor's attendance at this event have been awkward had there been a declared Republican gubernatorial candidate? Sure it would. Possibly beyond awkward to problematic. As it happens, it's early; there presently is no Republican candidate. So, no issue.

And another thing. Why was Dan attacking Mayor Avedesian for opening his campaign HQ to the RIGOP for the recent Executive Committee meeting? I was working assiduously yesterday afternoon (let my supervisor take note) when Dan was grilling the Mayor so maybe I missed something. But wouldn't that constitute a material show of support of the RIGOP that Dan had, ten seconds earlier, accused the Mayor of deliberately failing to demonstrate? It strikes me that the Mayor should be commended, not criticized, for the HQ hospitality that he regularly extends to Republican candidates and the RIGOP.

No, Mayor Avedisian did not demonstrate party disloyalty by attending the announcement of a friend. No, he should not be asked to leave the Republican party for doing so. It is silly and inconsistent of Dan to suggest this. Let's have a little more focus on the actions, past and present, of the gang that has trashed our state and a little less on irrelevant or miniscule side issues involving the loyal opposition.

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Monique, you can rationalize and spin all you like, and Warwick residents could care less about who he supports.

But the fact remains that all Avedisian does is raise taxes every year by the maximum ammount, and then says he can do nothing to bring public sector union benefits into line with what's offered in the private sector.

Meanwhile, Avedisian gets massive support from those very same public sector unions.

If that's the case, I say we get someone in that office who can do the job. Not someoone with a thousand excuses for his ineffectiveness.

Posted by: Robespierre at January 8, 2010 2:09 PM

Robespierre, That is why he opposes a closed primary. In a closed primary, he would not be mayor.

Posted by: bobc at January 8, 2010 3:47 PM

I don't know, Monique. During the segments that I heard, Avedisian was clearly suggesting that he is not campaigning for Chafee because "I have not been asked," but that he would, were he asked. The problem, here, isn't necessarily that he's standing by a friend, but that he's doing so despite his understanding that a healthy Republican Party is crucial to the health of the state.

In the case of Caprio, it wasn't that he took issue with a friend of his, but that he did so in a cynical, politically motivated way... joining in with the mob to beat up on the friend. It's not really a comparison of similar actions.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 8, 2010 5:00 PM

There the GOP goes again...driving away a proven vote-getter with appeal across the political spectrum.
Reagan's famous line about why he left the Democratic Party applies to Chafee, and would apply to Avedesian if he leaves.
And, still, they will call him traitor even though THEY chased him away.

Posted by: rhody at January 8, 2010 5:17 PM

Robespierre says "he", Avedisian, "can do nothing to bring public sector union benefits into line with what's offered in the private sector."

Perhaps he should work to bring private sector benefits in line with what's offered in the public sector. A bit to egalitarian for any real reformer, especially one who calls himself Robespierre.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at January 8, 2010 5:51 PM

rhody, if you think Reagan's remark fits either Chaffee or Avedisian, you are sadly mistaken. For in order for the party to leave you, you must be part of the party. Simply calling oneself a Republican does not a Republican make.

Posted by: bobc at January 8, 2010 6:30 PM

Very ironic for this debate to take place on the day the RIGOP issues a press release criticizing Chafee's "Three Step":
1.give the public sector unions what they want;

2.get the unions to support you; and

3.raise taxes to pay for those sweetheart deals.

Avedisian is not just a friend, he's a protege, a devotee.

The RIGOP is criticizing Chafee for the very process Avedisian has preserved and protected as Chafee's successor.

Now that's hypocrisy!

Posted by: George at January 8, 2010 9:25 PM

Monique attempts to make a calm, rational argument, but it fails. Avedisian is a fake. There is no question about it. It's not as if he is a "moderate" Republican; it's simply that he is not a Republican at all. He can call himself one all he wants, but one has to judge by actions. The party should never have let him get away with this for so long. It makes a joke of the party and is precisely why people just vote Democrat in RI. With guys like Avedisian, what's the difference?

