Topics

City/Town Government

Arthur Norwalk: No Stops for Voter Approval on Providence Streetcar

The proposed Providence Streetcar (a proposal that never seems to go away) is a case study in the problematic funding, planning, and daydreaming that characterizes government projects in Rhode Island.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 35 (Cianci and the Providence Mayoral Campaign)

Andrew and Samuel Bell discuss the Cianci effect in the Providence mayoral campaign.


Defending a Property Tax Decrease

Video and reports from Tiverton’s financial town hearing show that one side wants to increase taxes when it doesn’t need to and the other side believes the people need a break.


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Civil Rights

A Constitutional Convention for Rhode Island? The Pros and Cons of Democracy and Rights


Steven Brown of the RI Chapter of the ACLU: “The votes that voters get to choose across the country are on some of the most divisive, controversial, social, ideological issues there are; abortion, gay rights, same-sex marriage, anti-immigrant. We are deluding ourselves if we think we can hold a convention and not have those issues come to the fore….What’s troubling about that is that we are talking about individual rights that should not be subject to majoritarian control. You’ll hear about all of the safeguards that are in place; first you have to elect the delegates, and then the convention has to vote to approve an amendment, then it’s up to the voters to approve or reject it….They aren’t safeguards, when you’re talking about minority rights”.

Professor Jared Goldstein: “On a basic level, the concern that we’ll have a runaway convention, or that they’ll pass recommendations that are contrary to our fundamental rights is really a point of view that expresses simple, profound distrust of the people, that is, we can’t trust the people the enact legislation that will help us because they may take away our constitutional rights….Don’t we want the people to decide these fundamental questions about what our society is like?…If the answer is no, then who do we trust? Do we just want the judges to decide what our rights are? What are they basing them on?”


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Congress

Mark Zaccaria on Issues Facing the US Senate


After his campaign announcement, Republican Senatorial candidate Mark Zaccaria answered questions posed by Anchor Rising on the subjects of:

The guiding principle and vision of American foreign policy.

Where to go on Obamacare, from where we now are.

The institutional way to deal with executive overreach.

The gulf between the elites and the people, on illegal immigration.


Mark Zaccaria Announces for Senate


Mark Zaccaria: “[Y]our taxes, your food and your housing costs are all up as a result of what the Federal Government has done, and Jack Reed has voted yes for every single one of those increases, certainly during the last couple of terms. I contend that Rhode Islanders are ready to vote no, and it’s about high time.

But they have to have a choice to be able to do that, to be able to vote for better monetary policy, or smaller government that costs less, so that it takes less money out of your pockets. You have to have that alternative on the ballot. I hope to be the face of that message to the hard-working, tax-paying men and women of Rhode Island during this campaign.

There is another way, folks. We can do that. And I will be making that point, to anyone who will listen to me, every day between now and the fourth of November…you don’t have to vote for the guy you voted for last time. In fact, it might be better if you voted for somebody new.”


What the Republican Establishment Needs to Take Away From Eric Cantor’s Loss


GOP voters are much less likely than Democratic party voters (or Democratic party elites, for that matter) to reject economics. They thus realize that the intra-coalition deal where the establishment gets an immigration amnesty and lower wages for everyone, while the rest of the GOP gets to listen to the establishment elite posture ineffectively on other issues but never actually achieve anything, isn’t a good one.

If Wall Street/Chamber of Commerce types are interested in helping to build a stronger Republican party at the national level, their path forward is this: Invest some energy into an issue or two other than amnesty.


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Culture & Family

Steve Ahlquist, the Oppressors’ Heir

In attacking Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, Steve Ahlquist gives reason to believe he’d have been a different kind of oppressor in a different time.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 36 (Hobby Lobby, Freedom, & Health Care)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision and the underlying issues of freedom and health care.


Staley and Hayden’s Representation

In their passing, Harry Staley and Robert Hayden leave behind an explanation and an example for civic participation.


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Economy

June 2014 Employment: And the Happy Face Keeps Smiling

Based on the numbers, Rhode Island’s employment woes appear to be coming to an end. The numbers feel wrong, though, and some experts’ explanation doesn’t seem to fit.


Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 6 of 6

Ultimately (part 6 of 6) Aaron Renn has to explain why a small group of decision makers have a better chance of success than Rhode Islanders acting on their own initiative.


Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 5 of 6

Part 5 of a response to Aaron Renn: What kills the entrepreneurial spirit in Rhode Island?


