Thursday, March 31, 2005

Tech Issues

I have had some technical issues for about two weeks in seeing the blog. If anyone else has I have fixed the problem. The Problem was the adios to the polls for a while. Terri Schiavo passed today, and I have a unique perspective on it. I'll be posting about it later tonight or tomorrow.

Good Government?

I never thought I would become such a critic of Governor Carcieri. To be sure, I believe that he is doing a much better job than Lincoln Almond, but his policies seem so 'tunnel vision'-like. For instance, yesterday he unveiled a line item veto proposal that contained two basic points

  • Budget line item veto authority
  • Super majority to approve tax increases
While in principle I agree with both ideas. If you have a massive budget, a Governor could be forced to approve it in order to keep the state functioning. And so a Governor is handcuffed because he cannot weed out what he considers frivolous budget add-ons. On the flipside, the General Assembly shouldn't just regurgitate any Governor's budget proposal. Indeed, I like the idea that both the General Assembly and the Governor's office MUST compromise in the budget. I believe that given the history of the General Assembly and the Governor this line item proposal will only create further tensions and antagonisms. The loser will be average Rhode Islanders. As for the 'super majority' needed for tax increases, while it 'protects' businesses and state residents from tax increases that do not have overwhelming support in the State House, it makes no separation amongst types of tax increases and their purpose. Many times Assembly members are reluctant to make tax increases because of self-interest and not because it's good for the state. Further, I would contend that the goal of passing this piece of the proposal has partisan roots. How? If the Republican party can start to chip away at the Democratic stronghold within the General Assembly then getting enough votes for a super majority becomes that much more difficult. While in theory 'super majority' on tax hikes is a good idea, in the context of Rhode Island, it reeks of partisan trickery. But the Governor says:
Good government is a government that lives within its means [...] We will continue to make reforms so that state government is more efficient and more accountable to the people of Rhode Island
I look forward to hearing from the governor in the next few months on his plans to address the 13 million dollar deficit the Providence School system is facing. Hopefully, balancing the education budget to ensure our children receive an adequate education is part of good government.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Excessive Force

About two years ago, Rhode Island television was flooded with the images of state troopers forcibly removing Narragansett Indians from Narragansett land. The purpose was to close down a 'smoke shop'. Yesterday, a federal jury convicted one of the troopers for using excessive force.(link) The award: $301,100 to Jennings and finally vindication for the pain and suffering stemming from that day. No matter what you think of the legality of the smoke shop, if you were awake during that summer you knew that the tribe was battling with the state over this issue. Again, the reason for opening the smoke shop wasn't to take advantage of their status as a sovereign nation, but to help themselves. The governor, however, felt a compelling interest to make sure that smoke shop was shutdown. I feel sorry for the trooper who was placed 'in harm's way' by an administration who time and again forgets about the people in order to enforce policy.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A Conversation About Immigration Status

