Category: Local Politics

RI Rep Joe Trillo sounds like a he’s put a lot of deep thought into this:

“I think a majority of people have a problem using the word ‘marriage.’ I think the word ‘marriage’ needs to be preserved for a man and a woman because it is different,” Trillo said. “It would be like calling soccer, ‘football.’ Both kick a ball around but the game is played differently.”

Were a bill allowing same-sex marriage to make it to his desk as governor, Trillo said he would let a public poll determine whether he vetoed it. “If over 60 percent of the people supported gay marriage … I would not veto it.” Conversely, he says he would “absolutely” sign into law Republican Sen. Leo Blais’ bill to prohibit same-sex marriage.

Maybe he doesn’t know that soccer is called football almost everywhere else in the world? And maybe he doesn’t know what representative democracy is. You want to run a poll? Why do we need you to be governor, then?

And because I think it’s important to keep putting this out there: I think it’s an embarrassment that Rhode Island doesn’t allow our gay friends and neighbors and fellow citizens the legal right to marry the person they love. An embarrassment.

OK then.

Well, I voted early (but not often. What, do you think we have Diebold machines or something?) Final count: 7 Democrats, 4 Republicans, 1 Independent, 6 yeas and 3 nays. If you haven’t gone to the polls yet, and care about what I think, here’s part 2 of my electoral musings:

I decided to draw the line next to Rod Driver’s name. Is this perennial candidate a little out there? Sure, but if you ask me, that’s what the House of Representatives is for! Really, though, his recent letter to the editor [no link, projo is dead today] sealed the deal. Good stuff. I like Congressman Langevin quite a bit, so I’m not too worried about this race.

The big one, of course, is our Senate race. Along with Montana, Tennessee and Virginia, we’re making a decision here in little Rhody that is going to affect the entire nation. It’s not a decision I take lightly. Before the campaign started, it seemed to me the decision would hinge on the one vote that counts the most: who will control the senate. And that’s the campaign Whitehouse ran. The ads were pretty good, excepting the few negatives we had in there (Chafee’s not defending our ports? Whitehouse didn’t prosecute the Roger Williams guys? Come on.) I even like Linc’s latest, “People tell me, I like you Linc, but I have to send Bush a message.” That’s exactly how I feel. And Chafee’s answer wasn’t enough to keep me from voting for Sheldon this morning. I’m convinced that the best thing for this country is a Democrat controlled Senate, and Chafee just can’t deliver there.

Is there any issue I’ll miss less than the Question 1 ads? Not likely. Of course, if a majority of my fellow Ocean Staters join me in voting NO on the casino, I’m sure that won’t be the last we hear from Chief Sachem Thomas and the Harrah’s Bunch (good band name). This vote vexed me a little, because I couldn’t really find a coherent philosophical reason for voting against this, it was mostly a gut decision. Both sides got a little ridiculous (the Narragansetts’ “no more broken promises” and Save Our State’s “a casino looming over an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!” come to mind) with the ads, so that was a wash. My feeling was that the benefits of supposedly lower taxes (doubtful) and increased tourism monies would be more than outweighed by the social, environmental and economic costs (especially in Providence).

I was pretty disappointed in the ProJo reversing their long held position against the casino. Something smells fishy to me on that one. I was also concerned about the progressive community’s embrace of the question 1. I usually try to defend Rhode Island’s lefties despite their usual complete lack of understanding of economics (I’m generalizing here), but I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot on this. Pumping money to Harrah’s is not economic development for RI.

So there you have it, 2006 as it played out in my brain. I hope you thought about what was important to you and voted too. I can’t wait for tonight!

Connecting the Arrows

From the heart of RI Monthly’s Best Place for Republicans comes Bil’s 2006 election spectacular! This year we’ll be riding the zeitgeist and voting for Democrats, voting for independents, voting for, yup, Republicans, screwing the Indians (again) and maybe, just maybe, Keeping Chafee.

Despite being completely inundated with teevee ads, I have to say I enjoyed this election season in RI. It got a little sloppy, but nothing disgusting.

First off, Charlie Fogarty won me over. I don’t mind the Don, and I think he’s been good for the state counterbalancing the state legislature. Charlie took the right course, though, running as “same low corruption, more getting stuff done.” I like it. The gubenatorial ads were probably the best of the season, too, with Fogarty starting funny, then answering anti-Fogarty ads with class. So I’m voting Charlie tomorrow. That said, if Don Carcieri wins, I think we’ll be in pretty good hands.

For Lt. Governor, I’m ditching my boy Bob Healey and his Cool Moose party. Honestly, I’m getting a little sick of him. If you want to be a candidate, well then be one. Less ego, more substance! So I’m going with Elizabeth Roberts, who pretty much everyone agrees kicks ass.