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Education

Observations of Needed Change in Education

Like it or not, the notion of competition is creeping in on Rhode Island public schools. Rhode Islanders should be wary of approaches that drive alternatives out of business without securing real improvements.


Speaker Mattiello at the Rhode Island Taxpayers Summer Meeting, Part 1


A retro-liveblog of remarks made by Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Nicholas Mattiello, at this Saturday’s summer meeting of the Rhode Island Taxpayers organization. The areas the Speaker touches on include education, the gas-tax, reducing regulations in RI, and some general ideas about what governing means and how it should be done.


Missed One: Undoing Follow-the-Student in the Funding Formula, to Punish Charter Schools


H7808: Converts Rhode Island’s current education “funding formula” away from a follow-the-student basis, into a politically-rigged formula intended to punish schools for not being managed by traditional district-level bureaucracies. (H Finance; Mon, Jun 16)


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Environment

Of Free Markets and Atlantic Salmon

The evisceration of the Atlantic salmon is not a tale of free-market self destruction, but of society’s evolving needs and priorities, which are highly contingent on wealth.


The Ups and Down of Climate Alarmism

Looking into Rhode Island’s ranking as one of the nation’s top climate changers over the past 40 years shows that tempering alarm might not be unreasonable.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 28 (Climate Change & Struggling RI)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss the relevance of climate change in a tiny, economically struggling state like Rhode Island.


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Gambling

Beware Statists in Libertarian Clothing

Some libertarians have been encouraged to see the liberalization of laws on social issues, but they should go beyond the cliché that politics makes strange bedfellows and wonder why they have the company they do.


Betting the House for Rhode Island

Legislation submitted last week would allow people to gamble their assets (such as houses and investment accounts) at the new state-run casino.


Ballot Questions for the Voters

A brief analysis of the referenda questions that will appear on this November’s ballot in RI suggests that the state would be better off reordering its priorities, rather than expanding debt and doubling down on casinos.


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General Assembly

Government, Academics, and Journalists… RI’s Lead Weight

A Providence Journal article extolling the virtues of lead-paint regulations fails to acknowledge a downside or provide context for the harm it seeks to alleviate.


Speaker Mattiello at the Rhode Island Taxpayers Summer Meeting, Part 2 (38 Studios)


A retro-liveblog formatted transcript of remarks made by Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Nicholas Mattiello, at this Saturday’s summer meeting of the Rhode Island Taxpayers organization, on the subject of the aftermath of 38 Studios; including why the Speaker favors paying the bonds, why he opposes using his subpoenas in a House investigation, and what the public should expect at the end.


Coming up in Committee: Ten Sets of Bills Being Heard by RI Senate Committees, Today, June 19


1. H7096/S2738: Teachers who receive a “highly effective” evaluation “shall, subsequent to such evaluation, be evaluated not more than once every four years thereafter”; teachers who receive an “effective” evaluation “shall, subsequent to such evaluation, be evaluated not more than once every three (3) years thereafter”. (S Education; Thu, Jun 19) Amongst other problems with this bill, it seems that a single evaluation of effective or better could limit a teacher to a 3 or 4 year evaluation cycle for the remainder of their career in the Rhode Island public school system.

2A. S2332: The Central Falls bankruptcy settlement initially cut a number of pensions to 55% of their original amount, though the state authorized “transition” funds, to set a floor of 75% for five years. This bill extends that floor so that for 2016, “no retiree shall receive less than” 75.6% of their pre-bankruptcy pension amount, and raises the floor over time so that it is 100% of the pre-bankruptcy amount in 20 years. Unlike a similar bill that was submitted to the House, this bill does not expressly make the state responsible for the pension. (S Finance; Thu, Jun 19) So where will the money for the difference between the 55% and the rising floor come from? The bill doesn’t say.

8. S2726: Anyone have an idea about what changing the definition of an employee from someone “employed” by an employer, to someone “suffered or permitted to work” by an employer will do? (S Labor; Thu, Jun 19)

10. S2398: The calamari bill. (S Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs; Thu, Jun 19)

No House Committee activity had been posted by the General Assembly, at the time of this blog-post


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Government

Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 2 of 6

Skepticism about Aaron Renn’s suggestions for Rhode Island. Part 2: shedding pounds by changing location or voting differently.


Government, Academics, and Journalists… RI’s Lead Weight

A Providence Journal article extolling the virtues of lead-paint regulations fails to acknowledge a downside or provide context for the harm it seeks to alleviate.


