Dan Weisman


[Excerpt] In June 1984, Rhode Island voters went to the polls to decide the fate of an ambitious economic revitalization plan. Two years in the making, the plan was based on the most comprehensive study of a single state's economy ever conducted. It was overseen by a broad-based commission, including AFL-CIO leadership, and was authored by a leading authority on industrial redevelopment, Ira Magaziner, who infused it with a liberal philosophy.

Called the Greenhouse Compact, the plan was a tapestry of public policy changes and strategically targeted public investment to create jobs in selected industries, and it included concessions from both business and labor. It was presented to the electorate a half-year before the actual vote. At 800-plus public meetings and in the media, it was heralded as pro-labor, modestly liberal but balanced, appropriately priced and financed, and a can't miss, sure thing to resusitate the state's failing economy. The program was actively promoted by the governor and most of the state's business, civic, political and labor leadership. When the vote came, however, Greenhouse was defeated by a 4-to-l margin.