September 29, 2010

The Civics Interview with John Robitaille: "Are we living in times so extreme that basic principles of democratic government need to be shoved aside?"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Rhode Island's media and civic organizations have done an excellent job giving the 2010 Gubernatorial candidates forums to present their views to the public. However, there has been at least one noticeable gap in the questions put to the candidates so far: questions involving some particular recent and longer-term state-level developments that relate to the basic extent of government.

I pre-submitted a series of four questions to the major gubernatorial candidates on this subject and asked for an opportunity to interview the candidates directly. Presented next is the interview with Republican Party candidate John Robitaille.

Question 1: The legislative year began with the creation of a Teachers' Health Insurance Board, which on its face looks to be a violation of the separation-of-powers provision of the RI Constitution. We ended the year with the passage of a municipal fiscal stabilization bill, that can be basically used to suspend democratic governance in any RI municipality. Are we living through times right now that are so extreme that basic principles of democratic government need to be shoved aside?

Absolutely not. I am, as you probably know, a big Tenth Amendment proponent, and I as governor will support the other states in pushing back on the Obama health care plan. I believe it's unconstitutional for the Federal Government to force any Rhode Island citizen to buy anything... Audio: 38 sec

This healthcare committee, for the health insurance for teachers: bogus, I absolutely agree. Separation of powers said the executive branch will handle things within its purview... Audio: 26 sec

...I think the Central Falls situation was a very unique and unfortunate situation. The City Council and the Mayor already made a decision to go into the receivership, and my understanding is that that decision was made without any consultation at al, with any state resources from the Governor's office, the General Assembly...and you would think that a city that's already relying on the state to pay 100% of its school budget would have some obligation at least to see if there was another option... Audio: 37 sec

The question should be maybe restated. If a municipality is so irresponsible and its elected officials so corrupt that it is to the detriment of its citizens of that city and the citizens of the state, the question should be when and if should the state intervene to assist a community. I think that the city of Central Falls has, for years, been a corrupt city... Audio: 53 sec

...I think that since the city council and the Mayor took that first move, to say that we can't do it on our own, we need help from the court, they opened up the floodgate for intervention... Audio: 51 sec