November 9, 2010

Take the Money and Run: Or, This here's a Story about Ralphy-Pete and Gina-Liz...*

Marc Comtois

I will give credit to Governor-elect Chafee for having the good political sense of declining his statutory raise and putting the funds towards government employee recognition awards. (Producer Kara on the Helen Glover Show likened it to the Dundies given by the boss on The Office, Michael Scott. The "Chafees"?). So far, he's the only one of the recently elected RI General officers to decline putting the money in his pocket:

Kilmartin spokesman Brett Broesder suggested the new attorney general has no choice. He said: "The salary increase is mandated by statute. Therefore, this is a matter of law, not politics. "

Echoed Roberts' spokeswoman Maria Tocco: "The salaries for the five statewide elected positions are set by statute. The lieutenant governor has no control over the level of pay set for the office. Along with other state employees, she will continue to participate in pay reduction days that resume in January."

Added Mollis spokesman: Chris Barnett: "State law limits general officers who serve two terms to one raise over the eight-year span. This will be the only increase from his first day in office in 2007 to the day he leaves office in 2015.''

But, "he will continue to take part in the state's deficit-reduction plan through furlough days along with all his colleagues in state government.''

A Raimondo spokeswoman said only that she would accept the higher salary and nothing more.

Whoda thunk it would be Mr. Chafee who'd be the one showing the most political acumen amongst these newly elected pols?

*Apologies to Steve Miller.

ADDENDUM (11/10/10): Gee, you put up one post noting an unexpected display of political acumen by Governor-elect Chafee and suddenly you're considered a bedazzled, befuddled and bemused bouquet thrower! Forgotten are the plethora of posts where I've noted a lack of, shall we say, candlepower, in our new governor. Despite the criticism, I still stand by what I said: that, politically, Chafee handled the raise issue better than others. But apparently memories are short and I needed to provide more elaboration so people didn't think I was being hoodwinked by our New Great and Powerful OZ. Here goes.

Basically, the bar is set so low when it comes to the soon-to-be Governor that I was surprised by the gesture. I was also surprised that, of all the general officers, it was Chafee who pulled this one out of his hat. However, and I didn't think I needed to explain this (my bad), implicit in my acute evaluation of this display of "good political acumen" was a concomitant evaluation in how it will be received by the voting public. Call it cynical or realistic, but based on my observations of the RI electorate, I believe a lot of naive voters will think good ol' Linc is doing the right thing by passing along his raise to the "little folks" that work in government. I probably also should have mentioned something that I thought when first hearing this: why didn't the independently wealthy Chafee just set aside his entire salary? The fact that he didn't forgo his entire salary reveals a certain shallowness to the gesture. In other words, though I think it was a case of Chafee playing populist--and that it will be, on balance, a little win for him--that doesn't mean I approve of the motive or his policies any more than I did before. It certainly doesn't mean I'm going to give him a pass.

That being said, I get what the criticism, particularly Dan Yorke's, was about: don't let the crazy uncle set the bar so low that we underestimate him and his policies when he's actually clear on something. As Dan illustrated by using e-verify as an example: when our new governor really has a concrete idea on something, we'll be able to tell. We'll just have to learn how to tune out the emotion-based ramblings so we can focus on the occasionally clear signals Chafee does send.

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I'd respect people like Kilmartin and Roberts a lot more (that is, I might have some respect for them) if they would just come out and say that they are taking the money because they want it. "I'd reject it, but the truth is I could really use it." There's nothing wrong with being honest.

Posted by: Mario at November 9, 2010 8:20 AM

"I will give credit to Governor-elect Chafee for having the good political sense of declining his statutory raise and putting the funds towards government employee recognition awards."

... but, Marc, isn't the decision kind of overshadowed by where he chose to direct that raise?

Posted by: Monique at November 9, 2010 10:44 AM

So Dan is telling the Tea Party to fold up??? And describing Marc as a victim of Chafee whose mind is melting???

As a friend just said of Dan's observations, "This is not productive".

I tuned in because that friend told me Dan was talking about Anchor Rising. I'll just be tuning back out now.

Perhaps someone can alert me when Dan stops reacting, as he has been doing for several years, so destructively to the slight and non-existent faults of the political good guys.

Posted by: Monique at November 9, 2010 11:06 AM

Kilmartin and Roberts both served in the GA.Did they vote for this?
A question that needs to be answered.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 9, 2010 5:37 PM

One of Dan Yorke's frequent and favorite "street guy" justifications for his supporting the villain/kicking the hero is "ya know, I don't agree with (insert name here), but I'd sit down and have a beer with him..." Ugh.

I'm still hoping that Dan will someday move on to a bigger media market, someplace else, but he's been here ten years now, so we're probably stuck with him. He is the most repulsive of the local WPRO hosts, even more so than John DePetro, and that's saying a lot.

Posted by: Chris at November 9, 2010 5:48 PM

What's really "repulsive" union scum is that I'm paying as much in property tax for a 1 bath 3 bed nothing ranch on 10,000 SF of land than Laffey is for a mansion on 40 acres in Colorado.
That's "progressive".

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at November 9, 2010 7:23 PM

Why so sensitive Monique?? Marc deserved that gentle slap from Dan. The bouquet he threw Chafee's way is embarrassing. Chafee pulls some last second lame idea out of his arse in reaction to a Tea Party press release and that draws praise for political acumen?? What?? One of the reasons Dan cited for slapping at Marc was the high level commentary usually found here at AR.

Posted by: Tim at November 9, 2010 7:56 PM


You're right on one point, but it's not about Chafee's political instincts. Rather, it's about the symbolism of his giveaway.

Wherease for the last eight years gov. Carcieri has played the part of the Dutch uncle, tightening the purse strings of state government when it comes to private sector unions in a rather realistic stance, Chafee has signaled within just a week's time that he will coddle and kowtow to the unions in a way we haven't seen in decades.

By setting aside his raise for state workers, chafee may as well be hanging up the 'Gone Fishing' sign for the next four years when in comes to negotiations with the unions. Chafee is totally out to lunch; he is detached from the reality of life in the real world. This is only evidence of that. State workers don't need Dundies, they need a reality check.

I know too many people who are worried about keeping their jobs to applaud this idea...and none of them are state workers.

Why not put the money -- or all of his salary for that matter -- toward a micro-loan fund for small businesses that actually could help grow the economy? Why award bureaucracy? This is not a laudable plan.

Throw in the fact that he wants to raise the sales taxes on just about every human neccesity, and you don't have political saavy, you have political tone deafness.

Really, this whole thing is disgusting. And while i'm not much for conspiracy theories, i wouldn't be surprised to find out that this idea came straight from Bob Walsh.

Posted by: Ahab at November 9, 2010 8:57 PM
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