Yesterday, I spoke with State Representative Grace Diaz, my state rep. I had some concerns with legislation she had proposed, specifically centered around the issue of undocumented immigrants. According to my understanding, if you are undocumented you should not be in the country. If the immigration service finds you - you are likely to be deported. In fact, many of my neighbors had major qualms about Ms. Diaz's heritage and wondered whether or not she would just push issues favoring immigrants or the recently naturalized citizens. I too had those same concerns but having spoke to Grace on several other occassions had allayed those fears until I saw these bills. One bill H6066 would allow undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain drivers' licenses. I had numerous problems with this. First, if they are undocumented, giving them a license basically allows them to remain in the country as a license can be utilized in many different ways to identify a person. In effect, this subverts federal laws prohibiting illegal immigrants. Second, with this passage would come an influx of undocumented immigrants from other parts of the country. If you can get a license in RI without documentation "honey, do you know what a quahog is?". Third, the bill circumvents the main issue: undocumented immigrants living in our communities. By granting a license, the state would basically say, "we can't document these people, but they're here so here's an idea - let's give them licenses and forgettaboutit." Again, this subverts federal statutes and in reality, makes it far too easy for an undocumented person to continue to remain in this country i-l-l-e-g-a-l-l-y. Ms. Diaz responded by stating that by providing undocumented persons - the category which includes people merely trespassing on US soil to those who have had VISAs expire - adds to the safety of RI by creating more licensed drivers. To which I said, "using that logic - the state should actually look for these people, not issue licenses, and hand them to immigration for immediate deportation. If people are doubly breaking the law, the answer isn't to make legal which is now illegal, but to root out the offenders." She understood my position but again said that the people are here and just need the opportunity to get their immigration status resolved. At this point, I was pretty much convinced that this and other bills Ms. Diaz has introduced this legislative season were completely in alignment with what my neighbors had feared and also not in step with building up my Elmwood community. That is until Grace said this, "we are a nation of immigrants." That might not seem so profound, but it clicked in my brain. Indeed, my family emigrated here from Africa by way of a boat and unwillingly. More to the point, the US has generally welcomed immigrants and provided opportunity to them matched by no other country on earth. We are a rainbow - a mixture of the best of hundreds of cultures. And in that spirit, our position as a government shouldn't be one of deport first ask later - but of doing fact checking with the hopes of welcoming as we have welcomed millions before. With that in mind, I asked Grace if she would consider the following: 1. Issuance of temporary licenses dependant upon becoming a legal immigrant. 2. At the point of license application, providing the DMV with the appropriate INS form necessary to update status. 3. Instead of encompassing the whole world of undocumented immigrants start with those whose VISA's have expired and go from there. She took all these with stride and mentioned having thought of a couple beforehand. What I wanted to impart to Grace was this:

  • Members of the legislature would kill this bill, as written, in a heartbeat;
  • in order to receive licenses, undocumented immigrants MUST demonstrate practical steps towards legalizing their residency;
  • Even if they do, it's going to be very, very, difficult to pass this bill.

We agreed that with some changes this bill could prove beneficial to the many undocumented immigrants and community at large in Rhode Island. Lastly, if you ever have a question or concern about a piece of legislation your assemblyperson proposes, ask questions first before jumping to conclusions. You may just end up helping provide solutions than simple and uneffective whining and complaining.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Playing God with Terri Schiavo

Since when have we as a society decided who is and who is not worth living? I thought that we are a compassionate society who sees every life as valuable. Terri is being tortured because she did not have a living will. Now, since she is married we look to her husband to give everyone the voice that Terri cannot give. He is supposed to be acting in the interest of his wife. His history shows me otherwise. Her "husband" has obviously moved on with his life. He has a girlfriend which he has children with. He has refused any type of treatment, or rehabilitation for her. She is not even allowed to watch television. How is this acting in the best interest of your wife? Terri is severly disabled, but she is awake and responsive. She only needs the feeding tube attatched during mealtimes. I obviously cannot speak for Terri, but there are many people out there who have debilitating diseases that fight on and live on. "Life" means different things to different people, but it is something that I think we should value, even if it's not "perfect". It's really sad for me to see that a person will go to jail for starving a dog, but the same will not happen if it is done to a human being.

Carcieri says no to child care unions

Thanks to our 'friends' at Rhode Island's Future, I've learned that Governor Carcieri will not support the child care providers attempt to unionize. I commented there and am feeling really sick so I'll leave my remarks for another day. Suffice it to say, I think the only weakness of the Carcieri administration is lack of personal connections. What I mean is, if you read the Governor's press release on the child care union, it seems to lack knowledge of the situations facing the child care providers and is the exact reason they seek to unionize!! I hope that the Governor will provide better solutions to their problems than this:

...reform proposals include freezing the current subsidy rates paid to all providers until July 1, 2006. [...] The Governor would also raise the eligibility level for child care providers to get free state-subsidized health care, and would require them to pay the same health care co-shares as RIte Care beneficiaries do.
Child care providers aren't nasty, partisan, state leeches. They are dedicated people who perform a service which allows many working families to do just that: work. I'm deeply saddened that this administration does not acknowledge their right to unionize any longer. Last year the Governor said:
He said it would be fine with him if the workers "wanted to organize themselves" into a union, just as long as it isn't as state employees. "This isn't about unionizing or organizing," he said. The Pawtucket Times April 16, 2004
I'm left wondering, and I am sure the child care providers are as well, why the change in policy?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Divide and Conquer

