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Unheard of? RI on top of a good list
My take on the news
Lonnie Barham

FINALLY, RHODE ISLAND TOPS “GOOD” LIST:  Few people, even few reporters, noticed it.  But last week the Wall Street Journal wrote about the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University and its findings on how private charter schools’ educational outcomes compare to the outcomes of traditional public schools.  Charter school students nationwide fare better in reading than their public school counterparts and about the same in math.  However, there is a great disparity between charter schools in different states. Guess which state’s charter schools fare better than any other state in the union. Yep, little old Rhode Island!  Converting learning gains or losses to days lost or gained in school, the study found that Rhode Island charter schools gained the equivalent of more than 100 days of learning in math over public schools, and gained over 85 days in reading.  The best in the nation!  Finally, we’re topping a list that reflects something to cheer about! Unions and far-left legislators may oppose charter schools but, as the old saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding”!

 

HERO OR MONSTER?:  The child and other relatives of Fernando B. Silva, killed in a vicious attack by two low-life thugs in 1992 as they tried to rob him of his car, must be crying again as they relive Fernando’s brutal slaying through the front-page “news” in the Providence Journal’s Monday edition that, in essence, proclaims one of the killers a hero for becoming a law-abiding citizen. And, as usual, the press places most of the blame for the killing on a gun, not on the callous actions of two evil monsters who were too lazy to walk and instead chose to kill an innocent family man for his car.  

Yes, it is a good thing that one of the killers, Sal Monteiro, Jr., has turned his life around and now preaches non-violence to ACI inmates.  That is exactly what our corrections system is supposed to do - turn criminals into law-abiding citizens.  In this case, it succeeded.  But does that make Monteiro someone the press should be worshipping on the front page of our statewide newspaper?  Hardly!

What of Fernando Silva’s family, especially his daughter Ashley who was asleep in the back seat of the car when her father was brutally murdered by Monteiro and his friend?  At Monteiro’s sentencing in 1993, Silva’s wife told the court, “I fear that my daughter may someday grow up with anger towards everyone for the death of her father.  This scares me every day. I don’t want her to ever have to set eyes on the people who killed her father.”

Well, thanks to the Providence Journal, Ashley has been re-introduced to her father’s killer. Only this time, he is being made to look like the good guy.  

 

STATE BUDGET:  Overall, the General Assembly is to be applauded for the 2014 budget it finally passed.  It does not authorize any big spending increases and does not include any broad-based tax increases.  It seems to be a “holding pattern” budget that doesn’t solve our economic issues and doesn’t greatly improve our business climate - note the lack of a reduction in the corporate tax rates - but it also doesn’t add to the problem.  The budget will assist somewhat with our economic recovery, protects the social safety net, and offers some relief for our taxpayers.  It has some weak spots besides the absence of corporate tax relief, such as the union-pushed, anti-competition requirement that makes construction companies bidding on larger public works projects have union interns, but it is generally a good product.  It looks like our legislators can get it mostly right once in awhile. 

 

TAVERAS AND LEGISLATURE PROMOTE LEGAL THEFT:  A few months back, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras introduced a plan to aggressively pursue redevelopment in Providence by using eminent domain if necessary.  Eminent domain is the process by which government can “legally” force a private property owner to give up his or her property so it can be used “for the greater public good.”  The doctrine’s original intent was to take private property only to build roads, bridges, schools and other structures that were specifically for public use.  It has devolved into legalized theft by government in those cases when private property owners are forced to give up their property so government can give it to another private party.  

Now, our General Assembly has passed a law that gives Providence Redevelopment Agency the authority to build new buildings on land taken from private owners through eminent domain. The purpose is to allow Providence to rid itself of “blighted areas” by taking property and improving it with new buildings.  The law says that government cannot continue ownership of the buildings for more than five years, however; thus, these new building will be sold to private companies.  Instead of eminent domain resulting in structures for public use, it will result in government forcing the transfer of private property from those it dislikes to other private parties who are in bed with government.   

Look out, private property owners in Providence and elsewhere in Rhode Island!  Our General Assembly is out to steal your property through the legal theft authorized by misuse of eminent domain.  It’s a trampling on property rights that our Founding Fathers would abhor!

        

DRIVER TRAINING ONLY IN RHODE ISLAND:  In yet another mind-boggling move by our General Assembly, the House has approved a bill what would require those seeking a RI drivers license to take the six hours of mandatory training only in Rhode Island.  Not only does it improperly restrict our freedom to make our own choices, it will impose burdens on those who live near our borders and are closer to a driving school in Massachusetts or Connecticut.  Do we require nurses to receive their training in RI before being licensed, or require lawyers to have graduated from our one law school in order to be licensed?  Of course not!  This bill stinks of underhanded influence by special interests!

 

UNIONIZING CHILDCARE WORKERS:  The Rhode Island House has voted to unionize private childcare workers whose funding is subsidized by the state.  If passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Chafee, these workers will then be able to negotiate for higher reimbursement rates and be able to strongarm new rules for the program that helps fund private childcare for low-income families.  It will make our taxes go up because the cost of subsidizing childcare will increase greatly.  It is ridiculous to allow workers in these small, private businesses to become a state workers’ union.  It’s like allowing food stamp recipients to unionize so they can set the rules and demand more food stamps.  It’s no wonder our state is broke, both economically and morally, when it chooses to punish taxpayers in this fashion.       

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  Having a developmentally disabled brother who lives in a group home and works at a sheltered workshop, I am acutely aware of the tremendous advantages of such work places.  The U.S. Justice Department apparently is not.  It has come into Rhode Island like gangbusters accusing us of segregating disabled people in sheltered workshops and denying them the chance to work with “normal” folks and earn similar wages.

As Bob Kerr pointed out in the Providence Journal last Sunday, the Justice Department needs a “reality check.”  It needs to talk to some of the parents of the disabled who thrive in these workshops; parents who know their adult children could never function in a normal work environment.  

Kerr interviewed Muriel and Brian Newton whose daughter Jennifer has Down Syndrome and works at a sheltered workshop.  They fear the Justice Department’s actions will result in more restrictions on such workplaces that will cost the disabled their jobs.  

“The Justice Department has come down with all the might of the U.S. government.  It’s the legal approach with no compassion.  If (they) talked to some of us, they might gain a different perspective,” said Brian. Murial added, “Is the Department of Justice going to hire her?”


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