GRAFFITI: There’s an old saying, “Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.” That’s apparently what Providence City Councilman Michael J. Correia of Ward 6 thinks. He has pushed police to take tough action against graffiti criminals and it’s starting to produce good results already. Thankfully, other public officials have joined Correia’s crusade. Police should not have to be prodded into this kind of action, however. Respected criminologists, sociologists and history from other cities have proven that when police concentrate on stopping small crimes, especially among the young, the overall rate of serious crime decreases. It may take some time for the salutary effect on more serious crime to become apparent, but it will. It’s well worth the effort for police to shift resources to fighting those minor crimes that, if left un-addressed, encourage juveniles and young adults to move on to more serious crimes.
CLUCK IF YOU’RE DISGUSTED WITH NIMBYS: Two neighbors of Drake Patten’s proposed urban farm supply store on Broadway in Providence are perhaps the quintessential NIMBY (not in my back yard) protestors. Patten refurbished a dilapidated old gas station that had lain dormant for 10 years and was an eyesore to the neighborhood and made it into an attractive, clean, vibrant business. Unfortunately, she failed to notify one of the hundreds of neighbors when she sought a zoning board variance for her store. The neighbor and an across-the-street church got the variance overturned based on the failure to notify. The city then issued Patten a peddler’s license to sell her products in front of the unopened store. The neighbor and the church now seek a restraining order against Patten for peddling.
There is something seriously wrong with our society when one neighbor and a church that doesn’t pay taxes can keep a small business from opening. Kudos to the Providence Zoning Board for supporting Patten and to the hundreds of neighbors and supporters who want the store to open. But, this whole episode portends poorly for the future of free enterprise in our capital city. And, with the loss of free enterprise goes businesses that pay taxes and create jobs – followed by increased residential taxes.
LIMITS ON ABORTION RIGHTS: The trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has brought to light some appalling information about late-term abortions and the killing of babies who have survived botched abortion attempts. Gosnell is charged with seven counts of murder for severing the spinal chords of living, breathing, sometimes screaming babies who survived his abortion attempts and whose late-term “delivery” would have most likely resulted in their survival. Gosnell’s assistants have testified that hundreds more were disposed of in a similar fashion, to include testimony that one “fetus” was swimming in toilet water as it tried to stay afloat before it was flushed into the sewer system. While women should have the right to control their bodies, to include making their own decisions about terminating most pregnancies, there must be a limit to some very late-term abortion practices. Millions of babies born prematurely during the eighth or ninth month of their mothers’ pregnancies have survived to become healthy, happy children. With the morning-after pill readily available, no limits on abortions during the first six months of pregnancy, and the multitude of barren couples begging to adopt, surely our society can place some limits on late third trimester abortions. Otherwise, we will continue to hear about babies who survive late-pregnancy abortion attempts being tossed into the trash instead of receiving medical care.
LOTTERY A “TAX ON THE POOR?” In Texas, the state’s legislature almost shut down that state’s lottery after tea party lawmakers called the lottery “a de-facto tax on the state’s low-income residents.” Should state lotteries be equated to a “tax” on the poor? Evidence suggests that low-income residents spend four times more on lottery tickets than do higher-income folks. In Texas, poorly educated residents who did not graduate high school spend an average of $600 per year on lottery tickets, while those with graduate-level degrees spend only about $150 per year. This statistic supports the adage “the lottery is an investment vehicle for those with poor math skills.” Here in Rhode Island, of course, we have widespread math deficiencies among high school students and graduates, and further, our state motto, “Hope,” and advertising by the Lottery Commission encourages the poor and under-educated to buy lottery tickets. After all, buying “hope” instead of food might lead to lottery riches. Is it a de-facto tax? Of course it is!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I don’t see why state taxpayers should bail out a developer who made a boneheaded decision to pay $40 million for a building that’s worth $10 million,” said Angus Davis, founder of Providence technology company Swipely, speaking of the “Superman” building’s owner seeking $70 million in taxpayer subsidies to redevelop the building into downtown apartments. Some politicians, especially union-connected ones like Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, are actually sympathetic to the request. Only in Rhode Island would we be considering such a move after throwing away over $100 million with the 38 Studios debacle.