April 5, 2011

Block Edges Toward the Border

Justin Katz

It seems as if Rhode Island's current government is pushing Moderate Party founder and gubernatorial candidate Ken Block toward an extreme:

Every year at this time, my accountant looks me in the eye and says I'm nuts to own a business in Rhode Island. ...

A 6 percent hit to my bottom line is more than enough to cause me to move my software business out of the state — as fast as humanly possible, taking more than $100,000 in state and local taxes with me when I move a few miles across the border.

I suspect that Mr. Block is far from alone, among those who've striven to improve Rhode Island's governance, in his growing sense of opposition's futility and willingness to turn from fight to flight. Certain groups may find that to be a positive development; most should not.

Still, one cannot touch on this topic without noting that, as Chafee was the far-left independent candidate, many voters treated Block as another choice on the center right. It's reasonable to suggest that, but for the 6.5% of the vote that Block drew to himself, Lincoln Chafee would not now be our governor. In that regard, Ken is fortunate that he has the resources to escape what he helped to bring about, should he so choose.

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Ken Block is a very smart, and decent guy. He had every right to run. But it also illustrates his lack of political savvy that he watched the dynamics of the last few weeks of the campaign and persisted, rather than throwing his support to John Robitaille. Certainly in that sense the outcome can reasonably be pinned on him.

It's not unusual for great business people to seem so dumb in politics. It's a different sport from business with different rules, and requires different skills.

Posted by: BobN at April 5, 2011 8:02 AM

Block is a liar, hypocrite and fraud.
He PUBLICLY claimed his party would focus on economic issues and was open to all comers on social issues.
But PRIVATELY he told anyone wanting to run on his ticket that they must share his anti-Christian genocidal ideology which is further to the left than Castro or North Korea. This is not hyperbole-you will note that neither Cuba or N. Korea have the grotesque reality of homosexual Freak Show "marriage".

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at April 5, 2011 8:51 AM

One has to wonder how the Moderate Party candidates feel about Block's "threat" to leave the state (he also mentioned moving out of state if he moved the business) after so many worked to build his new party. Perhaps just an idle threat, but if I were them I'd certainly think twice before donating money or opting to run next time around.

Posted by: Russ at April 5, 2011 9:49 AM

I take umbrage at the above anti-gay comments by Tommy. Mr. Cranston, The Moderate Party attracts socially progressive people like me. I am happy to sit beside the catholics and jehovah's witness under their tent. If you don't like gays, perhaps you should leave the tent, we have enough problems without your rednecked schwill.

As to Mr. Block, he has the right idea. I'm moving my business out of the state. That's the trouble with Rhode Island: you're either a budweiser swilling hillbilly like Tommy of Cranston or you're a tax and spend liberal. There seems to be no place for moderates in this dismal state.

Posted by: Chuck at April 5, 2011 12:30 PM

I take umbrage at the above anti-gay comments by Tommy. Mr. Cranston, The Moderate Party attracts socially progressive people like me. I am happy to sit beside the catholics and jehovah's witness under their tent. If you don't like gays, perhaps you should leave the tent, we have enough problems without your rednecked schwill.

As to Mr. Block, he has the right idea. I'm moving my business out of the state. That's the trouble with Rhode Island: you're either a budweiser swilling hillbilly like Tommy of Cranston or you're a tax and spend liberal. There seems to be no place for moderates in this dismal state.

Posted by: Chuck at April 5, 2011 12:30 PM

Please quit your bellyaching. The idea that Block was a spoiler just isn't true. The people I know who voted for him ranged from liberals who would NEVER vote for 'another Carcieri' (a lot of us felt really betrayed by Don's ever-increasing focus on social issues) to conservatives who felt that as long as the legislature was totally dominated by the left, someone with fresh new ideas may have had a fighting chance in simplifying things.

A huge portion of Rhode Island feels just like Ken does... Liberal social values don't need to go hand-in-hand with self-destructive fiscal policy.

As for the issue at-hand... For someone who's used opportunities in the freelance consulting world to broaden my skill set and 'bootstrap' a career (from high-school near-dropout to middle class professional), the idea of taxing services and forcing me into a complex world of reporting and paperwork that the Chafee plan outlines is a career-killer. Since I just report all my side income as schedule-C 'income', the additional 6% on the 25% of my earnings that come from freelancing would mean... (drumroll please) That I would effectively pay THE SAME INCOME TAX RATE (5.9%) AS A MILLIONAIRE, even though I'm making under $80K. Not to mention the hassle of reporting and paperwork this would entail.

