Murphy's Law rules House! by ikz12691

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March/April 2005                                                                                                                                                          Volume 13, Number 1




“Murphy’s Law” rules House!
                                                                                                           Why would anyone vote for
                                                                                                              these (new) rules?
                                                                                                                 BY ROD DRIVER                           of the 1980s — in some respects worse.
                                                                                                      State Representative 1987-1994                     The majority rejected 20 attempts by Rep-
                                                                                                         February 17 was a dark day for Rhode            resentatives Savage, Watson, Gorham, Long,
                                                                                                    Island as 40 members of the House handed             Amaral, Voccola, Menard, Caprio, Smith,
                                                                                                    the Speaker virtually every bit of power that        Ehrhardt and others to preserve some of
                                                                                                    he might have previously lacked.                     the safeguards.
                                                                                                         Traditionally the Speaker has great                   The rules used to say that if a commit-
                                                                                                    power. But after the present Speaker was             tee chair fails to consider a bill at the
                                                                                                    re-elected by “only” 45 – 30, the majority re-       sponsor’s request, the Speaker “shall” send
                                                                                                    wrote the rules to shut out the minority entirely.   the bill directly to the House for consider-
                                                                                                                   A little history                      ation. The new rules say that the Speaker
                                                                                                         In the 1980s special pension bills were         “may” do so (at his discretion).
                                                                                                    slipped through the General Assembly un-                   A petition to discharge a bill from com-
                                                                                                    seen. Credit-union regulatory bills were             mittee will now require 38 signatures in-
                                                                                                    quietly killed without even a committee vote.        stead of 30 (the number of votes against the
                                                                                                    A bill to eliminate credit-union liquidity re-       re-election of Speaker Murphy.)
   Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can possibly go wrong, will go wrong.”                                                                                         The Speaker, Majority Leader and Mi-
                                                                                                    serves passed under false representations.
                                                                                                    These and other outrages cost Rhode Is-              nority Leader may now drop in on any com-
                                                                                                    landers hundreds of millions of dollars.             mittee to vote on any bill.

       Rhode Island is ripe                                                                              As a result, in the early 1990s, the House
                                                                                                    adopted some new rules. Committee chairs
                                                                                                    were required to honor a sponsor’s request
                                                                                                                                                               Committees can consider any bill with-
                                                                                                                                                         out public notice and without even distrib-
                                                                                                                                                         uting copies. It requires only a simple ma-

