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A Status Quo of Elitism

In this short video, I sit down for State of the State with John Carlevale to discuss the elitist attitude of the status quo in Rhode Island. When will the political class listen to the people of our state? For too long, the public policy debate has been one sided, and denied Rhode Islanders opportunity. The insiders want to keep increasing their big government policy, and refuse to hear other ideas. During the RhodeMap RI battle, the insiders refused to listen to citizens and put our homes at risk. Policy should be decided with many voices giving their input into the process. When many opinions are considered, we are able to craft more effective public policy. Rhode Island will have to change if our state is ever to become a place where people are free to achieve their dreams.


Why Freedom & Prosperity? CEO Stenhouse on State of the State

The people of Rhode Island want a government that works for every citizen of our state, not just the insiders and the special interests. With the recent challenges faced by RI’s political class, it is important to remember that there are real alternatives than the culture of big government here in Rhode Island. Recently, I appeared on the State of the State and discussed the work being done by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

The mission of the Center is to return government to you, the people, by opposing special interest public policy and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives through economic competitiveness, educational opportunity and individual freedom. Your family deserves more than the worn out ideas of ever increasing state revenue and big spending.

Our vision is to see Rhode Island as a destination of choice to raise a family and build a career, with a thriving business climate, abundant jobs, and a world-class education system. The Ocean State will only achieve this mission by changing the status quo. You can be a part of that by speaking out often on the issues that effect your family. Please watch the new three minute video now.


What’s Really in Your Best Interest? Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI)

This week on “What’s Really in Your Best Interest?”, we examine the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s new Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI.) (

My guest this week is Justin Katz, the Research Director for the Center and Managing Editor of the Ocean State Current. Justin is the creator of the JOI measure, a new tool designed to give lawmakers a broader view of Rhode Island’s economy than the traditional unemployment rate.

JOI is a national index of states that incorporates three major factors, comprised of over a dozen variables derived from government reported data:

1) A proper measure of employment as it relates to labor force,
2) A measure of job/employment levels as compared with public assistance rolls, and;
3) A measure of personal income as compared with government tax receipts collected

Please watch the video now and see this months post on JOI here.


What’s Really In Your Best Interest — Cooler or Warmer?

This week on “What’s Really In Your Best Interest? ” I discuss Rhode Island’s Cooler & Warmer fiasco. This rollout is yet another instance of government incompetence in the Ocean State. The arrogant response by Governor Gina Raimondo’s administration was perhaps even more telling; oozing contempt for those of us who honestly felt little connection with their marketing scheme. For years, our Center has been promoting family-friendly policies that directly benefit all Rhode Islanders, while opposing government-centric special interest deals for corporations, unions, and other insider groups. Rhode Island families deserve better than their elitist schemes.


What’s Really In Your Best Interest? James Kennedy Moving Together 6/10 Boulevard

This week on “What’s Really In Your Best Interest?” I sit down with James Kennedy of Transport Providence and a member of Moving Together Providence to discuss the 6/10 Boulevard concept for Rhode Island. Kennedy weighs in on the numerous benefits of the boulevard concept including reconnecting the traditional city grid and savings for taxpayers. I raised concerns about the need for dedicated bus lanes. But, we both agree that there is a better option than the Green Gateway being proposed by the RI DOT. Has RhodeWorks become a bait-and-switch for the Ocean State?


Testimony on Avoiding Tolls and Debt with a P3 PayGo Plan


Good evening. My name is Justin Katz. I’m the research director for the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

The amazing thing about infrastructure, and this whole issue, is that we’ve got roads that need repair, we’ve got workers who want to repair them, we’ve got a public that wants to pay to fix the roads — the problem is we’ve got special interests who already have the money we’re already paying to fix the roads that won’t let us do it. They’re holding that money hostage; they’re holding our roads hostage and holding the jobs hostage, saying, “You can’t do this unless you come up with new money somehow in your economy to fix this problem.