Mark Zaccaria on Issues Facing the US Senate


After his campaign announcement, Republican Senatorial candidate Mark Zaccaria answered questions posed by Anchor Rising on the subjects of:

The guiding principle and vision of American foreign policy.

Where to go on Obamacare, from where we now are.

The institutional way to deal with executive overreach.

The gulf between the elites and the people, on illegal immigration.


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Governor

Budget Growth and Household Income

Working with the federal government, the state government of Rhode Island has managed to keep its budget growing more quickly than inflation. The people of Rhode Island, however, have not been so lucky.


Let’s Remember That Governor Chafee’s Administration Agreed to Change 38 Studios’ Monitoring Reports From Written to Verbal

A report commissioned by Governor Chafee and released on Friday bolsters – surprise! – the governor’s desire for Rhode Island taxpayers to repay the 38 Studios bonds. It concludes that Rhode Island’s (borrowing) world would end and our bonds would likely go to junk status if we defaulted on the 38 Studios bond payments.

Andrew and Justin have done an excellent job demonstrating the bogosity of the report’s arguments; Andrew thoroughly rebutting John Simmons’ testimony to the Oversight Committee last week which previewed the findings of the report.

Now the question is, why would Governor Chafee, who vociferously opposed, as a candidate, giving a loan guarantee to 38 Studios, now be so in favor of repaying the moral obligation debt?


$5,000 – or .000022 – Worth of Sunday Morning Grins & Giggles Courtesy PolitiFact RI

On a personal note, I’d like to sincerely thank PolitiFact RI for starting my day with a big smile this morning, though perhaps they would not be altogether pleased at the reason.

In today’s Providence Journal, they’ve rated a statement by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (hereinafter “the Center”) pertaining to the $224.5 million in wasteful spending identified by the Center in the governor’s proposed 2015 budget. PolitiFact is not questioning that the state gave away the $5,000 example offered by the Center of an expenditure item in the Governor’s Workforce Board from a prior year. PolitiFact is only saying that the Center did not fully explain what the $5,000 in hard earned taxpayer dollars was spent on.


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Healthcare

Government, Academics, and Journalists… RI’s Lead Weight

A Providence Journal article extolling the virtues of lead-paint regulations fails to acknowledge a downside or provide context for the harm it seeks to alleviate.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 36 (Hobby Lobby, Freedom, & Health Care)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision and the underlying issues of freedom and health care.


Supporters of HealthSoviet RI

Rhode Islanders shouldn’t buy what supporters of an initiative to pass every healthcare dollar in Rhode Island through HealthSource RI are selling.


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History

Immigrant Children as Political Chips

Progressive historians will one day attribute the Obama Administration-facilitated humanitarian crisis on the border to the racist evils of the United States.


Dorr Was Cool, Until He Wasn’t

Steve Ahlquist has published a portion of the testimony he will be giving in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Senate Bill 2641, which is an attempt to revoke Rhode Island’s current Voter ID law. Calling upon the memory of “Governor” Thomas Dorr, Ahlquist writes: Arguably, next to Roger Williams, no Rhode Islander has [...]


The Revolution in Ukraine


Two weeks ago the question was how far would the government go beyond Russian-style anti-protest laws in restricting the civil liberties of the people, in order to protect the economic arrangements of a few. We learned at the start of this week that the Ukrainian government then in place was willing to murder its own citizens, rather than let them have the same options for making their way in the world that an average European has. This is the attitude of an unfree government, one that believes that people are disposable when they impede government priorities.

Because the Ukrainian people are standing firm, they are taking meaningful and necessary steps to show their government and the world that it is government that becomes disposable, once it becomes harmful to its citizens, and the people rise up to demand that it change its priorities as a result. Free people everywhere have common cause with those seeking freedom in Ukraine — literally today — to help ensure that the government there respects this reality, as Ukraine attempts to move forward.


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Immigration

Steve Ahlquist, the Oppressors’ Heir

In attacking Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, Steve Ahlquist gives reason to believe he’d have been a different kind of oppressor in a different time.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 37 (WJAR Gubernatorial Debates & Immigration)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss the first Republican and Democrat gubernatorial debates on Channel 10, WJAR, with some emphasis on the illegal immigration crisis.


Illegal Aliens and RI Social Programs: Qualifying Documentation Ranges from Strong to Alarmingly Weak

… In response to an inquiry from Ocean State Current-Anchor Rising, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services sent over several documents. One of those listed all of the documents that an applicant for social services can submit to verify citizenship qualification for those benefits.


