Topics

City/Town Government

James Cournoyer: Please Allow Municipalities to Have the Flexibility of a Three Platoon Firefighting System

[James Cournoyer sent the following e-mail to members of the General Assembly. It is published here with permission. Additional background on this subject is available here.]

Dear members of the General Assembly,

Please reject House Bill H-5473 and Senate Bill S-0533, which seeks to make fire-fighter Platoon Structures / Shift Schedules subject to Collective Bargaining, and therefore potentially subject to the decisions of unelected and unaccountable arbitrators.

These bills serve only to further erode essential Management Rights and the ability of municipalities to exercise home rule.

Employees are already afforded an abundance of work-place and employment protections via the myriad of state and federal labor laws and regulations that currently exist.


Art Norwalk: The Lure of Shiny Objects in Providence and Rhode Island

Two capital projects dominating city and state discussions might be unproductive distractions from the necessary work that Rhode Island needs to do to rebuild its economist.


Development in Tiverton

Debate about economic development in Tiverton can’t simply be an exercise in hyperbole and NIMBYism.


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Civil Rights

Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


Governor Raimondo’s “Blank Check”

How could a proposed new statewide property tax that’s been given a nickname homage to a part-time-resident pop star not have a parody song?


Raimondo’s Outrageous Statewide Property Tax Actually an Attack on Property Rights

Raimondo’s “statewide property tax” isn’t a tax on property at all, but a tax on “privilege,” which means she thinks the government grants it. That’s an extremely dangerous principle to accept, even if it’s limited (at first) only to “the rich.”


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Congress

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 46 (Congressional Debates)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss the candidates for U.S. Congress from Rhode Island (mostly by way of the issues).


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.”


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Culture & Family

A Note on How We Sink

From bedtime stories, to same-sex marriage, to sketches of Muhammad, evidence abounds to show how a society can lose its balance and fall into tyranny.


Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


Talking About Persuasion After They’ve Shoved You in a Box

Baptist university professor David Gushee misses the core argument in the budding fascism of the same-sex marriage movement against his fellow Christians.


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Economy

Consolidate Tourism… Because the State Has Such a Great Record?

Plans to consolidate tourism activities in the state government are more like a classroom model than an advisable plan for moving the state forward.


Reading Between the Trees of the Sustainable Argument

Environmental regulation and “sustainable development” may not cause income inequality, but they sure do correlate well with it.


Art Norwalk: The Lure of Shiny Objects in Providence and Rhode Island

Two capital projects dominating city and state discussions might be unproductive distractions from the necessary work that Rhode Island needs to do to rebuild its economist.


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Education

Cumberland Charter Savings and School Choice

Legislators are drawing invalid conclusions about schools’ variable costs in Cumberland based on the district’s experience with charter schools.


Sheehan’s Taxation Without Representation and Woulda, Coulda, Never Did on All-Day K

Commentary from state senator and history teacher James Sheehan points to a skewed understanding of representation and the government’s tendency to siphon money away from the public good.


The Math Works for School Choice, in Rhode Island

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s new school choice economic model projects statewide savings and can help educate the public.


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Energy & Environment

Reading Between the Trees of the Sustainable Argument

Environmental regulation and “sustainable development” may not cause income inequality, but they sure do correlate well with it.


Faith in the Anthropocrimen

News media leaps from evidence of a changing climate to a human cause to a global socialist solution have politicized science and sowed distrust among the people.


“National Grid sells renewable energy at a profit; customers get credit.” FALSE

Providence Journal environmental reporter Alex Kuffner suggests that National Grid expects to make a profit on its renewable energy and give ratepayers a credit. We rate that False.


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Gambling

RI’s Bad Decisions and Burning Money Instead of Tobacco

My op-ed in today’s Providence Journal places the match of Rhode Island’s experience of the tobacco settlement money (a one-time-fix turned bad debt) on the pile of bad decisions that the state government has made in the past decade or so:

According to a review by ProPublica, Rhode Island has just refinanced some of the resulting debt, with the expectation that “the deal would shave $700 million off a $2.8 billion tab due on the bonds in 2052.” In that regard, it’s a bit like the state’s pension reform, which was marketed as salvation but merely shaved about $3 billion from $9 billion of unfunded liability.

The people who operate Rhode Island’s government are racking up quite a list of these liabilities.


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.


