Topics

City/Town Government

Political Monday with John DePetro: Learning Politics in RI

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about abysmal test scores, unions in elective office, the governor’s out-of-state focus, and a veto from the capital’s mayor.

Open post for full audio.


Bruce Waidler: S.K. School Committee – Serious Questions of Transparency & Conflict of Interest

On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, I attended the South Kingstown School Committee meeting. The recently elected Vice Chair, Sarah Markey, is also the Assistant Executive Director for the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI). The vast majority of the employees working in the South Kingstown School Department are represented by this labor union.

Last year, Markey attempted to get appointed to a vacant school committee position.


Political Monday with John DePetro: When Economic Development Is in Fane

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about new and old buildings in Providence and accountability on voter rolls.

Open post for full audio.


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Civil Rights

Political Monday with John DePetro: When Economic Development Is in Fane

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about new and old buildings in Providence and accountability on voter rolls.

Open post for full audio.


Rev. Dave Aucoin: The Religious Community Must Awaken

A flawed understanding of separation of church and state is helping to erode our understanding of religious freedom, says Rev. Dave Aucoin.


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.


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Congress

Dr. Prakash Chougule: Choose Flanders for Balance of Representation in Congress

It’s been almost three decades since we have had balance of power in Rhode Island’s representation of U.S. Senators in Washington DC. Senator John Chafee(R) and Claiborne Pell(D), both highly regarded and respected across party lines, made Rhode Islanders proud at home and in Washington DC.

Time has come for Rhode Island to do it again.


Political Monday with John DePetro: Intentions and Perceptions

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, about the performances of Cicilline in a Congressional hearing, Raimondo and Brown campaigning, and Captain Trillo.

Open post for full audio.


Cicilline, Strzok, and Where We Are as a Country

Congressman David Cicilline manages to capture exactly the divide in our cold Civil War.


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Culture & Family

Our State Needs Leaders Who Articulate Conservative Principles

For any organization to be successful, it needs leadership. The job of that leadership is to put forward a vision and a message that inspires people to come to that point of view. On a recent appearance I made on State of the State, I was asked about the state of the Rhode Island Republican Party.


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.


A Great Year for Worker Freedom – Help Spread the Word

This year was a GREAT year for worker freedom across the country, and here in the Ocean State. Early in the summer, the SCOTUS decision in the historic Janus case determined that state and local governments are forbidden from forcing their employees to join unions as a condition of employment. The ruling means union leaders can no longer automatically plunder the pocketbooks of public employees to fund the unions’ political agendas.

In August, we launched our MyPayMySayRI.com campaign to educate public servants about their restored First Amendment rights.

But the insiders want to keep workers in the dark, and in the unions… at any cost.


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Economy

Political Monday with John DePetro: Learning Politics in RI

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about abysmal test scores, unions in elective office, the governor’s out-of-state focus, and a veto from the capital’s mayor.

Open post for full audio.


Political Monday with John DePetro: When Economic Development Is in Fane

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about new and old buildings in Providence and accountability on voter rolls.

Open post for full audio.


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.


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Education

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.


More Indications of No Change for RI Education

While it is definitely not the most significant incident of the week Rhode Island, Education Commissioner Ken Wagner made a hugely symbolic gesture on Dan Yorke’s State of Mind show:

“There are coaches that believe you go into the locker room and you hold carrots until you get performance,” Yorke said to Wagner. “Then you have Bobby Knight who comes in and throws chairs and tells them the truth.

“I just want you to throw a chair once. I want people to understand that this isn’t funny, this isn’t acceptable and this isn’t true that our students don’t perform…” Yorke was then interrupted by Wagner responding to his statement.

Wagner then followed Yorke’s lead, stood up and threw his chair to the side.

“This isn’t funny, this isn’t acceptable, and it’s not true that our kids can’t do it, they can do it!” Wagner said.

The symbolism isn’t that Wagner’s going to shake things up, but that he does, in fact, think it’s funny.  Imagine, for comparison, that Rhode Island’s murder rate were among the worst in the country and Yorke offered a similar statement to the attorney general.  How would we react if he took the Wagner make-a-joke-out-of-it approach?