I’m not voting for Patrick Lynch. I just can’t. I think the Station Nightclub families can be a little… over the top sometimes, but they’re right on this one. Lynch doesn’t deserve his job back. Now, can I vote for Bill “his name says it all” Harsch? It’s going to be a voting booth decision.

Coming up, our federal races, and all the yea or nay madness we call: Referenda 2006!

Voting Like a MoFo

I never thought being a registered Republican (for all of five minutes this morning) would feel so good. I made a quick stop on my walk to work this morning to pull the lever draw the line though the arrow (doesn’t sounds as good, does it?) for my Warwick homie Linc Chafee. I have no idea if our junior senator is going to hold off Mayor Laffey, but I’ve cast my vote. You should probably do the same, and we’ll see what happens tonight!

Independents Day

I heard the other day that more Americans than ever are growing disgruntled with President Bush, and it turns out that this particular factoid came from a 50 state poll. What fun! Who loves their Dubya the most? Not Texas, but Utah! In fact, there’s only 6 states where our Commander in Chief has support over the 50% mark.

Wondering which state is at the other end of the chart? The state where you’re least likely to, say, get your window bashed in for, say, having a non-flattering Bush sticker on your car? Did you guess Vermont? Taxachusetts? Oregon? Nope, it’s none other than the smallest state with the biggest hate, Rhode Island. Only 1 in 4 Ocean Staters are likely to approve of 43’s performance on the job. Ouch.

One of the neat things about living in the Biggest Little is the relative frequency you can run into your various elected officials a few times a year (alright, this is an extremely lame thing to be saying, I’m realizing as I type this). I think it’s cool to see Jack Reed at the same restaurant as you, or to maybe see Patrick Kennedy push around airport employees in person. It really reminds you they’re real people.

For instance, Congressman Langevin was two rows in front of me at Trinity’s Christmas Carol two weeks ago (why does he get the good seat when I have to trudge up a bunch of stairs?! Oh, wait…) The week before that I was at the market* and there’s Linc Chafee buying some groceries. I came thisclose to warning him about the space invaders who apparently do Steve Laffey’s bidding, but I wasn’t sure if that’s the kind of thing you say to your Senator when he’s in the check-out line.

I’m still waiting for people to come up to me at the market and say “Are you Bil Herron? I used to love your website before you completely abandoned it!” So, don’t be embarrassed if you see me on one of those rare occassions I leave the house.

So you’re like, a wicked popular guy, everyone loves you, you have lots of friends, and you’ve got a sweet website where you put up pictures. Then, you get in a fight with one of your friends, ‘cuz he said some mean stuff and wouldn’t let you order for him at that fancy restaurant. Whatcha gonna do? If you said “run any pictures of that jerk (and his kids!) through some photoshop filters and post them back up on your (Senatorial) MySpace with a, oh man, really funny ‘disclaimer’“, then you’re right!

Now, there was never much chance that I’d draw the line to Laffey’s name under “US Senator,” so I’m going to pretend stuff like this could lose my vote, but come on. You’re embarrassing us, Mr. Mayor!

What happened to the staid statesmanship of our legislature’s upper house? The current president of the Senate tells a member to perform the anatomically impossible. Oklahoma elects a guy who ran on a platform of opposing phantom lesbianism rampant in Oklahoman high school bathrooms (but hey, that’s OK, so it’s not really that surprising). Now Laffey is running so that “the smallest state can have the biggest mouth strongest voice in Washington.” If it was Laffey for US Rep, then I could see it. You get to go crazy there. You could even vaguely threaten members of the judicial branch! Representative Laffey, that would be fun. Jimmy Langevin doesn’t seem like much of a partier.

Anyway, you can check out the picture gallery here. Poor taste? Merely thuggish? Stalinesque? We report, you decide.

Who will be Rhode Island’s junior Senator in the 110th US Congress? Already we know it won’t be James Langevin or Patrick Kennedy (thank god). Will My Favorite Republican hold his seat? Or will Matt Brown move his office from one marble domed capitol to another in DC? That could only happen if he bests Sheldon Whitehouse in a primary battle. What about a Republican primary? Senator Laffey, anyone?

This Senate race, more than a year and a half away, has already started, and it could be exciting (or at least, interesting).

I’ll say this for my first impressions: I love Linc Chafee, though I am painfully aware that he’s partly responsible for Bill Frist’s control of the Senate. Matt Brown seems great, but he’s going to have to prove to me he’s ready for and deserving of a seat in the world’s most exclusive club. Sheldon Whitehouse doesn’t get a lot of points in my book for losing to 3-time loser Myrth York in 2002. Also, I’m grateful to not have to debate the merits of Jim Langevin in a Democratic primary or defend the voting record of a guy (Patrick Kennedy) who sorta irks me, personally.