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General Assembly

Coming up in Committee: Seventeen Sets of Bills Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, Today, May 27


1. H5790: From the official description: “This act would provide parents of K-12 students in Rhode Island with an opportunity to enroll their child in an educational program of their choosing, either via open enrollment in a traditional public school in their own district or any other public school district, or by receiving a scholarship, with designated public monies to follow the student to a participating private school or private curriculum program selected by the parent”. Scholarships can be up to $6000 and are income adjusted. (H Finance; Wed, May 27)

2A. H5795: Permanent moratorium on establishing or expanding charter schools in Rhode Island. (H Finance; Wed, May 27)

2B. H5794: From the official description: “This act would remove a city or town’s financial obligation to contribute to their resident students who enroll in charter schools, William M. Davies, Jr. Career and Technical High School or the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center”. (H Finance; Wed, May 27)

2C. H5834: Change in the formula for capital aid for charter public school building construction, in particular, capping aid at the same percentage of the municipality where the school is located, even if the average based on all sending communities would result in a higher amount. (H Finance; Wed, May 27)

3. S0194: A minimum wage bill is scheduled to get a vote today. The bill officially in committee raises it to $10.10 per hour starting in 2016, though Jennifer Bogdan of the Projo is reporting a deal has been agreed to by leadership for $9.60 per hour. (S Labor; Wed, May 27)

4. H5083: Relief for municipalities from unfunded mandates, i.e. “If during any fiscal year the state reimbursement to cities and towns and school districts is insufficient to cover the costs of state mandates as reported by the department of revenue, the affected cities, towns and school districts may cease implementation of the state mandates at their discretion up to 50% of the value of the reimbursement shortfall, provided that: (1) Existing personnel contracts are honored in their entirety or renegotiated to the 1 satisfaction of both parties; and (2) Implementation of state mandates is restored upon the full restoration of state reimbursements”. (H Finance; Wed, May 27)


Press Conference & Request By Concerned Citizen, Bill Murphy, to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement

[The following was received via e-mail this afternoon.]

Concerned Citizen Seeks to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement to Taxpayers at Court Hearing Tuesday, Schedules Press Conference to Explain Request to the Public

Concerned citizen Dr. William J. Murphy will hold a press conference in front of the Frank Licht Judicial Complex at 250 Benefit Street in Providence at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 to explain to the public the reasons for his request to testify about the unfairness of the pension settlement to taxpayers at the ongoing fairness hearings in Superior Court. Dr. Murphy will deliver a statement emphasizing that the terms of the settlement itself as well as the impropriety of the court-supervised secret negotiation process that produced it have significantly harmed the financial welfare of taxpayers, violated the political rights of citizens, and severely damaged the public interest.

(EAST PROVIDENCE, RI – May 25, 2015) – Dr. William J. Murphy, a concerned resident of East Providence, has petitioned the Rhode Island Superior Court to testify at the ongoing pension settlement fairness hearing Tuesday. He held a press conference at Superior Court in Providence on Tuesday to issue a statement explaining the reasons for his request.

Dr. Murphy opened his remarks by saying that, “The pension settlement is grossly unfair to good citizens of Rhode Island because it adds over $290 million to the unfunded pension debt that the state’s already overburdened taxpayers cannot afford. Even more troubling, the terms of the settlement itself as well as everything about the nature of the process itself fail to demonstrate appropriate sensitivity to the economic hardships this increased tax burden would impose on elderly citizens living on fixed incomes as well as low-income younger taxpayers and their families who remain deprived of adequate economic opportunities in part because of the unaffordable state pension system, the high rates of taxation imposed to feed it, and the resulting negative consequences for the Ocean State’s economic competitiveness.


Coming up in Committee: Twenty-One Sets of Bills Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, Today, May 26


1. H6174 “The division of motor vehicles is authorized to issue driving privilege licenses and driving privilege permits to any applicant who meets the licensure requirements of this chapter but is unable to establish legal presence in the United States”. The bill then lists an extensive set of documents, two of which must be provided to establish eligibility for a “driving privilege license”. (H Judiciary; Tue, May 26)  Issue 1: If “undocumented immigrants” are expected to have documents before they get their driving privilege license, then add said license as an additional document to the documents they already have, does it seem honest at any time to refer to a status of “undocumented”?  Issue 2: The archaic, one-off legal concept that being able to drive is a privilege and not a right — indeed, that there is any broad class of human activities that fall into a category of government-granted “privileges” — should be should be resisted and ultimately rejected whenever it appears.

