February 16, 2010

Fox in the Hen House

Justin Katz

I had to switch to music halfway through my commute home, on Friday, because Dan Yorke had Rep. Tim Williamson (D, Coventry, West Warwick) on his show, and my feet were beginning to stick to the pedals from the slime that was seeping from the speakers. A woman called in to challenge Williamson's assertion that he and his peers have done a good job, and the representative slipped into politico-lawyer talk. He let her make the concise message that she was clearly intent on delivering and, at first opportunity, chastised her for interrupting his reply (always note when such folks deploy the sentence, "I didn't interrupt you, did I?"). He then embarked on a rambling spiel raising barely relevant facts, contesting the fact that Rhode Island is really in much trouble at all, and allocating blame everywhere but where it belongs, with the General Assembly.

A quick example: When Dan suggested that the roads bore testament to Rhode Island's problems, Williamson threw out some numbers and explained the reason as dramatic underfunding. Of course, it's the General Assembly that has allocated money that ought to go to infrastructure to everything but, then relying on the trick of floating bonds for the necessities that the body has underfunded.

I raise Williamson's performance from obscurity (Dan hasn't posted the Podcast) because we're beginning to see evidence that nothing short of an extremely unlikely wholesale change in the legislature will be adequate, in the coming election. We've been asking, Don't these people see that there won't be a miracle salvation of Rhode Island's status quo? Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but the salient point is that they just don't care. Whatever the consequence to the legislators' constituents — be they voters or government-dependents or public-sector workers — they, the politicians, will survive, perhaps thrive. Williamson's attitude was the arrogance of the untouchable.

The various news reports and profile pieces published upon Gordon Fox's ascension to House Speaker solidified my conviction that the General Assembly as currently constituted has no intention of making the difficult decisions that will enable the rest of us to pull the state from the tortuous waters in which it is — we are — languishing. How could you conclude otherwise (emphasis added)?

"A Fox speakership will invariably include, but not be limited to, an increase in the state income tax, a lack of constitutionally sound state limitations on illegal immigration, an economic development policy overly influenced by environmental extremists, and of course ... gay marriage," wrote [Rep. Arthur Corvese (D, North Providence)], who has been replaced [as chairman of the House Labor Committee] by Rep. Anastasia Williams, an unpaid member of the AFL-CIO board of directors. "I believe your philosophical stance on major issues is too far to the left for the good of the citizens of the State of Rhode Island."

According to the brief biography presented in the Providence Journal, Fox came of age and built his career as a lawyer while under the wing of the state's power brokers, solidifying his place by choosing back-room deals over his left-wing ideology. We should be discomfited that the state house's progressives support him, of course, but we should be more concerned that his election to the top post signals a retrenchment of the forces that have brought Rhode Island so low.

And I don't see anywhere near the level of targeted angst and anxiety that would indicate that the people of Rhode Island are about to upset the designs of the political class.

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The public sector unions and poverty industry enjoy a symbiotic relationship -- unionized employees providing "social services," low income people providing gullible warm bodies for unionization, e.g., daycare / homecare workers now "unionized" in several states by SEIU and AFSCME.

Those groups have cemented their hold on the Democrat Party, in RI and across the nation.

In those states in which there is no effective Republican Party (typically co-opted by the same special interests via tacit if not open support of "moderate Republicans" ... consider John Loughlin's call for a federal bailout for state and local public sector pensions), these Democrat controlling constituencies have become parasites that will kill the host.

It's been going on for years in Michigan and New Jersey and California and New York and Rhode Island.

Has any of those states, in which the economic writing has been on the wall for years, if not decades, begun making the "hard decisions" necessary to turn things around and start operating the states for the benefit of the general polity rather than the special interests operating under guise of the Democrat banner? NO.

In fact the Democrats and their special interest masters, feeling their oats, have succeeded in getting a President and Congress determined to impose that economic and political dysfunction across the entire United States.

