— An Even Livelier Experiment —

March 6, 2013

A Literal Notebook Dump

Carroll Andrew Morse

To fill in some of the unplanned posting slack in these very interesting times we're living through, I present to you an actual notebook dump (with annotations). The underlined phrases are entries from my Anchor Rising dead-tree notebook, followed by a brief description of the posts they were (and still might) supposed to become. Meanwhile, some of the even bigger things going on in the world are being worked on, as fuller posts...

MJ & International treaties -- At the same time Rhode Island is considering decriminalizing marijuana, the United Nations is telling the Federal Government of the United States that it shouldn't let the states do this (Associated Press story here). There's potential for identifying some common ground, between folks that don't usually agree, about what makes government power legitimate. This is also an example to ponder about the degree to which treaties should or shouldn't be used to make law within the United States.

NLRB controversy -- You may have heard that the District of Columbia circuit court ruled that the President cannot make recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board if the Senate is not in recess (Washington Post story here). Because of this ruling, the NLRB no longer has a quorum for its meetings. What you may not know is that a further petition has been filed with the Court, asking it to suspend any further action in a Rhode Island case that was ruled on by the vacated NLRB members. Details of the Rhode Island case (United Nurses and Allied Professionals [Kent Hospital] and Jeanette Geary) are available here.

Predictability post -- We know that policymakers, especially economic policymakers, like to cite predictability as a goal, e.g. Governor Chafee saying his administration has "created a climate of certainty, stability, and predictability" in response to the latest state unemployment figures. However, predictability really shouldn't be a goal in and of itself, especially when what seems to be very predictable is people dropping out of the Rhode Island labor force.

Immigration/Amnesty proposals -- According to folks who follow this issue closely, the latest talk about "comprehensive immigration reform" coming from Washington's political elite all begins from the assumption that an immediate amnesty will be step 1 with other steps to follow -- but in all of these deals, the immediate amnesty is all that matters (and maybe the real goal), and everything else is just window dressing.

February 17, 2012

Chafee Proposes Funding Cuts to RI PBS

Patrick Laverty

Ok, I'm one of the first to admit that the Governor's proposed budget is worth even less than the paper it is written on and it's extremely possible that the Assembly treats this idea similar to the "broadening and lowering" of a year ago.

In Chafee's budget proposal, he suggests cutting the television channel's funding by just under half this year and then eliminating all state funding next year.

First, I'll suggest that it's not a good thing to cut funding for PBS. They do great things, from the obvious like Sesame Street and the old Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, or Julia Child or America's Test Kitchen. The local station has a great show in "A Lively Experiment." To me, this decision isn't a political football, it's more of a financial necessity. In case someone hasn't noticed, the RI economy isn't all that great. Funding is getting slashed in many different directions. What can be easily argued as more essential services are being cut. So if one of the victims in this situation needs to be Rhode Island's own PBS channel, so be it.

But what about the children, and Sesame Street? I just checked the Cox cable listings and with even the most basic cable package WGBH, Boston's PBS station, is included. So as long as the household has cable TV, PBS will still be available. But what if the house doesn't have cable? Well, here's an idea for you. Don't watch TV! I know, a heretical statement, but children can learn quite a bit without turning on the television. Reading books, trips to the library, and exploration are all great ways to learn.

What about "A Lively Experiment" and other local productions? Will those be lost? Yes, I assume it would and that would be unfortunate. However, with regard to A Lively Experiment, we have other similar shows available now like WPRI's Newsmakers, and WJAR and ABC6 sometimes have similar shows. Plus on RIPR, Ian Donnis and Scott MacKay have the Political Roundtable. So this kind of medium for discussing the issues would not be completely lost.

So while this doesn't seem like a perfect solution but with the state's deficit situation, unfortunately someone has to lose. Maybe the organization can do something to keep themselves afloat without state money, and I hope they can. But if they can't and if the choice is between RI PBS and a homeless child, then sorry, PBS is out of luck.

In Case You Missed It...

Carroll Andrew Morse

The Cranston School Committtee voted not to appeal the banner ruling, 5-2. Mark Schieldrop of the Cranston Patch liveblogged the proceedings.

Parker Gavigan of WJAR-TV (NBC 10) is in the middle of a two-part report about Central Falls, which includes this detail to be expounded upon...

City records show the chief of staff hired her lawyer's daughter last summer. Her mother worked at City Hall, too.
The Drudge link to the story presents Central Falls as the next Bell, California...
Bankrupt RI city pays 2 employees $56,000 a MONTH
(The headline refers to Receiver Robert Flanders and Chief-of-Staff Gayle Corrigan).