2. H5387: Government takeover of healthcare, creating a state-run insurance plan, and prohibiting providers who accept the state insurance from billing “any patient for any covered benefit” while also subjecting the providers to comprehensive price controls. (H Finance; Tue, May 26)

3A. H5104: Requires that a photo ID be presented when a person between the ages of 18 and 60 who is not blind, disabled or a victim of domestic violence uses an EBT card. (H Finance; Tue, May 26)

3B. H5347: Requires school-aged children of families receiving welfare benefits through the Rhode Island Works program to have an 80% attendance rate at school. (H Finance; Tue, May 26)

4. S0610: Allows a municipal economic development zone (where qualifying businesses are “exempt from the requirement to charge and collect fifty percent (50%) of the current sales and use tax…for a period of ten years”) to be established “in a municipally designated and state-approved ‘growth center’ in accordance with the Land-Use 2025 element of the state guide plan”. (S Finance; Tue, May 26)

5. S0348: Prohibits condominium associations from making up rules that “shall prohibit any reasonable accommodation for religious practices, including the attachment of religiously mandated objects to the front door of a condominium unit”. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 26) Recent events in Cranston, where the school committee took it upon itself to decree that people aren’t required to go to church during school hours on Good Friday, raise a question about this bill: Is the reference to “religiously mandated objects” something narrower than “religious objects”, i.e. does this bill put condominium associations in the position of being able to decide that yes that’s a religious object on your door, but you still have to take it down because we don’t think your religion requires you to put it there.


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Government

Sheehan’s Taxation Without Representation and Woulda, Coulda, Never Did on All-Day K

Commentary from state senator and history teacher James Sheehan points to a skewed understanding of representation and the government’s tendency to siphon money away from the public good.


The House Finance Agenda for Wednesday, May 13, Posted with Minimum Notice


Some important bills for a Wednesday House Finance Committee meeting were posted on Monday afternoon, i.e. with about as little notice as is legally required:

The most important of the bills concern moral obligation bonds:

  • H5443: Restrictions on the issuing of moral obligation bonds, requiring them to be put to the voters for approval, unless 1) they will be entirely funded by the Federal government, 2) they are issued after the General Assembly has adjourned, and “the governor certifies that action is necessary, because of events occurring after the general assembly has adjourned, to protect the physical integrity of an essential public facility, to ensure the continued delivery of essential public services, or to maintain the credit worthiness of the state in the financial markets” or 3) they fall under the “borrowing in anticipation of receipts” process described in Article VI section 17 of the state constitution.
  • H5566: An almost total ban on the issuing of moral obligation bonds, unless they will be entirely funded by the federal government, or fall under the “borrowing in anticipation of receipts” process described in Article VI section 17 of the state constitution. This bill also repeals the bonding and long-term debt issuing authority not requiring specific General Assembly action that has been granted to a large number of Rhode Island quasi-public agencies; that authority is formally, at least, left in place in H5443.

A few more bills are described, below the fold.


Consolidate Tourism… Because the State Has Such a Great Record?

Plans to consolidate tourism activities in the state government are more like a classroom model than an advisable plan for moving the state forward.


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Governor

Some of the Larger, Seriously Ill-Advised Items In the Governor’s (What Kind of) “Jobs Budget”

During the days following its release, reporters, analysts and observers worked to unpack the budget that Governor Raimondo sent to the General Assembly — and found some unpleasant items therein. Here is a bullet list of some of the bigger ones.

Proposed Statewide Property Tax

… aka, the Taylor Swift tax.

Justin got clarification from Governor Raimondo’s office that the INTENT is not to include apartment buildings as properties to be taxed. This conforms to Governor Raimondo’s attempt to sell this tax as having only a narrow list of targeted properties. (So, gosh, don’t worry about it. And, anyways, we only want to tax those icky rich people.)

Intent, however, is completely secondary. If this tax passes into law, the door will be opened wide for future – and current! – governors and General Assemblies to tax apartment buildings (of all classes and sizes); commercial buildings; second homes of less than one million dollars; PRIMARY homes of more than one million dollars; primary homes of $750,000 – $1,000,000; et empty state cetera. The critical issue is not that the initial list of targeted properties is short. It’s that the list comes to exist at all. To subject just one property classification to a new, statewide tax would set the precedent to subject virtually all real estate in Rhode Island to a statewide property tax via an easy tweak of the targeted property list.

