Content Types

Analysis

Dropbox Scandal: Did the Burrillville Vice Principal Break the Law?

Uncovering the Dropbox folder with compromising photographs of female students may prove to have been an illegal act on the part of Burrillville High School.


What’s Shorey’s Story? Here’s Mine.

Clearly the Valley Breeze’s Ethan Shorey is unhappy with me, but he’s still forcing me to figure out why.


Rhode Island Schools Are Not in Budget “Limbo”

Anybody who says the General Assembly’s budget impasse is causing uncertainty for school districts is incorrect on the law.


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Research

Minimum Wage: By the Way, Rhode Island Legislators

In Seattle, a minimum wage increase like RI is considering essentially lost a bunch of people their jobs and redistributed the money to their coworkers, and a bigger increase actually decreased overall pay.


April 2017 Employment: Pretty Much the Status Quo

The employment picture for Rhode Island remains pretty much what it has long been: some unlikely survey results in employment and a slowing growth trend in jobs based in the state.


March 2017 Employment: Ups and Downs, Welfare and Work

March saw a pretty typical trend in employment data, for Rhode Island, which isn’t really a good thing.


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Opinion

Emotional Sustainability Is Too Easily Forgotten in Politics

An activist having a breakdown on Jeff Jacoby’s doorstep illustrates the importance of maintaining perspective and balance in political life.


Never-Trump Right Gets Us to the Hub of the Matter

When it comes to Don Junior’s meeting with a Russian lawyer, it seems a lot of the key questions, the “and so”s, are being left out of the arguments.


State House Report with John DePetro, No. 17: Intrigue and Thuggishness in the General Assembly & East Greenwich

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WADK 1540 AM show, last week, the topics were the budget intrigue at the State House, the labor unions’ textbook thuggishness in East Greenwich, and the popularity of senators.

Open post for full audio.


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Investigative Report

Tracing the Mayor’s Money

While the Rhode Island media piles up the headlines against Providence City Council President Luis Aponte over misuse of campaign funds, blogger Johanna Harris is using campaign finance data as intended: to research Mayor Elorza’s donors.


Withheld FTE’s? Has State of RI Contributed to Delay of DMV Computer?

Did the State of Rhode Island contribute to the ten year old DMV computer saga by failing to provide adequate manpower for data migration? The Ocean State Current asked some questions – and got answers (of a sort).


The Wexford-Brookings Franchise in Rhode Island

The seemingly separate commercial and non-profit activity of organizations involved with Rhode Island’s centralized economic development plan has markers of a pre-designed package that will make its salespeople rich… rather, make them richer.


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Liveblog

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Longer Twitter

“Converting” Our Form of Government

If we want to live under a government with the power to forbid children and their parents from seeing what therapeutic options might be available for unwanted feelings, I guess that’s a conversation that we can have, although I find myself on the side of the ACLU in worrying about giving legislators “wide latitude to ban unpopular medical treatments.”  But if we’re going to have this conversation, we should do so with accurate information about what the bans cover, and Linda Borg’s Providence Journal article on Rhode Island’s new ban of “conversion therapy” fails on that count:

The bill makes it illegal in Rhode Island for licensed health care professionals to advertise or engage in conversion therapy for anyone under 18. It does not affect religious counselors or leaders — or adults who choose such a program.

That “does not affect” sentence is just not correct.  Read this section of the law:

23-94-4. Prohibition on state funding for conversion therapy. No state funds, nor any funds belonging to a municipality, agency, or political subdivision of this state, shall be expended for the purpose of conducting conversion therapy, referring a person for conversion therapy, health benefits coverage for conversation therapy, or a grant or contract with any entity that conducts conversion therapy or refers individuals for conversion therapy.

This is separate from the section that bans “licensed professionals” from offering such therapy to minors, and it goes much farther.  It covers “any entity that conducts… or refers individuals for conversion therapy.”  So, while a licensed professional would only lose his or her Rhode Island license if he or she provides the therapy to minors, that professional would lose access to any state or local funds that somebody might complain subsides the therapy for for adults, as well as any “grant or contract” whatsoever, whether related to conversion therapy or not.

This would apply, as well, to any person, group, or organization that refers an adult to such a therapist.  An aggressive judiciary could find within this language justification for removing tax exemption from any church that even suggests trying therapy to any church member.

This bill is your supposed representatives using your government to tell you what you must believe about the universe and your very self.


Vetoes and Non Vetoes

I’ll admit that I’m surprised that Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo vetoed the eternal contracts bill:

In a veto message that echoed the strenuous arguments raised by city and town leaders, Raimondo wrote: “Current Rhode Island law protects the taxpayers from being obligated indefinitely for contract provisions that, in the future, may not be affordable.

“The proposed legislation before me extinguishes this existing protection, hurting the public’s position in contract negotiations, and placing taxpayers at risk of being forever locked into contractual provisions they can no longer afford.”

Raimondo has seemed to me to make decisions on political grounds, and she’s in a precarious enough position that she can’t really afford to push away the teachers’ unions, which have been explicit about not intending to target her next time around.  This action could change that.

It’ll be telling to watch the political play.  If, for example, the General Assembly overrides the veto and the teachers’ unions (especially the National Education Association – Rhode Island) do nothing more than issue a strongly worded press release against the governor (which is already done), then it would indicate that there’s a political dance going on, meant to give the governor cover with taxpayer advocates and municipal leaders while not harming the unions.

As part of this picture, note that Raimondo “allowed a disability-pension bill that was also championed by organized labor to become law without her signature,” according to Kathy Gregg.  Here the calculation is slightly different.  She didn’t sign it, thereby providing herself a little cover with taxpayer advocates (being able to say she didn’t “support” it), but she didn’t veto it, saying it was simply a legal codification of existing practice.  I think she’ll be proven wrong on that, inasmuch as the law now explicitly allows for work-related physical and mental illnesses to be grounds for a disability pension, but one could see how her calculation would be different.


Montanaro Investigation… Well, That Was Quick

I mentioned, yesterday, that John DePetro had different expectations for the likely outcome of the State Police investigation of state employee and labor-union prince Frank Montanaro, Jr., and his receipt of a college-tuition benefit to which he was dubiously entitled.  Existence of the investigation came to light early this week, with the subject having been interviewed on Friday.

Well, Tim White and Ted Nesi published this yesterday afternoon:

Just a day after confirming the investigation, the Rhode Island State Police said Tuesday they have completed their examination of a top State House staffer who got about $50,000 in free tuition, and forwarded their findings to the attorney general.

What might a quick resolution of the investigation mean?  It would seem that a law was either obviously broken or the State Police have passed along the nothing-to-see-here conclusion that I predicted.

We’ll see.


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Interviews & Profiles

Arthur Christopher Schaper: Cicilline’s “Grand Theft Auto” Sanctuary City

Arthur Christopher Schaper asks illegal immigration expert Jessica Vaughn about the consequences of sanctuary city policies under former Providence Mayor David Cicilline.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 46 (Congressional Debates)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss the candidates for U.S. Congress from Rhode Island (mostly by way of the issues).


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 45 (Secretary of State Debate)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss a debate between candidates for RI Secretary of State and related topics.


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