Rhode Island State police are investigating hundreds of thousands of dollars that the Institute for International Sport, based in South Kingstown and next to the University of Rhode Island campus, though not officially part of the university, cannot account for. John Mulligan of the Projo reports today that the Institute has been a favored recipient of Federal earmarks. According to the Hartford Courant, former Hasboro CEO Alan Hassenfeld's signature was forged on Institute documents, listing him as the Chairman of the Board. Hassenfeld says he was never on the board. The Associated Press has reported that the Institute says it's leaving the state anyway, and that its decision has nothing to do with the investigation into its financial problems.

Maine says it has to let one more county vote (New York Times report, USA Today report), and re-verify some other results, before it can declare a winner in its Republican Presidential caucuses. Ron Paul could still beat Mitt Romney, if and when the final votes are counted.

February 14, 2012

An Open Thread for Interesting Times

Carroll Andrew Morse

We've hit a bit of lull at Anchor Rising today, for reasons entirely unrelated to a lack of things happening in the world worth blogging about. Here are a few big-picture items on my list to cover, that I am planning to articulate upon over the next few weeks...

  • Local taxation numbers in Rhode Island, and what they tell us about how well various municipalities are run.
  • What the Cranston West Banner tells us about a progressive need for absolute purity (Cranston is an important counter-example to some cutting edge research into the nature of people's political beliefs).
  • Is Rhode Island an outlier in how it deals with its fiscal crisis, or will we be the first domino to fall on this side of the Atlantic, as 300 years of limited government democracy prove to be an anomaly, and the world resumes an unstoppable path to absolutist rule?
  • What it is that drives Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Providence to their blatantly hypocritical behavior.
  • What overall trends in Rhode Island educational scores seem to tell us (hint: it's not that teaching quality doesn't matter, and socio-economic status is unalterable destiny).
  • Why Mitt Romney's failure to connect with Republican voters is not just personal, but a product of the times.
The first post on local taxation numbers -- as Rhode Island heads toward what looks to be the next chapter of the "funding formula" debate, as schemes to raise statewide taxes to bail Providence out seem to be receiving an increasing number of mentions -- should be up within 24 hours.

Otherwise, consider this an open thread on what you think are the absolutely biggest issues facing your community, your state, your country and the world right now. Also, you can enjoy this picture of Hopkinton Town Councilman Scott Bill Hirst at CPAC (he's on the far left) which was used to headline the FrumForum website for a few hours yesterday. (Councilman Hirst's photo is the only thing in the linked blog item worth noting).

December 26, 2011

Fabulous - An "Office of the Repealer"

Monique Chartier

When the General Assembly reconvenes shortly, I would urge that both they and the Governor give very serious consideration to implementing this, out of Kansas.

A new “Office of the Repealer” has been created to reduce the number of laws and regulations, and the Repealer is canvassing the state for more cut suggestions.

Those who wonder about the need for this measure here in Rhode Island can click here .

Rhode Island is the third worst state in the nation to do business, according a ranking by Forbes.

The Ocean State earned the 48th spot on the “Best States for Business” ranking ...

The addition of a "Repealer" to state government cannot happen overnight, of course. So, in the interim (she observed optimistically), legislators should be encouraged, when filing a bill, to also submit a bill repealing an existing law or making a business regulation less onerous.

Let the repeal of the state's absurd boiler inspection law be just the start of Rhode Island's journey towards business friendliness -- or, at least for now, the beginning of its trip towards the anonymity offered by a middle-of-the-pack ranking in that very important listing.

October 28, 2009

East Providence's New Transparency of Government in Action: A Model for the General Assembly

Monique Chartier

As we recently learned, the broadcast of General Assembly committee hearings is not automatic but, remarkably, left up to the discretion of the committee chair. Further, if the committee chair makes the correct decision to flip on the camera, viewership is then limited to cable television customers, leaving out in the cold those of us who, several years ago, turned our cable boxes in with disdain and a certain smugness.

Contrast, now, to the City of East Providence which, last Thursday - cue horn florish - began live streaming and archiving city council meetings on the internet. No longer are East Providence citizens and fans concerned citizens from around the state desiring to observe the latest actions by the city council subject to the whim of an elected official or subjugated to an overpriced method of communication.

What say you, Mr. Speaker and Madam Senate President? In the meantime, perhaps some counseling is in order for those committee chairs who have a irrational fear of circuses and basic legislative functions.

[H/T ABC6 Providence.]

September 29, 2005

An Even Livelier Experiment, 9/29/05

Carroll Andrew Morse

As an experiment of our own, AnchorRising will be liveblogging responses to tonights installment of A Lively Experiment, Rhode Island public televisions public affairs roundtable (Channel 36, 7:30 pm). This is not intended as a comprehensive review of the program, but as a supplement helping to add ideas and insights to the existing dialogue. My brilliant insigts are in italics.