So is there hope for Rhode Island? Perhaps after the (now probably inevitable) total economic collapse within the state.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 16, 2010 7:27 AM

Hey, can you blame people like Williamson and Fox when there really is no opposition? We've seen many times that politicians will re-think their stance on issues when faced with opposition. There is none. There is no other party in this state to challenge them, no credible candidate to take them on in their seats. They know this, which is why people like Timmy can go on the air and basically tell people a big "bite me!". He's the 5th grade bully who spits in your face and then says "what are you going to do about it" and you know there's nothing you can do. That's where RI is today.

Posted by: Patrick at February 16, 2010 7:35 AM

Justin I'm not sure whose behavior was more appalling, Williamson or his enamored host Dan Yorke. At the time (before I also changed the channel and listened to some good sports talk) I wondered how many candles were burning and what kind of wine Dan was serving. Yorke not only doesn't see the obvious slime in Williamson but honestly thinks "Timmy" is a good guy and has real leadership potential in that Assembly. Love is blind!! lol
Then again this is the same Dan Yorke who is similarly enamored with Bill Lynch and has given l'il bro Patrick a free pass for 7 + years because of it.
Doesn't happen often but occassionally certain talk radio hosts sleep with the people's enemy.

Posted by: Tim at February 16, 2010 9:12 AM

Williamson is a bully.I saw this at a hearing where he made the rules(different for various people who testified)even though Lally was the Chairman.He uses intimidation tactics on anyone within reach.
Didn't he throw a much smaller guy who worked for the Governor through a window in a gin mill near the Statehouse?Maybe he didn't intend it to end that way,but he was never charged.
Going through a plate glass door or window is no fun.I know.
I ran through a plate glass door as a teenager and was lucky to only wind up with a real bloody head wound.
That's just one example.Williamson is like a replay of George Caruolo.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 16, 2010 10:08 AM

Tim Williamson is a disgrace to RI. Why W. Warwick keeps re-electing him and doesn't put anyone up against him is a mystery to me. I guess they like their politicians corrupt and creepy. Not that a good number of reps and senators from other cities and towns there are not in the same boat. Tim just wears his lack of character on his sleeve. Remember RI, all our reps and senators are the problem, not just somebody elses.

Posted by: Kathy at February 16, 2010 10:50 AM

Perhaps I can add a bit of information.

Regarding the DOT. The Number 2 man there is William "Chuckie" Alves. Brother of former Sen. Steve Alves. Gee, one wonders what his credentials are? State car, $139,000 per annum... Great work if you can get it!

As for Williamson. The various Democratic Town Councils in WW have given this man a fortune via the Town Solicitor gig. No one is even bothering to oversee or question his billing. At one point he was 8 months behind in submitting invoices.

Then there is the fact that his brother who sits on the School Committee voted for a Caruolo action. Didn’t he know his brother, the Town Solicitor, would make a fortune on this? Any request for an Advisory Opinion from the Ethics Commission?

Finally, Good Ol' Dan treating Williamson with kid gloves….. Is it true that Dan gets free passes to play at golf at the WW Country Club? I hope someone investigates to ascertain the truth? Interesting fact is that Williamson's brother owns the WW Country Club. Will Citadel Broadcasting check this one out?

Posted by: Matsushenko at February 16, 2010 11:08 AM

If Dan gets a free ride,it might be embarrassing,but in no way illegal.He's in the private sector and doesn't do cash business with the state.It would be an item of interest however.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 16, 2010 12:09 PM

(This assumes the accusations about the passes are correct)
To follow up on Joe's response, it doesn't matter if Dan Yorke is getting freebies from private businesses. If the WWCC wants to make the passes a part of their sponsorship on the radio, good for them. Those hosts frequently do a "live read" of sponsors, and if you're buying the time, don't you want to have a host that really knows the product and likes it? I've heard times when Dan will go on about something for 2-3 minutes, because he seems to like it so much. So maybe they paid for the air time and then gave Yorke some passes to try it out for himself. No biggie.

