Thursday, December 18, 2008

Supreme Court Issues Final Chapter on SOP

Over four years after 78.3% of Rhode Island voters spoke loudly in demand of Separation of Powers (SOP), their will has been validated. Today the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion that loudly and clearly enforces the will of the people of Rhode Island in their demand for checks and balances. The issue now is settled, the final chapter is written, and Separation of Powers is ready to be put to rest.

The Supreme Court ruled on four questions submitted by the House of Representatives with regard to the 2004 amendment. Three questions dealt with whether the powerful Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is subject to the amendment. A fourth question asked whether or not the governor’s power to appoint the members of all state executive boards and commissions, with the Senate’s advice and consent, is “self-executing.” In other words, did that power go in to effect when the voters passed it, or does the General Assembly need to pass additional legislation before the amendment can go into effect? The court’s answers are clear; the CRMC is subject to SOP and the SOP amendment is self-executing.

Click here to read the Court’s opinion

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Executive Director for Common Cause RI

John Marion has been named the Executive Director of Common Cause RI. Common Cause RI is a non-partisan advocacy group which works for open, ethical and accountable government. Marion takes the helm of RI’s most effective “citizens’ lobby” at a time when Rhode Island government faces challenges on many fronts.

According to Kevin McAllister, President of the RI Common Cause Governing Board, “John Marion will provide a strong voice for Rhode Island’s citizens. His energy and grasp of the workings of government will make him an effective spokesperson and advocate for Common Cause RI. Under his leadership, Common Cause RI will continue to fight for the implementation of the Separation of Powers amendment; a strong Ethics Commission; clean elections; and open, accountable governance in the executive, legislative and judicial branches.”

John Marion comes to Common Cause RI with a deep knowledge of the issues and dynamics of state and national politics. He has eight years of experience teaching American government at the university level. Marion is a graduate of Binghamton University in New York and did extensive graduate work in Political Science at Indiana University. His research focus included: state politics, policy and administration; elections, campaign finance and candidate behavior; and the role of non-governmental institutions in elections. Marion has served as an Instructor at Indiana University Bloomington, a Visiting and Adjunct Lecturer at Indiana University South Bend and an Instructor with the Indiana University School of Continuing Studies.

John Marion and his family moved to Providence, RI in 2001 and he continued to teach as an on-line instructor with the Indiana University Department of Continuing Studies. Marion and his wife, Karen Ng, a physician employed by Providence Community Health Centers, have twin daughters.

John Marion succeeds Christine Lopes as Executive Director. Christine joined Common Cause RI in 2006 and is leaving to complete her master’s degree in public administration at Suffolk University in Boston.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Common Cause RI Annual Meeting

Please join Common Cause Rhode Island at its 38th Annual Meeting on Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston.

Featuring Dinner and Conversation with Senator Lincoln Chafee. Senator Chafee will reflect on his time in office as described in his book, “Against the Tide: How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President.” Join Common Cause to learn how we can fight the tide here in Rhode Island and in Washington.

Excellence in Public Service Award to be presented to:

Tickets must be purchased in advance. RSVP by Friday, October 10. For more information, please call: Office Administrator Deborah Jones at 401 861-2322

Click here to view the 38th Annual Meeting Invitation

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Help Fight for Good Government in RI

This year, Common Cause RI faces new challenges in the fight for open, ethical government in Rhode Island.

Recently, we’ve been in the news speaking out about:
• vacancies on the RI Board of Elections that may jeopardize the 2008 elections,
• proposed ethics rule changes regarding financial conflict of interest,
• improving access to public records; and
• the inclusion of magistrates in the judicial merit selection process.

In order for Common Cause RI to take the lead on important reform issues like these, we depend on the support of Rhode Islanders like you who care about good government in our state. With your help, we will raise the funds to keep Common Cause RI strong and effective.

All of these efforts are especially critical this year, with elections coming up in November. Common Cause RI can’t make these reforms a reality without the support of Rhode Islanders like you. Please show your support for our work and make a contribution!

Click here to continue to the online donation page.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Common Cause Op-Ed

On July 3, an Op-Ed entitled, “Where are the R.I. board members?” by Common Cause RI appeared in the Providence Journal. The piece describes the electoral crisis that was avoided in Rhode Island due to Common Cause sounding the alarm back in April and also highlights the problems with accessing information about state boards and commissions.

Click here to read Common Cause’s Op-Ed in the Providence Journal

Monday, June 2, 2008

Report: Democracy Deferred II

State boards and commissions in Rhode Island play an important role in how government functions. Seats on these boards and commissions must be filled with new appointments in a timely manner if these bodies are to function at full strength with a healthy turnover of capable and energetic members representing the public. But is that happening?

A recently completed Common Cause study sought to find out:
1) Whether the public can ascertain which seats are filled on state boards, which board members are
serving past the expiration of their terms, and which seats are empty;
2) Whether the public can ascertain whether the governor is making appointments to these boards as terms
expire or seats are otherwise vacated; and
3) Whether the public can ascertain whether or when the Senate acts on governor appointments.

Common Cause discovered that there is no accurate source of information about the membership of state boards and commissions. The information available to the public is difficult to find and often unreliable.

Click here to read Democracy Deferred II

Click here to read Data Set 1 of Democracy Deferred II

Click here to read Data Set 2 of Democracy Deferred II

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Common Cause Sounds the Alarm

On April 21, Common Cause RI sent a letter to Governor Carcieri raising serious concerns about three current vacancies and a fourth vacancy expected this summer, on the seven member RI Board of Elections. Appointments to the Board of Elections are made by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.Common Cause was gravely concerned that if the Senate recessed its session in June, and the Governor had not made appointments to the Board of Elections by then, the Board would not have a quorum in the fall to certify the results of the State and Presidential elections in September and November. If these three vacant seats were not filled and the fourth were vacated, Rhode Island would face a major electoral crisis during a year when record voter participation and interest is expected.After inquiries from the media that followed Common Cause Rhode Island’s lead and alarm, on May 21 the Providence Journal reported that the Governor finally submitted three nominations to the Board of Elections for the Senate’s advice and consent.Click here to read the April 21, Providence Journal article on appointments to the Board of Elections

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Common Cause on “10 News Conference”

On March 30, Common Cause RI was featured on the “10 News Conference” program with Jim Taricani and Bill Rappleye. Our Executive Director Christine Lopes answered questions during the 1/2 an hour interview covering the issues of Separation of Powers, Open Records, Ethics, and Campaign Finance Reform. The interview was a great opportunity to inform Rhode Islanders on the work Common Cause is doing to ensure open and ethical government in our state.

If you missed the program, you can view it online at the link provided below. Once on Channel 10’s website, you’ll need to scroll down and click on the March 30 program link.

Click here to see Common Cause on Channel 10

Friday, March 14, 2008

Common Cause RI Releases Report on SOP

Three years and four months after passage by 78.3 percent of those voting, the 2004 Separation of Powers (SOP) amendment to the Rhode Island constitution has not been fully implemented.

On March 14, Common Cause Rhode Island released Democracy Deferred, a 14-page white paper recounting the history of the Separation of Powers amendment since its passage.

Click Here to view Democracy Deferred

Click the link below to view the press release on the report: