Content Types


Center Recommends Constitutional Amendment to Codify Legislative Process Reforms

The legislative sausage-making process in Rhode Island is in dire need of reform. Those reforms that should be codified through a constitutional amendment, so that Senators and Representatives will have greater capacity and freedom to represent their individual districts, rather than being compelled to back the personal agendas of Senate and House leadership. Now is the time to demand better government.

Our state needs less control by leadership over what legislation will advance, with more power provided to legislative committees.

RICAS Test Results: Ken Wagner Is Going to Fail Rhode Island’s Children

Rhode Island’s latest standardized test scores are even worse than the news media is reporting, and the education commissioner gives no indication that he’s willing to name the underlying problem.

Perspective on Departments’ Unwillingness to Cut

When state agencies put forward the “painful” actions they’d supposedly have to take if elected officials to catch their budgets up to their actual spending, taxpayers should look at the actual spending.

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October 2018 Employment: Third Month’s a Stagnant Trend

With three months of discouraging employment results in Rhode Island, the trend is really starting to show.

September 2018 Employment: Uh-Oh, Month Two

Underwhelming employment and jobs results for Rhode Island in September represent a second month and may be a warning of an economic slowdown.

August 2018 Employment: Cooling Already?

The number of Rhode Islanders who say they are employed is still going up, but a one-month job loss and slowing of the rate at which new people enter the job market raise concerns that the boom is already cooling.

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A Conversation We Have to Be Allowed to Have About Identity Politics and Media

Karen Lee Ziner’s interview at Sin bakery with the former Donald Anderson (now transgender) and the former Mrs. Anderson raises questions that radical advocates should have to answer but exhibits the groundwork to set the conversation we’re permitted to have.

Political Monday with John DePetro: Insiders on the March

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about Kilmartin’s tenure, Providence’s in-Fane-ity, the NEA v. Stenhouse, a former progressive representative-elect, the secretary’s strategy, and education.

Open post for full audio.

Changing Gears on Education

Saturday, I had a great on-air conversation with Mike Collins and Chris Maxwell on Changing Gearson WPRO, discussing Rhode Island’s horrible test scores and what we can do about them.

Open post for full audio.

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Investigative Report

UPDATED: Trillo’s Wife Accosts Dentist at PAC Dinner Over Quid Pro Quo Rumor

Candidate Joe Trillo’s wife allegedly accosted a dentist after a PAC dinner expressing anger over rumors that her husband’s candidacy is part of a deal to procure a judicial appointment for their daughter.

Civil Rights Erode Under Arbitrary Law in Tiverton

When Tiverton’s new library director canceled a town Republican event on short notice, last week, she proved the importance of citizens’ vigilance for their basic civil rights.

For Government Unions, Layers Upon Layers of Deals

Warwick fire fighters’ sick time benefit would be the envy of any private-sector employee, but apparently even what’s in the contract wasn’t good enough.

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Longer Twitter

The Evolution of a Strip

For readers elsewhere in Rhode Island, WPRI’s brief report about a Fall River store now approved for retail sale of recreational marijuana may not provide a sufficient picture:

The Cannabis Control Commission approved the final retail license for Northeast Alternatives on Thursday during a meeting in Boston.

Northeast Alternatives currently sells medical cannabis at its location on William S. Canning Blvd., a short distance from the border with Tiverton, Rhode Island.

To be more specific, this pot shop is a short distance from the new casino in Tiverton.  The image that begins to come to mind is that of Pottersville in It’s a Wonderful Life.

Also in the news, lately, has been the arrest of some Foxy Lady employees for prostitution.  With state governments’ pursuing the strategy of making vices legal in order to profit from them, one can’t help but wonder on which side of the border the brothel will go when state coffers continue to run low.

To be clear, this wonderment should not be taken as a comment on the loosening of any of these laws in particular.  We should, however, question this new way of looking at government’s relationship to our liberties and address these changes with open eyes.

The flip side of not believing that government should make everything bad illegal is realizing that not everything legal is desirable.  Our social and political processes can figure out where those lines are for any given topic or any particular location, but our decisions will be distorted if we legalize vices for the reason that government can profit from them.