First event: Matt Brown is giving a talk at Rhode Island College this Thursday. I’m going to be there. Brian Hull’s going to be there. You should think about coming too.

2006 is Fast Upon Us

Speaking of love, vertebrate style this time, congratulations to my favorite Democratic Senator, Jack Reed, on his holiday engagement. I had no idea he was such a bachelor. And, amazingly this will be only his first marriage. How un-Senator like (although it’s not like he’s a Republican…)

This is the best thing out of a Rhode Island City Hall since pink flamingos sprung up in Cranston:

North Providence Mayor Ralph Mollis laid off 28 town workers for one day Monday in response to a theft at a Department of Public Works garage.

Mollis laid off all 28 DPW employees for one day without pay in hopes of flushing out the thief.

“This isn’t the first incident. We’ve had a series of incidents over the last six months of minor tools or minor items being misplaced, stolen or removed. We have attempted to get to the bottom of this to no avail,” Mollis said.

The city’s using the money saved from not having to pay the 28 workers for a day to replace the stolen equipment. It’s like what teachers do with little kids, punishing them all if no one will speak up when someone does something wrong. And anyway, what does someone do with a water jet at home? And why couldn’t I find this story on ProJo.com? Damn liberal media.

Meanwhile, in everyone’s favorite Laff-er of a city, a Cranston Firefighter who was injured by a drunk driver in a pretty horrific accident while responding to a call (ie on the job) is being told that the city won’t pay for his medical bills. Why not? Because six months ago he and his fellow fire fighters wouldn’t sign a contract waiving almost all their rights to medical privacy. Sounds ridiculous, right? Welcome to Mayor Steve Laffey’s world, where the slightest stench of a union on you puts you below contempt. It’s one thing to pick on crossing guards with ridiculous heath benefits, but when you start going after the guys who run into burning buildings while everyone else is running out, then you’re asking for trouble.

Creative Mayoring

Well, it looks like Don Carcieri’s gigantic magnified eyeballs weren’t enough to beat back the old guy in the URI sweatshirt. Early results show, by my count, that the makeup of the RI House will be 60 Democrats to 15 Republicans, and the State Senate will be 7 Republicans to 31 Democrats. That’s, like, not good. Luckily, as expected, Separation of Powers passed by an Obama-like margin, 3-to-1. Question 2 is close, but looks like it’s going down. So at least two more years of our quaint little sewer of corruption on Smith Hill.

The rest of the state couldn’t be more boring, almost all the incumbents won, as expected. And it will be a miracle if we find out who wins Ohio tonight.

RI General Assembly

Remember, tomorrow, on the back of your ballot, there are 14 questions that ask for your approval or rejection. Twelve of 14 are borrowing proposals, but the first two are about the state constitution. Question 1asks whether you’d like to rewrite the constitution to add restrictions to the General Assembly, which has wielded unbalanced powers since RI was a colony. Question 2 asks whether or not a Constitutional Convention will be held, in which 75 elected delegates from around the state can debate and put forward amendments for voters to approve or deny. This question is asked once every 10 years.

I watched a local political roundtable on channel 10 this Sunday, and they touched on both questions. Unfortunately, they seem to have gone out of their way to emulate Crossfire, and advocates for both sides just said the other side was wrong. Well yay for democracy! I have no idea who was right.

Question 1, which is more commonly known as the Separation of Powers amendment, enjoys wide support, and for good reason. We take our individuality seriously here in the Biggest Little, but it really is time to join the rest of the nation in having a balanced government.

Question 2 is a little more contentious. Arguments for holding the convention include opening the way for reforms without legislative and lobbyist input, exercising small-d democratic practices, and raising the level of civic discourse in the state. The downside could be opening the Constitution for divisive changes that will roll back civil rights, the potential for special-interest tampering and the unnecessary $2 million price tag.

Pro-Q2: Operation Clean Government, Governor Carcieri, Cool Moose Bob Healey, and the Providence Journal.

Anti-Q2: Common Cause RI, RI ACLU, and a whole list of single-issue advocacy groups (.pdf).

I’m really not sure which way I’m going to vote. The potential positives are a host of needed and excellent reforms. The negative of amending the constitution with a 50%+1 (as opposed to going through the long hard slog of legislative amending) majority can introduce some nasty stuff. I’d rather not see our fundamental legal document tweaked in that manner.

I guess it’s a matter of cynicism. If you think an honest group of engaged citizens can get together and debate good reforms for our government, vote yes. If you’re worried that a slate of unaccountable insiders will stack the delegate deck or simple majorities will want to roll back things like gay rights or reproductive rights, vote no. I’m honestly not sure how I feel.

It’s late, but if anyone wants to weigh in on how they feel about this question, I’d love to have you comment.

Questions 1 & 2