Posted by: mangeek at April 5, 2011 12:42 PM

Enough of this unsubstantiated crapola about me costing Robitaille the election. He lost on his own accord by doing nothing to appeal to the centrist voter.

I have both anecdotal and polling data that show that my support came from across the political spectrum. Can you show me data that says otherwise?

If anything, Caprio really took the victory away from John by locking up a lot of the business vote early on in the cycle.

You run for election - you do not run away from election.

I ran to keep a fledgling party qualified in one of the toughest states to do so. Along the way, a lot of voters thought I was a pretty good choice.

You propose that Robitaille should have won as the 'lesser of two evils' candidate.

I propose that centrist voters desperately need a better choice than a bleeding heart liberal or a raging core conservative.

Your image of the ideal candidate does not translate to the vast majority of RI voters.

Posted by: Ken Block at April 5, 2011 4:58 PM

Hey Kenny-
If you wanted to run as a social marxist/economically sane hybrid, FINE. I wouldn't vote for you but at least you would be honest.
Instead, you ran as a snake and a scumbag PRETENDING to be open to candidates of all beliefs while telling prospective candidates in private that they must share your Stalinistic Anti-Christian ideology on social issues to run as a "Moderate".
Do you deny this? Do you deny making vicious and hate filled anti-Christian remarks to prospective candidates? We both know the truth don't we Kenny? This is about the fourth time I have asked you directly these questions here and your non-response is truly deafening.
My opinion-don't let the door hit your a** on the way out.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at April 5, 2011 7:46 PM

Tommy, what you're saying just isn't true. I myself was filtered out from the Moderate Party's list of candidates, in no small part because of my far-left social values. Remember, Block supported E-Verify.

I suspect many 'core conservatives' were also filtered out because -they already have a party-.

In your world, anyone who's not a die-hard social and fiscal conservative is a baby-killing Marxist. Frankly, I feel like your comments make this site much more entertaining, but add little to the debate. If you feel the way you do about gay people (whom you regularly call Sodomites) and other ideas that don't derive directly from a perverse reading of scripture, I suggest you move to Nicaragua where the church you seem to like and state are thoroughly intertwined. Send me a postcard!

Posted by: mangeek at April 5, 2011 8:01 PM

No Ken, your analysis is wrong. Robitaille voters did not see him as a "lesser of two evils" candidate, but as the only one who believed in originalist Constitutional principles and personal/economic liberty. I listened to you in many forums - you are a believer in big government telling people what to do. You just think you can do that more efficiently and that the things you would order people to do are better than what Democrats say.

There is no place in my political world for politicians who advocate an expansive view of government power beyond what the Founders created.

Posted by: BobN at April 5, 2011 8:04 PM

There are many reasons why Chafee was elected including blue hairs that voted for a name, his pandering to public employee unions, apathetic voters, and his 'Trust Chafee' lie that he would only raise the sales tax one percent. You can't tell me that Caprio didn't loose some votes to Chafee after the 'shove it' comment. At times during the debates, Ken did a little public employee pandering himself. While I didn't vote for Ken, you really can't put the election results on his candidacy. Is their anyone that's really surprised we elected another liberal?

Posted by: Max Diesel at April 5, 2011 10:16 PM

@BobN -

You missed the point. Of course core Robitaille voters thought that he was the cat's meow.

The problem is the 60+% of voters who did not vote for Robitaille. He has to convince them that he is the guy - and he failed to do so.

In a 2-way race would John have won - ala Carcieri v. York for example?

I'm not so sure, because even though Chafee has post-election defined himself as a progressive, he did not run that way and he did also garner a lot of GOP votes.

John tied up a lot of the GOP vote in RI but not much more.

Getting back to my lesser of two evils statement: anyone who claims that I caused John to lose by my presence in the race assumes that everyone who voted for me would have voted for John if I wasn't there. That is a bad assumption.

Voters should not only have a choice at the extremes of the political spectrum, which is what an election held tomorrow might look like between Robitaille and Chafee based on the last campaign and Chafee's actions since taking office.

Posted by: Ken Block at April 6, 2011 6:18 AM

Ken, you're entitled to your opinion but your analysis is still wrong. Chafee was obviously the Leftist candidate during the campaign. I don't know if any polls exist that would provide the right data to determine how your voters would have gone in your absence, but if you do perhaps you could point me to them.

