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A week in review…

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – in RI – Feb. 22, 2020

THE GOOD

Rocket Man

Who would have guessed that we would see Ryan Newman leave a hospital talking and walking hand-in-hand with his two young daughters just days after a horrific crash? Ever since 2001 we must admit we’ve watched NASCAR with one eye closed, following the death of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in another horrific crash. We credit new safety precautions, the emergency response team, and the hospital specialists for an outcome that delights even more than the race itself.

Expungement – and Judicial Reform

The Expungement workshop held in Rhode Island this week by the RI Attorney General had a much greater attendance than anticipated. The good news for many will be being able to start with a clean slate, though that is tempered by an estimation that only 20-30% of those who came were eligible for expungement. Not being able to pass a BCI check, to get credit, to get a job, to rent an apartment or buy a house, or even to vote, does nothing to rehabilitate someone from their past behaviors once they’ve paid their debt to society. Recidivism is directly connected to not being able to start one’s life over successfully. (As we ponder this we think, too, of some recent Presidential pardons, commutations, and sentence opinions, and why they make so many so angry with a sense of injustice – prison reform is only good for “blue collar” crime? – and the “white collar” crime is more a case of “lock ’em up”?) 

No Tolls Connecticut

Part of the Rhode Island argument for truck tolls has always been we need to keep up with our neighbor in Connecticut. Bowing to a population that just didn’t want it, and a legislature that wasn’t going to vote for it – Connecticut has passed on its toll plan it was deeply invested in. Time for Rhode Island to rethink its own plan – and for legislators to realize the people they represent are not happy about tolls which might have a way of creeping over to cars one day, when officials who say that could never happen are long gone – to DC, even.

THE BAD

Cops or Counselors

Two Providence city councilors are proposing that the schools replace SROs, or School Resource Officers with School Counselors. This would mean, at this time of heightened concern for security of our children in school that we would replace trained security personnel (SROs), often police officers, with counselors, or social workers. As is often the case with healthcare, you need to be active in both the prevention and treatment arenas.  SROs are often the last line of defense in the case of a physical altercation among students and/or involving teachers and staff – as well as being the in-place security for any outside incidents. School counselors come on the prevention side of things, providing that all important intervention before a situation escalates. We say – we can have both. Just as you wouldn’t opt to eliminate prevention for treatment modalities only – these two types of personnel in our schools are more necessary than ever, and we advocate for increasing and strengthening both.

We have to pass the plan to know what’s in it

On the first day of work for the new Providence school superintendent, it was announced that as many as three dozen Providence Teacher Union members would be “displaced” – not laid off but reassigned from the Providence Public School District’s central office. When asked why or what the reason was we hear that the plan will be worked on and announced “soon”. With the reassignment of staff already done, once the plan comes out it would be difficult to go back and “reinstate” any staff or function that might have been seen as still needed. Sounds a lot like Nancy Pelosi’s famous “we have to pass the bill to know what’s in it” comment.

THE UGLY

Buying a President

One could have guessed that Michael Bloomberg would not have done well in this week’s Democratic debate. But the thought occurred to us as we were watching yet another meltdown debate among the Democratic candidates, that Bloomberg didn’t care so much. It all seemed so insignificant to him, and as if he didn’t even prepare for it. Polls are saying that Bloomberg’s buy-me-an-election commercials are working, and people are being swayed by it. In Rhode Island we have seen about a dozen local “operatives” jump from their RI positions to going to work on the Bloomberg campaign. And our Governor leads the pack at the trough. Next week we’ll be asking our local media if they will put any limit on the amount of advertising that the Bloomberg campaign will be allowed to buy. It’s a question that has never been asked before. We rate the whole thing a new level of ugly in the lead up to the Presidential election. And it’s starting to smell a lot like the Russian interference in our elections does, doesn’t it?

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