Guest MINDSETTER™ Ken Block: Independence from Bad Government

Friday, July 04, 2014

 

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As Rhode Islanders prepare to observe our nation’s Independence Day, it is a unique opportunity to thoughtfully consider the concept of independence here in Rhode Island.

What does our cherished right of independence really mean to us today in the state we love? To what degree will we be independent if our future financial security is in jeopardy? Can we tell our children they will be afforded the independence to find the job they want in Rhode Island when they grow up? Are our retirees and seniors truly independent if elected officials have made promises they will be unable to keep, jeopardizing their future security?

Today, Rhode Island faces serious and growing threats to our fundamental independence--rising taxes and fees, fewer jobs, declining property values and lagging education systems.  Failed financial policies and decades of financial mismanagement have placed real burdens on pensioners, government employees and all of our citizens.  Insider back room deals like 38 Studios are jeopardizing our independence with future costs we cannot afford. Most troubling, according to national polls, Rhode Islanders are near the top in terms of our mistrust of elected officials. That lack of trust is the ultimate threat to our independence.

It is time to turn all that around and declare a new “Declaration of Independence” for Rhode Island:

We can start with demanding that our elected officials listen to the voters. Even though it took years, the reform effort to end the Master Lever is a compelling reminder that sustained, collective action can produce meaningful results to fix our government.

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We can and must demand honesty and increased financial accountability. Long-awaited reductions in the corporate tax and estate tax were welcome news this year, but our state still suffers from chronic over-taxing and over-spending. When our future looks like one of mounting budget deficits, with our elected officials terrified of facing the problem or even talking about it, we need to take control of our financial future.

We must push for more reforms. We could have had a clean ethics reform bill this year to allow voters to make clear that the Ethics Commission should have oversight of legislators. Instead, we got a Trojan Horse bill, designed to gut the Ethics Commission in the guise of reform. The people of Rhode Island deserve real ethics reform, along with a more transparent, rational and effective budget process and the targeted reduction of the costs of government waste and inefficiencies.
We must hold a Constitutional Convention. We need to approve the Constitutional Convention ballot question this fall. It’s the only way to reform the General Assembly and achieve much-needed changes such as the line item veto, which is provided to Governors in 44 other states.

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Ken Block, GOP Candidate for Governor

It is time for a new independence

Years of politically-calculated decisions do not sustain or strengthen our independence. They diminish it. Focusing on the short-term and crafting state budgets using financial smoke and mirrors threaten our security today the promise of a bright future for tomorrow.

We can change that. Independence Day is a strong reminder that Rhode Islanders can and should expect independence from our elected officials. Let’s demand the real independence that comes from putting the public interest first—from making sure that every policy decision and every legislative vote is designed with best interests of our citizens at heart.

Fixing Rhode Island can start with this approach, our own declaration of independence to give our state and its citizens the open, honest and effective government we deserve.

 

Related Slideshow: Ken Block—Timeline

Former gubernatorial candidate and Moderate Party head Ken Block has announced his intentions to run again in 2014.  Here is a timeline of his professional and political background.  

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Early Years

 

Block was born in 1965 and grew up in Milford, CT as the oldest of three children.  He graduated from high school in 1983 and attended Dartmouth College, earning a BA in Computer Science in 1987.  

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Career Beginnings

 

Block began his career writing software for Wall Street trading desks.  He went on to Bank of New England in Boston, and then to job at a small software consultancy in the Boston area. 

In 1991, Block began work in Rhode Island on a one year consulting job with GTECH Corporation, and by 1992 took a full time position at the company.  Block left GTECH in 1997 to form Kinetic Consulting and after the dot-com bust he formed Simpatico Software.

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Moderate Party Formation

The beginnings of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island were started in 2008, when a website was established and candidates were endorsed in the general election.  

The Moderate Party faced several legal hurdles however seeking official recognition by the state.  The party filed a lawsuit against the state in February of 2009 to be able to gain official party stauts, and a US District Judge ruled ultimately in the Moderate Party's favor in May 2009.  

Over 33,000 signatures were collected ultimately validating the party, and placing it on the 2010 ballot.  

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2010 Election

Running as the Moderate Party candidate, Ken Block finished 4th in the statewide general election with 6.5% of the vote -- 22,146 in total.

Governor Lincoln Chafee won with 36.1 percent (123,571 votes); Republican John Robitaille took 33.6% (114,911 votes), and Democrat Frank Caprio 23% (78,896). 

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Political Presence

Following the 2010 election, Block continued to push for political change in the state, undertaking the Rhode Island Health and Human Services Waste and Fraud Report, with the preliminary findings submitted earlier this year.  

Block has spoken out on such issues as abolishing the master lever, opposing payments to bondholders on 38 Studios, among others.  Block also served as President of RI Taxpayers.  

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2014 Governor's Race

Block announced his candidacy for the 2014 Rhode Island Governor's race earlier this year in May.  

 
 

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