"Today we saw the danger of un-elected bureaucrats, accountable to no one, becoming involved in major public policy decisions," said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, following the state Planning Council's unanimous vote to adopt the controversial RhodeMap RI plan. "It's like the public was not even there; not one of the concerns expressed was even acknowledged, let alone addressed by the council. This plan was obviously an insider deal, pre-ordained to be adopted."
About 100 people attended the Center's press conference and rally prior to the planning council meeting, while a standing-room-only crowd of over 200 people were in attendance at the meeting. Another 50 people or so were turned away from the meeting because of fire-code capacity restrictions.
As evidence of the insider game, the Center today discovered that GrowSmart RI, the local urban redevelopment advocacy group that served as the primary architect of the RhodeMap RI plan, has been funded in large part over recent years by both the state of Rhode Island and the RI Foundation, each of which has been strongly supportive of the so-called economic development plan.
"It's ironic that while diversity and inclusion has been the clarion call of RhodeMap RI supporters, it is disturbing to see the lack of thought-diversity among both the consortium and planning council members that created and advanced this plan; with virtually no representation from the private sector, from the center-right, from taxpayers, or from true economic development experts - and was almost exclusively comprised of government insiders and left-wing special interest advocates," continued Stenhouse. "This is not healthy. The more we learn about this plan, the more it reeks of 38-Studios style cronyism."
The primary argument expressed by most of those who spoke in opposition to the plan today was that the General Assembly, the duly elected representatives of the people, should be the body that should advance any economic development plan, not un-elected appointed insiders, beholden to a government-centric agenda.
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