According to WPRI, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (I) is taking sides in a fight over the future direction of the state’s troubled Economic Development Corporation. The fight is between former campaign rival and Moderate Party Chairman Ken Block and House Speaker Gordon Fox, but the Governor has decided to go against the Speaker and side with Block.
"Governor Chafee and Ken Block have many areas of agreement," Chafee spokesman Christine Hunsinger said in a statement to WPRI.com. "The Governor agrees that the time has come to abolish the master lever. The Governor also agrees that the formal structure of the EDC is less important than what its goals and priorities are and who is tasked with achieving those goals."
Chafee and Fox have been sparring after the Governor rejected the idea backed by House Democrats that calls for renaming the EDC and putting it under the control of a new secretary of commerce who would be added to the governor's cabinet. Chafee came out against the plan saying that it simply added more bureaucracy while doing nothing to solve the problems with agency mired in the controversy over the $75 million loan given to former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and his company 38 Studios. Chafee has be a long-time critic of the 38 Studios loan plan even before he won the Governor's race in 2010.
Block has also been critical of the plan and of Fox's in 38 Studios fiasco. Yesterday Block issued a scathing statement against the Speaker for his EDC plan:
"It is time to sit down and listen to business leaders and economic experts who don't just talk a good game on economic development, but actually have real-world experience in making it happen," Block said. "Rhode Island cannot afford to continue to rearrange deck chairs on a sinking ship."
Block ran in the 2010 Governor's race, where he finished in fourth place.
"While he greatly respects Governor Chafee, Speaker Fox obviously disagrees that enough is being done to improve the state's economy," Larry Berman, a spokesman for Fox, told WPRI.com. "The 18-bill package submitted by the House leadership addresses many of the concerns that have been expressed to House members about creating a more business friendly state that is attractive to companies looking to expand or locate here."