Arthur Schaper: Why Gina Raimondo Should Sue Jerry Brown

Wednesday, August 07, 2013


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Photo: Phil Konstantin

This California Conservative has already highlighted what the Ocean State and the Golden State have in common: the good (food), the bad (financial crises and public sector union dominance), and the ugly (Assembly Speakers who refuse to face issues and instead talk about gay rights instead of everyone else’s).

I had such hopes for Rhode Island because National Review Columnist Michael Barone, a conservative's conservative, evinced modest appreciation for supermajority Democratic Rhode Island, where pension obligations and public sector union strangling have forced cost-cutting pain and deep-rooted wrangling with city leaders and citizens. Because the Rhode Island state pension is taking in a miserly yield without covering costs, Democratic standard-bearer David Boies filed a lawsuit to compel Rhode Island to fix the pension problems. Since there is no state contract firmly in place, Boies' legal challenges should face fewer challenges in court. Finally, a trial attorney is willing to go after the third-rail of public sector union-statehouse politics. Barone esteemed Boies approach most likely because of the aggressive seriousness of state leaders to prevent the state from bankruptcy. Otherwise, they would have to cut every statewide service just to service retiree pensions.

California had (or rather, still has!) the same problems. While liberal attorney David Boies brokered an initiative to assist the city of San Jose in Silicon Valley (which now has a majority Republican city council for the first time in a long time!), Boies is still working with the broke and burdened state of Rhode Island and their General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

When I learned that Rhode Island is so liberal (so far), I understood why the spending was overspent. When I saw the small numbers for Republicans (so far), I wondered how Republicans can wake up in the morning without fleeing South never to return. Still, voters should reject the snark which supposes Republicans so recalcitrant that they cannot win again. Greater still, the Democratic leadership in Rhode Island has shown some diligence in turning around a government set to sink into Massachusetts Bay in the same manner that Greece is drowning in red ink in the Mediterranean.

For that reason, I begged General Treasure Gina Raimondo to “Sue Jerry Brown” .

He’s the Governor of California, for those of you who don’t know (or don’t care). Still loyal to his party (the Democrats), he remains the only (kind of) conservative voice in Sacramento, forced to play adult as the state’s chief executive, despite the tax-and-spend California statehouse Democratic supermajority. Thankfully, California's Democrats are not a hypermajority (like in Providence), and Dems may lose the “super” very soon since a Republican just won a state senate seat in a two-to-one Democrat district in the California Central Valley. There are more special elections to come (Do not despair, Rhode Island GOP. If we can do it, so can you!).

About Rhode Island and pension obligations, The New York Times could not fit the print more simply: "The Little State With a Big Mess”, with pension obligations worse than any other state. I had first believed that Raimondo, a Providence-born Rhodes Scholar, could teach the national Republicans and the Democratic in my state about courage to cut costs and drastically reform pension obligations. If she could face Rhode Islanders and candidly explain that the government cannot pay, then perhaps there was hope for my state, too.

I also considered some reasonable reforms that Raimondo and Co. could introduce. The Providence public library system can partner with a non-profit  to stay open, then a business climate which encourages investment with lower taxes, spending, and regulatory burdens could invite investors to partner with the struggling schools in the state. Recently, a dedicated teacher announced on YouTube that he was quitting his job as a second-grade teacher because of the hamstring standardized testing and overbearing rules which frustrate real teaching and real learning. President Obama has already issued waivers for "No Child Left Behind." Every Democrat, meaning almost everyone, in Rhode Island should jump at the chance for Rhode Island public education to waive one of the chief "legacies" of President George W. Bush and request the waiver, too.

As a California resident, I wish that the Democrats in my state had the courage to do what Rhode Island General Treasurer Raimondo and her Democratic colleagues were doing: talk to voters, tell them the truth, and outline a plan which will hurt everyone a little in order to save everyone a lot more. I wanted Mr. Boies to file a claim against Jerry Brown and the California supermajority, in which all of them have taken money from public sector union elites. No doubt they will do nothing about the looming bankruptcy threatening my state for fear of threatening their power in Sacramento.

Unfortunately, Raimondo and David Boies have not followed through on my request. Governor Brown is going down alone taking on his progressive posse in Sacramento, and now I read that Raimondo has not been the latter rain that Rhode Island needed, after all.

Is there any hope left in Rhode Island? Time will tell (more on that later).


Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.


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