The always reliable Tom Sgouros raised some interesting issues in his February 7 e-mail newsletter, "Rhode Island Policy Reporter," that P+J were unable to find space for last week. (Tom's column also appears in local papers, but do yourself a favor and get it by going to whatcheer.net, and tell 'em P+J sent you.)
Sgouros highlighted a bill submitted in the General Assembly by Sen. Rhoda Perry and Rep. Edie Ajello known as the "Clean Elections" legislation. The bill, which has been adopted in Maine and Arizona, effectively levels the fundraising playing field for candidates for state legislature, and Tom reports that the response, at least in Maine, is to create some actual breath-of-fresh-air turnover in the General Assembly. This would be wonderful in Little Rhody, where ironclad incumbencies and the number of uncontested elections to Halitosis Hall are a public disgrace. Keep an eye on this bill, and/or contact Rhoda, Edie, or Tom for more info.
Sgouros also cites the problems with Secretary of State Ralph Mollis's proposal requiring a picture ID in order to vote. (Note: This is not to stick it to Ralph, because P+J believe he has done an excellent job as Secretary of State, especially in enlightening the public through the computerization of information and improved Internet accessibility of the office.)
There are myriad drawbacks to demanding a picture ID, from cost to inconvenience to fairness/equity. Sgouros also noted that another option, itself flawed, would be to bring a utility bill verifying your name and address to the polls, which was the requirement for drivers to prove Rhode Island residency for the Newport Bridge E-ZPass. But those folks probably already had a picture ID license, so it renders the argument moot to a degree. Wherever you go, there you are.
P+J have a different angle on one aspect of voting eligibility. As longtime fans of what we like to call "democracy," we have encouraged citizens to do their patriotic duty and vote in every election. Unfortunately, the rise of the lazy and stupid has led many Americans to treat this privilege as a chore. What your superior correspondents suggest is that the receipt of public assistance be tied to being required to vote. Couldn't make it down the street to the polls? Well, say goodbye to the welfare check. And anyone disqualified from voting because of a felony conviction — and you know who you are, dahlings — would have to report to their polling station and be verified to obtain financial social aid.
You want the state, feds, and your fellow taxpayers to help you out in the wallet? Get off your ass and treat the ability to vote as the blessing it is. Selah.
As you are doubtless aware, Phillipe and Jorge play an important role as providers of wisdom to the state political leadership (solicited or not). So we suggest that the General Assembly may want to reconsider their advocacy for changing the law that currently permits prostitution in the Biggest Little provided it is conducted indoors, lest they find the State House having to be closed down for business when the General Assembly is in session. You're welcome.
Late Show horror show
P+J were unlucky enough to stumble across David Letterman's purported "interview" on his February 12 CBS Late Show with professional creep Joaquin Phoenix.