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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Great Debate

Rep. Donna Walsh goes toe-to-toe with her opponents at the Knockdown in Narragansett
Tina Jackson and Kevin Prescott get ready to square off against
Rep. Donna Walsh. 
By Will Collette

Rep. Donna Walsh, who represents all of Charlestown, plus Block Island and parts of Westerly and South Kingstown, faced off against her two opponents, Tina Jackson Baker (R) and Kevin Prescott (independent), at the League of Women Voters candidate debate in Narragansett on October 10.

I didn’t go to the debate (time conflict), but you can watch the video posted on the Narragansett-South Kingstown Patch. Click here – it’s in nine easy-to-digest segments.

Not shown on the video is the dramatic arrival at the debate site by Tina Jackson right at the very minute when the debate was going to start. Fortunately, we have this dispatch from Progressive Charlestown Special Correspondent Henry Walsh:

I attended the forum Wednesday night (October 10) which can be seen on the Narragansett- South Kingstown Patch and to be announced on TV. One of the spectacular events of the night, if not the only spectacular event of the night was the sudden appearance of Tina Jackson. 
The time to start the forum had arrived and a murmur of “where's Jackson?” passed through the room. At the moment the forum was to start, Jackson burst through the double doors on to the center of the room, her hair flowing like a superman's cape. 
Holy shit, she looked 7 feet tall! Her stiletto heels were at least 4 inches long, complemented by black stockings, and appeared to have been poured into her dress. Juxtapose that with the conservative New England attire of the audience.
After that flamboyant entry, Jackson took her seat and it was “Play Ball” time. Donna Walsh stood on her record as our state Representative without hesitation. 

Donna Walsh talks about her record
That’s how Donna has approached this election and every other one she has been in. If you want to see that record of achievement, you can check out her website, look up her record on the legislative database, or see what the various websites that track state politics have to say about her.

While Donna could speak to the audience about her record, her opponents were not really in much of a position to do the same. Kevin Prescott is a first-time, probably last time, candidate. He actually admitted during the course of the debate that he didn’t know what he was doing or any of the answers to the questions. You’ll see in the video that toward the very end, Prescott understood that entering the race was a really big mistake. Donna did her best to console Prescott both before and after the debate.

Tina Jackson, on the other hand, delivered her lines from the state GOP playbook like the practiced performer that she is. Jackson runs one of the lobby groups representing the fishing industry. 

Tina Jackson after her dramatic entry, telling her fish tales
She made it pretty clear that aside from what she memorized from the state party script, all she had to add to the debate was the demand that the state of Rhode Island allow unregulated fishing within three miles of shore.

Look at the video and see for yourself. For a person who supposedly has expertise on fisheries, this is a terrible idea on many, many levels. One is the question of whether the state actually has the power to do that.

Second is the complication caused by the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution. If somehow Rhode Island managed to open up the three-mile limit to unrestricted fishing (which is nuts), all fishing vessels, not just Rhode Island vessels, would have unregulated access to take whatever they can catch.

Arrrr! Does Rhode Island need to build its own fleet?
Perhaps Ms. Jackson wants Rhode Island to consider seceding from the United States so only Rhode Island commercial fishermen can fish all they want in coastal waters. That kind of idea worked well for the Southern states in 1860. Maybe Rhode Island should form its own army and navy before doing that.

Then of course there is the simple truth that unregulated fishing will simply mean the fish will be gone that much faster.

Anyway, Tina Jackson’s principle area of policy expertise is supposed to be the law regarding commercial fishing – and this is what she comes up with?

Up until this debate, there haven’t been a whole lot of Tina Jackson sightings around the 36th District. Maybe the reason she was at the debate, almost late with the dramatic entrance and all, is that it took place in Narragansett, which is way outside the 36th District, but closer to her constituency in the fishing fleet.

Now that she has surfaced and made her case for why she should be elected instead of Donna, it’s time to take a closer look at who Tina Jackson is and what, if anything, she has to offer the voters of the 36th District.