        for Voter Initiative                                                                        for consideration of his or her bills. The
                                                                                                    public was to be notified of hearings on bills.
                                                                                                    Members were to be allowed to see bills
                                                                                                                                                         jority of the committee members who hap-
                                                                                                                                                         pen to be in the room.
                                                                                                                                                               Representatives may now have little
          BY BEVERLY CLAY                         20,000 votes for a statutory initiative and 10                                                         opportunity to see bills before voting on
                                                                                                    before voting on them and the House would
      Voters approved an “advisory” ballot        percent or approximately 40,000 for a con-                                                             them. Bills can be distributed as late as half
                                                                                                    pass no more than 40 bills in one day.
question in 1996 for Initiative and Referen-      stitutional initiative.) These percentages must                                                        a day before the House votes — sometimes
                                                                                                         But now the House has turned back
dum – also called “Voter Initiative.” To trans-   be met in at least twenty of Rhode Island’s       the clock with new rules as bad as the rules                      see Murphy’s Law, page 2
form such an advisory question into law, the      thirty-nine cities and towns.
General Assembly must pass a bill that puts             Each initiative would require a fiscal
the issue back on the ballot. However, such       impact statement prepared by the secretary          The bills are in – they need your voices!
bills have not been allowed to reach the          of state, the treasurer, and the director of
                                                                                                        The powerful and connected few call the shots in Rhode Island. We the people are
House or Senate floor for a vote. So, for the     administration in consultation with the sen-
                                                                                                        being left out and it costs us big time in ever-increasing taxes and poor job opportu-
eleventh year, Senator Marc Cote has              ate and house fiscal advisors. Only the most
                                                                                                        nities. Operation Clean Government (OCG) is committed to changing the way gov-
introduced voter initiative bills 05-             responsible ideas could survive such stern
                                                                                                        ernment operates. OCG has submitted legislation this session that will give citizens a
S-124 and 05-S-125. Representative                tests.
                                                                                                        bigger say in their government; that will shine the light on government wrongdoing
Roger Picard has offered similar                        Senator Cote’s bills include provisions
                                                                                                        and that will reform the ethics commission. These bills are::
bills, 05-H-5243 and 05-H-5245.                   for legislative review through public hear-
      Voter Initiative is a process through       ings. If voted and passed by the General As-                         • Voter Initiative (S-124, S-125, H-5243, H-5245)
which citizens can place new ideas for laws       sembly and signed by the governor, the ini-                          • The office of Inspector General (S-513, H-5596)
or constitutional amendments on the ballot        tiative would become law without requiring                           • A stronger Ethics Commission (S-46, H-5626)
for a vote. New York Governor George              a ballot vote. If not passed by the General           These bills will give the citizens the tools necessary to hold their government ac-
Pataki said it best: “The guiding principle       Assembly, each legislator’s vote would be             countable and give the people a stronger voice in their government. It will require a
behind initiative and referendum is simple:       listed in the Voter Information Handbook and          vocal citizenry for these bills to receive a public hearing and a committee vote.
when a Legislature fails to act on issues im-     the question would be placed on the ballot.
portant to the citizenry, the people have the           Twenty-four states and hundreds of cit-         Therefore, OCG is asking Rhode Island citizens to support these bills by speaking
ability and the means to act on those issues.”    ies and counties, including Washington DC,            out as they did for Separation of Powers. Legislators listen when contacted by many
      The California Commission of Cam-           New York City and Los Angeles – along with            of their constitutents. Now is the time to create a loud chorus of voices on these issues!
paign Financing says Senator Cote’s bills are     19 Rhode Island municipal governments –               Can OCG count on your active support? Contact your representatives by telephone,
model legislation because they address prob-      already have voter initiative. An analysis by         letter or emails and ask for their support of these bills.
lems found in other states. They are worded       the New York Public Interest Research                        For telephone numbers, addresses and emails of your
to protect civil rights and liberties and they    Group found that states with voter initiative                 Representative and Senator, visit the OCG website at
offer fiscal restrictions. They have high voter   have considerably higher voter turnout.                                          www.ocgri.org.
signature requirements based on a percent-              Those who criticize voter initiative,            To find out who your representatives are: call your local board of
age of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial   claim it would destroy representative                           canvassers or the Secretary of State at 222-2357
election (5 percent or approximately                          see Voter Initiative, page 3

                                            Promoting honest, responsible and responsive state government
Page 2                                                    Operation Clean Government — (401) 861-3900 — www.ocgri.org                                                            March/April 2005