Posted by: Patrick at February 16, 2010 12:18 PM

Isn't Williamson on Dan Yorke's "I disagree with him, but I'd sit down and have a beer with him" list?

I can't listen to Yorke anymore, I'm now convinced that his daily tirades are nothing more than play-acting.

Posted by: Chris at February 16, 2010 12:56 PM

I understand completely that Yorke is not doing anything illegal.

The point being that he handles Tim Williamson with kid gloves. Is this because of the free passes? If there are free passes. Shouldn't it be something his employer should look into from an ethics perspective...

And NO, the WWCC does not advertise on WPRO. I could see the passes IF they did. This is a matter of his doing the “rub and tug” with a legislator…. Something he claims is bad…I wouldn't have any issues if Yorke wasn't so self-righteous about everything.

In my opinion, the man is disingenuous….

When has he ever gone after Williamson the way he goes after other legislators….

By the way, in addition to the issue of the bar in Providence. Williamson was also involved in throwing someone off the dock into the water that same summer. This got no press.

Then there was an incident in WW where he drove off after hitting a parked car at a local Vets Club. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to why he drove off…

Posted by: Matsushenko at February 16, 2010 1:46 PM

"my feet were beginning to stick to the pedals from the slime that was seeping from the speakers"

WPRO is SLIME RADIO 24/7, whether its Mike Savage, Fat Matt, or Yorke, it gets even slimier when they air the stupid "violent roundtable" segment, Just my opinion WPRO sucks 24/7 with LIARS on air 24/7

Posted by: Jeff at February 16, 2010 2:16 PM

Jeff-you old dog!!Finally, you got to contribute an original thought here.
I don't particularly share your sentiments,but the input is interesting.
You didn't even dump on me for a change.
BTW I never get offended.If I'm being sh*t on,it must be because I'm doing something right.LOL.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 16, 2010 3:14 PM

Jeff, thank you for that valuable contribution to the conversation.

Posted by: BobN at February 16, 2010 6:23 PM

Williamson and Corvese are both just the kind of good ol' boy Democrats we need to get rid of. Corvese attacks gay marriage because he thinks it will make North Providence voters ignore the damage he and the GOB Dems have done to the state.
Hopefully, more NP voters have woken up and will just say no to this outdated style of politics (it would be nice if the GOP had the guts to run a credible candidate against him).

Posted by: rhody at February 16, 2010 6:55 PM


Re: your 5th grade bully post, above. Actually, there is something you can do about it, and many people have already taken this action: Move out of state, and deprive RI of the entrepreneurial and civic energy, as well as the tax revenue, it needs in order to keep delay the fiscal train wreck that, barring an extraordinary federal bailout of basket case states, is now all but inevitable in RI. Frankly, given the manifest evidence of how RI unfavourably compares to other states on multiple dimensions, the most interesting question at this point is what form of the Stockholm Syndrome keeps the remaining members of the wealth creating middle class in RI?

Posted by: John at February 16, 2010 7:14 PM

although we are a small minority in R.I., there are those of us who are frustrated with state and municipal governments that over and over again take action to favor special interests at the expense of the taxpayer. the latest is the the teacher binding arbitration bill (H7581) co-sponsored by Rep. Corvese, the same Mr. Corvese who accuses Gordon fox of being to far to the left and says Fox will raise the state income tax. Well, what the hell does Mr. Corvese think this teacher binding arbitration bill will do--lower our property taxes?%^&*#@!!! Just google taxpayer and binding arbitration and you'll find one article after another with mayors and town councilmen bemoaning these mandatory binding arbitration laws. And R.i.'s is a real nasty one. The arbitrator's decision is retroactive to the expiration date of the existing teacher contract. The arbitrators must decide between the school committee's final offer and the teacher's union final offer. In CT the arbitrators rule 60% of the time in favor of the teacher union 's salary offers. Oh, and btw, provisions of existing teacher contracts stay in effect until the new contract is signed. We can kiss this state's future good bye with laws like these!!

Posted by: robert benson at March 12, 2010 5:52 AM
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