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Rhody Reporter: Cares Money in the Wind

Mark Zaccaria scoffs at the RI Administration’s boast that it managed to distribute less than One Percent of the Federal Funds allocated for small business relief in the Ocean State last year. He points out that the tiny fraction was largely necessitated by the fact that almost One Billion Dollars worth of that federal stimulus money was diverted, instead, to the state’s operating budget. Zaccaria also notes that despite that usurpation of federal intent, Rhode Islanders will also be asked to authorize Four Hundred Million Dollars worth of Additional Deficit Spending – All so that the bureaucracy that brought businesses to their knees can be assured of every one of their paychecks. Huh?

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California Numbers and Newsweek: Lockdowns Don’t Work

California’s response to COVID-19 has been to lock down and lock down hard. The harshness of its lockdown is confirmed by its decimated economy and heavy out-migration.

Ten months later, California currently has the second highest average daily cases per 100,000 in the last seven days per the CDC. A couple of weeks ago, it was at the top of the list. Rhode Island, also a state which misguidedly chose to lockdown, is currently fifth highest.

Lockdowns, even if they worked exactly as hoped, were never a good solution because of the enormous public health consequences they inflict. Now California’s experience confirms indisputably that lockdowns do not work to stop or slow COVID-19.

And a study just released via Newsweek confirms this.

A study evaluating COVID-19 responses around the world found that mandatory lockdown orders early in the pandemic may not provide significantly more benefits to slowing the spread of the disease than other voluntary measures, such as social distancing or travel reduction.

As she edges out the door, Governor Gina Raimondo has admonished us to “stay the course”. Meaning stay locked down. She is bewilderingly putting on auto pilot a completely failed, highly damaging public policy.

When asked whether he will continue the state’s lockdown, incoming governor Dan McKee has stated (I believe on WPRO radio), “The infection rate is going to drive that”. In light of the complete disconnect between lockdowns and the infection rate, I would respectfully urge him in the strongest terms to re-examine that course and not repeat the mistake of his predecessor of disregarding the data and evidence. He has no obligation to continue any of her policies – but particularly one that has so obviously failed.

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If “Misinformation” is the New Standard, Rhode Island’s General Treasurer Must Step Down Immediately

This morning on the WPRO Morning News with Gene Valicenti – link to audio – General Treasurer Seth Magaziner elaborated on his call for Rhode Island Representative Justin Price to resign from the House of Representatives for spreading misinformation, saying

When elected officials use their platforms to spread (mis)information, to spread lies, they have to be called out for it.”

And

…as elected officials, we should be held to a higher standard …

Interesting. Alright, check out this analysis from August, 2018 by Mike Riley.

In assessing the effort to keep the PawSox in Rhode Island, it is important to review the role of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. The state treasurer was asked to analyze the costs and opine on affordability, as would be expected with a large borrowing like this. Mr. Magaziner opined in October 2017 and in June 2018 as numbers changed along with the terms of the deal and then opined again recently, finally giving a nod to the deal.

But what everyone needs to know is that $350 million dollars in debt for Pawtucket’s other post-employment benefits (OPEB) for former employees was not used in his analysis. This is more than twice the city’s pension debt! In fact, it was purposely left out by Magaziner. Including OPEB debt would obviously have made the City of Pawtucket’s borrowing look dangerous and ill-conceived. … This $350 million is so significant and overwhelming, it would be irresponsible for any treasurer to think Pawtucket absorbing new debt was a good idea.

Well, that’s an eye-opener. Nice work by Mike Riley catching that serious piece of misinformation by General Treasurer Magaziner. Ultimately, the PawSox left Rhode Island and these ill-conceived, unaffordable bonds were never issued. But that was very much despite this substantive misinformation that Treasurer Magaziner issued about Pawtucket’s financial condition.

Now, it is absurd to call on an elected official to step down due to a statement of misinformation; in part, because it falls into a broader category of free speech and, in part, because about three quarters of all elected officials in the country would instantly have to step down. (I heard that; stop cheering!).

But that is the position of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.

I do agree with him when he says, as he did this morning, that “As Americans, we all have a duty to speak up when we see people in positions of authority spreading misinformation” and that elected officials “should use our platforms responsibly”. Via this post, accordingly, I am fulfilling that duty. Specifically, I am calling out Mr. Magaziner for a piece of misinformation that is especially egregious because he communicated it in his capacity as the state’s General Treasurer in an analysis about a major financial decision facing a municipality and the state.

Clearly, Mr. Magaziner did not use his platform as General Treasurer responsibly by including misinformation in this important analysis. Now, I myself am not calling on him to resign as the state’s General Treasurer for this. But by his own standard, he must do so immediately. Referring once again to Mr. Magaziner’s own words on WPRO this morning, elected officials have a duty to tell people the truth, to be honest. He failed notably to do so.

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Roland Benjamin: COVID-19 Lockdown: The Preferred Intervention of the Elite

It is commonly accepted that an effective vaccine for COVID-19 will save lives.

The vaccine, be it BioNTech’s, Moderna’s, or any other pharmaceutical intervention, will most effectively bring an end to the COVID era. The “science” needed to bring this intervention into the world is astounding, with tens of thousands of test subjects undergoing trials for each version. Months and months and months of careful testing, and yet A SINGLE ADVERSE EVENT among any of the study participants halts the progress. One event. Savings lives is critical, so long as no harm is done in the process.