Murphy’sLaw,frompage1                                                                                           Inspectors General
not at all.                                        pages. Several of these bills did just the op-
     A bill can bypass the committee pro-
cess entirely and be passed immediately on
the floor unread unless one-third of the
                                                   posite of what they were alleged to do.
                                                         Why would any representative vote for
                                                   these new rules? For that matter, why does
                                                                                                                  save big bucks
members object. Even in the 1980s any one          the majority routinely do whatever the                        BY BEVERLY CLAY                         roughly $1 billion in cost recoveries and
member could insist that a bill go first to a      Speaker wants?                                          It is an accepted fact that fraud, waste      savings in its 23-year history.” Boston Globe
committee.                                               The answer lies in a simple, unwritten,      and mismanagement exist in state govern-           editorial “An enforcer of Honesty”, March
     And if any power for the Speaker and          self-fulfilling rule: To get one’s bills passed,   ment. Establishing an independent office           12, 2003
Majority Leader has somehow been over-             a representative needs the blessing of the         for a state Inspector General (IG) would go a           Pennsylvania — Investigations led to
looked, the new rules can now be sus-              Speaker. And to earn this blessing, the rep-       long way towards alleviating these problems.       collections and savings of over $158
pended without the consent of the Minority         resentative should do whatever the Speaker         In addition, the savings generated by an IG        million during Fiscal Year 2001-2002 in
Leader.                                            wants.                                             would more than pay for running the office.        welfare fraud, Office of Inspector General
     Even in the 1980s and 90s, rules that               This irresponsible process will not               Operation Clean Government created            Annual Report (July, 2001 – July, 2002)
got in the way could be suspended. On June         change until legislators add more calcium          and promoted IG legislation introduced in               Oklahoma — “Their work resulted
6, 1991, I tried to enforce a rule limiting the    to their backbones — or Rhode Island vot-          each of the past four years. The bill was pre-     in $7.4 million in restitution or recoupment
House to 40 bills per day and requiring ad-        ers and media pundits start paying atten-          pared with the help of John Gudavich, a            of fraudulent payments with an additional
vance distribution of bills. The leaders sim-      tion. We Rhode Islanders criticize the Gen-        Retired Associate Inspector General for In-        $5.1 million in projected savings to DHS
ply called for suspension of the rules. They       eral Assembly, but we traditionally re-elect       vestigations, Office of Inspector General, in      programs.” www.okdhs.org/oig
got 85% of the votes.                              our representatives and senators, or pro-          Washington, D.C. and modeled after the gen-             Washington DC — “In total, the OIG
     Thereafter hundreds of unread bills           mote them to higher office, oblivious of their     eral laws of Massachusetts, the first state to     achieved monetary benefits/recoveries of
were passed faster than you could turn the         records.                                           establish an IG Office in 1981. Since that         approximately $178.4 million over the FY
                                                                                                      time, eighteen other states and the District       2000-2003 period. When compared to the
                                                                                                      of Columbia and many counties and cities           $40 million cost of operating the OIG over
                 The Roll Call on Final Approval of                                                   have established IG Offices.                       the same 4-year period, the benefit to the
                                                                                                           This legislation has been intro-              District is easily seen in the more than 4 to 1
                     the House Rules for 2005
                                                                                                      duced by Senator Lou Raptakis (05-                 return on investment for every OIG dollar
   Yes (40)                         Moura, D-Providence             McCauley, D-Providence            S-513) and Representative Victor                   expended.” Report on the Activities of the
   Ajello, D- Providence            Murphy, D-W. Warwick            McManus, R-Lincoln                Moffitt (05-H-5596).                               Office of the Inspector General, Fiscal Year
   Almeida, D-Providence            Naughton, D-Warwick             Menard, D-Lincoln                      The proposed IG would be charged              2003.
   Carter, D- N. Kingstown          O’Neill, D-Pawtucket            Moffitt, R-Coventry               with detecting and preventing fraud, waste,             Miami-Dade County, Florida–
   Church, D-N. Smithfield          Pacheco, D-Burrillville         Moran, D-Central Falls            and mismanagement in the expenditure of            Florida does not have a state Inspector Gen-
   Coderre, D-Pawtucket             Picard, D-Wooonsocket           Mumford, R-Scituate               public funds, focusing on the procurement          eral, but Miami-Dade County created an IG
   Corvese, D-N. Prov.              Rose, D-E. Prov.                Palumbo, D-Cranston               of materials and services, particularly for        position 1997. This office serves a county
   Costantino, D-Providence         San Bento, D-Pawtucket          Savage, R-E. Prov.                major construction projects. He/she would          with a population more than twice that of
   Crowley, D-Newport               Schadone, D-N. Prov.            Scott, R-Exeter                   also be proactive in reviewing statutes and        Rhode Island. “Thus far, in fiscal year 2003-
   Dennigan, D-E. Prov.             Shanley, D-S. Kingstown         Singleton, R-Cumberland           regulations relating to programs and op-           2004, the Office has identified over $19 mil-
   Diaz, D-Providence               Slater, D-Providence            Smith, D-Providence
                                                                                                      erations, making recommendations con-              lion in savings and questionable costs.” Of-
   Faria, D-Central Falls           Sullivan, D-Coventry            Story, R-Barrington
                                                                                                      cerning their effect.                              fice of the Inspector General, 2003 An-
   Flaherty, D-Warwick              Williams, D-Providence          Ucci, D-Johnston
                                                                                                           Examples of the savings that have oc-         nual report.
   Fox, D-Providence                Williamson, D-W. Warwick        Voccola, D-Johnston
   Gallison, D-Bristol
                                                                                                      curred in other states as a result of an IG are:        Budgets vary from $370,000 to $10
                                                                    Wasylyk, D-Providence
   Gemma, D-Warwick                                                 Watson, R-E. Greenwich
                                                                                                           Massachusetts – “With an operating            million, including Maryland that allows a
                                    No (28)
   Ginaitt, D-Warwick               Amaral, R-Tiverton              Winfield, D-Smithfield            budget of less than $2 million, the inspector      budget equal to ˘ of the amount saved.
   Jackson, D-Middletown            Brien, D-Woonsocket                                               general’s office more than pays its                     Clearly, Rhode Island would benefit
   Jacquard, D-Cranston             Caprio, D-Narragansett          Not Voting (7)                    keep...[Inspector General Gregory] Sullivan        from having an Inspector General to pro-
   Kennedy, D-Hopkinton             Davey, R-Cranston               Anguilla, D-Bristol               estimates that his office has generated            vide oversight of government operations.
   Kilmartin, D-Pawtucket           DeSimone, D-Providence          Handy, D-Cranston
   Lally, D-Narragansett            Ehrhardt, R-N. Kingstown        Lewiss, D-Westerly
   Landroche, D-W. Warwick          Giannini, D-Providence          McHugh, D-S. Kingstown
   Lima, D-Cranston
   Malik, D-Warren
   McNamara, D-Warwick
                                    Gorham, R-Coventry
                                    Laroche, D-Woonsocket
                                    Long, R-Middletown
                                                                    Petrarca, D-Lincoln
                                                                    Rice, D-Portsmouth
                                                                    Trillo, R-Warwick
                                                                                                                     Gift Regs Revisited
   Melo, D-E. Prov.                 Loughlin, R-Tiverton                                                   Presently, elected and appointed offi-        value, whichever is greater, is twenty ($20)
                                                                                                      cials can receive a gift or other thing of value   dollars or less.
                                                                                                      up to $150 from an interested party and up              Option #2 – Reduce the present indi-
                                                                                                      to $450 during the year from one                   vidual gift allowed from $150 to $25 from an