Robitaille was rising quickly at the end; I contend that had the campaign run for another week he would have won, even in the four-way race.

Your attempt to label Robitaille as "extreme" laughable. What's "extreme" about restoring the original principles on which our country was founded, the ones that made it great? Until you realize that freedom is the solution to the human condition, I will oppose you anywhere you try to go in politics. But other than that one aspect, I think you're a great guy.

Posted by: BobN at April 6, 2011 7:05 AM

What's with this new trend of having lost an election, the candidate who had been telling voters how much they care for the voters, their families,the small businesses, the state, pack up and leave. I know Mr. Block is only threatening to leave,unlike the the would be US Senator who left RI for Colorado and is now trying his hand at keeping Irish animals at his ranch. (I kid you not) What is the voter to do? Do we fall for those with all the answers and the apocalyptic certainty of destruction if we do not follow their lead? Is it unfair to ask these self styled reformers if they're going to stick around for a little while if things get difficult? Or do we just wait for the next carnival to come to town with its charlatans and snakeoil salesmen trying to sell us the tonics and elixirs that will heal every ill. They'll entertain for awhile and then roll out of town in the middle of a moonless night.

Posted by: Phil at April 6, 2011 7:43 AM

Phil -

You have totally misconstured the message in my Projo opinion piece. Also - the title in the print version of the Projo was theirs - my title showed up in the online version and was "Chafee tax plan is bad for RI businesses".

IF my business is slapped with a 6% tax on the services that my business provides to other businesses, then I move that business in a heartbeat across the state line - as any right thinking business owner would do.

Posted by: Ken Block at April 6, 2011 12:24 PM

Mr. Block

I'll admit that I did not read your OP/ed piece so I'll apologize for lumping you in with the Irish animal rancher. I liked the way you presented yourself to the public during the campaign. I guess I'm reacting to the general negativity in the state. I own a small business that grows and sells oysters. I am all in in this state. I hope to be part of getting Rhode Island oysters known nationally. I have just invested my money in buying the most seed oysters for this year than in any year since starting up.

Posted by: Phil at April 6, 2011 7:03 PM

Phil-how exactly does that work?
I know lobstermen have pots that are theirs,but how do you maintain sole proprietary rights over oysters?
Is some part of the bay cordoned off to particular oyster farmers?
How does an oyster farmer know exactly where his beds are and where someone else's begin?
It all sounds kind of hard to manage .

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 7, 2011 7:06 AM


After submitting plans as to the type of gear and method, location and size of the proposed site to the CRMC's aquaculture director, I had to have the plans reviewed by DEM, the Army Corp of Engineers, an advisory board of DEM , fishermen groups, the Narragansett Tribe, The town or city abutting the site, the Harbormaster of that town. There were a few objections of fishermen at the time and slight changes were made to the original plans. After months of meetings and approvals the site was granted with an annual lease payment, and an insurance bond. The site is marked out by CRMC buoy markers. I also have to mantain a $200 aquaculture license in addition to the shellfishing license.
This all came about after the General Assembly passed an aquaculture bill designed to streamline the permitting process and ensure that those that were granted sites actually use them in accordance to rules set down. Balancing the rights of wild fishermen ( I am still one of those), recreational activity and promoting the expansion of aquaculture has gone fairly smoothly. There was fear that large areas of the bay would be privatized was also addressed and most farm sites are 5- 10 acres in size. Sites are not granted if there is evidence of active wild fishing or if the density of wild shellfish already existing on the site is of a certain amount. I don't know the number offhand. I work in both wild hunting and gathering and growing and harvesting and I think the program is working.

Posted by: Phil at April 7, 2011 5:47 PM

Part of the problem here, is that many of you are scapegoating once again. Chafee won, and please just accept it. No more whining and pouting like 2 year olds who got the wrong toy. Cruelty seems to be the new trend in America as well as not respecting the elected candidate who truly earned it and deserves the credit, not the losers. They lost so forget about them, the 2010 election was very fair and Chafee has what it takes, he's the right choice, thank God he got elected governor. And not to mention you will not find a better candidate anywhere in America than Linc Chafee, he's just a perfect person!

Posted by: perfect lady at April 7, 2011 9:11 PM

Is "perfect lady" a spoof? Does Governor Fredo have his own Lady Gaga?

Posted by: BobN at April 8, 2011 4:02 PM
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