Have you ever watched movies or tv shows that are centered around people in life threatening situations. Usually they have only so much water, so much air, or some life sustaining object. And always in these shows, there is a point where the people turn on each other and fight for what little they do have. Inevitably, this leads to the object's and thereby the people's ultimate demise. In the same manner, this is how minorities have been unable to break through to sustained achievement in Providence and elsewhere accross the country. We have a mentality that says, "if you get a crumb, I want one too." Keyword: crumb. Why do we fight over the crumbs we might receive from government/foundation grants when our collective community continues to fail. Why do some people say, "that ain't fair that they be asking for a bilingual person. This America and we speak English. (grammatical errors intentional)"? While others say, "Soy de Puerto Rico y no tengo que aprender ingles!" It's a mentality among minorities to stick to 'their own'. We've been cultured to think that 'your success equals my failure' and that's such nonesense. Last night, I attended a meeting where immigrant residents were starting a Co-operative temporary employment company. These residents had received some funding to start their program. They were all Latino residents, coincidentally. Almost immediately after presenting their program, people began to question the inclusiveness of their Co-op. "Will you only target Latino residents? You realize that there are other immigrants besides Latino immigrants, right?" Although these are valid questions, they illustrate the level of mistrust existing between minority groups in Providence. This mistrust only helps keep us divided and leave us defeated-left out of community progress. That doesn't just hurt us as individuals, but it hampers the generations that are coming after us. We do have real differences, but we also have common struggles. When one of us seeks to 'rise up' we need to join with them not tear them down. Let us refuse to be divided and conquered as many of our predecessors were.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

New Contributor

I would like to take a second and briefly introduce myself. My views are mainly Independent & Conservative. I am excited to be a part of this blog and I hope that I will not disappoint. Debates and criticisms are always welcome. It wouldn't be a first that I was proven incorrect. I hope this will spark desire and interest. Everyone can learn something new from eachother. So, enjoy!

Steroids + MLB

When you hear the word "baseball", do you automatically associate it with steroids? I didn't until recently. Originally, when I thought of baseball, I would think of families, nice weather, beer, popcorn, etc. It's quite unfortunate that America's favorite pastime has to be tainted with this. An article from states the penalty that a player would receive if he were to be tested positive for the use of steroids. The penalties are as follows: 1st offense: Treatment 2nd: 15-day suspension or a fine of up to $10k (without pay) 3rd: 25-day suspension (without pay) 4th: 50-day suspension (without pay) 5th: 1 year (without pay) Now, I don't know about you, but for me this is a slap on the wrist. In 2004, Sammy Sosa made almost $17M. Do you think he is going to miss $10k? I don't think so. MLB needs to be a little more serious on this issue. If I had the choice, the first offense would result in a one year suspension without pay and mandatory treatment. No fooling around. It's no wonder why the House Government Reform Committee is getting involved in this issue. Normally I would say that the HGRC must stay out of this, but I believe it is due to the lax nature of the association. In addition to the pressure that is being put onto the association, it is imperative that kids understand what they are dealing with. They need to be educated on the effects of steroids. I just hope that Sosa, McGwire, Canseco & everyone else realize that this isn't just about how many home runs you can hit, it's about family, and the true love of the game.

Monday, March 21, 2005


You may have noticed less posting. I am in the process of writing a document for the Rhode Island Right to Vote Campaign. Some I will post here. I should be finished by tomorrow when, hopefully, things will return to normal. So much is happening that it's killing me that I don't have time to talk about it. One of which being the credit rating upgrade the S&P rating organization gave to the city. Also, the blog welcomes another contributor...I'll let her introduce herself with her next post. And as a side, if you have an interest in contributing to this blog and can write coherently please drop me a line.

