August 23, 2010

Victor Moffit on Regionalization, the Tenth Amendment and Running for Governor

Carroll Andrew Morse

A major theme of Republican Victor Moffitt's campaign for Governor of Rhode Island has been regionalizing municipal services. At Saturday's Tenth Amendment rally at the RI Statehouse, I asked Rep. Moffitt if he would like to answer a question on the parallel between the states losing power to the Federal Government, obviously contrary to the letter and spirit of the Tenth Amendment, and municipalities losing power to a higher level of government -- which he helped me rephrase into a more-to-the point form: Why shouldn't regionalization be viewed as a power-grab by the state? His answer was...

"Regionalization, really, is a ground-up concept. This is where individual taxpayers in the state want to eliminate the bureaucracy that we have now of 36 school departments in Rhode Island serving about 148,000 students, and the high property taxes we have in the local communities. I would be against it if the state government mandated regionalization...but my regionalization plan comes from the bottom up..."Audio: 1m 3 sec

"The Federal Government throws these mandates to the states, and they don't support them, things like Obamacare or No Child Left Behind, and that's something I would oppose, because I think education is a state right. We should be able to do whatever we want..."Audio: 30 sec
I also gave Rep. Moffitt the opportunity to comment directly on why people should support his bid to become the next Governor of Rhode Island...
"...This time you have very few choices in the race. You can either tank with Frank, you can sink with Linc, you can get more Don with John, or you can stick with Vic..."Audio: 17 sec

"People can knock my aquarium program, but it's not just an aquarium. It's an aquarium with a science center, a research center, a desalinization plant...When [people] think of Rhode Island, I want them to think of the Mecca for marine research, the place that has the biggest aquarium. When you think of oceans, you think of the real Ocean State..."Audio: 1m 24 sec
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"We should be able to do whatever we want..."
Vic Moffitt

No federal laws, no stupid regulations.

"Whatever we want"
Good luck getting that by Scalia and Thomas!

Posted by: Sammy at August 23, 2010 10:01 PM

Whatever the merits of regionalization versus local control, they are separate issues from the Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment is an expression of state sovreignty.

The states preexisted the federal government, creating it through adoption of the Constitution and delegating a portion of their sovreign powers to it. The Tenth Amendment emphasizes that the states retain all rights and powers not delegated. It, along with the Ninth Amendment, was included to address the concerns of those who opposed appending a Bill of Rights to the Constitution for fear that the presumption of state sovreignty would be lost.

The Bill of Rights' opponents wanted to maintain the structure of the Constitution as a list of powers delegated to the federal government, with all powers not mentioned being retained by the states. Why, argued the opponents, pass an amendment denying Congress the authority to establish a religion when nothing in Article I gives it that power in the first place? They feared that attaching a list of powers denied to the federal government might imply that the federal government had been granted all powers not specifically denied. Hence the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

Cities and towns are not sovreign so there's nothing inconsistent about supporting the Tenth Amendment and regionalization at the same time.

Posted by: David P at August 23, 2010 10:55 PM


Saying there's no connection between regionalization & 10th Amendment issues implies that we should support the 10th Amendment just because it happens to be there, not because it's based on a sensible principle, i.e. the principle that all government decisions should be made at the level closest to the people that is feasible. (I would call this "the principle of subsidiarity", except that I find that particular term too blowhardish to regularly use).

Posted by: Andrew at August 23, 2010 11:47 PM

I don't think we should support the Tenth Amendment just because it's there. Although politicians should obey it because it's there whether they like it or not. It is, after all, the law of the land. But I think the Tenth involves something greater than subsidiarity. As I said it derives from sovreignty, from which we derive federalism, which is key to the preservation of individual liberty.

Regionalization may or may not make sense depending on how it is designed and what services it covers. I grew up on Long Island where police services were provided by the county but fire services were still organized along village lines by volunteer fire companies. Schools were organized by township.

I like local control but I am open to the possibilities of economies of scale.

Posted by: David P at August 24, 2010 5:58 AM

Mr. Moffit at times says things that are very unbecoming of someone who would be a Governor. He is also a poor speaker and does not pronounce his words properly. He acts more like a guy somebody would go have a beer with than someone who would represent our state. Also if I wanted poems I would read Dr. Seuss book. The slogans and poems treat this like an election for high school president. Not very professional.

Posted by: Tim at September 13, 2010 7:12 PM
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