It brings to mind, actually, something a former chairman of this committee said recently, Steven Costantino, when somebody had suggested that he was in on the scandal of 38 Studios, and he said, “Well, look, I was just doing what I was tasked to do by my superiors,” meaning legislative leadership. That’s not how representative democracy works. The people upstairs are not your superiors; the people in Rhode Island are.

So, I’m basically here to give you the message that you have options. Don’t expect that you’ll be able to go out and say, “We had to fix the roads.” A lot of the benefits everybody agrees on: We need new infrastructure; we need repairs; we need maintenance. Don’t expect you’re going to be able to go out and say, “Well, we had to do it, and this was the only option,” because there are other options.

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Civility Deteriorates Further Under Mattiello and Raimondo

I’ve attended a lot of legislative hearings at the Rhode Island State House, and they’re often an exercise in endurance and almost always give one a sense that the plan is to dissuade the public from paying attention, as I described for last May. Usually, though, the only real insult is the contempt and lack of serious that one would expect when the people conducting a long hearing know it’s just a dog and pony show.

House Finance under Raymond Gallison (D, Bristol, Portsmouth) has been particularly bad, though, and yesterday’s 9+ hour hearing on Governor Raimondo’s toll-and-borrow RhodeWorks plan was exacerbated by the attitude of Dept. of Transportation Director Peter Alviti, which drew multiple remarks on Twitter about his rudeness and arrogance from people present and watching on television. Goading his behavior, no doubt, was Gallison’s repeated practice of intervening on his behalf in exchanges with Republican committee members, even chastising Patricia Morgan (R, Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) when Alviti had interrupted her. Also prodding Alviti on was the vocal backing of Michael Sabotini of the Laborers union (which recently employed Alviti) and a gaggle of other labor lobbyists in the audience.

Here’s a clip of the most egregious moment. The performance-art cackling you hear in the background is Sabotini and cronies:

Anybody who’s gone to a school committee or town council meeting during a labor dispute will recognize the bullying strategy of both Alviti and his backers. It’s rare at legislative hearings with executive-branch department heads, though, and it’s unfortunate to see us descending to this level. The governor and her transportation director should publicly apologize to Morgan and to the people of Rhode Island.


James Cournoyer: Tolls – Resist the Urge to Create a Big Bang Wrapped in the Worn Flag of “Economic Growth” and “Creating Jobs”

Dear Members of the General Assembly,

Please vote against Governor Raimondo’s and Speaker Mattiello’s Rhodeworks plan that calls for Tolls and more Debt.

RI may have the worse roads and bridges, but we are also saddled with one of the highest Debt burdens in the nation – both on a per capita basis and as a percentage of Gross State Product. We simply do not need more debt.

The Governor explained to us in October that the RIDOT, which has a stunning $450+ million budget this year, was “dysfunctional” and that they “never produced start-to-finish budgets and schedules”. That is precisely the reason our roads are in such disrepair. It is NOT due to a lack of funding; rather, it is due to a lack of planning and oversight, and gross mismanagement.

Tolls will simply add to RI’s already notorious national reputation of being “anti-business”.


UDPATED: A Tip for Pushing Back on the Community Organizing Fascists

If you haven’t seen this footage of students, apparently corralled by at least one professor, acting to eject and exclude anybody fulfilling the role of a journalist at a protest event at the University of Missouri, set aside the 12:41 for some preparatory research:

To me the most telling moment comes at the beginning, when a bespectacled guy who looks a little older than the average student tells photographer Tim Tai, from within the arm-linked circle of “protestors,” that the photographer “cannot push [the protestors] to move closer.”  It’s a reasonable sounding rule of engagement from somebody presenting himself as some sort of an authority figure.

A moment later, the students start pushing Tai away from the center of the circle, and he turns to the same guy with a complaint that they’re breaking the rules that he had just laid out.  The reply: “Don’t talk to me; that’s not my problem.”  Tai then spends several minutes arguing with the students while being physically pushed back.  The argument is fruitless, because the mob is clearly not interested in reaching fair conclusions.  They are righteous, and any infiltrating journalists are not.  It’s not about coming to a rational conclusion.  The only rule is domination.