In a perfect bit of timing, RIPEC released an analysis right before the governor released her budget of just how much Rhode Islanders are already taxed. By one measure, Rhode Island already has the fourth highest property taxes in the country. The governor is seriously proposing to raise that ranking? In fact, the one thing above all that our elected officials should not do is exacerbate this burden.

Further, there’s the matter of Rhode Island’s already undesirable reputation as a high tax state. On Twitter, Gary Sasse correctly asks,

When Tax Foundation.et. al.rank tax climate will new statewide property tax impact rankings w resulting reputation risks?

Further to “reputation risks”, WPRO’s Gene Valicenti pointed out Friday morning that the governor’s mere proposal has made the national news via the AP’s feed. This is exactly the kind of publicity that Rhode Island needs to avoid, not curry.

Governor Raimondo’s Proposed Statewide Property Tax Redefines Ownership of Real Estate as a Privilege

This one was a great catch by Justin.


Governor Raimondo’s “Blank Check”

How could a proposed new statewide property tax that’s been given a nickname homage to a part-time-resident pop star not have a parody song?


Raimondo’s Outrageous Statewide Property Tax Actually an Attack on Property Rights

Raimondo’s “statewide property tax” isn’t a tax on property at all, but a tax on “privilege,” which means she thinks the government grants it. That’s an extremely dangerous principle to accept, even if it’s limited (at first) only to “the rich.”


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Healthcare

Correction on Getting Away Without Paying the New HealthSource Tax

HealthSource RI has asked me to clarify my statement about how many Rhode Islanders will have their payments of the proposed new tax covered by their federal subsidies.


UPDATED: Gruber’s Brief Dealings with HealthSource RI

A contract and correspondence with MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber show that HealthSource RI cut his project short and used earlier estimates that he had called “rough.”


UPDATED: Jonathan Gruber Behind Flawed HealthSource RI Projections

Jonathan Gruber’s remarks about the “stupidity of the American voter” have revealed the deception behind ObamaCare, and his involvement in the planning process for HealthSource RI raises the question of how pervasive his attitude has been among government agents locally.


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History

The World the West is Creating with Vladimir Putin


Is there a better way than political authoritarianism and stunted economic growth that Vladimir Putin’s subjects (including high-ranking oligarchs) might want to consider? Western elites might not like to admit this, but ratcheting up an “uncivilized” tribal strategy may be an effective way for Putin and current Russian leadership to answer this question in the negative, by boosting the morale (at least in the short term) of his Russian followers, and by frightening an “internationalist” coalition away from being willing to take the steps necessary to slow his expansion.

The ultimate effectiveness of this strategy depends on the strength and the nature of the coherence of the adversary that Russia faces.


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 […]


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Immigration

Terry Gorman: Sympathetic Providence Journal Article Encourages Illegal Immigration to Rhode Island

[Terry Gorman of RIILE sent the following e-mail to Providence Journal reporter Karen Lee Ziner in response to her front page article of Saturday. It has been lightly edited for style.]

Regarding your April 18 article in the Providence Journal, “Fight over Obama’s orders“, so much for “HIDING IN THE SHADOWS“. Two women here Illegally delivering 5 children that by current law are U S Citizens. Free pre-natal care, childbirth, post-partum care and long term family planning for two years (evidently not working) all at the expense of taxpayers. Just how much does this group cost US taxpayers and how is it justified in these lean times?

I think this article will only serve to ENCOURAGE many more pregnant illegal alien women to flock to Rhode Island. Why wouldn’t they come if they can arrive Illegally, have as many children as they wish, work Illegally or just not work, receive workers compensation, get free care for a child’s autism, receive subsidies for the new U S citizen children in the form of welfare, SNAP etc., now that it’s been basically ADVERTISED on the front page of a major newspaper? Thanks.


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.


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Infrastructure

Art Norwalk: The Lure of Shiny Objects in Providence and Rhode Island

Two capital projects dominating city and state discussions might be unproductive distractions from the necessary work that Rhode Island needs to do to rebuild its economist.


Politicians, Look to Your Own “Horrendous Impact” on Energy Prices

When the energy market forces National Grid to increase its rates, politicians condemn the company, but expensive energy is a problem to which they’ve happily contributed.


