NEUMONT COLLEGE: A recent editorial advocated against allowing Neumont College, the Utah-based, for-profit technology college, to open its doors in Rhode Island. Three major R.I. companies that have had trouble filling technology positions – GTECH, EpiVax and Ximedica, have testified in favor of allowing Neumont to open a campus here. The editorial considered the three unqualified to support Neumont’s application because the companies don’t currently employ any Neumont graduates. That’s the whole point of having a Neumont campus in R.I. – so Rhode Islanders will attend and then stay in R.I. It’s virtually impossible for a R.I. company to lure technology graduates from Utah or other states with economies far better than ours. Not only will a for-profit college in R.I. be good for our future technology students, it will be good for business and jobs in our state.
OUR ABSENT PRESIDENT: USA Today compiled information on how many times President Obama has attended Democrat fundraisers since his swearing in. Believe it or not, he has attended more fundraisers than any president in history. In three years, he was the "guest star" at 191 fundraisers! If most were in Washington, D.C., it wouldn't be so bad since Obama could absent himself for a couple of hours and not affect his job too much. But only 35 were in Washington; 156 were in far-flung states such as California and New York – taking the president away from the office to which we elected him for 156 days in three years. And, of course, most of the cost of these trips was paid for by the taxpayers. His presidential campaign account is approaching $1 billion, primarily because he spends so much of his time on his re-election fundraising instead of staying at his desk and helping to solve the country's problems. It isn't only the average taxpayer who is upset about this; USA Today says many of Obama's own party are displeased since he is refusing to release any of the money to Democrat congressmen and senators who are struggling for re-election. Could he be so fearful of defeat that he intends to hoard all that money for himself for re-election campaign advertising? Based on his highly ineffective policies, he should be afraid!
TAVERAS AND PROVIDENCE RETIREES: Mayor Angel Taveras is no angel to Providence retirees, even though his proposals for retiree medical plans and cuts to COLAs are mostly fair. He is not asking retirees to take pay cuts or lose medical coverage. He is simply asking those retirees who unjustly benefited from previous mayors’ stupidity, incompetence and malfeasance to pay something back so the city will not fall into bankruptcy. Taveras wants COLAs suspended until the pension system is 70 percent funded. Because the problem was caused primarily by former mayors and union bosses, it does seem a bit unfair for the proposed suspension to last so long. Perhaps COLAs should be suspended completely for three years and then gradually increased over the following three years to an amount indexed to inflation. They should never again be allowed to exceed the annual inflation rate. Regardless, Taveras is moving responsibly in the right direction to atone for the sins of his predecessors. Our nation’s military retirees had no COLA increases for 2010 or 2011. Surely municipal retirees are no more deserving.
VETERANS ADMINISTRATION AS SCOFFLAW: Two years ago Congress passed legislation requiring the VA to establish a network of peer counselors so Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have someone to consult with who shares their war experiences. The law also extended temporary mental health services to the families of National Guard and other military reservists. The VA has refused to follow the law. It says it already provides peer counseling at its strip mall vet centers through the employees there who are veterans themselves – about two-thirds of the vet center employees. The problem: although they are hardworking and very dedicated, many, perhaps most, of the veterans who work at the vet centers never set foot in Iraq or Afghanistan. A vet center employee who served in Germany, Vietnam or never left the U.S. is hardly what Congress intended as peer counselors for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. A real peer counseling program and family mental health program should be created at VA hospitals. Our returning veterans and their families should not be tossed into the queue at vet centers along with veterans of all wars who go to these convenient but poorly staffed centers for employment assistance, resume workshops, financial advice, etc. And certainly once the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans finally reach the front of the line, they should not be referred to a “peer” counselor who last wore a military uniform in the ’70s or ’80s.