2 January 2013
Governor Lincoln D. Chafee
Office of the Governor
82 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02903
Dear Governor Chafee:
My name is Robert T. Oliveira. I am a qualified Rhode Island elector living in Newport. I am writing you today in order to make two requests.
Foremost, please ask appropriate counsel to review the ability of the Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority (RIBTA) to set tolls on bridges by itself. Many of us believe that Article V of the Rhode Island Constitution prohibits, whether or not it has been directed to do so by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, RIBTA from engaging in self-generated taxation.
If counsel concurs with this opinion, please send all future toll rate setting requests to the General Assembly for appropriate action.
If counsel disagrees, please do not be surprised when I, funded by the RI PAC Quahogs United, seek an appropriate remedy in Superior Court. The issue is too important to ignore.
Normally, “extra-Constitutional” questions are murky since the decisions were made so long ago. This is not the case under Article V. In fact, just about all the hearings regarding this Article are available on video tape. There should be very little disagreement regarding “original intent.” In the minds of many, Executive Departments are prohibited from engaging in Legislative activity. The setting of tax rates, a toll is nothing more than a tax rate, is a Legislative activity.
In the meantime, one other issue needs to be addressed. Your Administration has been meeting and/or “negotiating” with an organization called STOP here in Newport County.
No organization within STOP, including the Portsmouth Business Association, has indicated a path to success which includes a request for judicial intervention. STOP’s roster is dominated by extremist, racist and bigoted organizations that do not represent anything resembling a majority of the people in Newport County. During the last election cycle, candidates aligned with STOP’s members had one thing in common: failure. The shootings in Newtown, CT have caused some of STOP’s members to take bizarre positions on other issues. The internet is filled with delusional conspiracy theories, including some on the proposed bridge tolls, forwarded by those aligned with STOP.
Later today, Quahogs United will ask the Portsmouth Business Association to leave STOP. When your administration meets with STOP, you legitimize them. Since they have no plans to proceed in court and are not really a legitimate organization, at this time I am asking you to no longer meet with them. This issue is too important for the non-serious to be involved. I would ask that you meet with those who plan to sue you and that should be the standard for such engagements.
Please understand that these requests are made with the betterment of Rhode Island in mind. What RIBTA is doing sets an intolerable precedent. Irony of ironies, I believe it violates an Article which I lobbied against in the first place.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Robert T. Oliveira