Government | Group Pushes Constitutional Convention

Article excerpt

PROVIDENCE - Holding a Constitutional Convention would give voters their first chance in nearly 30 years to change the way state government operates - letting them fix what they see as wrong and even make changes that could affect the economy, supporters of the idea said Thursday.

Nearly a year before the 2014 election ballot will ask voters if they want to hold a Constitutional Convention, leaders from Operation Clean Government made it clear they support the idea and intend to rally others to support the cause.

"We have a lot of challenges in front of us," said Michael Goldberg, a member of the group's board of directors. "We see jobs that were here and are not. We see an education system that has its own issues. We see the political system with the master lever, universal support gets nowhere.

"The status quo isn't working."

This year's failed push to abolish the so-called "master lever," which lets voters choose all the candidates in a single party with the stroke of a pen, may have been the poster child for what advocates say is wrong with state government. As Operation Clean Government's president, Margaret Kane, put it: "I don't know anybody who testified against this bill, and yet the folks at the State House didn't even bring it to a vote."

But also on hand to speak at the group's annual meeting, held at the Old State House, on Benefit Street, was Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis, who said the state Constitution, after the U.S. Constitution, is probably the "most important document that we live by."

It is so important, he said in answer to a question, that making changes to it can, in fact, affect the state's economy.

"The way our state government is structured drives our economy," he said.

Mollis said those changes can only be made by "a majority of the people," though he later acknowledged that in reality, they are made by a majority of the people who come out to vote. …