For a moment, Tiverton had a glimpse of a different way — one in which people with very different ideas and incentives are honest and open and work toward a compromise, replacing kick-backs and showboating with mutual understanding.
Not every teacher, first-responder, clerk, or other public servant considers themselves to be Democrats or part of the “progressive-left” movement in Rhode Island. Yet every employee who is member of a government union in our state is paying dues that directly support this extreme political agenda… along with the corrupt quid quo pro that comes with union political spending. A new report, from our Center, exposes that Rhode Island’s hyper-partisanship and radical agenda is funded by government union political spending: Click Here Now To Read It.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for July 28, included talk about:
- Teachers protesting school
- Secretary of state protesting election security
- Councilwoman protesting enforcement of the law
- Journalists not protesting attacks on journalists
A faction of Tiverton government led by Council President Patricia Hilton is trying for a fourth time to give the council sole control of revenue from the Twin Rivers casino in town.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for July 20, included talk about:
- Elorza reparations
- Gina beach restriction
- Gorbea ballot intentions
- Unions’ school reservations
I have been close to these budgets. Very close.
A “lack of funding” cannot be the culprit for every decision from local officials that change services or reconsider programming. When a 1% or 2% fiscal nudge in anything is blamed, I seriously question the competence and/or the integrity of those using the argument.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for June 22, included talk about:
- The speaker’s plea of historical ignorance
- Raimondo’s dictatorial pandering
- Elorza’s push to remove his city from the state’s name
- Snitches on the ferry
Part of the explanation for why new legislation retroactively blesses anything local chief executives have done to change their budget processes can be found in the East Bay.
There was something odd about a news report that Tiverton’s Interim Town Administrator Christopher Cotta and Town Council President Patricia Hilton were “livid” and “doubly frustrated” upon learning that Governor Gina Raimondo had permitted the reopening of the Twin River casino in town without consulting them.
As may or may not be happening in other Rhode Island towns, the governor’s emergency declaration (not to mention the example that she’s setting) has dramatically reduced the number of town officials who actually matter. With three Town Council members — Joseph Perry, John Edwards (the Fifth), and Stephen Clarke — as well as the leadership of the Budget Committee completely abdicating their authority and shirking their responsibility, the town is being entirely run by the triumvirate of Town Council President Patricia Hilton, Interim Town Administrator Christopher Cotta, and Town Solicitor Michael Marcello, with a supporting role for Vice President Denise DeMedeiros. No other elected officials in town matter. Even the town’s Home Rule Charter bends to what the Triumvirate decrees.
Meanwhile, on the school side, the suspended teachers’ union president and the National Education Association of Rhode Island are taking advantage of the fact that the school department is forbidden by law from disclosing details of the incident. NEARI is also pledging to stick it’s well-funded, mobster-like nose in the town’s elections to ensure that the town has management that the union prefers starting in November.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for May 18, included talk about:
- Providence College kids rebel
- The Catholic bishop sends the governor a message
- Narragansett Town Council considers resistance
- Justice Flanders signals a challenge
- Rally-goers take up the call
- A delay of Phase 2 reopening
- The teachers’ union flexes in Tiverton
When a special interest has this much money and power and a taxpayer-funded infrastructure to maintain the muscle for a nonstop political campaign, how can the people of any town really have their own voices represented?
I applaud the decision makers, at all levels of government, that quickly responded to the medical crisis. But health issues only represent one component of the challenges in front of us. We all hunkered down for weeks to ‘flatten the curve.’ Our common goal was to ensure that, as a community, we had enough hospital beds for those most vulnerable. Well, we’ve flattened the curve. (And we know now that the survival rate of COVID-19 in the United States is almost 95%.) Why then are governments having a hard time moving to the next stage during this time of testing? I can only believe that most people were more familiar with the fears and responses to the medical side of the crisis.
Let’s explore the impact on small businesses. Almost half of all employees in the United States work for a small business. In fact, 96% of Rhode Island businesses are small businesses. They are the engine of our economy. Business owners can feel in their bones, the impact of this shutdown on Rhode Island. We owe it to the rest of the citizens of Rhode Island to communicate this feeling.
The budget for next year is one of the worst produced in the last twenty years. This budget is characterized by the Council’s complete lack of interest in reducing costs to prepare for the economic downturn and its continuing emphasis on the growth of Town government. In fact, the only changes over a routine year are using the Fund Balance to provide revenue for routine spending and to cover any shortfalls in State funding. Currently the budget is at the Provisional stage and there are further votes, but significant changes after this point are rare.