Along the same vein, the Rhode Island Foundation has made news this week by announcing its new initiative to bring together another discussion about education, so that unelected insiders have another forum through which to tell Rhode Islanders how a long-term plan could maybe improve results for students a generation from now:

Aside from [RI Foundation President Neil] Steinberg, other members of the committee include: Kathy Bendheim (Impact for Education); Elizabeth Burke Bryant (Rhode Island Kids Count); Victor Capellan (superintendent of Central Falls schools); Jeremy Chiappetta (Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy); Barbara Cottam (R.I. Board of Education); Tom DiPaolo (Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association); David Driscoll (former Massachusetts commissioner of education); Tim Duffy (Rhode Island Association of School Committees); Frank Flynn (Rhode Island Federation of Teacher and Healthcare Professionals); Tom Giordano (Partnership for Rhode Island); Christopher Graham (Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce); Julie Horowitz (Feinstein School of Education and Human Development); Dolph Johnson (Hasbro); Susanna Loeb (Annenberg Institute for School Reform); Elizabeth Lynn (van Beuren Charitable Foundation); Keith Oliveira (R.I. League of Charter Schools); Pegah Rahmanian (Youth in Action); Don Rebello (Rhode Island Association of School Principals); Anthony Rolle (URI); Ken Wagner (R.I. education commissioner); and Robert Walsh (National Education Association Rhode Island).

Honestly, is there anybody on that list that doesn’t already have a seat at the table — whose views are not already represented in public debate about public policy in education?  No.  In typical Rhode Island fashion, this is a group of the same old special-interest representatives who (we should assume) are coming together to ensure that whatever reforms the state may try will not disrupt their sinecures too harshly.

In other words, it’s more wasted time and money. Rhode Islanders should brush this off as a distraction and mimic Wagner’s joke in all seriousness.  Aren’t we tired of accepting failure, deceit, and mockery?


Political Monday with John DePetro: Learning Politics in RI

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about abysmal test scores, unions in elective office, the governor’s out-of-state focus, and a veto from the capital’s mayor.

Open post for full audio.


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Energy & Environment

Alarm Versus Denial and Experience of a Hot Summer

Providence may have had a hot August, but that’s no exactly a sign of impending doom.


Another Lesson in Autocracy and Fake News on the Environment

Somehow, the Providence Journal transforms an environment proposal of the Trump administration from a reduction in emissions to a massive increase.


Keep the Solar Rabbit Hole Local

Residents who think giving the state more influence over local zoning when it comes to solar farms may discover that the bigger muscles of the bigger government pull in a direction they don’t like.


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Gambling

Donna Cook: Edwardses’ Effect on Taxes and Regulations

Tiverton resident Donna Cook notes that the General Assembly is too willing to impose difficulties on working Rhode Islanders while the Town Council is happy to put taxpayer dollars under its control.


Last Impressions Podcast Episode 16: The Light of the World

Awards, earned and maybe not yet earned; Fight Club; Twin River; and it’s my birthday.

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Tiverton Casino: Live by the Government, Die by the Government

Thanks to efforts to restrict the development of a piece of land in Tiverton, a government casino and hotel became its best use.


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General Assembly

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.


Holding Back The Regressive Left

Rhode Island is in desperate need of leadership that will step up and take the Progressive agenda head-on. For too long, the far-left has schemed to take the people of Rhode Island backwards. They want to move us further away from the pro-family and pro-business reforms our state desperately needs.


Political Monday with John DePetro: Pre-Election Rundown

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about the arrival of election day.

Open post for full audio.


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Government

Political Monday with John DePetro: Learning Politics in RI

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about abysmal test scores, unions in elective office, the governor’s out-of-state focus, and a veto from the capital’s mayor.

Open post for full audio.


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.


Political Monday with John DePetro: When Economic Development Is in Fane

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about new and old buildings in Providence and accountability on voter rolls.