            Arruda speaks to RISC                                                                     individual. This went into effect in 2000
                                                                                                      when the Rhode Island Ethics Commission
                                                                                                      (RIEC) reversed the “no gift” rule.
                                                                                                                                                         interested party and the aggregate during a
                                                                                                                                                         year from $450 to $75 from that party.
                                                                                                                                                              The public hearing is scheduled for
                                                                                                           RIEC has proposed the following two           Mar 22 at 9 AM at 40 Fountain St., Provi-
                                                                                                      options for strengthening the gift regulations.    dence. Operation Clean Government will
                                                                                                           Option #1 – a return to the “gift ban”        be there as well as many other groups and
                                                                                                      policy, with a definition of “insignificant        citizens who have long been concerned
                                                                                                      value,” if their actual cost or fair market        about the current rules for gifts.



                                                                                                                           Website Gets Facelift
                                                                                                            OCG is a pleased to announce that a new website is underway.
                                                                                                             In addition to a new look that incorporates OCG’s new logo,
                                                                                                                  the website will offer new user interactivity such as
                                                                                                               a searchable archive of opinion pieces and press releases,
                                                                                                              links to current news stories and a discussion board where
                                                                                                                          users can opine about local politics.
                                                                                                                   Board member David Clarke is heading the project.
OCG Chairman Robert Arruda, speaks on achieving ethical and responsible
government at a Rhode Island Shoreline Coalition meeting. Groups can re-                                          The new website is expected to debut in mid-March.
quest a speaker for their functions and meetings by calling Will Barbeau at                                                              Visit www.ocgri.org
245-8375.