RhodeMap Brings Eminent Domain One Step Closer

Analysis of the state law purporting to protect Rhode Islanders from eminent domain suggests that RhodeMap RI makes government takings significantly easier.


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Legislation

Cumberland Charter Savings and School Choice

Legislators are drawing invalid conclusions about schools’ variable costs in Cumberland based on the district’s experience with charter schools.


Press Conference & Request By Concerned Citizen, Bill Murphy, to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement

[The following was received via e-mail this afternoon.]

Concerned Citizen Seeks to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement to Taxpayers at Court Hearing Tuesday, Schedules Press Conference to Explain Request to the Public

Concerned citizen Dr. William J. Murphy will hold a press conference in front of the Frank Licht Judicial Complex at 250 Benefit Street in Providence at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 to explain to the public the reasons for his request to testify about the unfairness of the pension settlement to taxpayers at the ongoing fairness hearings in Superior Court. Dr. Murphy will deliver a statement emphasizing that the terms of the settlement itself as well as the impropriety of the court-supervised secret negotiation process that produced it have significantly harmed the financial welfare of taxpayers, violated the political rights of citizens, and severely damaged the public interest.

(EAST PROVIDENCE, RI – May 25, 2015) – Dr. William J. Murphy, a concerned resident of East Providence, has petitioned the Rhode Island Superior Court to testify at the ongoing pension settlement fairness hearing Tuesday. He held a press conference at Superior Court in Providence on Tuesday to issue a statement explaining the reasons for his request.

Dr. Murphy opened his remarks by saying that, “The pension settlement is grossly unfair to good citizens of Rhode Island because it adds over $290 million to the unfunded pension debt that the state’s already overburdened taxpayers cannot afford. Even more troubling, the terms of the settlement itself as well as everything about the nature of the process itself fail to demonstrate appropriate sensitivity to the economic hardships this increased tax burden would impose on elderly citizens living on fixed incomes as well as low-income younger taxpayers and their families who remain deprived of adequate economic opportunities in part because of the unaffordable state pension system, the high rates of taxation imposed to feed it, and the resulting negative consequences for the Ocean State’s economic competitiveness.


James Cournoyer: Please Allow Municipalities to Have the Flexibility of a Three Platoon Firefighting System

[James Cournoyer sent the following e-mail to members of the General Assembly. It is published here with permission. Additional background on this subject is available here.]

Dear members of the General Assembly,

Please reject House Bill H-5473 and Senate Bill S-0533, which seeks to make fire-fighter Platoon Structures / Shift Schedules subject to Collective Bargaining, and therefore potentially subject to the decisions of unelected and unaccountable arbitrators.

These bills serve only to further erode essential Management Rights and the ability of municipalities to exercise home rule.

Employees are already afforded an abundance of work-place and employment protections via the myriad of state and federal labor laws and regulations that currently exist.


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Media

Faith in the Anthropocrimen

News media leaps from evidence of a changing climate to a human cause to a global socialist solution have politicized science and sowed distrust among the people.


Terry Gorman: Sympathetic Providence Journal Article Encourages Illegal Immigration to Rhode Island

[Terry Gorman of RIILE sent the following e-mail to Providence Journal reporter Karen Lee Ziner in response to her front page article of Saturday. It has been lightly edited for style.]

Regarding your April 18 article in the Providence Journal, “Fight over Obama’s orders“, so much for “HIDING IN THE SHADOWS“. Two women here Illegally delivering 5 children that by current law are U S Citizens. Free pre-natal care, childbirth, post-partum care and long term family planning for two years (evidently not working) all at the expense of taxpayers. Just how much does this group cost US taxpayers and how is it justified in these lean times?

I think this article will only serve to ENCOURAGE many more pregnant illegal alien women to flock to Rhode Island. Why wouldn’t they come if they can arrive Illegally, have as many children as they wish, work Illegally or just not work, receive workers compensation, get free care for a child’s autism, receive subsidies for the new U S citizen children in the form of welfare, SNAP etc., now that it’s been basically ADVERTISED on the front page of a major newspaper? Thanks.


Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


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Musings & Announcements

Friday Night Beer: Troegs Troegenator

The Troegenator Doublebock blends alcohol and flavor for an experience of sweet associations.


Friday Night Beer: Troegs Hop Knife Harvest Ale

Troegs’s Hop Knife Harvest Ale accomplishes what a “harvest ale” ought to accomplish: it brings to mind an agricultural past and a sense of heritage.


