Editorial: Chafee wasn’t there for us

Editorial: Chafee wasn’t there for us


Vote for Healey — ‘”He won’t be there for you,” was the rallying cry of perennial Rhode Island lieutenant governor candidate Bob Healey.

In the East Bay, that’s just how many have viewed the governorship of Lincoln Chafee who announced last Wednesday that he won’t seek reelection.

When his would-be successors come calling, people here will be listening for assurances that their next governor views these towns as something more than outlying colonies.

It wasn’t just the Sakonnet River Bridge toll that soured these towns on their governor but the toll issue was revealing.

The governor often said that he was all about boosting business yet his toll scheme was a business killer (Waterline Systems, the latest to pack up and leave Portsmouth, mentioned tolls last week on its way off-island to Warren).

Especially frustrating to the crowds that tried to dissuade Gov. Chafee from his short-sighted toll plan was the perception that he wasn’t listening — had made up his mind and that was that.

It seemed apparent when throngs turned out at a Portsmouth Town Hall hearing to hear his thoughts on tolls. After wringing his hands and saying briefly that he empathized, Gov. Chafee stepped back and let his Department of Transportation head take the questions and the flak. He was a no-show at two subsequent marathon hearings and the tolls were rammed through as though those many hours of testimony never happened.

For their next governor, voters should hope for someone who treats all corners of this puny state equally. The Chafee idea was to balance the entire state bridge repair budget on the backs of a few easy targets, then cut off state bus service at the Sakonnet River.

They should hope for a head-of-state whose thoughts on deficit reduction are more creative than the tired old  Rhode Island way of more tolls, fees and taxes.

Candidates for this job should be held to the fire on these points. Voters who let them skate by with the standard, “If elected, I will give this issue close scrutiny,” deserve what they get.

He seems like a nice guy but sad to say that Chafee’s departure is good news for these towns.

May the next governor remember that Newport and Bristol counties count for more than the revenue that can be squeezed from them.