KILMARTIN REMISS IN FAILING TO OBJECT TO PAROLE: State Senator Dawson Hodgson, who is running for attorney general against incumbent Peter Kilmartin, accused the attorney general of failing to communicate with the state parole board when it was considering the release of thrill-killer Alfred Brissette in 2013. Kilmartin’s office admitted that it had failed to make any kind of recommendation to the parole board regarding Brissette. Yet, Kilmartin said at the time of the parole board’s decision to release Brissette that his crime was “so egregious that the Parole Board should have reached another conclusion.”
Kilmartin’s office tried to make an excuse for failing to recommend to the board against Brissette’s release. It claims the office at that time received lists of potential parolees as little as ten days before the board was to meet, leaving insufficient time to properly analyze the list for recommendations.
What a bunch of bull manure! It would have taken only a few minutes to look up Brissette’s prosecution file and see what a gruesome, thrill-seeking murder he and his associate committed. Just a cursory inspection of Brissette’s file at that time would have revealed that a strong recommendation against his release was in order.
Hodgson spoke of the murder victim’s lack of representation at the parole hearing, “Nobody was there to speak for somebody who couldn’t speak for herself.” That job was Kilmartin’s and he failed it miserably.
CRANSTON SCHOOL COMMITTEE UNREALISTIC: What’s with the Cranston School Committee that requested an increase of $3 million from Cranston taxpayers to fund its next annual budget. So, what was wrong with the request? The school department is getting a state funding increase of $3.5 million for next fiscal year and will end this fiscal year with a $2.2 million surplus. Additionally, Mayor Fung has offered to forgive the school committee’s $1.26 million debt to the city for 2015.
With a cumulative increase in revenue, surplus and debt forgiveness of almost $7 million, why in the world should Cranston taxpayers shell out another dime to the School Committee for next fiscal year?
DROP HEALTHSOURCE-RI? A really good case is being made for Rhode Island to drop its Obamacare health insurance exchange and rely on the federal exchange instead. Now that the Obama administration has gotten the federal exchange working as well as the state exchanges, it seems to make sense to drop our HealthSourceRI exchange that is costing our taxpayers $23 million per year and switch to the exact duplicate federal exchange and put the $23 million back into taxpayers’ pockets.
As former RI Secretary of Health and Human Services Gary Alexander has pointed out, the $23 million our taxpayers would save is more than we spend each year to run the Division of Motor Vehicles, twice what the state appropriates for public libraries, and double what we owe each year to pay back 38 Studios’ investors.
No matter how you look at it, switching to the federal exchange that serves the exact functions as the state exchange but would also save our taxpayers $23 million per year is a good idea.
WHO’S RIGHT ON TAXES? Gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo was wrong when she issued a press release claiming Providence property taxes increased nearly 27 percent under Mayor Angel Taveras’ leadership. The tax rate increased by that amount but residents’ tax bills did not increase by that percentage because of property reevaluation. Raimondo’s claim was an obvious attempt to deceive the state’s voters about the tax situation in Providence at the expense of her gubernatorial opponent, Taveras.
That said, let’s look at the real tax situation in Providence. Even Taveras admitted that he raised residential property taxes by six percent for 2014. That’s after the property reevaluation is factored in.
So, while Raimondo was deceptively wrong on her assertion of a 27 percent tax increase under Taveras, she was right that Taveras has increased property taxes for Providence residents, even when residents are struggling with increased expenses, high unemployment, and rapidly decreasing opportunity.
It’s just not a good time to increase taxes at all! What might Taveras do as governor? Would he attempt to raise taxes for all of us in this struggling little state?
ONLY IN RHODE ISLAND: Only in our little, corruption-filled state could a disbarred lawyer like John M. Cicilline, brother of Congressman David Cicilline, be returned to the practice of law after what he did. John Cicilline went to prison for extorting $50,000 from a client, for creating a fantasy tale for his client to present to federal prosecutors, for advising his client to lie to prosecutors, and for then lying to those prosecutors himself.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court last Friday decided Cicilline has presented “clear and convincing evidence that he has the moral qualifications” to return to the practice of law. Only Justice Robinson dissented.
It would be one thing if Cicilline had committed a felony that had nothing to do with the practice of law, something like burglary perhaps. But his felony was directly related to his practice before our courts. Indeed, he used his position and used our courts to commit his felony. And now our Supreme Court thinks he has regained his “morals?”
Yes, this kind of travesty could happen only in Rhode Island. Unfortunately, it will cause our citizens to once again wonder whether there might have been a pay-off somewhere.
VOTER PUSHBACK WORKS, MASTER LEVER MAY DIE: After the Senate Judiciary Committee recently voted to kill a bill by voting to “hold it for further study,” newspaper columnists, letters to the editor, good-government groups, and talk shows hosts and callers blasted the weak-willed, special interest-kissing senators for their total disregard for their constituents’ wishes.
The result? When the same bill came before the House last week, it passed with a whopping 71-0 unanimous vote. New House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is living up to his word about “doing the people’s business” in order to improve our state.
It just shows that when citizens push back hard enough, even entrenched politicians sometimes listen. Now it’s time for the same citizens, newspapers and organizations to exert equal pressure on the seemingly spineless politicians in the state senate and make them resurrect the bill they killed. Let’s make them exercise the same courage demonstrated by their peers in the House of Representatives. If they don’t, their legislative lives should be ended in November.
The two senators most responsible for keeping the master lever should be targeted for expulsion next election - Senate President Paiva Weed and Warwick Senator Michael McCaffrey, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the Senate refuses to honor the people’s wishes, both must go!
COST OF OBAMACARE FOR RHODE ISLAND: As many conservatives projected and as liberals denied, Obamacare is indeed going to cost taxpayers far more than before. Officials released projections last Monday that show, beginning next fiscal year, Rhode Island taxpayers will pay $66 million more for subsidized health care than in previous years - $42 million more for Medicaid and $24 million more to keep the Obamacare exchange running. And this $66 million increase in taxpayer costs doesn’t include the increased insurance premiums many Rhode Islanders will pay, especially those who had policies they liked but Obamacare cancelled.
Although President Obama pushed off the effective dates for the most costly and controversial provisions of Obamacare until after the November elections, hoping voters won’t notice the early cost increases and will continue to vote for Democrats running in tight races, some of the costs can’t be hidden. And now Rhode Islanders have the rest of the story, or at least some of it. We’ll have to wait until after the elections to feel the full cost impact.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Arguing in favor of eliminating the master lever from our voting booths, Republican Representative Doreen Costa replied to opponents who claim the elderly would be confused and that they need the ability to draw one line to vote for an entire party, had this to say: “Never underestimate your grandparents, because most of them are smarter than you are. They have been around a heck of a lot longer than we have and they’re a bunch of smart cookies.”
Most Rhode Islanders undoubtedly agree with Ms. Costa. Senior citizens sure as hell know how to vote!