One of the more difficult bond issues to understand is Question 6, calling for a Constitutional Convention to establish co-equal branches of government, specifically to exclude legislators from serving on the boards and commissions they create and oversee. It's not the issue that's difficult to understand, but rather the failure of the various groups that support it, to lobby sufficiently for it.
Only in late September did Common Cause and other groups begin an effort to gain support for this advisory, non-binding referendum. We agree that a Constitutional Convention is important to explore how our boards and commissions are appointed, and whether the legislature should have the right to create and appoint members to boards and commissions that control hundreds, maybe thousands of state jobs and millions of dollars.
Common Cause and others suggest that having legislators both appoint and serve on these boards and commissions leads to considerable abuse and potential corruption. However, legislators don't have a corner on abuse and corruption. The credit union crisis was a combined effort, from weak oversight laws, to the failure of the Department of Business Regulation, its banking division and the executive branch's failure to act well in advance of what was becoming to them a potential disaster.
We've had a governor spend time in jail, judges and legislators and other officials all wielding considerable power, some without proper authority. But in the end, Rhode Island is probably no more corrupt than other states.
That's probably why it's a good idea to follow the lead of others and assure there is the separation of powers that gives us the best chance at avoiding abuse and corruption.
There are still many questions over this issue, and we are disappointed that Common Cause, Operation Clean Government, the Governor's office and others who advocate the Constitutional Convention have not done a better job educating the public of the necessity for the Constitutional change.
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