Question of the Week: March 20, 2005

Hmm...I've decided to change this to question of the week. I don't expect you all to be as in love with this blog as I am, and so to spur more debate...let's make it a weekly instead of daily question. This week's question: Should felons be given the right to vote once they are released from prison and either enter into a parole or probation status? Definitions: Parole - When a convict is allowed to serve the rest of their sentence in our communities (with some stipulations) Probation - A suspended sentence which a convicted felon is allowed to live in our communities (with some stipulations)

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Question of the Day: March 19, 2005

I'm going to start something new here. Each day I (or other contributors) will post a question. You, the reader, are encouraged to respond and debate about it amongst yourselves. I'll try to be abstract because conversations begin easier that way. First question: Do the ends justify the means? From a scale of 1 - 10, 1 being definitely and 10 being never, answer if you feel the ends justify the means in regards to any situation? Also, list your reasoning.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Social Security: A blended solution

Can we all agree that there is a problem with Social Security? Here's what FDR said about Social Security:

First, the system adopted, except for the money necessary to initiate it, should be self-sustaining in the sense that funds for the payment of insurance benefits should not come from the proceeds of general taxation.
In other words, what people put in should cover the cost of the then-labelled 'old-age' insurance. Other taxes should not be used to cover the cost of this insurance. The realities of the 30s made this very plausible. People weren't living as long as today, and so the number of people tapping into the system was much less than today. Hence the formula used to keep Social Security self-sustaining in the 30s doesn't work. Nor is it reasonable to think that there are enough workers in America to keep it self-sustaining sans major tax increases. Even that will only be a temporary solution because people are getting older and as medical technology advances AND the cost of healthcare rises-we can only expect people living on the system to use up more and more resources. So we're stuck in a quandary. Do we raise taxes to try and keep as many citizens at the same level of benefits as have been for decades? Do we implement a privatization scheme which adds more risks and rewards to the equation? Do we scrap the whole system? Difficult questions, but I think the staple of any new legislation will need to include the following: a. Maintainence of the same level of benefits, to a degree. This is critical. People who have put into the system up to now should have vested SSI payments coming to them. In other words if you are 45 right now and if you stopped putting into the system today, whatever monthly payment you are entitled to at age 65 is the minimum you will receive once you reach that age (adjusted for inflation, of course!). b. Privatization of some kind. Using the 45 year old man as the example, implementing a new 'compulsory' system whereby you are allowed to invest in a plethora of 'safe' and 'risky' funds. You are brought into the Social Security office and an assessment of you financials is done. Afterwards, the advisor gives you their analysis and your options. The choices would include:
1. A plan which mirrors the current Social Security system. In effect, had the system remained the same, this is what you would receive. 2. A plan that involves more risk, and potentially greater reward. You are allowed to invest up to 2/3rds of your 'compulsory' monies into this account. The other portion is placed into a federally backed fund. 3. A plan that is more safe, and potentially less rewarding than option 1 or 2. You invest into a low interest bearing government fund. A fund that invests in only the most stable stocks of the last one hundred years or some low-risk combination. You could be allowed to invest up to 100% of you 'compulsory' monies into this fund.
In this manner, anyone aged 15 to whenever could implement an investment program based on their needs, risk aversion, and current status within the social security system. The federal government would bear a great burden for the next 10-20 years but as younger generations - who've invested into the system less - start getting older, the burden on the federal government should become less. I stress the word should. As mentioned, healthcare and age are rising. Without some form of adequate social security insurance, millions of Americans will find themselves on the wrong side of poverty for much of their elderly life. However, we must face the realities that our economy cannot sustain the current system. We must find a way to create a fluid system that will take us from the current system and bring us to one where the burden on the federal government isn't so monumental. Blanket age cut-offs won't work as every individual's story is different. Complete privatization doesn't work because it unequally favors the rich. A blended system is required, but will partisan antagonism keep us from that solution?

Who knew? The Bush Doctrine is working

From John Freedland's (read:not a Bush or Blair devotee) article in
Put starkly, we cannot let ourselves fall into the trap of opposing democracy in the Middle East simply because Bush and Blair are calling for it.

And liberals-that comment was for you. With recent actions taken by Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, and even Palistineans the facts are indicating that democracy is starting to quell in the cradle of the world.

