February 25, 2012

You Don't Like Your Politicians Much, Do You?

Patrick Laverty

Wow, more than a few of our elected leaders can't be too thrilled with the results of a recent Brown University poll.

For starters, just when you thought that David Cicilline's numbers couldn't get much worse than the 17% approval rating that he put up last year, he did get worse in this, an election year. He's now polling at 14.8%. Herculean feats like that are unheard of. Dan McGowan suggests that it might be the worst approval rating ever for a RI politician. Even Ed DiPrete had an 18% rating. Imagine that.

So hey, how was your rush hour commute around Providence and Warwick Thursday night? Hope you didn't have dinner reservations anywhere as I-95 northbound was closed from Warwick to Providence so the Vice President could attend a fundraiser for Sheldon Whitehouse. I can't even imagine the anger that stewed in some of those cars that were lined up for miles, so it shouldn't really be any surprise that Whitehouse only received a 29.6% approval rating for the job he's doing in the Senate. When you co-sponsor things like SOPA and fly in the Vice President at rush hour and things don't seem to be getting much better in "Road" Island, that's about the rating you get. On the bright side Senator, you almost doubled Cicilline's score.

Our Governor can't be feeling too comfortable either. He was elected with a 36.1% plurality, yet since then, the numbers have been dropping. He's moved from 32.1% shortly after the election, to 27.4% back in December and sits at 22.1% today. I can't quite understand why people in the state would be unhappy with Chafee. A year ago, he presented a budget that called for taxing many more things in the state and then this year, he wants to raise taxes on one of the things that Rhode Island seems to have going for it, its restaurants. Luckily for Chafee, it's not an election year.

When people in the State Assembly see numbers like 62.9% believe RI is "on the wrong track" and 95.5% responded that RI's economy is either "not so good" or "poor" and only 3.3% rated it as "good", isn't that really a time when you can push for some radical change? Isn't that the time when you really start looking at the way things have been done for decades and then decide, "let's start doing the opposite now?" One great start would be to enact the "Right to Work" legislation that is up at the State House this year.

Another part that I wanted to take a look at after hearing Matt Allen talk about it the other night on the radio was where responders were asked if they were in favor of certain tax increases and what they thought about the Governor's suggestions for cutting some state run programs. Of course, very few ever want to have their taxes raised. But when you look at the questions, I can clearly see how people are answering those. You have the people who will say no to any increase in taxes, but there are of course some people who said yes to these increases. Clearly, those are people who would be unaffected by the increase, or at least that's their belief. 34.4% support tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. Hey, I don't use that bridge at all, so why not. 71.1% support a four cent increase on the cigarette tax, already the highest in the nation, but that number is probably pretty close to the percentage of non-smokers. 38.6% support an increase in the hotel tax. How many Rhode Islanders stay in a Rhode Island hotel? Sure, tax those tourists...if we still get any. 18.1% support the increased restaurant tax. Ok, now this is one that hits more Rhode Islanders in the wallet. Thus, the lowest number. It's ok to tax everyone else, just don't tax me is what I see in these results.

But back to Matt Allen's points. 48.2% oppose vs. 33.6% support cuts to UHC and NHP health insurance plans. Don't hurt my medical coverage! 42.8% oppose taking away free dental coverage for adults. I honestly didn't even know that was an option in this state. And all this time, I've been paying for my dental insurance. 44.7% oppose cutting funding to RI PBS. We need our Big Bird and Elmo, even though anyone with cable can still get WGBH in Boston. 64.2% opposed cuts for child care support. It is interesting to see numbers like this and hear people saying that they want services that they don't want to pay for.

I think the big takeaway from this study should be that Cicilline and Whitehouse should be a little nervous in their re-election bid and it should be advertising fodder for Brendan Doherty and Barry Hinckley in their campaigns against the incumbents. Also, with the numbers further trending downward, this should serve as a notice to the leaders on Smith Hill to try something different, to try a different direction than they've gone for the last 40-50 years. Maybe they shock the state back to the right direction.

In the meantime, Waterfire season will be coming soon. At least that's a great thing about Rhode Island, right?

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Waterfire! I just clicked the link and noticed all the begging. Has anyone else ever looked at the salaries at Waterfire? I am not sure who pays for all of those first class jaunts to other cities that want to imitate it, I suppose that is just life in the "not for profit" world.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at February 25, 2012 11:04 AM

Waterfire is a HUGE rip off. They get money from the city of Providence, State of RI, (approx 1 million) and they are shoving the donation buckets in your face every five seconds. And every event is paid for by corporate sponsors. How much is a cord of wood going for? The events are run by volunteers. Barnaby Evans has the greatest scam going!

Posted by: JimJebow at February 25, 2012 12:35 PM

My wife and I went to it once years ago.It was okay,but we never bothered to go back.
I was in all the crowds I ever want to be growing up using the NYC subway system daily.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 26, 2012 4:51 AM

Agreed, Waterfire should be investigated. A presumed scam, publicly supported, utterly opaque (non-transparent). Probably violates all kinds of environmental laws.

Posted by: Bill at February 27, 2012 10:54 PM
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