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Union Political Spending: A Web of Corruption

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.

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: A People on Their Own

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

I’ll be on again Monday, August 3, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Roland Benjamin: $23,000/Student is Already More than Sufficient Funding

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.

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: A Lesson in Orwellian Providence

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

I’ll be on again Monday, June 29, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Where’s the Legal Clash Over Tiverton Casino?

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.

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A Town Run by a Triumvirate and a Union

On the latest episode of Tiverton on Track, I Zoomed with Tiverton Town Council Members Donna Cook and Nancy Driggs.

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.

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: Pockets of Rebellion

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

I’ll be on again Monday, May 25, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Clay Johnson: Officials Forgetting Foundational Importance of Hum of Running Economy

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.

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Larry Fitzmorris: Portsmouth Looks to Raise Taxes Over 4% With Unemployment Over 15%

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%.

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: Decision Time!

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

I’ll be on again Monday, April 20, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: The Executive Takes All

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

I’ll be on again Monday, April 13, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Taking Government of the People Seriously in Tiverton

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.

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Center’s School Choice Message Sprouts Roots

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).

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The Trick of “Move Forward”

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.

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The Independent Man Needs YOU: Consider This Call To Civic Action

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.

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Behind the Deterioration and the Hostility

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.

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Complaints and Interference

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.