October 25, 2014
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City owned buildings, but schools should pay bills
My take on the news
Lonnie Barham

ENMITY BETWEEN WARWICK SCHOOLS AND CITY ALMOST AMUSING:

The arguments, barbs and outright hostility between the Warwick School Department and the city of Warwick have gone on for years. The city says the school department spends taxpayers’ money recklessly and there is some evidence to support that contention. The school department decries the city’s level-funding of the school budget for years, claiming the city is throwing students to the wolves; and there is also some evidence to support that assertion. The latest episode in this feud that is very reminiscent of “The Hatfields and the McCoys” has members of the School Committee contending that a $2 million senior high school roof replacement should be paid for by the city since, technically, the building is owned by the city. It is a patently ludicrous claim. Taxpayers allocate money to the school department for its operations through the taxpayers’ representatives on the City Council. The school department budget is meant to pay for building maintenance, to include roof replacements that have been funded through the school department budget for years. If the “city owns the building” argument was convincing, then the city would also have to pay the salaries of school custodians, pay the schools’ energy bills, etc.

There is built-in tension between school departments and municipal governments throughout the state; it just seems to be far worse in Warwick. Officials on both sides of the divide seem reluctant to mend fences. Taxpayers, teachers and students alike must surely be tiring of it.

WARWICK GOVERNMENT-SERVICE RIP-OFF? Exactly what do citizens of Warwick pay taxes for? Might it be for garbage removal, fire protection, police services and other government functions? And with property taxes so high, should Warwick citizens expect to pay extra for city employees to do what they are paid to do?

These are rhetorical questions whose answers should be intuitive. We pay taxes for city employees’ salaries and expect them to do their jobs without extra charges.

So why in the world would the city of Warwick think citizens should pay an extra $160 above and beyond the $40 cost of a concealed-carry gun permit? The police chief says the extra charge is to cover the cost of a police officer’s administrative time processing the permit application. Isn’t that what the permit fee is for?

The building inspector doesn’t charge extra to inspect a building project and issue a building permit; the health inspector doesn’t charge extra to inspect a restaurant’s kitchen and issue a health certificate; the dog warden doesn’t charge extra to issue a dog tag.

Second Amendment rights have gotten short shrift from government for years, and it’s getting worse every day. It is intrinsically unfair and an egregious overstepping of authority for any government official to place roadblocks between citizens and their ability to exercise a constitutional right. Thank goodness at least one city official, Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson, recognizes this abomination and has introduced a proposal to rectify it. Kudos to her!

COST OF MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE: The Congressional Budget Office has released figures on what the cost to U.S. businesses will be should Congress pass legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, as Democrats hope to do. The cost to businesses to pay the increased amount to workers currently earning minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would be $15 billion per year. When those currently making above minimum wage but under $10.10 per hour are raised to the new minimum wage and concessions to those currently making just over $10.10 per hour result in raises, the total new cost to businesses will be $31 billion per year. The bigger downside will be the 500,000 jobs that businesses will cut to compensate for the increased wages.

MORE BAD NEWS FROM THE CBO: The Congressional Budget Office has released its analysis of President Obama’s proposed budget for 2015. Obama has proposed tax increases that would amount to $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years. The proposal would reduce the deficit somewhat but also funds new spending.

Relying on increased taxes to reduce the deficit instead of cutting spending is anathema to conservatives. They want to reduce the deficit by cutting taxes and cutting spending, not by increasing both, as Obama’s budget proposes. Representative Paul Ryan, a Republican who has produced a proposed budget that would cut taxes and spending, said that Obama’s budget plan “keeps getting worse.” Most hardworking, overtaxed Americans would agree.

SENATE OVERRULES COVENTRY VOTERS AND TAXPAYERS: “This is a poorly crafted bill that ignores five votes of the people.” That was a part of Representative Patricia Morgan’s vehement objection when the House Finance Committee endorsed a bill last week that would define fire districts the same as cities and towns regarding the state’s ability to take them over in times of financial distress, a bill designed solely to keep the beleaguered Coventry Central Fire District operating under state receivership – even though district voters have repeatedly indicated they want the district eliminated.

Showing equal disregard for Coventry voters, the Senate subsequently passed a virtually identical bill by a margin of 33-1. Not only did it disenfranchise Coventry voters, the legislators made matters worse by refusing to approve an amendment that would have restricted any fire district tax increase to the 4 percent annual limit imposed on cities and towns. If the House passes the bill, the state Department of Revenue will be able to take over the fire district and raise taxes to an exorbitant level – the very reason Coventry voters chose multiple times to dissolve the fire district.

As usual, most of our legislators think it is perfectly acceptable for government to overrule voters and taxpayers. That’s not how democracy works. A stable representative government cannot long sustain itself when it insists on issuing edicts in opposition to the people it represents. The question is: will voters remember legislators’ disdain for the democratic process when they enter the ballot booth in November?

TALK ABOUT THE POT CALLING THE “KETTLE” BLACK: The left-leaning, Democrat-supporting New York Times has identified several Republican lawmakers who have parroted U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s website on their own sites. One of them is Rhode Island state Senator Nicholas Kettle, who repeated, almost word for word, a paragraph from Paul’s website about how Democrats and the Obama administration have implemented so many onerous regulations for energy companies that such companies now have to spend fare more effort hiring lobbyists than they do hiring scientists.

With the pun only incidental, Democratic pots should be careful when they call a conservative “kettle” black. Democrat politicians are usually first in line to parrot, mimic and plagiarize national politicians, especially Obama administration hacks, who spew out populist sermons about redistribution of wealth, increasing the minimum wage, immigration reform and other hot-button issues. These positions are almost immediately transposed to lower level Democratic politicians’ websites. Yep! Nicholas Kettle’s hands may be black from plagiarism but the hands of his Democratic peers are equally black.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Make better settlement offers and all these cases would go away,” said attorney Mindy Montecalvo, whose law firm represents 400 clients who have sued in U.S. District Court to stop foreclosure actions and who have refused to accept loan revision offers by their mortgage companies.

Some of Montecalvo’s clients have refused to pay their mortgages for over two years while the court has mandated that banks and mortgage companies negotiate with the defaulters instead of allowing foreclosure to occur. It’s right out of socialism’s playbook. The loan recipients hold all the cards. They refuse to make mortgage payments, the court refuses to allow lenders to evict them, and they refuse to leave until lenders make an offer that, in essence, gives them the house.


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