Friday Night Beer: Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA

Sometimes a beer just fits a dark New England evening, with heavy music on the speakers and a heavy meal on the plate.


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National Security

The World the West is Creating with Vladimir Putin


Is there a better way than political authoritarianism and stunted economic growth that Vladimir Putin’s subjects (including high-ranking oligarchs) might want to consider? Western elites might not like to admit this, but ratcheting up an “uncivilized” tribal strategy may be an effective way for Putin and current Russian leadership to answer this question in the negative, by boosting the morale (at least in the short term) of his Russian followers, and by frightening an “internationalist” coalition away from being willing to take the steps necessary to slow his expansion.

The ultimate effectiveness of this strategy depends on the strength and the nature of the coherence of the adversary that Russia faces.


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.


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On a Lighter Note

Friday Night Beer: Ommegang Valar Morghulis

A dubbel ale by Ommegang offers enjoyable flavor with mild buzz and a tie-in to the world of fantasy novels.


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

Press Conference & Request By Concerned Citizen, Bill Murphy, to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement

[The following was received via e-mail this afternoon.]

Concerned Citizen Seeks to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement to Taxpayers at Court Hearing Tuesday, Schedules Press Conference to Explain Request to the Public

Concerned citizen Dr. William J. Murphy will hold a press conference in front of the Frank Licht Judicial Complex at 250 Benefit Street in Providence at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 to explain to the public the reasons for his request to testify about the unfairness of the pension settlement to taxpayers at the ongoing fairness hearings in Superior Court. Dr. Murphy will deliver a statement emphasizing that the terms of the settlement itself as well as the impropriety of the court-supervised secret negotiation process that produced it have significantly harmed the financial welfare of taxpayers, violated the political rights of citizens, and severely damaged the public interest.

(EAST PROVIDENCE, RI – May 25, 2015) – Dr. William J. Murphy, a concerned resident of East Providence, has petitioned the Rhode Island Superior Court to testify at the ongoing pension settlement fairness hearing Tuesday. He held a press conference at Superior Court in Providence on Tuesday to issue a statement explaining the reasons for his request.

Dr. Murphy opened his remarks by saying that, “The pension settlement is grossly unfair to good citizens of Rhode Island because it adds over $290 million to the unfunded pension debt that the state’s already overburdened taxpayers cannot afford. Even more troubling, the terms of the settlement itself as well as everything about the nature of the process itself fail to demonstrate appropriate sensitivity to the economic hardships this increased tax burden would impose on elderly citizens living on fixed incomes as well as low-income younger taxpayers and their families who remain deprived of adequate economic opportunities in part because of the unaffordable state pension system, the high rates of taxation imposed to feed it, and the resulting negative consequences for the Ocean State’s economic competitiveness.


Retiree Liability and What You Owe

If the people of Rhode Island are going to come to grips with their pension and OPEB problem, journalists (and their editors) are going to have to figure out how the math works.


Coalition Radio Introduces Three Fiscal Topics into the 2014 Campaign


Issue 1: Do any candidates for Rhode Island Governor or Rhode Island General Assembly support modifying or repealing Governor Chafee’s Wall-Street-first law regarding municipal priorities?

Issue 2: Will any of the candidates for Governor of Rhode Island have their fiscal staffs look immediately into the possibility of a Providence receivership. Will they tell us if they do?

Issue 3: Buddy Cianci, according to some research done by Michael Riley, once advocated for pension obligation bonds to help finance Providence’s pension system. Might he do so again?


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Political Theory

A Note on How We Sink

From bedtime stories, to same-sex marriage, to sketches of Muhammad, evidence abounds to show how a society can lose its balance and fall into tyranny.


Consolidate Tourism… Because the State Has Such a Great Record?

Plans to consolidate tourism activities in the state government are more like a classroom model than an advisable plan for moving the state forward.


Reading Between the Trees of the Sustainable Argument

Environmental regulation and “sustainable development” may not cause income inequality, but they sure do correlate well with it.


Back to top



Politics

Press Conference & Request By Concerned Citizen, Bill Murphy, to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement

[The following was received via e-mail this afternoon.]