                                           Enabling citizens to challenge the power of special interest groups
March/April 2005                                          Operation Clean Government — (401) 861-3900 — www.ocgri.org                                                                         Page 3




Reps stiff voters on SOP                                                                              Voter Initiative, from page 1
                                                                                                      government. Woodrow Wilson addressed
                                                                                                      that fear many years ago: “The threat, if not
                                                                                                                                                        ahead of politicians in lawmaking. Often,
                                                                                                                                                        people, by initiative, passed measures that
      Over two thirds of Rhode Islanders           middle of February when the SOP Commit-            the reality, of initiative and referendum helps   eventually became standard law across the
voted for Separation of Powers (SOP) in the        tee Chairwoman Elaine Coderre unveiled leg-        to encourage a more responsible, civic-           country. For example: California abolished
last election — after ten years of relentless      islation affecting only 29 boards and commis-      minded breed of citizen and state                 poll taxes; Oregon created the primary elec-
effort on the part of many reform groups,          sions out of 73 deemed active by the House.        legislator…These measures are not in-             tion system; Massachusetts passed campaign
informed citizens and honest, responsible          And 12 of those 29 are recommended for             tended to subvert or alter the basic charac-      finance reform and Colorado limited work-
politicians. Operation Clean Government            abolishment as they are virtually inactive.        ter of American government. Their inten-          days to eight hours for women and under-
played a major role in that effort. But obvi-            The Senate has acted far more respon-        tion was to restore, not to destroy, repre-       ground mine workers.
ously it was too soon to celebrate. Four           sibly by passing legislation in last year’s ses-   sentative government.” Teddy Roosevelt                 It’s time to give Rhode Island voters the
months later, the people are still waiting for     sion which went on to die in the House. That       stated, “I believe that Initiative and Referen-   power of initiative. The citizens are capable
SOP to go into effect, and that is because         same legislation has been reintroduced in          dum should be used not to destroy repre-          of responsibly engaging in the rigorous pro-
our state representatives in the House are         the Senatethis year. Senators have removed         sentative government, but to correct it when-     cess to get an initiative placed on the ballot
ignoring the will of the people.                   themselves from all boards and commis-             ever it becomes misrepresentative.”               and to participate in the ensuing debate on
      These same representatives supported         sions, but representatives have not.                    History shows that people are often          the issue.
SOP when they ran for office, but now that               Senator J. Michael Lenihan, Chairman
they are once again safely ensconced back          of the Senate Oversight Committee and
on Smith Hill, they are hesitating to make         strong proponent for SOP, expressed to OCG
the necessary changes to implement bal-            the Senate’s frustration over the delay in
anced government.                                  implementation and the lack of serious com-
      You might call it obstruction. First,        munication between the two legislative bod-
House Speaker William J. Murphy planned            ies.
to seek a Supreme Court advisory opinion                 Many of these boards and commissions
on the Constitutional questions involving the      that meet on a monthly basis are attempting
Lottery Commission, the Coastal Resources          to carry on but are hindered by the confu-
Management Council and other significant           sion resulting from the lack of SOP imple-
boards. Murphy eventually backed down to           mentation. According to Lenihan, “We are
“expedite the implementation of Separation         not at the point of chaos right now, but the
of Powers and to honor the will of the             longer it takes, we could reach that point.”
people” neither of which have yet been ac-               The loud and clear voices of the people
complished.                                        made SOP happen. It’s time to raise those
      Next Representative Paul Crowley pro-        loud and clear voices again to put SOP into
posed abolishing the Lottery Commission            action.                                            “Voter Initiative for Rhode Island” was the discussion recently at Opera-
and transferring most day-to-day functions               Call your Representative today and ask       tion Clean Government’s taping of their cable TV program “State of the
to the Department of Administration, but re-       him/her to implement the Separation of             State.” left to right: Joseph S. Larisa, Esq. (Executive Counsel and Chief of
taining some revenue-related powers for the        Powers amendment NOW. And call:                    Staff to former Governor Lincoln Almond); Robert G. Flanders, Jr., (Former
General Assembly. OCG publicly blasted that              Speaker Murphy (821-2413)                    RI Supreme Court Justice); Senator Marc A. Cote, (representing North
idea from serious consideration.                         Rep. Gordon Fox (272-0113)                   Smithfield and Woonsocket and sponsor of Voter Initiative legislation); and
      Nothing more was heard until the                   Rep. Elaine Coderre (726-1190)               OCG Board Member Andy Galli as Host.