Could this mean the Bush doctrine is actually working?
The answer is: Y-E-S. Though the left will tell you Bush has had nothing to do with it and that it's just happenstance. Check the information for yourself and you decide. It's obvious to me.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Rush Speechless

I have listened to Rush Limbaugh, on and off, since the early 90s when he had his own syndicated tv show. For the first time ever, I heard nothing coming out of his mouth. Was he talking to Al Franken? No. Randi Rhodes? No. Who was it then? It was a man, age 54, who was talking about Social Security. To give you a little synopsis, the guy is a Republican. He began by talking about how he has been a Republican for a long time but is reconsidering his party affiliation because of the proposed changes to Social Security. His reasoning was he's worked since 16 and has put in nearly 40 years into the system. Also, he's been banking on these social security benefits for almost as long and to change it when he only has 10+ years left of working life remaining is not only unfair, but degrading to the work he's done. Rush at first tried to reason with the guy and say, "you'll be 55 when it's finally passed so it won't affect you." The guy responded by saying, "but what about people who are 51, 52, 53?? They don't have enough time to make up what they will lose by the changes coming to Social Security." Silence. And in that moment, Rush was speechless. Sure it was about 5 seconds, but I could hear his mind trying to spin what this guy just said and he couldn't do it. Rush Limbaugh, Republican of Republicans, couldn't spin the Bush Social Security reform to an average american directly impacted by the legislation. That got me scared and here's why: 1. As a person still in my twenties, I've never counted on nor will I count on Social Security. I'm very willing to change Social Security to make it less of a burden on the government and better for average americans in general. However, my historical memory is limited by my youthful age and thus I acquiesce to this older gentlemen for how this will affect average america. 2. There's no defense for what this man is talking about! If Rush can't come up with something better than 'you'll be 55 next year' then there is no honest reply to what this man and millions of americans are facing. 3. Social Security is going to be difficult to change. Shocking, eh? Tough choices will need to be made, but blanket cut-offs are not going to be the answer. Some form of choice would be preferable. For instance, if you're over 55 Social security stays the same. If you are between 45-54 you can elect to remain in the current system or take your current system's balance and transfer that into a private account. Make similar adjustments for younger people. Limbaugh had nothing for this guy. No answers. No reassurance. And very little sympathy. President Bush, is this the type of reform you are offering? Note: The preceding was just a rant. Social Security needs reform, compassionate reform, that does not place undue burdens on average Americans.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Am I a closet racist?

Ya know, I pride myself on not pre-judging a person based on appearance. However, what I 'thought' yesterday calls that into question. I was driving down the street when I saw a man driving a truck in a turban who looked Middle Eastern. In a millisecond I had three thoughts in succession: 1. Is this guy a Muslim? 2. Is he a terrorist? 3. Is there a bomb on that truck? My fear was alighted when I saw that his truck carried the label of a local medical company and I thought 'if he's one of their employees he can't be a terrorist.' I don't know why thinking that he was affiliated with that medical company made me feel better, but it did. Yet, after he went his way and I went mine without becoming another terrorist statistic, I did a double-take. Why was it that his 'turban' made me immediately think he was a terrorist carrying a bomb? What have I implicitly programmed or allowed programmed into my brain that is afraid of men wearing turbans? Racism is usually characterized by ignorance and fear and I had both in this situation. Do I even know why people wear turbans? Answer: No. Do I spend time with anyone who regularly wears turbans? Answer: No. Well, I think I have ignorance pretty much covered. Let's move onto fear. Where have I seen people with turbans? Answer: Celebrating over the death of American soldiers. What have I heard about people who wear turbans? Answer: They are militant Muslims and militant Muslims are all terrorists. If racism's characteristics entail a plethora of ignorance and fear...then *gulp*, I am a racist. However, I challenge you all to think of any group that you have no clue about and check yourself. You too could be closet racists. But let me say this. Tolerance does not mean agreement. Tolerance simply means you respect another's will to believe what they choose to believe. Think about the WWI combatants who used to play soccer with one another before killing each other the very next day (link). This level of respect without agreement is absent in today's political atmosphere. Liberals want us to believe that tolerance equals agreement. It doesn't. Instead, I say take the time to look into things you are ignorant and fearful of and make informed decisions. Be it abortion, tax hikes, the war in Iraq, the school board, etc. don't allow your disposition to cloud your judgement and equally do not allow others to flood you head with crap. You may end up like me: a closet racist. But I'm on the road to recovery because information is power. (check link below) Man killed for wearing a turban.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Social Promotion? Are you kidding me?!