Harvesting Votes to Collect Power

In Rhode Island we’ve been watching a relentless push for early voting, emergency mail ballots, and so on — anything to increase the count of people voting.  One might wonder (although nobody asks) who really benefits when we all but force people to vote when they aren’t motivated or especially well informed, but there we are.

A question that is popping up around the country, however, is how much fraud we’re inviting into the system.  Eric Eggers gives the question a look for RealClear Investigations:

America’s electoral obsession isn’t Russian meddling anymore. It’s ballot-harvesting, a long-disputed practice implicated in fraud that’s come to the fore with the nationwide embrace of absentee voting in recent years — and especially in last month’s midterms.

With ballot-harvesting, paper votes are collected by intermediaries who deliver them to polling officials, presumably increasing voter turnout but also creating opportunities for mischief.

Particularly telling is a video out of California in which a doorbell camera catches a woman saying that she’s there to pick up a ballot, a service (she says) only available to people who support the Democrat candidates.  Rhode Island campaigns have been sending out notary publics to help voters finalize their ballots and then bring them in.  One suspects they know whom they are targeting for this special treatment.

One needn’t be a cynic to see this development as an opportunity for cheating, or at least a massive advantage to the candidates with the most money, whether they collected that money through partisan leverage, wealthy donors, or special interests.

More to a Bridge than a Stage

The hopes of theater director Oskar Eustis that his art form can unite the country are certainly laudable:

Eustis said he eventually came to recognize a serious problem as hundreds of thousands of people from across the country boycotted “Hamilton” over the incident involving Pence.

The boycotters weren’t people who were going to see “Hamilton,” a musical about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, anywhere close to where they lived, he said.

“They weren’t boycotting us,” Eustis said. “We had already boycotted them.”

Eustis looked at the country’s blue and red political map.

“Wherever there’s blue,” he said, “there’s a nonprofit theater, and everywhere there’s red, there isn’t.”

Theater in the United States, a major source of culture, has already shown its ability to take “marginalized groups” and place them center stage in a way that validates and empowers people by letting them see themselves on stage,” said Eustis.

There is something more magical, more personal, about stage productions than other forms of entertainment.  Seeing a show seems like a special occasion, and the desire for that sort of interaction and experience is universal.

The key will be whether folks like Eustis are able to see how contextually dependent their buzzwords like “marginalized groups” are.  Who marginalized by whom?

People don’t want to see themselves on stage.  They want to empathize with the characters they see.  They don’t want a mirror.  They want to see themselves in somebody who is not them.  We don’t crave our reflections; we crave connections.

I’d propose that a big reason for Eustis’s finding about missing nonprofit theaters is that the theater world does not produce the sort of content that would appeal to people in some areas.  If there are things they want to see, theaters will pop up to supply that content.

Bridging that gap is going to require much more than one-off efforts to promote theater in under-served markets.  It’s going to require more, as well, than a handful of plays with content that progressives are comfortable presenting to non-progressives.

It’s going to require more opportunity for people who don’t share the theater’s seemingly monolithic ideology to use its methods to convey their own messages — their own selves.

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Interviews & Profiles

Bishop Tobin on Priests’ Right and Responsibility to Speak Out

On Thursday, August 30, 2018, the Ocean State Current sat down with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence, Thomas Tobin, to ask about controversies in the Church at the state, national, and international levels. This portion of the interview addresses the environment for parish priests in this challenging environment.

Bishop Tobin on His Responsibilities in Pittsburgh

On Thursday, August 30, 2018, the Ocean State Current sat down with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence, Thomas Tobin, to ask about controversies over his statement to local news media that sexual abuse issues in Pittsburgh were not within the scope of his official responsibilities.

Tobin Addresses Controversy Among Catholic Hierarchy, Up to Pope Francis

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has called on Pope Francis to actively resolve internal conflicts among the church hierarchy with an investigation of allegations against high ranking prelates, including the pope, himself.

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