Though House Speaker Gordon Fox came out conciliatory for the unfriendliness of last session, renegade South Kingstown Rep. Spencer Dickinson started 2014 by promptly resigning from his post on the House Small Business Committee and distributing a scathing letter addressed to the speaker.
“I made my final decision to resign from the small business committee after I got home Tuesday evening,” Dickinson told me in an email. “I had been thinking about it for months, but Fox’s opening remarks pushed me over. He really had treated a lot of people badly at the end of last session. I felt he essentially stood up and handed himself a free pass. He printed his own Get Out Of Jail card. It doesn’t work that way.”
Dickinson said the Small Business Committee does little meaningful work and exists primarily for banishing rogue caucus members. In his letter he called it the “Committee that Never Meets.”
House spokesman Larry Berman said the committee met six times last year and “critical issues such as regulatory reform, unemployment insurance, the promotion of products manufactured in Rhode Island, and assistance for our state’s farms and for young entrepreneurs, were all discussed.”
Dickinson missed two of the six meetings, and Berman pointed out that none of the nine bills he submitted were related to his committee assignment.
Nonetheless, Dickinson was strident in his letter:
I will continue to serve my constituents the best way that I can, by telling the truth and doing a day’s work. I will work with others to develop new solutions. I will propose legislation and advocate for it. But I will not dignify the process of punishment and retribution, for myself, or for others.
Sam Howard wrote a great piece about the Dickinson/Fox feud in Sept. 2012. At the time, Dickinson accused Fox of trying to redistrict him out of office.