  Ethics panel screening                                                                                     Strange bedfellows
     Operation Clean Government prepared
legislation to strengthen the appointment
                                                     b. By February 1, the governor shall sub-
                                                        mit to the senate a name chosen from
                                                                                                              beat OCG on #2
process of Commissioners to the Rhode Is-               the list from an appointing authority or             BY SANDRA THOMPSON                         to reject a constitutional convention.
land Ethics Commission (RIEC)because of                 his own appointment. (The governor                 I am really confused by what happened              West’s opinion was that changes to the
the many problems and controversies sur-                has four appointments.)                       in the last election. Voters overwhelmingly       constitution are better dealt with through
rounding the functioning of the ethics com-        3. OCG has added language to motivate              approved the Separation of Powers Amend-          the legislative process than through an open
mission and the long delays in making ap-             nominating authorities to work within set       ment, but narrowly defeated the calling of a      convention of the citizens. West and his
pointments to this commission.                        time limits. If the legislative nominating      Constitutional Convention.                        union supporters worried about “the mis-
     Senate Majority Leader Teresa                    authority fails to act within the times pre-         Defeat of Question #2 for a Constitu-        chief” that would take place in a people’s
Paiva-Weed has introduced this leg-                   scribed, then he/she forfeits that privi-       tional Convention was a real blow. OCG put        convention.
islation 05-S-46 for the second year.                 lege and it passes on to the governor. If       a great deal of effort in support of that ques-         But, what exactly takes place in our
The companion bill in the House,                      the governor fails to act within the times      tion. A poll conducted by Rhode Island Col-       General Assembly? Note: the casino legisla-
05-H-5626, has been introduced by                     prescribed, then the Lieutenant governor        lege in mid-October showed the call for a         tion that passed in the last session was found
Representative Victor Moffitt.                        will make the nomination.”                      Constitutional Convention winning by a 2 to       to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court
     There are currently nine appointments            Note: Even though the current statu-            1 margin. At about the same time, a group         of Rhode Island; the judiciary budget was
to the RIEC, five by legislative leaders who          tory requirement is that vacancies be           calling themselves ‘Citizens for Representa-      taken out of the governor’s budget process;
submit a list of nominees to the governor             filled within 30 days, there are now two        tive Government’ organized an advertising         and the budgetary discretion of the Board
(staggered over 5 years) and four by the              expired terms that have not been filled         campaign to defeat Question #2.                   of Higher Education was usurped. These
governor (one each year). This does not               (one from Sept. 2003 and the other                   Many of us who are involved in govern-       were done in the waning days of the 2004
change in the current legislation.                    from Sept. 2002. One recent appoint-            ment reform were taken by surprise when           legislative session without hearings and in-
      Features of this legislation                    ment to the commission was for a term           Phil West of Common Cause was the spokes-         put by the public. Now, that truly smacks of
1. Senate advice and consent for appoint-             that expired four years earlier.)               man for this coalition to defeat a constitu-      mischief.
   ments to the RIEC. Much of the language         4. The senate shall hold public hearings           tional convention. He lent his voice in re-             Confusing or not, the fact is the elec-
   came from the current statute for advice           and vote on the question of approving           corded phone messages, on TV programs             tion is over and the people lost the chance
   and consent for judges. OCG feels that             the nominees within 30 days of receipt of       and in an opinion piece for The Providence        to hold a convention. So what can we do
   this rigorous screening is necessary be-           the name(s). If they fail to approve the        Journal.                                          now to change our government to better
   cause of the extraordinary powers                  nominee within 30 days, then the gover-              However, the money for this campaign         serve the people of this state? History shows
   granted to the RIEC by the RI Constitution.        nor or lieutenant governor shall nomi-          did not come from Common Cause, but               that when a large number of people express
2. A change of the expiration date of each            nate some other person in accordance            rather from union coffers. West, when             their opinions to legislators, they will listen.
   commissioner’s term to March 1 to coin-            with this chapter.                              asked, admitted that if the unions were                  Elected officials need your vote to stay
   cide with the legislative session, so that:          OCG strongly promotes these changes           out in front in this campaign it would very       in power. Call, write or email your legisla-
  a. By January 15, the same nominating            to toughen the present method of appoint-          likely not be successful. I think he was          tors and let them know you are watching
     authorities as currently exist shall submit   ments, which has clearly failed to keep the        right, since many folks I spoke with had no       them. See shaded box on page one for con-
     their lists of five names to the governor.    RIEC appointment process up to date.               idea of union involvement when they voted         tact information.
                                                        Keeping citizens informed about their government
Page 4                                                    Operation Clean Government — (401) 861-3900 — www.ocgri.org                                                            March/April 2005