Simultaneously, governments all over the world have become obsessed with their own interventions. The non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) range from mask mandates, to required testing, to full scale economic lockdown. In the most extreme, China even resorted to welding people into their homes.

There has been no shortage of speculation that the lockdowns have caused harm. The argument has always been that they save lives by mitigating spread, but there really has not been comprehensive proof of that. Florida and California, two comparable states in climate and demography, have had comparable disease spreads with remarkably different approaches to inhibiting its residents. In other words, the NPIs adopted by California, draconian in some respects, have not proven any more effective than the “control group”…Florida’s non-interventionist approach.

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: Them and the Rest of Us

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for December 14, included talk about:

  • The administration’s COVID outbreak
  • The governor’s quarantine
  • A budget through the roof
  • The governor’s house becomes an official protest spot

I’ll be on again Monday, December 14, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Demand Transparency on Covid-19 Cycle-Threshold Data

The full release and analysis of detailed testing data could be critical in shaping more focused and less intrusive COVID-19 restrictions for Rhode Islanders.

This data, which measures “viral load” (how much of the virus is present) and which is routinely collected by labs that conduct COVID tests, can be critically important in determining both public policy and individual regimens. Take action now to demand it.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity has launched a new campaign, sending over a sixteen hundred pre-written emails (in just days) to officials petitioning the state to take action to collect and publish this vital cycle threshold data.

We have good news to share… they have taken the first steps in making a small portion of this data available. Our campaign is clearly working, but we need full transparency on this critical information.

You can take action by clicking on the link here now. Don’t wait, because your voice is powerful and it will make a difference for the people of Rhode Island!

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: The Governor’s Court

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for November 30, included talk about:

  • The Pause arrives
  • The Queen’s bid for a higher court
  • McKee’s bid for the Queen’s attention
  • The General Assembly as courtiers
  • Is the jester in the Britt trial still relevant?

I’ll be on again Monday, November 30, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: A Pause Before Dying

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for November 23, included talk about:

  • The governor hits “pause” on freedom
  • The Board of Elections hits “stop” for GOP challenges
  • Congressional Democrats hit “no” on Cicilline’s bid
  • A police review board director hits “send” on a leak
  • The General Assembly hits “go” on a progressive agenda

I’ll be on again Monday, November 30, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Clay Johnson: Let Us Be Thankful

We are living through one of the most peaceful times in human history. Given the tumult of 2020, it is easy to lose perspective. The number of people living in poverty is plummeting – globally. And even with a pandemic raging, we are seeing extraordinary advances in our ability to fight disease. Whether together or apart, we will soon see the arrival of Thanksgiving – a pause to give thanks, and maybe gain some perspective.

Before we arrive at this pause, we have an election to endure. The Gaspee Project board is committed to advocating for free market principles and supporting conservative candidates. These principles lead to more freedom. Freedom leads to prosperity (jobs). History has shown this to be true.

Conservatives believe in the individual rights and a free society. This is why private property and a limited government are so important.

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… Except that Rhode Island’s COVID Positivity Rate Is Lower than Two Months Ago

Graph by epidemiologist Dr. Andrew Bostom basis State of R.I. data

At her press conference currently ongoing, Governor Gina Raimondo is announcing new restrictions, including reduction from fifteen to ten at social gatherings; no spectators at any sports for next two weeks; and fines, including fines on households, saying she doesn’t want cases to “explode”.

You’d reasonably conclude from these serious measures and language that Rhode Island’s case positivity rate, the newest panic-promoting selling point of the lockdown, was at a recent high, wouldn’t you? In fact, as epidemiologist Dr. Andrew Bostom said yesterday on the R.I. Center for Freedom and Prosperity‘s “Mikes with Mics” and shows in his graph, above, the current, very modest rise in case positivity is actually lower than the modest rise of August 1.

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Steve Laffey Jumps in for Gaspee Project – and Rhode Island

From a just-issued press release by Gaspee Project Chairman Clay Johnson:

Steve Laffey, the former Mayor of Cranston, has volunteered his time and voice to bolster an ad blitz for The Gaspee Project in the final week of the 2020 campaign season.

Laffey’s has recorded a radio spot and multiple robo-call ads that will run this week in support of 8 General Assembly candidates and the Republican party. In the spots, Laffey stresses how the Democrat party is no longer the party of JFK and has been taken-over by radical-left mobs, while the Republican party is still the party of Lincoln and stands for common-sense, pro-jobs policies.

Also this week, a second round of mailers, social media ads, and print ads by Gaspee are expected to run, which in combination with previous Gaspee election materials, will reach almost one-hundred thousand households, social media accounts, print ad readers, and radio listeners.

Thanks very much to Steve Laffey for doing this. He understands, as many of us do, that Rhode Island would be very poorly served by the election of far left, “progressive” candidates who will push to put on steroids the misguided, leftie policies that have already damaged the state: raising of taxes (often disguised as fees, tolls and budget scooping) even higher; ratcheting up of already burdensome regulations (that often pose as a redundant effort at diversity) on business; more encroachment on private property rights; and the cramming down of effectively non-existent, exorbitantly expensive, politically correct energy sources.

(Seriously, “progressive policies” has to be one of the biggest oxymorons in the history of political branding.)

If you are alarmed at the prospect of the expansion of these non-progressive policies in Rhode Island, please consider pushing back by donating to the Gaspee Project to bolster the reach of these radio ads and mailers.