Topics

City/Town Government

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.


No Tax Increase in Tiverton, and the Mysterious Influence of Wall Street

Assertions by tax-increase advocates that Tiverton needs a large reserve fund for debt reasons don’t match the numbers for other RI cities and towns and, anyway, have priorities out of whack.


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.


Back to top



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?”


Back to top



Congress

Akash Chougule: CBO in February, Confounding Liberals and Vindicating Conservatives

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) spent February releasing research findings that showed the flaws of progressive policies.


Chafee Admin Won’t Let Rhode Islanders Keep Cancelled Health Insurance Policies That May or May Not Have Been Cancelled and May or May Not Still Exist

What does it mean if you’re barred from keeping a plan that may not exist?


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 7 (Shutdown, Pensions, and More)

Andrew Morse discusses the federal shutdown and Rhode Island politics with Bob Plain for a full half hour of News 10 Wingmen.


Back to top



Culture & Family

Catholic School Parents Demand Banning of Disliked Worldview: Catholicism

The secular and radical movement of separatists and censors has spread even to the point of demanding banishment of Catholic priests from Catholic schools, if they fail to conform to the demands of popular culture.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 26 (Pay by Gender)

Justin and Bob Plain talk about the pay differential between men and women.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 25 (Spotlight on Spending)

Friday’s discussion on Wingmen was about the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Spotlight on Spending report.


Back to top



Economy

March 2014 Employment: Another Boom That Nobody Feels

Rhode Island (with the rest of the states) is apparently experiencing an employment boom, although the evidence is difficult to see outside of the statistics.


Tech Collective Defends the Governor’s Workforce Board… and Most of Its Own Revenue

Another organization speaking out against the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Spotlight on Spending report appears to have a business model that charges dues for access to taxpayer-funded services.


$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.


Back to top



Education

Coming up in the Relevant House and Senate Education Committees: Banning Standardized Testing as a Graduation Requirement Forever*


Other 1. H7672/S2185: Prevents a standardized assessment, and possibly any statewide assessment, from ever* being used as a graduation requirement. (H Health, Education and Welfare; Wed, Apr 2 & S Education; Thu, Apr 3)

S2185 was heard in the Senate Education Committee last week, as one of three possible alternatives for postponing/prohibiting standardized testing as a graduation requirement. It’s definitely the prohibit-not-postpone bill, and is the only bill of the three that’s been called back. It’s listed on the Education committee agenda as “scheduled for consideration”, which means there is a very strong likelihood it will be voted on.

If it is eventually passed by the entire Senate, the question will of course become what will the new House leadership (including new House Majority Leader and old Providence Teachers’ Union legal counsel John DeSimone) do with it.


Coming up in Committee on February 11 and 12: The Worst Institutional Design in Education History?


1. S2265/Bud. Art. 20: Completion of a full Dilbert cycle of Rhode Island’s education bureaucracy, where one board that was created by merging together two previous boards is re-reorganized into one board with two “councils”, each council being given basically the same responsibility as one of the original boards. (H Health, Education and Welfare/H Finance joint meeting; Tue, Feb 11, as Bud. Art. 20 & S Education/S Finance joint meeting; Wed, Feb 12, as S2265)


Akash Chougule: School Choice Can Bridge the Gap

One policy that would serve President Obama’s objective of reducing income inequality is school choice.


Back to top



Environment

Assumptions of Political Theory in Climate Change

Participants in the climate change debate tend to stand at opposite ends of a string of questions and push “yes” and “no” against each other along the scale. We should break the question down to the political theory underlying the tug-of-war.


Climate Change??? YES! … Oh, Wait, Wrong Climate, Gov

Yesterday, Governor Chafee signed an Executive Order creating a state Climate Change Council.


When Pesky Facts Get In the Way of Building a Certain Consensus

To second and amplify everything Justin has said: for seventeen years, there has been no global warming trend, despite an inexorable rise of man-generated CO2. This is a development that was not predicted by global warming scientists, whose mantra has been: man-generated greenhouse gases will cause the planet to warm. This seventeen year pause has [...]


Back to top



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.


Back to top



General Assembly

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.


What Rhode Islanders Need To Know About the Crisis in Central Coventry, Part 1


Superior Court Judge Brian Stern’s order liquidating the Central Coventry Fire District describes the crisis the district is in very succinctly…

The yearly operating expenses of the fire district were far in excess of the amount of funds that was being generated by taxes and other fees. The board had created what can only be described as an elaborate Ponzi scheme to hide this from the taxpayers, which resulted in a multimillion dollar structural deficit. A twenty, thirty, or even a fifty percent increase in taxes would not even resolve the entire structural deficit the board had created at the time.
Full detail on how the district got into this position, is in the main post.


Back to top



Government

Assumptions of Political Theory in Climate Change

Participants in the climate change debate tend to stand at opposite ends of a string of questions and push “yes” and “no” against each other along the scale. We should break the question down to the political theory underlying the tug-of-war.