Open post for full audio.


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Governor

Political Monday with John DePetro: Learning Politics in RI

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about abysmal test scores, unions in elective office, the governor’s out-of-state focus, and a veto from the capital’s mayor.

Open post for full audio.


Political Monday with John DePetro: Pre-Election Rundown

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about the arrival of election day.

Open post for full audio.


46th – Rhode Island Remains Trapped at Bottom of Economic Pack

Rhode Island remains trapped at the bottom of the pack on the Center’s Jobs & Opportunity Index. The Ocean State comes in 46th place amongst the worst in the country trailing behind our neighbors.


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Healthcare

Expressing the Value of Our Health Care

Health care and medicine in the United States can be expensive, but think of what we’re getting. The solution to our problems is more openness about costs and value and more-direct decision making, which is the opposite of single-payer and other big-government policies.


The Common Goals of the Governor and the Labor Union Versus Home Care Workers

The SEIU has pledged to help reelect Gina Raimondo win election; how much is she willing to do to help the SEIU win its own election with home-care workers?


Insurance and Society When We’re Deliberately Less Accurate

A Canadian man’s belief that he is female (defined as “somebody who pays less for car insurance”) raises the question of what cost there might be to banning accurate descriptions of each other.


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History

“Publick Occurrences” – The Fundamentals: Patriotism & Faith

As part of the recent Providence Journal sponsored “Publick Occurrences” panel discussion at RI College, I’d like to share some thoughts I prepared, but did not have the chance to put forth. The event’s premise – “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” and the polarization of public discourse – leaves us two factors to consider:


Cable Street and the Facially Fascist

Comparing the Battle of Cable Street with today’s Antifa attacks would be a good lesson in critical thinking, if our education system were keen on teaching that skill.


Abraham Glazer: My First Visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

A visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum teaches lessons about evil and humanity, especially in contrast with the memorials to humanity’s highest ideals elsewhere in Washington, D.C.


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Immigration

Progressive Cranston Action Network Holds Pro-Illegal Immigration Rally Outside Cranston City Hall

Under thirty people rallied in front of Cranston City Hall on Monday evening to protest Mayor Allan Fung’s campaign promise to side with Rhode Island families over prisoners who have illegally immigrated to the United States when elected Governor.


Political Monday with John DePetro: Hidden Rhode Islanders, Hidden Candidates

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topic was a Census immigration question and a quiet gubernatorial debate.

Open post for full audio.


Binding Up the Immigration Issue with Heartstrings

Jorge Garcia’s story brings out the battle between illegal aliens and fluffy animals.


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Infrastructure

Political Monday with John DePetro: When Economic Development Is in Fane

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about new and old buildings in Providence and accountability on voter rolls.

Open post for full audio.


An Analogy for Lack of School Building Maintenance

A crucial addition to Dan McGowan’s metaphor for lapsing school repairs.


Political Monday with John DePetro: A Long Ride on a Short Bridge

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, about the politics of bridge traffic and the competitiveness of primaries and Providence mayorality.

Open post for full audio.


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Legislation

Abuse and Statutes of Limitation: Keeping Our Hands on the Guardrails of Values and Justice

The emotions raised by an abuse scandal in another state shouldn’t lead us to discard careful consideration of our values and justice.


Next/Last Round of Toll Gantries: Raimondo Administration Solicits Public Comment on an UNFINISHED Environmental Assessment

A couple of weeks ago, Governor Gina Raimondo’s Department of Transportation announced the locations of the balance of ten toll gantries and released an Environmental Assessment [PDF] of them. They also announced that hearings to take questions and comments on the E.A. would occur in three locations on July 27 – tonight, as a matter of fact.

Yes, that’s right, RIDOT is holding public hearings on a very significant project on a summer Friday evening. Quite similar in spirit, as a matter of fact, to the scheduling and location of the hearing for the first Environmental Assessment – in that case, two days before Thanksgiving hard by a cow pasture in South County so remote, the cows themselves need GPS to get there.