Concerned Citizen Seeks to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement to Taxpayers at Court Hearing Tuesday, Schedules Press Conference to Explain Request to the Public

Concerned citizen Dr. William J. Murphy will hold a press conference in front of the Frank Licht Judicial Complex at 250 Benefit Street in Providence at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 to explain to the public the reasons for his request to testify about the unfairness of the pension settlement to taxpayers at the ongoing fairness hearings in Superior Court. Dr. Murphy will deliver a statement emphasizing that the terms of the settlement itself as well as the impropriety of the court-supervised secret negotiation process that produced it have significantly harmed the financial welfare of taxpayers, violated the political rights of citizens, and severely damaged the public interest.

(EAST PROVIDENCE, RI – May 25, 2015) – Dr. William J. Murphy, a concerned resident of East Providence, has petitioned the Rhode Island Superior Court to testify at the ongoing pension settlement fairness hearing Tuesday. He held a press conference at Superior Court in Providence on Tuesday to issue a statement explaining the reasons for his request.

Dr. Murphy opened his remarks by saying that, “The pension settlement is grossly unfair to good citizens of Rhode Island because it adds over $290 million to the unfunded pension debt that the state’s already overburdened taxpayers cannot afford. Even more troubling, the terms of the settlement itself as well as everything about the nature of the process itself fail to demonstrate appropriate sensitivity to the economic hardships this increased tax burden would impose on elderly citizens living on fixed incomes as well as low-income younger taxpayers and their families who remain deprived of adequate economic opportunities in part because of the unaffordable state pension system, the high rates of taxation imposed to feed it, and the resulting negative consequences for the Ocean State’s economic competitiveness.


Terry Gorman: Sympathetic Providence Journal Article Encourages Illegal Immigration to Rhode Island

[Terry Gorman of RIILE sent the following e-mail to Providence Journal reporter Karen Lee Ziner in response to her front page article of Saturday. It has been lightly edited for style.]

Regarding your April 18 article in the Providence Journal, “Fight over Obama’s orders“, so much for “HIDING IN THE SHADOWS“. Two women here Illegally delivering 5 children that by current law are U S Citizens. Free pre-natal care, childbirth, post-partum care and long term family planning for two years (evidently not working) all at the expense of taxpayers. Just how much does this group cost US taxpayers and how is it justified in these lean times?

I think this article will only serve to ENCOURAGE many more pregnant illegal alien women to flock to Rhode Island. Why wouldn’t they come if they can arrive Illegally, have as many children as they wish, work Illegally or just not work, receive workers compensation, get free care for a child’s autism, receive subsidies for the new U S citizen children in the form of welfare, SNAP etc., now that it’s been basically ADVERTISED on the front page of a major newspaper? Thanks.


Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


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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

Press Conference & Request By Concerned Citizen, Bill Murphy, to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement

[The following was received via e-mail this afternoon.]

Concerned Citizen Seeks to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement to Taxpayers at Court Hearing Tuesday, Schedules Press Conference to Explain Request to the Public

Concerned citizen Dr. William J. Murphy will hold a press conference in front of the Frank Licht Judicial Complex at 250 Benefit Street in Providence at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 to explain to the public the reasons for his request to testify about the unfairness of the pension settlement to taxpayers at the ongoing fairness hearings in Superior Court. Dr. Murphy will deliver a statement emphasizing that the terms of the settlement itself as well as the impropriety of the court-supervised secret negotiation process that produced it have significantly harmed the financial welfare of taxpayers, violated the political rights of citizens, and severely damaged the public interest.

(EAST PROVIDENCE, RI – May 25, 2015) – Dr. William J. Murphy, a concerned resident of East Providence, has petitioned the Rhode Island Superior Court to testify at the ongoing pension settlement fairness hearing Tuesday. He held a press conference at Superior Court in Providence on Tuesday to issue a statement explaining the reasons for his request.

Dr. Murphy opened his remarks by saying that, “The pension settlement is grossly unfair to good citizens of Rhode Island because it adds over $290 million to the unfunded pension debt that the state’s already overburdened taxpayers cannot afford. Even more troubling, the terms of the settlement itself as well as everything about the nature of the process itself fail to demonstrate appropriate sensitivity to the economic hardships this increased tax burden would impose on elderly citizens living on fixed incomes as well as low-income younger taxpayers and their families who remain deprived of adequate economic opportunities in part because of the unaffordable state pension system, the high rates of taxation imposed to feed it, and the resulting negative consequences for the Ocean State’s economic competitiveness.