      OCG Complains: Voters were cheated
          BY WILL BARBEAU                         OCG documented many examples of a cava-             and a $1,000 limit on individual donations.       claiming that they were ‘individuals’ acting
      Rhode Island voters have just been          lier attitude toward the Board’s enforcement             The Board claimed that it would seek         on their own behalf. Both filings can be
given the cheating of a lifetime. Thanks to       powers by groups such as the ‘RIghtNow!             clarification from the General Assembly in        viewed in detail on Operation Clean
lax enforcement by the Board of Elections         Coalition’ and ‘Citizens for Representative         the 1997 session. OCG testified against this      Government’s web site: www.ocgri.org
under Roger Begin, the 2004 elections were        Government.’                                        interim policy in 1996 and again sought                 To date, there is no notice from the
run like a Super Bowl football game without            OCG sought change in 1996                      clarification in 2000. The Board has done         Board on the status of these complaints. A
officials.                                              The basic problem goes back to 1996           nothing in eight years to resolve the conflict,   letter to OCG from the board’s attorney,
      Operation Clean Government filed two        when the Board of Elections issued a highly         resulting in financial reporting regulations      Raymond A. Marcaccio, tells of the recent
complaints with the Board of Elections on         conflicted Advisory Opinion 96-01 on finan-         being flouted and a flawed election process.      filing of a lawsuit against the Board by the
January 5 to expose the situation, docu-          cial reporting requirements. It carved out                       The complaints                       ACLU charging that the reporting require-
menting twenty-one alleged election law vio-      exceptions to the law by allowing the Provi-              The first OCG complaint focuses on the      ments violated the First Amendment rights
lations.                                          dence Chamber of Commerce to call itself            ‘RIghtNOW! Coalition’ led by Sheldon              of certain entities. Marcaccio also tells of
      In an accompanying news release, OCG        an ‘individual’ to avoid forming a PAC. The         Whitehouse, Alan Hassenfeld, H. Philip West,      the long awaited legislation he is drafting to
asked the Governor to replace Chairman            classification of the Chamber was based on          Jr. and Larry Fitzmorris advocating for Sepa-     address some of the important issues raised
Roger Begin as soon as possible. Begin            its status as a large nonprofit corporation         ration of powers, Referendum Question 1.          in OCG’s complaints. He states that OCG will
stated in 1996 that he would have legisla-        that had long existed for reasons other than              The second complaint is against ‘Citi-      receive notice of a public hearing on these
tion introduced in 1997 to clarify the elec-      advocating for or against a ballot question.        zens for Representative Government,’              two issues.
tion laws on advocating for or against ballot           To make matters worse, the Board issued       chaired by Edward O’Brien, with election                Confusion in the Board’s financial re-
questions and to date has not done it.            an even more conflicted interim policy in           reports filled out by Guy Dufault, advocating     porting requirements since 1996 along with
      These complaints resume an eight-           the fall of 1996 to allow newly formed              against a Constitutional Convention, Refer-       their seemingly uncaring attitude is causing
year-long effort by OCG to clarify the elec-      groups to claim similar status as ‘individu-        endum Question 2.                                 election laws to fail in their purpose of pro-
tion laws, forcing the issue by documenting       als,’ thus avoiding the restrictions on PAC               In several instances, coalition organiz-    viding voters with a clean view of who is
alleged violations to financial reporting laws.   membership, such as no corporate donations          ers and leaders went so far as to sign forms      spending how much to influence their votes.