Wasted Opportunity – 2019 Budget Graded “D-” by the Center

When will Rhode Island’s political leaders remember of the real needs of families? Despite a large and unexpected revenue windfall and clear policy lesson, resulting from the recent federal tax and regulatory cuts, Rhode Island’s General Assembly has wasted an opportunity for reform and, instead, are seeking to maintain the status quo in the FY2019 Budget.


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Media

Political Monday with John DePetro: Endorsement Theater

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about Trillo’s latest issue statements and the Providence Journal’s endorsements.

Open post for full audio.


Thoughts on the Local News Media Market

More layoffs at the Providence Journal bring into view two paths down which the local media could go… and they’ll probably choose the wrong one.


Rowing the Cover Up Narrative with a Broken Ohr

As the election draws nearer, the news media is going farther and farther in its attempt to keep the Trump-Russia narrative alive in the minds of true believers.


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Musings & Announcements

Middendorf Pillar Of Freedom Award Winner: Daniel Harrop

On Friday, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity was proud to present its prestigious Middendorf Pillar of Freedom Award for 2018 to Dr. Daniel Harrop at the second annual Ocean State Freedom Banquet.


“Publick Occurrences” – The Fundamentals: Patriotism & Faith

As part of the recent Providence Journal sponsored “Publick Occurrences” panel discussion at RI College, I’d like to share some thoughts I prepared, but did not have the chance to put forth. The event’s premise – “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” and the polarization of public discourse – leaves us two factors to consider:


Finding a Word for the New Ennui

What do adults call this feeling of boredom with all the tasks that must be done?


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National Security

Media Language and a Virtue-Signaling Lie

A small example of political “news” can illustrate the language by which journalists promote partisan and ideological positions.


An “Adaptive” System of Leaks Depends on Trust and Consequences

Journalists who support leaks have a point about their value as a safety valve for government abuse, but that safety valve requires that the consequences for breaking the law be real.


Never-Trump Right Gets Us to the Hub of the Matter

When it comes to Don Junior’s meeting with a Russian lawyer, it seems a lot of the key questions, the “and so”s, are being left out of the arguments.


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On a Lighter Note

Finding a Word for the New Ennui

What do adults call this feeling of boredom with all the tasks that must be done?


Harry Potter and Muggle Fly-Over Country’s Conservative Stories

The Harry Potter novels are in some regards liberal wish fulfillment, not only that magic exists, and not only that the elect can be whisked away to an exclusive world, but also that we can ignore the obvious and profess progressive beliefs.


Last Impressions Podcast Episode 19: The Tides of Liberty and Attraction

What is government for? What turns me off about libertarianism, and what turns some men on about lesbianism? And a poetic response.

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Pensions

Fire the Providence School Bus Drivers’ Union

Justin says, “Fire the Providence School Bus Drivers”. Maybe. Fire their union, the Teamsters? Absolutely.

What Teamsters Local 251 are trying to do to the drivers – whose best interest they supposedly represent – borders on criminal. It WOULD be criminal if they had a fiduciary role with regard to their members’ retirement.


The Circling Pension Comet

The government pension problem hasn’t gone away; it’s just gone quiet for a while, during which time, politicians are working to ensure that nobody ever notices it again.


The Next Pension Crisis Approaches

Beware the gathering clouds of state pension fund “endangered status.”


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Political Theory

Election Results: The More Things Don’t Change, the More They Stay the Same

The political landscape changed little in Rhode Island and the need for new prospects to begin sprouting their way up from the soil is desperate.


Getting Down to the Philosophical Difference

Many of our differences, even our semantic differences, come down to the question of whether everything aspect of our lives has to be aligned and associated with a political identity.


Trillo, Mattiello, the Bully Justin, and the Question of Our Day

However we feel about Joe Trillo or his recent behavior, the story of his 1975 altercation raises questions about the kind of society that we want to be.


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Politics

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.


Our State Needs Leaders Who Articulate Conservative Principles

For any organization to be successful, it needs leadership. The job of that leadership is to put forward a vision and a message that inspires people to come to that point of view. On a recent appearance I made on State of the State, I was asked about the state of the Rhode Island Republican Party.