James Cournoyer: Please Allow Municipalities to Have the Flexibility of a Three Platoon Firefighting System

[James Cournoyer sent the following e-mail to members of the General Assembly. It is published here with permission. Additional background on this subject is available here.]

Dear members of the General Assembly,

Please reject House Bill H-5473 and Senate Bill S-0533, which seeks to make fire-fighter Platoon Structures / Shift Schedules subject to Collective Bargaining, and therefore potentially subject to the decisions of unelected and unaccountable arbitrators.

These bills serve only to further erode essential Management Rights and the ability of municipalities to exercise home rule.

Employees are already afforded an abundance of work-place and employment protections via the myriad of state and federal labor laws and regulations that currently exist.


Sheehan’s Taxation Without Representation and Woulda, Coulda, Never Did on All-Day K

Commentary from state senator and history teacher James Sheehan points to a skewed understanding of representation and the government’s tendency to siphon money away from the public good.


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Unions

Press Conference & Request By Concerned Citizen, Bill Murphy, to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement

[The following was received via e-mail this afternoon.]

Concerned Citizen Seeks to Testify about Unfairness of Pension Settlement to Taxpayers at Court Hearing Tuesday, Schedules Press Conference to Explain Request to the Public

Concerned citizen Dr. William J. Murphy will hold a press conference in front of the Frank Licht Judicial Complex at 250 Benefit Street in Providence at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 to explain to the public the reasons for his request to testify about the unfairness of the pension settlement to taxpayers at the ongoing fairness hearings in Superior Court. Dr. Murphy will deliver a statement emphasizing that the terms of the settlement itself as well as the impropriety of the court-supervised secret negotiation process that produced it have significantly harmed the financial welfare of taxpayers, violated the political rights of citizens, and severely damaged the public interest.

(EAST PROVIDENCE, RI – May 25, 2015) – Dr. William J. Murphy, a concerned resident of East Providence, has petitioned the Rhode Island Superior Court to testify at the ongoing pension settlement fairness hearing Tuesday. He held a press conference at Superior Court in Providence on Tuesday to issue a statement explaining the reasons for his request.

Dr. Murphy opened his remarks by saying that, “The pension settlement is grossly unfair to good citizens of Rhode Island because it adds over $290 million to the unfunded pension debt that the state’s already overburdened taxpayers cannot afford. Even more troubling, the terms of the settlement itself as well as everything about the nature of the process itself fail to demonstrate appropriate sensitivity to the economic hardships this increased tax burden would impose on elderly citizens living on fixed incomes as well as low-income younger taxpayers and their families who remain deprived of adequate economic opportunities in part because of the unaffordable state pension system, the high rates of taxation imposed to feed it, and the resulting negative consequences for the Ocean State’s economic competitiveness.


James Cournoyer: Please Allow Municipalities to Have the Flexibility of a Three Platoon Firefighting System

[James Cournoyer sent the following e-mail to members of the General Assembly. It is published here with permission. Additional background on this subject is available here.]

Dear members of the General Assembly,

Please reject House Bill H-5473 and Senate Bill S-0533, which seeks to make fire-fighter Platoon Structures / Shift Schedules subject to Collective Bargaining, and therefore potentially subject to the decisions of unelected and unaccountable arbitrators.

These bills serve only to further erode essential Management Rights and the ability of municipalities to exercise home rule.

Employees are already afforded an abundance of work-place and employment protections via the myriad of state and federal labor laws and regulations that currently exist.


Sheehan’s Taxation Without Representation and Woulda, Coulda, Never Did on All-Day K

Commentary from state senator and history teacher James Sheehan points to a skewed understanding of representation and the government’s tendency to siphon money away from the public good.


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Welfare

Sheehan’s Taxation Without Representation and Woulda, Coulda, Never Did on All-Day K

Commentary from state senator and history teacher James Sheehan points to a skewed understanding of representation and the government’s tendency to siphon money away from the public good.


Reviewing the Earned Income Tax Credit

Debate about Governor Raimondo’s proposed increase in the earned income tax credit illustrates both the spin of advocates and the danger of making wealth redistribution the province of the political process.


Correction on Getting Away Without Paying the New HealthSource Tax

HealthSource RI has asked me to clarify my statement about how many Rhode Islanders will have their payments of the proposed new tax covered by their federal subsidies.


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