An open meeting of the Board of Elections, January 25: left to right, back                            Sidewalk outside of Election Board headquarters on Branch Ave in
row: John A. Daluz, Raymond Xavier, Chairman Roger N. Begin, Vice Chair-                              Providence remains uncleared days after big January blizzard. Yet, agency owns
man Thomas V. Iannitti, Frank A. Rego. Absent are Judith H. Bailey and                                a now-famous snow blower. Uncleared sidewalks and unenforced election
Florence G. Johnson.                                                                                  laws seem typical of agency leadership.           PHOTOS BY WILL BARBEAU


                                                                                                                                                            RI Citizen Alert is a publication of

                                        Join the OCG Team                                                                                                      Operation Clean Government
                                                                                                                                                                        PO Box 8683
                                                                                                                                                                    Warwick, RI 02888
                        For as little as $1 a month, you can help fight corruption                                                                                 tel: (401) 861-3900
                            and unethical behavior in RI state government.                                                                                             www.ocgri.org

        OCG’s goal is to promote Honest, Responsible and Responsive state government. OCG has                                                                      Editorial Review
        no political affiliation. We have no paid staff. WE ARE ALL VOLUNTEERS. Funds raised are                                                                    Beverly M. Clay, Editor
        used to file court suits and ethics complaints and to print and distribute newsletters. Other                                                                    Will Barbeau
                                                                                                                                                                       Janice F. Carlson
        expenses include mailings, office supplies and public forums. Take pride in your state by                                                                       David C. Clarke
        being a member of this great team. JOIN NOW!                                                                                                                    Sanford Miller
                                                                                                                                                                     Sandra L. Thompson

                                                                                                                                                                 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
                                                                                                                                                                         OFFICERS:
                                                  OCG MEMBERSHIP FORM                                                                                    Chair      Robert P. Arruda, East Greenwich
                                                                                                                                                         Vice Chair Beverly M. Clay, West Greenwich
YES, I want to join other Rhode Island citizens and help to promote Honest, Responsible and Responsive State Government.                                 Treasurer Nolan Byrne, Cranston
  New member                     Renewal                                                                                                                 Secretary   Marian DeCesaris, Cranston
My membership contribution to OPERATION CLEAN GOVERNMENT is enclosed:                                                                                                     DIRECTORS:
                                                                                                                                                                    Will Barbeau, Barrington
    $12                $15                   $25            $50           $100                    $       Other                                                 John Carlevale, West Greenwich
    Individual       Family (list all names to be included)                                                                                                       David C. Clarke, Barrington
Name(s) ___________________________________________________________________ Home Phone _______________________________                                             James DeCesaris, Cranston
                                                                                                                                                                      Rod Driver, Richmond
Name(s) ___________________________________________________________________ Business Phone _____________________________                                              Andy Galli, Providence
Street ______________________________________________________________________ Email Address ______________________________                                        Mary Langhorn, Providence
                                                                                                                                                                    Linda Meyer, Portsmouth
City/Town __________________________________________________________________ State _________ Zip ______________________                                             Al Palazzo, West Warwick
            OCG is a non-profit organization, however contributions are not tax deductible because our activities include lobbying.                                    Roy Pruett, Coventry
                 Yes, I would like to volunteer some time or participate on one or more of the OCG committees. Please call me.                                       Sara Quinn, Providence
                              OPERATION CLEAN GOVERNMENT PO BOX 8683 WARWICK, RI 02888                                                                            June Spink, North Kingstown
                                                                                                                                                              Sandra L. Thompson, East Greenwich
I heard about OCG from ______________________________________________________                                          March/April 2005
                                                                                                                                                                    Nigel Unarie, Providence

                                                           Maintaining high standards of ethical conduct

								
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