The second half of the clip is videographer Mark Schierbecker’s already-infamous conflict with Professor Melissa Click and the aftermath after she gets her requested “muscle” to eject him.

The bespectacled guy’s role is classic Saul Alinsky: force the enemy to live by his own rules… and then deny them as your own.  In a chaotic interaction, people want some sort of authority figure who can negotiate between the sides.  Pretending to be that figure deflates some of the leverage of the target while not limiting the pretender’s own options.

If one refuses to capitulate — to subordinate one’s own rights to those who do not acknowledge them — the only two approaches are to (1) abandon your own rules or (2) bring those among the fascists who are unaware that they are behaving as such face to face with their decision.  In the first approach, Tai and Schierbecker would physically push back; find a weak link in the human chain, perhaps, and push through it.  Of course, then the fascists would call in the actual authorities (perhaps armed) who would proceed to enforce the rules (which the fascists were ignoring in the first place) in a one-sided way.

In this case, the second approach would have been better and would probably have been even more clarifying for those now discomfited by Schierbecker’s footage.  Standing on two legs leaves us susceptible to being pushed back by even jostling, as we strive to keep our balance.  Sitting down would have required the fascists to escalate or to give up.  Forcing somebody who’s sitting to move requires much more than simply leaning against him.  Brainwashed students might convince themselves — in the thrill of the mob action — that stepping forward is not really “pushing” or “assault,” but somebody who’s sitting would have to be unambiguously pushed or dragged.

If you’re feeling particularly interested in preserving your liberties, could reverse the leverage. As the fascists strive to keep their balance around you, they’ll naturally shift their weight away a bit, at least periodically, leaving room to advance against them.

In this case, the likelihood of things escalating out of control looked pretty minimal, and too many of the students had looks on their faces like they thought they were only mildly misbehaving for fun.  Contrast Schierbecker’s video with the scene when union thugs assaulted Steven Crowder in Michigan.

A little bit more fortitude while the fascism is still budding may prevent the need for actual risk of life for the next person down the line who attempts to resist.

UPDATE (7:51 a.m. 11/11/15):

Erik Wemple (via Instapundit) identifies the bespectacled guy as “Richard J. ‘Chip’ Callahan, professor and chair of religious studies at the university.”  From his bio page:

I am particularly interested in the ways that people creatively and constantly negotiate identity, significance, and power through religious idioms in the dense contexts of their everyday lives.

So, Professor Chip clearly understood the moral dimensions of his statement to Tai that other students pushing him, in violation of the rules that the professor had just articulated, “Don’t talk to me; that’s not my problem.”

Saul Alinsky did dedicate his Rules for Radicals to Lucifer, after all.


Privacy No Longer a Side Benefit of Tall Structures Like Wind Turbines

A California man vacationing on Aquidneck Island thought he’d send up his personal drone to get some footage of a coastal wind turbine in Portsmouth.  Here’s the video:

Providence Journal reporter Patrick Anderson initially thought it was the non-functional turbine owned by the town of Portsmouth, but it’s not.  It’s the nearby turbine on the property of the Portsmouth Abbey school.  If I’m not mistaken, the man on top is one of the monks (see here). The likelihood is, then, that he isn’t, as the Daily Mail suggested, a “sun worshipper.”

One would think that such a remote height would be a safe place to relax and take in the warmth of God’s bounty, and it would be in a world without a proliferating number of flying video cameras.


Thoughts on Ross Douthat’s Portsmouth Institute Speech and Pope Francis’s Role in a Divided Church (With Video)

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat expects divisions within the Roman Catholic Church to avoid coming to a head for many decades, but it will depend on Pope Francis’s understanding of his own role in the world and on whether Catholic progressives follow the path of American progressives in pushing fundamental transformation.