December 20, 2014
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We need to get to bottom of 38 Studios deal
My take on the News
Lonnie Barham

PAY, BUT THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE 38 STUDIOS BONDS: Three points of interest surround the botched loan of $75 million to 38 Studios.

First, we must repay the bonds. Otherwise, credit rating agencies will lower our bond rating at least a couple of notches which will cost taxpayers far more than $75 million in added interest payments in the long run - $36 million more in the best case scenario and $362 million more under the worst case. And, of course, it’s just the moral thing to do. While we decry individuals and companies for not paying their debts, the state should be held to an even higher standard.

Second, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s recent letter responding to whether or not he should testify about the behind-the-scenes genesis of the video game loan, makes it pretty clear that some nefarious, meant-to-be-hidden actions took place before the loan program was presented to the full house. Mattiello was then majority leader of the house, yet he claims he knew absolutely nothing about the deals that took place in the dark. If he, in his number two position, didn’t know about the lead-up deals, then they were definitely hidden with very probable intent to deceive legislators.

Lastly, there must be an in-depth investigation conducted on how the ill-fated loan was conceived, planned and hidden from legislators. House members Karen MacBeth and Michael Chippendale are seeking a forensic audit of the deal and Senator Dawson Hodgson has submitted a bill that would create a Senate investigative panel that will have subpoena powers. Both are very good ideas that need to be approved. Yet, Warwick Senator Michael McCaffrey, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, seems reluctant to allow Hodgson’s bill to be voted on.

After McCaffrey led the refusal to allow the master lever bill to go to the senate floor for a vote, he should be very careful about how much more he frustrates his constituents. He almost lost his reelection bid in 2012. His recent actions don’t bode well for his 2014 race.

VOTERS’ WISHES DISREGARDED AGAIN: Blame it on our legislature; blame it on Governor Chafee; and blame it on our court system - none of whom seem to recognize the constitutionality of voters’ actions.

Though voters in the Coventry Central Fire District voted to liquidate the exorbitantly-costly fire district and replace it with a private, contracted service, the three branches of state government acted in concert to overrule the voters.

They told Coventry voters, in essence, “We don’t care what you, the voters and taxpayers, want. You aren’t mature enough to make decisions for yourselves. Only your masters sitting here on our pedestals of egotism and arrogance can make proper decisions for your financial future.”

JOB GROWTH OR RHODE ISLAND DIES: An eye-catching graphic on the front page of Sunday’s Providence Journal tells the story of the exodus from Rhode Island of so many citizens and shows us what must be done to regain our economic viability. To stop the hemorrhage of exiting residents and the loss of their local spending, we must create jobs!

The graphic shows that Rhode Island lost a net of over $90 million last year in spending to other states as our residents moved away. That $90 million, if spent in Rhode Island, would likely have created or saved about 2,000 jobs. And that doesn’t count the lost tax dollars the exiting citizens took to other states.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is intent on passing legislation that will create jobs, lessen red-tape business regulations, and grow our economy. If he and his peers fail, our little state will continue to lose its population, its money and its youthful brainpower to other states - a path leading to further disaster and decay.

ORWELL’S NIGHTMARE IS MASSACHUSETTS SENATOR’S GOAL: U.S. Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, has introduced a bill to require federal authorities to police television, radio and the Internet for speech that promotes “crimes of hate.” The government does very little well as evidenced by its deficit spending, high taxes, and onerous regulations. Do Americans trust government to decide whether a blogger’s or a radio talk-jockey’s speech is promoting hate crimes?

As the Providence Journal implied in its Monday editorial, folks like Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher could soon be in jail for their respective right- and left-wing extremist statements. If Markey has his way, George Orwell’s nightmare story of “thought police” patrolling citizens’ speech is just around the corner.

ANOTHER CASE OF POLICE DISCIPLINE RUN AMOK: Once again a news story makes us wonder why police officers have more rights than the average citizen in our state. It’s all because of the law known as the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights.

There has still been no discipline issued to the Cranston police captain and president of his department’s police union for his outrageous ordering of a ticket blitz to retaliate against two city councilors who voted against the city’s proposed police contract. He remains suspended on paid leave while disciplinary measures are pursued.

Now we hear that in North Providence the city can’t fire a police officer who was convicted of indecent exposure after he exposed himself to two women and masturbated as he drove past them. The city missed by one day a deadline to provide the disciplinary committee with evidence of the police officer’s conviction. The disciplinary committee, made up of other police officers, refused to accept the well-known fact of the arrest and conviction and found the perverted officer not guilty.

The city has paid the transgressing officer for over three years to sit at home while the case against him trudged along at a snail’s pace. Now, unless the state Supreme Court overrules the lower courts and the disciplinary committee, the city will have to reintegrate the perhaps-sick officer back into the department.

The city should not allow the officer to return to duty interacting with the public. He should be assigned permanently to the locked and lonely evidence room where he will, in essence, be incarcerated for eight hours per day - albeit with pay.

LOSS OF PRESS FREEDOM UNDER OBAMA: A year or so ago, the Obama administration secretly seized phone records of Associated Press journalists. Shortly thereafter our government attacked Fox News when one of its reporters cell phone and email were monitored. Then a New York Times reporter was unsuccessfully strong-armed to divulge a confidential source.

Little by little the Obama administration has exerted more and more pressure on news media in an attempt to further restrict freedom of the press. Even though other nations, mostly those with authoritarian regimes, have also taken steps to restrict press freedom, the U.S. has moved faster than most.

A year ago the U.S. stood at 33rd among all nations on the press freedom index maintained by Reporters Without Borders. Our country now stands at 46th place, a drop of 13 positions in only one year of Obama’s assault on freedom of the press.

HE EVEN LOOKS LIKE TOM: The New England Patriots selected Eastern Illinois University’s star quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, in the second round of the NFL draft last Friday. With Tom Brady 37 years old but capable of starting for 2-3 more years and backup QB Ryan Mallett apparently unwilling to wait any longer to start, New England needed a strong potential successor to Brady. Garoppolo’s college record portends well for the Patriots, but the ironic thing is that he looks like he could be a cousin of Brady’s. At 6’3” and 223 lbs, the new recruit is a tall, handsome clone of Brady. Let’s hope he turns out to be Tom’s clone on the field.

ONLY IN RHODE ISLAND: Only in our little thug state would a legislator who was doing his job thoroughly and fairly by trying to look into the circumstances surrounding the 38 Studios debacle receive a threatening letter such as that received by State Representative Michael Chippendale, Republican of Foster. The anonymous note: “You have a beautiful family. Stop poking around for their sake.”

It looks like the tactics of Raymond Patriarca and his mob followers are still alive and well in Rogues Island.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Writing in a letter to the editor of the Providence Journal, Phil Gingerella of Westerly explained why Democrats will never do anything to improve the lives of the middle class. “Democrats need to keep paying off their two primary voting blocs, unions and freeloaders, with the middle class’s money.”


Comments
1 comment on this item

We need an audit of the E.D.C. loan program. The Schilling loan was a "clunker' that most of us could see coming from the start. If it was approved by the glare of celebrity,that shows naïve,and poor business practice. If it was approved because the typical "old boy" network stood to profit from the deal,that's quite another story.

The same holds true for the R.I. pension fund. What communities didn't make their annual contributions? When? Who authorized it? How were hedge funds selected? Has there been a link between selections and contributions? Do any of the hedge funds in the portfolio hire "expert groups" {often linked to insider trading}?

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