No reasonable person thinks a Republican has to pass a "purity" test. But in order to earn the graces of the party, it is not unreasonable to expect that candidate to embrace at least ONE policy platform of the GOP. He simply does not. He is a big labor union shill (irrefutable evidence -- just look at the PACs who donate to his campaigns)-- not just a run-of-the-mill the labor-friendly type, but a full-blown advocate of public sector unions.

Forget about social issues, as it's not even worth mentioning. On any national policy issue, he supports the left. One gets the feeling that, as was the case with Chafee, he plugs his nose when having to go through the motions of Republican meetings, and frankly probably just wishes this whole charade would end. But it serves his interest to pretend to be a member of the GOP, and the Governor, party chair, et al, continue to allow it to happen.

Why doesn't the party adopt a platform of policy positions and see which ones he'll go on record as supporting? My bet is none. He's just waiting for a reason to leave. Why not give him one?

Posted by: Jackson at January 8, 2010 10:58 PM

Notice the people defending Avedisian: "Rhody" and "Old Time Lefty", two people who know nothing about market economics.

Posted by: Dillinger at January 8, 2010 11:36 PM

You are confusing "Know nothing about" with "Don't particularly care for" market economics. Personally, I'm often in agreement with Thomas Friedman and/or Paul Krugman.

You might try to strengthen your economic bona fides by letting us know who you've been reading lately on the subject.

You also are mistaken when you say I support Avedesian. I don't live in his district, he has never appeared on a ballot in the polling place where I vote. I neither support nor oppose him. He is of no interest to me.

Lastly, what makes you say I'm defending Avedesian? I said, "Perhaps he (Avedesian) should work to bring private sector benefits in line with what's offered in the public sector." The statement is an exhortation, not one of support.


Posted by: OldTimeLefty at January 9, 2010 10:05 AM

Here is an excerpt from a Krugman article . You may want to comment on it.

Bear in mind that the implosion of the 1990s stock bubble, while nasty — households took a $5 trillion hit — didn’t provoke a financial crisis. So what was different about the housing bubble that followed? The short answer is that while the stock bubble created a lot of risk, that risk was fairly widely diffused across the economy. By contrast, the risks created by the housing bubble were strongly concentrated in the financial sector. As a result, the collapse of the housing bubble threatened to bring down the nation’s banks. And banks play a special role in the economy. If they can’t function, the wheels of commerce as a whole grind to a halt. Why did the bankers take on so much risk? Because it was in their self-interest to do so. By increasing leverage — that is, by making risky investments with borrowed money — banks could increase their short-term profits. And these short-term profits, in turn, were reflected in immense personal bonuses. If the concentration of risk in the banking sector increased the danger of a systemwide financial crisis, well, that wasn’t the bankers’ problem. Of course, that conflict of interest is the reason we have bank regulation. But in the years before the crisis, the rules were relaxed — and, even more important, regulators failed to expand the rules to cover the growing “shadow” banking system, consisting of institutions like Lehman Brothers that performed banklike functions even though they didn’t offer conventional bank deposits.

What do you think of Krugman's comments? I certainly agree that lack of regulations and lack of enforcement brought on the collapse. For the reasons cited I agree with the need for careful and stringent regulations on the industry. What do you think? I eagerly await your considered reply.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at January 9, 2010 10:25 AM

For all the mealy mouth socialists who think equality for all is what's best for RI and America I share this slice of life.

I had some friends stay at my home for Christmas. They were from an Asian country. These folk eat lots of soups and stews and noodle dishes. All delicious and very nourishing.

One night I cooked a standing rib roast. They hadn’t had or seen a roast since the last time they visited us. This was an amazing experience for them. I went shopping with the husband at a typical local supermarket and he was in awe of all the options we have.

We are so sedated with luxury and abundance we don’t really feel the pain of what almost the entire governmental structure of the State of Rhode Island is doing to us. People leave rather than fight it, and so it goes. Because we can leave RI for another sovereign state, where things are actually better, no one of significant substance, intelligence, integrity, leadership and guts will even want to fix this abysmal welfare/entitlement infested cesspool.

We need a revolution but all we’ll get is more hamburger helper.


Posted by: Sol Venturi at January 9, 2010 12:03 PM
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