Social Promotion. You know what it is. It's when you take a kid who's like 15 in the 7th grade and move them into the eighth grade regardless of whether or not they actually do the work of a 7th grader. Call me naive but when I was in elementary school (late 80s) the only kind of social promotion we enjoyed was when a geek went through puberty and was 'socially promoted' to hunk or hot girl status. What's up with a system that will move you to the next grade even though you're unable to read or write? What is the value of any diploma you receive? More importantly, what message are we sending to students who get promoted year after year without learning a thing? At a budget hearing yesterday, Rep. Paul Crowley, D-Newport, berated the RI Education Commissioner, Peter McWalters, about this very point. He said "When is the state going to call the question that we can no longer keep advancing these kids?" McWalters reply, according to the journal:

But McWalters said there is no evidence that shows that holding students back improves their performance. On the contrary, research shows that a child who is held back more than once is more likely to drop out of school.He said that the state now requires a personal literacy plan for every child who is seriously behind grade level. That child will typically receive double periods of reading and math to help him catch up with his peers.[Bold mine]
Gee, I wonder why someone held back is more likely to drop out? Could it be that they aren't learning anything in school and have better things to do!?!?!!?!? Ok, now that I've gotten that out. Here are some solutions I suggest to help alleviate this problem
  1. Contracts. An educational contract between student, parent, and teacher is signed by students who are left behind. Included in the contract would be goals for the student, reasons why the student believes he/she is having a difficult time, and a commitment by parent, teacher, and student to see improvement. This way the 3 major parties to a student's education sit down and come up with a plan. Quarterly reviews mandatory.
  2. Study groups. Students who have been left behind are not generally stupid. Many just 'don't like school'. However, if the state required said students in a given school to study together, do group projects, be accountability partners, etc. it fosters a sense of community, inclusion, and takes them from outsider to a sense of belonging. No longer do they feel as though they're the only ones left behind (pun intended) in the educational system. Instead, by seeing others like themselves and watching their progress they would be encouraged to do the same.
  3. Shock treatment. Sometimes you have to be 'scared-straight' as the ol' folks used to say. Various programs could revolve around looking at where people end up without an education-even to the point of having students do research projects on homeless people. In other words, show these kids and, to a certain extent, their parents the ACTUAL results of not having an education and the importance of taking ownership of their education. It might be tough-love, but the alternative is worse...much worse.
But here's the point: the problems in the RI educational system aren't obscure. They are glaringly obvious. It's time to step up to the plate and tackle these issues. Failure is not an option. Period.

Monday, March 07, 2005

RIC Graduation Rate "Immoral"

There's a provocative piece in the Journal today about Rhode Island's College's graduation rate, or better put, lack thereof. According to a survey by Education Trust 4 out of 10 incoming freshmen in 1997 had not graduated by 2003! RIC brass cited three possible reasons:

* Money pressures that prompt many students to drop out or delay their studies. * The high number of students who transfer into RIC, but who cannot be counted in graduation rates. * RIC's part-time and nontraditional students, who take longer than six years to finish their bachelor's degrees.
But even they admit that this does not tell the entire story. According to the study, schools in RIC's category generally graduate approximately 77 percent of incoming freshman within six years. Why should you care? The less educated we are as a state at-large, the more likely our residents will need government assistance to survive. The more assistance we need, the higher taxes we pay. The higher taxes we pay, the less attractive we are to businesses. The less attractive we are to businesses, the more difficult it becomes to create new RI jobs. And on and on! Call me a conspiracy theorist if you wish. However, when a populace is less educated than its peers and highly taxed that's a recipe for unemployment.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Child-Care Providers seek ability to Unionize

"This is an opportunity for the state to develop a segment of our workforce that has long been overlooked but is nothing less than integral to our whole economy[...]Working families rely on having someone dependable, trustworthy and loving to care for their children while the parents are at work, so the strength of our entire workforce and economy is dependent upon the quality of care these workers can provide[.]"