Political Monday with John DePetro: Learning Politics in RI

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about abysmal test scores, unions in elective office, the governor’s out-of-state focus, and a veto from the capital’s mayor.

Open post for full audio.


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Regulation

Holding Back The Regressive Left

Rhode Island is in desperate need of leadership that will step up and take the Progressive agenda head-on. For too long, the far-left has schemed to take the people of Rhode Island backwards. They want to move us further away from the pro-family and pro-business reforms our state desperately needs.


Please Vote Tuesday to Achieve Victory for Conservatives

On Tuesday, you and I have a chance to make a big difference! I am personally encouraging you to vote… to exercise your precious right and to vote for candidates who support a pro-growth, pro-business, and pro-taxpayer agenda!


Looking for Rhode Island-Style Innovation

Rhode Island does need an economy that capitalizes on cross-pollinated innovation, but that means getting government and faith in central planning out of the way.


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Science

The Environment in Which We Train the Future’s Leaders

On the American campus, Catholics are forced out of their jobs in the name of presenting a diversity of ideas while hoax papers are published because academics really do believe that identity politics can tell us about the physical universe.


Who Will Manipulate in Favor of Free Will?

If the demon behind social media is “persuasive technology,” how do we petition for the aid of the corresponding angels?


Tasking the State to Figure Out Every Legitimate Difference Between People

Rhode Island should pause and think about what it really means to give the state government bureaucracy a mandate to analyze the pay differences of every employer within our borders.


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Sports

Political Monday with John DePetro: The WooSox Debate the Chicken

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, about the merits of a political system that lost the PawSox and the wisdom of debating chickens.

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The Biggest Part of the PawSox Issue Is Not Being Discussed

Rhode Island politics have been messing things up for Rhode Islanders for decades, but by messing things up for the PawSox, they’ve finally gotten something right.


Political Monday with John DePetro: Grants and Debates

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, about the complaints about (a lack of) debates, a vote-buying grant scheme, and some PawSox chat.

Open post for full audio.


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Taxation

Bruce Waidler: S.K. School Committee – Serious Questions of Transparency & Conflict of Interest

On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, I attended the South Kingstown School Committee meeting. The recently elected Vice Chair, Sarah Markey, is also the Assistant Executive Director for the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI). The vast majority of the employees working in the South Kingstown School Department are represented by this labor union.

Last year, Markey attempted to get appointed to a vacant school committee position.


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.


A Great Year for Worker Freedom – Help Spread the Word

This year was a GREAT year for worker freedom across the country, and here in the Ocean State. Early in the summer, the SCOTUS decision in the historic Janus case determined that state and local governments are forbidden from forcing their employees to join unions as a condition of employment. The ruling means union leaders can no longer automatically plunder the pocketbooks of public employees to fund the unions’ political agendas.

In August, we launched our MyPayMySayRI.com campaign to educate public servants about their restored First Amendment rights.

But the insiders want to keep workers in the dark, and in the unions… at any cost.


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Unions

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.


Political Monday with John DePetro: Learning Politics in RI

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about abysmal test scores, unions in elective office, the governor’s out-of-state focus, and a veto from the capital’s mayor.

Open post for full audio.


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.


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Welfare

Holding Back The Regressive Left

Rhode Island is in desperate need of leadership that will step up and take the Progressive agenda head-on. For too long, the far-left has schemed to take the people of Rhode Island backwards. They want to move us further away from the pro-family and pro-business reforms our state desperately needs.


Perspective on the Estate Tax as a Social Policy

Progressives and conservatives frame things like tax policy differently, and not only does it prevent fruitful discourse, but progressives’ errors undermine an economic system that makes shared prosperity more likely.


Minimum Wages and Welfare Programs Don’t Help Poverty

Negative effects from minimum wage increases, no long-term benefits from welfare programs, and questions about the earned income tax credit show that there is no subsidy for freedom and prosperity.


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