October 22, 2014
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Transparency would help to Deepwater Wind proposal
My take on the news
Lonnie Barham

SOMETHING FISHY BETWEEN DEEPWATER AND STATE? If Deepwater Wind, the company that wants to build an electricity generating wind turbine farm in Rhode Island Sound, wants the public to accept it and its extremely high per-kilowatt charge for electricity, it needs to be more transparent in its dealings with the public. And the state, via its State Properties Committee, needs to be equally transparent. From what happened last week, it appears there might be some collusion between Deepwater and the state to delude the public.

On a Sunday, a day few people pay attention to state pronouncements, the State Properties Committee published an agenda for its upcoming meeting that included an item listed as pertaining only to the DEM and National Grid; there was no mention of Deepwater Wind. Yet, in the following days it became apparent the agenda item was all about Deepwater Wind’s proposal to run an electrical cable from its wind farm under Scarborough Beach to a National Grid power connection. When the public and news media began asking questions, the agenda was quickly removed.

After losing its fight with the Town of Narragansett to run the cable under Narragansett Beach, Deepwater appears to be seeking approval from the state to run the cable under Scarborough Beach instead. Yet, it apparently wanted to keep its new proposal a secret. More important, it appears the State Properties Committee was in cahoots with Deepwater in its quest to hide the proposal from the public. The Attorney General’s Office needs to look into this quickly. Otherwise, the public will continue to lose confidence in the state’s oversight of Deepwater’s activities.

WHAT RHODE ISLANDERS THINK OF GOVERNMENT:  The Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns released results of a survey conducted recently the sought, among other things, to measure what Rhode Islanders think of government at all levels. The results: only 30 percent of us have confidence in the federal government; an equal 30 percent doesn’t think state government is doing a good job; while a whopping 72 percent like what their local governments are doing.

This is really an indictment of our state and federal lawmakers. Rhode Islanders trust what they can control; and they can control local governments. Almost every Rhode Islander knows personally their city or town council member and their mayor, and they feel their opinions are listened to at the local level. They don’t have as much access to their state legislators and hardly no real access to their federal congressmen and senators.

Most Rhode Islanders seem to think, and with justification in most instances, that state and federal lawmakers just don’t listen to them. That, instead, these lawmakers concentrate on passing legislation that is in the lawmakers’ best interests instead of the voters’. Yet, being the sheep that we are, we vote them back into office term after term.

WILL THE GOP NEVER LEARN: It’s one thing to support the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees all law-abiding Americans the right to keep and bear arms, but it’s quite another to rub noses into the dirt of those whose interpretation of the Amendment differs from yours. It’s downright juvenile, in fact. Yet, that’s exactly what the Rhode Island Republican Party is doing when it offers a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle in a fundraising raffle at a shooting range in West Greenwich.

Those of us who strongly support the Second Amendment and interpret it as the U.S. Supreme Court does, that it means all Americans - not just those in the National Guard - have the right to own and legally carry firearms, should be wary of taunting those whose gun-control philosophy differs from our own. First, it’s just practical; antagonizing them will make them work twice as hard to pass legislation in our extremely blue state that will further restrict our gun-owning rights. Second, it borders on cruel to flaunt the raffling of a weapon that was used in the killing of so many children in our neighboring state. It’s like going out of your way to buy a new motorcycle to ride to the funeral of your neighbor’s teen-age son who was just killed in a motorcycle accident. It’s legal and you can say it’s to show your love of motorcycles and to emphasize your right to ride them, but it’s cruel to family of that teenage kid nevertheless.

The GOP needs to get smart and start acting like the party that represents responsible citizens; it needs to stop acting like its members are unthinking, social miscasts who relish in antagonizing others. Had this fundraising event been strictly for the gun club, it would have been a very appropriate event. The club could then have made a legal donation to the GOP. However, the GOP should have kept its name out of it all-together.

HOW SAFE ARE WE? According to Robert Kraft, a psychology professor at Otterbein University who studies safety statistics worldwide, we in the U.S. are safer now than we’ve ever been. He told an Associated Press reporter that “...the most dangerous activity by far is something we do every day - drive a car.” And David Schanzer, the Duke University professor who runs the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, reported, “Since 9/11, you are far more likely to drown in your bathtub than be killed by terrorists in the U.S.”

Regardless how safe we are, our public officials continue to tell us how unsafe we are. Why? It’s to justify expensive, intrusive and largely ineffective programs that watch us constantly and snoop into almost every facet of our lives. From the Justice Department’s “war on drugs” with its super-expensive drug-fighting agencies that have made no progress in the so-called war - who have instead generally made our country more unsafe by causing huge increases in cartel and gang violence and in increased property crimes, to the NSA’s privacy-busting intrusion into our phone records and email messages, to local police departments now insisting that they need surveillance drones, our government continues to justify its actions by telling us it is “protecting us.”

And like sheep, we continue to disregard safety statistics and bend to the government’s propaganda campaign that empowers bureaucrats, enriches certain corporations, and lines politicians’ pockets with lobbyists’ dollars.

WARWICK POSTS ANOTHER BUDGET SURPLUS: Audit results for Warwick’s annual budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013 are in. Once again, Warwick finished the fiscal year with a surplus of over $2 million. This follows the previous fiscal year in which the city also enjoyed a surplus of $2 million.

The city is striving to increase its reserve fund in order to improve its bond rating and thus reduce its annual interest costs. This surplus will move the city in that direction but will not increase the fund to an amount even remotely close to the 10 percent of total budget that bond rating agencies like to see. The question Warwick citizens should be asking, especially those who are parents of students in Warwick’s public schools, is exactly how long does the city plan to level fund its school department while the city enjoys annual surpluses?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Rhode Island has created a new advertising campaign to sell Obamacare. It uses significant events from Rhode Island’s history to show that we have always been “ahead of the pack.” The print version includes a white flag with the words, “Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Healthcare.” Even though Rhode Islanders brought their own weapons to fight in colonial wars, strangely missing from the banner is “Freedom to bear arms.”


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