And with those words, Rep. Gordon Fox, introduced the Family Child Care Business Opportunity Act (H6099 and S0855). These bills would allow Rhode Island child-care providers the ability to unionize without becoming state employees. The hope would be to get them a seat at the table when it comes time to negotiating salary, healthcare, and other concerns they have. Currently, the Departments of Human Services (DHS) and Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) control the child-care provider industry without any stipulations for child-care providers' input. DHS and DCYF enforce numerous regulations child-care providers must adhere to in order to receive payment for their services and legally operate in Rhode Island. As a group, they do not have a means to directly negotiate with these departments and fought unsuccessfully last year to become state employees. Thus, unionizing keeps them from becoming state employees, creating more tax burdens for you and me, AND gives them the right to bargain with the state. But what is this really about? Is this about unions wanting to control another sector of the economy to have a larger political influence? Is this about child-care providers wanting to overburden the state's Starting RIght Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)? Actually, based on child-care providers willingness to compromise you can only conclude that the 1,300 providers genuinely face legitimate obstacles in their business and desire representation of their concerns in order to best provide for the families they serve and ensure the success of their businesses. In January, I had the opportunity to meet with my representative, Grace Diaz (a child-care provider herself), about this then-proposed legislation. Initially, I was very skeptical of the idea in sofar as this being a union-led initiative instead of being child-care provider-led. But based on that conversation, I am in agreement that child-care providers in RI NEED a voice. Rep. Diaz recounted various stories, some her own, of child-care providers facing obstacles with the state and having no recourse or medium to address them. Consequently, this legislation gives child-care providers the 'voice' they desperately seek and need. Though I still have valid concerns about what a union will ultimately look like, let's support these bills and allow both child-care providers and their ensuing union to prove they are more interested in bargaining with the state than pushing their own agenda to the detriment of anyone standing in their way. They, and our children, deserve nothing less.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Abortion: The Saga Continues Part I

After Roe v Wade, did anyone think that the legal, if not social, abortion debate would continue for 30+ years? But it has and during the January 2005 Session of the state house there are bills-a-plenty surrounding abortion. However, we're going to look at one in particular: Senate bill 0273, and its House counterpart 5432. These bills would repeal the requirement that physicians performing abortions notify the husband of the patient before the abortion is performed. The pro-choice world has crept ever so closer to its main goal: Woman's body, woman's choice-forget the rest of y'all! However, except those women who are introvenously fertilized, it takes two people (male and female that is) to create another human life via a sexual act. I find it insulting that these reprentatives and senators feel it necessary to take away my RIGHT to KNOW if my wife will make a life altering decision or not. We husbands aren't some random dudes you meet on the street, are we? Are we just work horses, whose main purpose is to provide heat, electricity, and food? Are we merely sperm doners to our wives? The answer is no, no, and most certainly no! In just about all other aspects of life which are less important husbands and wives are expected to make decisions together. Whether it's buying a house, choosing a school for their child, whose going to pick up the groceries, etc. marriage is a covenant act between two people who have vowed to be life partners; and in a partnership you make decisions t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r. Furthermore, parental rights are rights of the mother and father; not one over the other. The state was wise in mandating physicians inform husbands because it is not true that a wife has more right to the child than does her husband. They made the child together and both share the burden...equally. These same activists that would stip a husband of his right to know, would probably also demand child support from a husband who's wife decided to have the baby, if said husband and wife separated for any reason. That's hypocritical! You cannot tell me or any of the thousands of husbands in RI we have no right to know our pregnant wife is planning an abortion but 'fellas if you run out on her when she has the baby, we're coming for you.' It demeans me. It demeans you! It demeans fatherhood! Respected legislators, as husbands and fathers, we're not going to let this slip by. We love our children, we love our wives, and we love the marriage covenant we entered making us one flesh, no longer two.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The danger is...the system will go flat.