The budget that begins next July 1 has a residential property tax increase of 4.43% at a time when the unemployment rates for Portsmouth taxpayers are probably at least 16%.
When an unexpected crisis hits, it’s very important to watch the things that the people in charge prioritize, because it shows voters and taxpayers what they value.
Two council members who have tried to act as a check on the council president’s unbridled power are Donna Cook and Nancy Driggs, and they discuss some of their concerns on the latest episode of Tiverton on Track.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for April 13, included talk about:
- The governor’s handling of the virus crisis
- The silence from everybody else
- The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s suggestions
- The decisions facing the governor and the people of RI
Brushing aside the responsible-government reputation he strove to build as a state representative, Tiverton Town Solicitor Michael Marcello insists the law gives every town council president or mayor the power of the governor during emergencies.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for April 6, included talk about:
- The governor’s tough tone
- Unemployment skyrockets
- The General Assembly shirks its duties
- Bad optics from Cranston mayoral candidate
- Tyranny in Tiverton
As Americans across the country attempt to deal with a global pandemic while respecting each other’s rights, Tiverton Town Council President Patricia Hilton has given herself total power over town government.
Tiverton’s Town Council became the first-mover to use the cover of new government freedoms during the COVID-19 epidemic to push through a political appointment with no transparency.
Tiverton resident and Budget Committee member Joe Sousa caused been causing a bit of a stir in town, lately. First, he made some noise about maintenance issues at the town’s still-new library. Then, this week, he spent a day noting the work schedule of a crew.
Rhode Islanders are used to splashy stories of government employees engaged in outright theft and bad behavior, so Joe’s findings, posted on Tiverton Fact Check, almost seem mild compared with that. Still, almost three hours’ worth of breaks and just a little bit more than four hours doing the assigned task during an eight-hour day — all while the town pays $600 per day to rent a specialty vehicle for the work — seems like it justifies some investigation.
Joe was this week’s guest on Tiverton on Track, for an informative, don’t-miss-this episode.
Looking out beyond the boundaries of our town, for Episode 14, the Tiverton on Track podcasters discussed the coronavirus and the daily countdown of cases, leading to panic and a better-safe-than-sorry attitude that is closing schools and cancelling activities.
Recently, two prominent Rhode Island politicians have publicly supported our Center’s long-time policy idea – even echoing our own language – to advance educational freedom for Providence families and all parents across our state.
For years, behind the scenes, I have been advising politicians and candidates – Democrats, Republicans, and independents – on the benefits of educational scholarship accounts (ESAs).
A theme that emerged during Tiverton on Track Episode 13 was the tendency of government insiders to urge the public to “move forward” from the problems and mistakes of the past. Depending on your perspective, it’s either a bug or a feature that this has the effect of making it more difficult to fix underlying problems. (Probably because a major underlying problem is often the government insiders!)
In this episode, Donna Cook, Nancy Driggs, and I discuss ways in which local government can get a handle on things, including meetings in which not everybody has to agree.
Is it time for you to get involved… to save our state? If we are ever going to change the policies that are driving away families and crippling businesses, the sad truth, my friend, is that we are going to have to change the players.
Rhode Island’s political class is so beholden to so many special interest groups and agendas, that they are paralyzed when it comes to considering common-sense, pro-growth policy reforms.
Members of the Tiverton Taxpayers Association (TTA) are finding a single cause behind many of the problems and controversies going on in town. The guest for episode 12 of the Tiverton on Track podcast is Richard Rom, who is on the board of the Tiverton Library and who is the chairman of the Tiverton Republican Town Committee (TRTC).
Richard’s appointment to the library board generated a lot of heat last year, because he came from a different perspective than the other members. That was exactly the reason the majority of the Town Council supported him, and now he’s offering suggestions as the board figures out how to address maintenance issues and the contents of the library.
Meanwhile, a group of men who have been supporters of a faction heretofore hostile to the TRTC have suddenly registered as Republicans and have begun to attend its meetings. A big tent and conversations are great, but somehow they bring the air of a hostile takeover, rather than of an intent to build on shared values.
The single cause between these and other controversies is the sense among some in town that people who disagree with them should be locked out not only of decisions, but of institutions where they might feel comfortable.
The pervasive theme throughout Tiverton on Track Episode 11 (stream below) is that a lack of transparency and a lack of respect for confidentiality when it is justified mix to create tension in a community. That’s the case whether somebody elsewhere in the state tweets a detail out of supposedly confidential contract negotiations or the leadership of the Town Council attempts to resolve a community disagreement the way they want it resolved by keeping the details out of public view.