This weeks host-of-the-week: Susan Farmer

Issue 1: The American Express Building

Bob Watson is boring the viewing audience to death with an its all about process argument. Maureen Moakley is not bothered by the process so far, whats happened so far is just a first step. Guy Dufault said legislative leadership couldnt tell the Governor about their plans because the Gov would have went public because the Gov is a pressmonger. Isnt the bully pulpit part of the executives job? Whatever the merits of buying the building, Dufault is killing Watson on the process issue.

Dave Layman chimes in about substance! Is buying the building a good idea or not? Why does the state government need premium real estate in the networked age? And should government be buying up Class A property. Moakley says citizens should have Class A property for interfacing with government.

Farmer adds that even if the state buys the building, it still has to lease the land the building sits on for something like $18,000 per month.

Issue 2: Voter Initiative

Dufault says its stupidest idea Ive ever heard Doesnt he favor a vote on gambling? Unions would press a minimum wage hike. People will vote themselves mandatory buisness-provided healthcare. Its a boondoggle everywhere theyve tried it.

Watson says RI wouldnt need voter initiative if better ideas came out of the legislature. He doesnt outright endorse it, but says that it should be looked at very carefully. Farmer points out that VI can prevent good legislation from getting lost in committee.

Moakley states that few politial scientists approve of VI. Interesting. I've never heard that before. She claims cliams that people with money win the voter initiatives, and that the Republicans shouldnt pursue insitutional changes simply because they dont have enough seats in legislature. Layman states that 34 states have VI, and most have not gotten rid of it. Laughs at the idea that VI invites manipulation by big money, isnt that what we have already?

Dufault says VI bypasees the electoral process. A tad incoherent there, Guy. VI directly involves the electoral process. As Dufault and Watson start into a partisan back-and-forth about who has better ideas, it's time for the hook on this issue.

Issue 3: Disaster Evacuation Plans

Farmer says that when she was RI Secretary of State, the formal evac plan for RI was drive to NH. Moakley says theyre workng on a plan. Moakley adds that its understandable that theyre still working on a plan, given how fast events occurred. Haven't we known at least since 1938 that hurricanes pose a serious threat to RI? Watson mentions that Aquidnick Island poses major concerns. Layman adds the danger is not just weather, we need to consider response to terrorism. Moakely says we need less disjointed processes between local, state, and federal govts.

Farmer reads an e-mail: Dufault sucked as host last week.

Moakley: Too many giveways as part of disaster relief, in the form of no-bid contracts, exemptions from environmental regulations, etc.
Dufault: Hypocricsy that Gov supports general VI, but opposes vote on gaming. 88% want right to vote on Casino! Dufault's gone incoherent again, basically arguing we should have a vote on a casino, but nothing else.
Layman: Giving 250 billion to the corrupt Louisiana political system is a mistake. Hes got lots of facts to back up the corruption charge.
Watson: Too much secrecy in govenrment. Mentions film commission. Probably true, bland as butterscotch.

September 15, 2005

An Even Livelier Experiment

Carroll Andrew Morse

As an experiment of our own, AnchorRising will be liveblogging responses to tonight’s installment of “A Lively Experiment”, Rhode Island public television’s public affairs roundtable (Channel 36, 7:30 pm). This is not intended as a comprehensive review of the program, but as a supplement helping to add ideas and insights to the existing dialogue.


They just said their good-bye to Steve Kass (Kass is leaving to become Don Carcieri's communications director).

Topic 1: According to all 4 panelists, Steve Laffey has no chance. Because he is he is too conservative for the electorate (Lila Sapinsley) and becasue the electorate is too conservative for him (Dave Layman). As has been the case so far, most of the Laffey/Chafee discussion quickly becomes a Laffey discussion. Is this a good thing for an incumbent Senator?

Topic 2: Credit to Roger Begin; he wants tougher controls against voter fraud. Most panelists agree. Maureen Moakley has some reservations.

Topic 3: Roberts confirmation. Sapinsley, a Chafee Republican is strongly behind Roberts. Will Senator Chafee's support be as strong?

Begin: We need a climate in this state that does not alienate successful people. This is Begin's second major break with Dem CW. Is he planning to run for something? Or are you free to say what you want when you're not running for anything?
Sapinsley: Pays tribute to Kass, but adds that Don Carcieri is too conservative!
Layman: Tribute to Kass.
Moakley: State legislature shouldn't repeal gas tax. The country needs to find energy alternatives instead.