Those were the words by RI Education Commissioner, Peter McWalters, as he referenced the departure of Providence School Superintendent Melody Johnson. She's leaving the cool breeze of March wind (ok, so maybe freezing breeze) for the heat of Fort Worth. I guess we can't fault her for returning to the state she's been at for twenty-four years and I don't actually want to focus on whether it's right or wrong that she has decided to leave. The main question is: will the system go flat? Providence needs a strong, culturally aware, and intellectualy resourceful educator to clean up this very murky system. Consider that during Ms. Johnson's tenure, generally speaking, test scores went up whereas the drop-out rate continued to increase. The forgotten schools are the schools of Hope, Mount, and Central. If you take a look at Information Works which provides testing data, you get real scared when thinking of what a Providence Education means in society. Example, according to their 2005 report, Hope, Mount, and Central were making insufficient progress towards one or more academic targets, while being labeled schools in need of improvement, having missed one or more academic targets. For Hope and Mount Pleasant this was the 4th consecutitve year they have failed to demonstrate sufficient progress! But parents whose children attend Central can feel good-your child's school has NOT been making sufficient progress for only 2 years. Perhaps, the question isn't will the system go flat? Perhaps the question is, will the system continue to go South for Providence public High Schools? All we can hope for is that the next Superintendent is as appalled and fed up at these numbers as you and I are. Otherwise, three years from now the mayor, et. al., will be singing the praise of yet another outgoing superintendent while our children languish perilously behind their peers. We cannot allow this to happen.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Providence Resident Survey RESULTS!

The results are in. The ETC Institute of Olathe, Kansas sent 1500 7-page, 52-question, multilingual questionnaires to residents asking their opinions on various city services. In all, there were 634 complete respondents. To view the full report click the link at the bottom of this article. Here's the the good:

  • 66% of residents were satisfied with public safety services
  • 79% and 75% of residents were satisfied with local fire protection and local ambulatory services, respectively
  • 79% of residents felt safe in their neighborhood during the day
  • 70% of residents were satisfied with trash collection and recycling services
Here's the bad:
  • 24% of residents were satisfied with the maintenance of city streets and infrastructure
  • 47% of residents felt safe in their neighborhood at night
  • 40% of residents felt that rodents were a problem in their neighborhood
  • 28% of residents felt satisfied with the city's snow removal service
  • 49% of residents have lived in their home/apartment for only 1-5 years
Varied results for sure. Residents felt pretty safe during the day, not so at night. Two glaring problems are city maintenance (including potholes and snow removal) and rodents. Is anyone surprised? Here's what Mayor Cicilline had to say about the results:
"This is like a GPS, telling us where we are and where we need to go," said Mayor Cicilline. "As we set priorities immediately and for the next couple of years, we want to be sure we align those priorities with what concerns our residents most." - Feb. 28, 2005 Press Release, Mayor's Office
I completely agree with a strong recommendation to the mayor that he not forget about Education. Unfortunately, it appears that the mayor did not request educational services be surveyed. With the state scrutinizing the situation at Hope and 50% drop-out rates at various high schools, data collected on resident perspectives on Education would have been invaluable. Yet, I and you could continue to criticize what wasn't done in this report, but this report does give us an understanding of how we feel about maintenance, safety, and other important city services. I suggest everyone take a little time and browse through the report to see how your neighbors see our city. Further, I challenge City Council, the Mayor, and residents to take this data and do somethin' wit-it! Knowing the problem is half the battle, but let's not stop here. Download Survey Results

Smoke This!

Drum roll please. Today is March 1, 2004 and yesterday was the last day chain smokers, I mean people who smoke tobacco products, were allowed to smoke in public places. According to the RHODE ISLAND WORKERS' SAFETY ACT OF 2004 beginning today there is a

...Prohibition of smoking in public places. – Smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed public places within the state of Rhode Island...
No more smoking in restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. As a non-smoker I really am going to be helped by this. It has puzzled me that liberals haven't jumped in support of this law. They are the same who think that if it doesn't hurt anyone, you should do it-so it's odd that there hasn't been resounding support when we KNOW smoking kills the people who smoke and DOES have damaging effects on the people around the smoke. Perhaps they're all closet chain smokers??? But anyway, hears to cleaner air!!