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Infrastructure

Tax Policy, Migration, and the Battle of Good and Evil in Rhode Island, Part 2

Jason Becker poses some questions to Justin on tax policy, government services, and the migration of Rhode Islanders.


Tax Policy, Migration, and the Battle of Good and Evil in Rhode Island, Part 1

Jason Becker poses some questions to Justin on tax policy, government services, and the migration of Rhode Islanders.


The Story of the Budget

The flow of money through the State of Rhode Island’s budget illustrates the perpetual scam that is government budgeting and should inspire Rhode Islanders to realize that they are allowed to make the machine run the other way.


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Legislation

Supporters of HealthSoviet RI

Rhode Islanders shouldn’t buy what supporters of an initiative to pass every healthcare dollar in Rhode Island through HealthSource RI are selling.


Rhode Island Policy: Single Payer Healthcare and Rationing

Legislation to create a “health care authority,” complete with a commissioner with no other duties, is an attempt to crack the door for government-run health care.


Tax Foundation & RI-STAMP on Tax Reform Differences

Tax Foundation rankings and RI-STAMP projections show that the RI House’s budget might game some rankings a little, but legislators still aren’t willing to make substantive changes to improve the lives of workaday Rhode Islanders.


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Media

$5,000 – or .000022 – Worth of Sunday Morning Grins & Giggles Courtesy PolitiFact RI

On a personal note, I’d like to sincerely thank PolitiFact RI for starting my day with a big smile this morning, though perhaps they would not be altogether pleased at the reason.

In today’s Providence Journal, they’ve rated a statement by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (hereinafter “the Center”) pertaining to the $224.5 million in wasteful spending identified by the Center in the governor’s proposed 2015 budget. PolitiFact is not questioning that the state gave away the $5,000 example offered by the Center of an expenditure item in the Governor’s Workforce Board from a prior year. PolitiFact is only saying that the Center did not fully explain what the $5,000 in hard earned taxpayer dollars was spent on.


Picking Nits in Outrageous Underwear Spending

It appears that members of the Rhode Island media are digging into a report that found $225 million in cuts to the next state budget and focusing on two passing examples of past spending that aren’t even included in that total.


Stepping Out of the Government-Focused Lala Land on ObamaCare

Politicians and members of the media who spin ObamaCare (and HealthSource RI) enrollment as a positive aren’t equipping the public to assess their investment or preparing them for what’s to come.


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Musings & Announcements

Just to See If We Can

A point of risk and strain on a construction site gives some indication of how we should approach 2014.


Katz in Today’s ProJo: Participation In Boycott of WPRO Is Evidence That the Person Is Not Fit to Hold Office

Ed Fitzpatrick’s column in today’s Providence Journal is about the public union led attempt to boycott WPRO until they fire John Depetro. As preamble, I repeat my own take on this brouhaha: I don’t agree with Depetro’s use of those epithets. They were nasty and unnecessary. However, if Depetro had made his comments about the [...]


A Theory of Success; Confession

It’s easy to lump people into categories of their visible life circumstances, but life and luck aren’t so easily defined.


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National Security

Watching the President from the Other Side

Many among the conservative commentariate have quickly gotten past their brief flirtation with “I told you so” and are moving toward a tone of slow, aching disconcertment.


Government United in Surveillance, People Divided

An opportunity for unified action by all Americans looks likely to be thwarted by the discord that the government and political agents have sowed.


PolitiFacting in the Service of Extremism Is a Vice

The journalists at PolitiFact RI appear to be okay with military presumptions against Americans provided it’s in opposition to the Tea Party.


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On a Lighter Note

My Non-Epic Soccer Post


I’ll side with the Ancient Romans over Ann Coulter, but soccer’s powers-that-be should really lighten up on the substitution rules.


$5,000 – or .000022 – Worth of Sunday Morning Grins & Giggles Courtesy PolitiFact RI

On a personal note, I’d like to sincerely thank PolitiFact RI for starting my day with a big smile this morning, though perhaps they would not be altogether pleased at the reason.

In today’s Providence Journal, they’ve rated a statement by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (hereinafter “the Center”) pertaining to the $224.5 million in wasteful spending identified by the Center in the governor’s proposed 2015 budget. PolitiFact is not questioning that the state gave away the $5,000 example offered by the Center of an expenditure item in the Governor’s Workforce Board from a prior year. PolitiFact is only saying that the Center did not fully explain what the $5,000 in hard earned taxpayer dollars was spent on.


