October 31, 2014
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My take on the news
Let union see if they can match the bid
Lonnie Barham

SHOULD CRANSTON SCHOOL BUSES BE PRIVATIZED? Two conflicting doctrines are in play in the Cranston school bus controversy: private companies almost always produce products and services at less cost than government entities; and, generally, long-term employees who know the district and its children provide better service than private employees. The solution, however, seems simple. Cranston should ask the R.I. Department of Education to conduct an independent analysis of the savings that would be realized over a ten year period if bus service is privatized. The bus drivers' union should then be asked to match that savings in contract revisions. If the union can match it or come very close, then the school buses should remain school-owned and driven by school employees. If the union can't match the savings or refuses to, then bus service should be privatized. Either way in this terrible economy, the taxpayer will be the winner!

WHEN POLICE PURPOSELY VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION: Last year this column excoriated the Cranston Police Department for violating the rights of a citizen by confiscating and refusing to return firearms legally owned and never misused. The man was not alleged to have done anything illegal and was not charged with a crime. Cranston Police have now returned the guns but only after depriving the citizen of their possession for over a year and only after an ACLU lawsuit forced their return. Still, Cranston Police refuse to change their policy on such illegal confiscation of private property. They intend to continue knowingly and purposefully violating the Constitution's 14th Amendment that guarantees citizens cannot be deprived of property without due process, and violating the 2nd Amendment that guarantees law abiding citizens the right to bear arms. It is indeed a sad commentary on our continuing loss of constitutional rights when the police, who are legally bound to protect constitutional rights, declare they intend to purposely violate these rights!

WHO WRITES THESE HEADLINES? Headlining the “Tune In” section of last Thursday's Providence Journal's “The Mix” page was an absurdly laughable headline. Although the section listed several things one might “tune in” to - including the debate between Congressman Jim Langevin and his opponent Michael Riley, and some new shows about vampires – but the headline for the section was this: "Langevin debates Riley; vampire season begins." It could certainly make readers think one or the other of the candidates, or both, might be vampires. We all recognize that there are some pretty unsavory characters running for elected office this year, some of whom might be described as “blood sucking,” but we doubt any of them are really vampires!

HEALTHY AND BALANCED MEALS? Republicans in Congress are trying to repeal a Democrat-passed bill that limits school lunches to 850 calories for 32 million high school students who qualify for federally subsidized lunches. Republicans contend the meager calorie count is far too low for active high schoolers, especially athletes, and causes hungry students to fill up on junk food to supplement the low calorie lunches. The Obama Agriculture Department claims the calorie cap is meant "to ensure that meals paid for with hard-earned tax dollars are healthy and balanced." This objective might be believable if the agriculture department's rules prevented food stamps from being used for junk food. Limiting healthy lunches to 850 calories while allowing the same kids to gorge themselves on food stamp-purchased junk food at home seems disingenuous at best.

FOOTBALL VS. BASEBALL: Football is fast and furious, with hard-hitting tactics and chess-like strategies. Baseball, on the other hand, is slow, predictable and far too cerebral compared to visceral football. It is clear from the record why the boredom of baseball can't compare to the excitement of football. This year all four Major League Baseball (MLB) divisions had to play all five games to determine division winners - proving the best baseball teams are consistently mediocre. That would never happen in the National Football League (NFL) whose teams are more consistently good or consistently bad. And how do MLB fans explain how every year the top teams in baseball, those who win their divisions, end their seasons with winning percentages usually in the upper 50 percent bracket (e.g., the Yankees with a 95W-67L record for a 58.6 win percentage). That would be the NFL equivalent of the two football teams competing in the Super Bowl every year having records of 9 wins and 7 losses. If the two best teams in the NFL consistently finished their seasons with such dismal records, we'd all quit watching professional football.

OBAMA ENCOURAGES VIOLATIONS OF "WARN" ACT: To help protect workers and their families, Congress passed the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) act that requires companies to give employees 60 days warning if the company anticipates layoffs that are reasonably foreseeable. Since Congress and President Obama could not reach an agreement on how to cut $1.2 trillion in spending, by law the defense budget will be automatically cut by about $500 billion on January 2nd. This makes it clearly foreseeable that every defense company will have to lay off employees. Yet President Obama has told defense contractors they don't have to obey the WARN act; that they can violate the law and the administration will cover any expenses that result from the violations. Why would a sitting president encourage companies to violate the law? Because he doesn't want thousands of workers to receive advance layoff notices just before the November election. So our president tells companies to violate the law and promises taxpayers will cover resulting expenses - for what reason? Purely for his own political advantage! Talk about misusing the presidential office and its power; this takes the cake!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Early this week a senior advisor to Mitt Romney, talking about the Obama campaign's promise that President Obama would adjust his approach for this week’s and next week’s debates to be more aggressive, said of Obama, "The President can change his style. He can change his tactics. He can't change his record."


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