Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Laffey Referendum

Edward Achorn in today's ProJo:
"TODAY WILL BE one of the most important days in Rhode Island's political history. By tonight we should know whether it is possible for an Ocean State politican to speak out for the taxpayers, or whether the special interests have so corrupted the system that Rhode Island can no longer pretend to have a functioning representative democracy."

Read it, but if you can't, a couple other key extracts:
A letter sent out by the Laborers' Union put it this way: "As we begin negotiations with the State, various Municipalities, School Districts, elected officials, and their agents all refer to Stephen Laffey as the reason they too must attack our wages and benefits."

The union continued: "From Burriville [sic] to Westerly, weak politicians indicate their fear of the press if they don't act like Laffey."

Robert Walsh and Larry Purtill, of the National Education Association of Rhode Island, representing many of the state's teachers' unions, put it chillingly: "The September 14th primary seems to be an appropriate time to stop Laffey's political career while at the same time sending a strong message to all politicians who try to vilify public employees for personal gain."

There it is: These special interests will finish off any politician who crosses them whenever it "seems to be an appropriate time." The goal is to send "a strong message" to other politicians to do the bidding of those who really control the state. Hint: It's not the citizens.
I won't pass on the figures, but they are remarkable for a small mayoral primary. Anyway, to end:
But the aggressiveness of this attempt to crush one politician, and scare others into slavish compliance, suggests that the state's public-employee unions are themselves deeply fearful. They know the stakes are high: If the citizens of Rhode Island begin to wake up and realize why they are paying such high taxes, the special interests' easy entrée into the taxpayers' wallets may be a thing of the past. And their iron grip on Ocean State politics could be broken.

They know today's primary in Cranston has statewide repercussions. So should you.

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