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Pensions

Sgouros’s Convenient, Inappropriate Spin on Pensions

Tom Sgouros’s soothing words about the pre-reform state pension fund should be dismissed… especially by those whose retirements rely on the numbers’ working out in the long term.


The Ultimate Joy of Overtime, Part Three of Three: 3 State Employees Tripled Their Pay With O.T.

RIOpenGov data finds three state employees who managed to triple their income, or more, with overtime.


The Joys of Overtime, Part Two of Three: 102 State Employees Doubled or Better (100-199%) Their Salary with O.T.

The RIOpenGov Web site shows 102 state employees who doubled their salaries or more with overtime and other pay.


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Political Theory

Steve Ahlquist, the Oppressors’ Heir

In attacking Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, Steve Ahlquist gives reason to believe he’d have been a different kind of oppressor in a different time.


Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 6 of 6

Ultimately (part 6 of 6) Aaron Renn has to explain why a small group of decision makers have a better chance of success than Rhode Islanders acting on their own initiative.


Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 5 of 6

Part 5 of a response to Aaron Renn: What kills the entrepreneurial spirit in Rhode Island?


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Politics

Steve Ahlquist, the Oppressors’ Heir

In attacking Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, Steve Ahlquist gives reason to believe he’d have been a different kind of oppressor in a different time.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 37 (WJAR Gubernatorial Debates & Immigration)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss the first Republican and Democrat gubernatorial debates on Channel 10, WJAR, with some emphasis on the illegal immigration crisis.


Illegal Aliens and RI Social Programs: Qualifying Documentation Ranges from Strong to Alarmingly Weak

… In response to an inquiry from Ocean State Current-Anchor Rising, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services sent over several documents. One of those listed all of the documents that an applicant for social services can submit to verify citizenship qualification for those benefits.


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Sports

Shut Down the NCAA

The NCAA handed down a one half of one game suspension for current Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for taking money for autographs. However, they have a bit of a history with giving out much longer suspensions for lesser offenses. It’s time to shut down the NCAA.


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Taxation

Illegal Aliens and RI Social Programs: Qualifying Documentation Ranges from Strong to Alarmingly Weak

… In response to an inquiry from Ocean State Current-Anchor Rising, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services sent over several documents. One of those listed all of the documents that an applicant for social services can submit to verify citizenship qualification for those benefits.


Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 5 of 6

Part 5 of a response to Aaron Renn: What kills the entrepreneurial spirit in Rhode Island?


Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 3 of 6

Countering Aaron Renn’s central planning in Rhode Island. Part 3: What’s unemployment insurance have to do with the price of gasoline in Seekonk?


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Unions

Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 5 of 6

Part 5 of a response to Aaron Renn: What kills the entrepreneurial spirit in Rhode Island?


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 27 (Central Coventry Fire District)

On NBC 10 Wingmen, Bob Plain and I discussed the General Assembly’s entry into the Central Coventry Fire District controversy; in this post, I add some points that I should have inserted into the segment.


What Rhode Islanders Need To Know About the Crisis in Central Coventry, Part 2


What is important to keep in mind here is that, unlike the mayors and city councils of cities like Central Falls and Woonsocket, fire districts do not start out from a position, under the general laws of Rhode Island, of being able to tax without direct voter approval. Fire-district levies still have to go to the voters, and it should not be assumed that empaneling a budget commission automatically negates this. A budget commission should have to submit a budget it formulates to the same voters who recently rejected the others, and re-modifying the fiscal stability act to say in effect that the union is permanent while the voters can be relegated to an advisory role (at best) is not a satisfactory solution here.

This means that the final stage built into the fiscal stability act, receivership aimed at an official bankruptcy proceeding, where everything is put on the table including the entirety of existing contracts, will be a real possibility once the state steps in. And rightly or wrongly, the realities of political pressures and “financial market forces” are that it will be much easier to send a fire district into full-blown bankruptcy than sending municipal governments has been.


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Welfare

Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 5 of 6

Part 5 of a response to Aaron Renn: What kills the entrepreneurial spirit in Rhode Island?


Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 4 of 6

Aaron Renn’s prescriptions for RI. Part 4: Who is the “you” who puts us to use?


Supporters of HealthSoviet RI

Rhode Islanders shouldn’t buy what supporters of an initiative to pass every healthcare dollar in Rhode Island through HealthSource RI are selling.


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