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Is a constitutional convention an answer to Rhode Island’s problems?

November 16, 2012

Former RI political staffer Terry Donilon makes the case via op-ed in today’s Providence Journal that a constitutional convention would help move the state forward:

It would provide the avenue we need to create open and constructive dialogue about whether we actually need 39 cities and towns or if we could go with smaller, more effective government in the form of regional or county administration.

It would challenge us to address our educato  go with five or six school districts, and improve on the work of revising how we educate our children?

It would allow us to look at the size, scope and purpose of our legislature. Should we have a smaller, full-time legislature that actually puts the people first?

The last constitutional convention, in 1986, resulted in the creation of the state Ethics Commission (which remains stripped of its ability to offer oversight of the General Assembly; background here). It also marked the political coming of age of some guy named Lincoln Chafee. 

Donilon’s call for a ConCom might resonate with some of the Rhode Islanders frustrated by the lack of specific goals emanating from the governor’s office. (Donilon, the brother of National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, is the secretary of communications for the Archdiocese of Boston.)

State law calls for voters to be asked once every 10 years whether to call a constitutional convention.

Common Cause of RI director John Marion says the question will be on the ballot in 2014. He says the group remains undecided for now on the merits of a convention.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mister Guy permalink
    November 16, 2012 10:39 pm

    The state of RI needs much fewer educational districts & a unicameral legislature, and these needed changes should be imposed via whatever means are necessary.

  2. Kevin McCarthy permalink
    November 17, 2012 7:55 pm

    Agree with Donilon’s call for a Con Con. I think it needs to be a bullet convention though, with only 1 subject for discussion and 1 recommendation, the creation of a tiny, full-time, well compensated, unicameral legislature. All blessings will flow from that. It will change the very culture of the state. the “compensation” to the political class presently is cronyism and the opportunities it affords for friends, relatives, supporters, etc. Better to give them some relatively big bucks and let them realize their continuation in office hinges on the delivery of fair, efficient public services. I really don’t care who the people in office are, alter the facts determining their well-being and they will alter their behavior and conduct. accordingly. In the present hyperpartisan climate, a wide open Con Con will get dragged into every high wattage issue on the political and cultural horizon. It might be hijacked by those seeking to block any real reform. Better to keep it simple, change the legislative structure and reward system watch representative government work its magic.

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