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.


What Rhode Islanders Need To Know About the Crisis in Central Coventry, Part 1


Superior Court Judge Brian Stern’s order liquidating the Central Coventry Fire District describes the crisis the district is in very succinctly…

The yearly operating expenses of the fire district were far in excess of the amount of funds that was being generated by taxes and other fees. The board had created what can only be described as an elaborate Ponzi scheme to hide this from the taxpayers, which resulted in a multimillion dollar structural deficit. A twenty, thirty, or even a fifty percent increase in taxes would not even resolve the entire structural deficit the board had created at the time.
Full detail on how the district got into this position, is in the main post.


Back to top



Governor

$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.


GOP Gubernatorial Candidates on Newsmakers

Both GOP candidates, Ken Block and Allan Fung have appeared on WPRI’s Newsmakers. Here’s both videos. Enjoy!


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 25 (Spotlight on Spending)

Friday’s discussion on Wingmen was about the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Spotlight on Spending report.


Back to top



Healthcare

Another Massive Database: Getting Healthcare Backwards

The federal government’s release of Medicare data mainly raises the question of whether the system should work the way it does.


HealthSource RI Numbers in Perspective

Coverage of HealthSource RI results is setting Rhode Islanders up to be blindsided by budgetary reality, as a massive fraud and failure is presented as a success.


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.


Back to top



History

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.


Timely Thoughts on Veteran’s Day

Even after 150 years, the Gettysburg Address refocuses our attention away from a president and toward those who’ve sacrificed for the cause of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.


Back to top



Immigration

Activists and Lawmakers Set to Challenge In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens

Another round is looming in the dispute between members of the RI General Assembly and the attorney general over in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.


Rhode Island, nos trata a todos como extraños

Al igual que un conductor que no sabe donde los edifi cios que solían ser, los que no conocen los canales secretos del gobierno de RI tienen tres opciones.


Lower Unemployment in Alabama Corresponds with Immigration Law

Correlation is not causation, but Alabama’s employment picture has improved in the wake of its stringent immigration law.


Back to top



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.


Back to top



Legislation

Senator Harold Metts on Master Lever

Two things struck me today about the master lever bill and Senator Harold Metts’ words and actions. I wish I had an exact transcript but he made two comments about it that I will do my best to paraphrase and others are more than welcome to correct me if they have the exact words. He [...]


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 21 (Forcing Businesses to Stay)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss legislation to force utilities to maintain customer service centers within the state, and Bob illustrates that applying economics really isn’t a priority for the Left.


RI Legislators Try to Cure the Illness with the Disease

Representative Raymond Hull’s legislation to make business decisions for Cox Communications is a fine example of why Rhode Islanders are suffering.


Back to top



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.


Back to top



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.


Back to top



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.


Back to top



On a Lighter Note

$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.


Back to top



Pensions

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.


The Joys of Murky Data, Part One of Three: 500 State Employees Boosted Their Pay in 2013 by 50-99% of salary with O.T.

New transparency releases and updates from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity help fill out the picture as Rhode Island follows the pension settlement ping pong.


Back to top



Political Theory

Assumptions of Political Theory in Climate Change

Participants in the climate change debate tend to stand at opposite ends of a string of questions and push “yes” and “no” against each other along the scale. We should break the question down to the political theory underlying the tug-of-war.


Another Massive Database: Getting Healthcare Backwards

The federal government’s release of Medicare data mainly raises the question of whether the system should work the way it does.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 25 (Spotlight on Spending)

Friday’s discussion on Wingmen was about the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Spotlight on Spending report.


Back to top



Politics

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 26 (Pay by Gender)

Justin and Bob Plain talk about the pay differential between men and women.


GOP Gubernatorial Candidates on Newsmakers

Both GOP candidates, Ken Block and Allan Fung have appeared on WPRI’s Newsmakers. Here’s both videos. Enjoy!


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.


Back to top



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.


Back to top



Taxation

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.


No Tax Increase in Tiverton, and the Mysterious Influence of Wall Street

Assertions by tax-increase advocates that Tiverton needs a large reserve fund for debt reasons don’t match the numbers for other RI cities and towns and, anyway, have priorities out of whack.


Tech Collective Defends the Governor’s Workforce Board… and Most of Its Own Revenue

Another organization speaking out against the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Spotlight on Spending report appears to have a business model that charges dues for access to taxpayer-funded services.


Back to top



Unions

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.


What Rhode Islanders Need To Know About the Crisis in Central Coventry, Part 1


Superior Court Judge Brian Stern’s order liquidating the Central Coventry Fire District describes the crisis the district is in very succinctly…

The yearly operating expenses of the fire district were far in excess of the amount of funds that was being generated by taxes and other fees. The board had created what can only be described as an elaborate Ponzi scheme to hide this from the taxpayers, which resulted in a multimillion dollar structural deficit. A twenty, thirty, or even a fifty percent increase in taxes would not even resolve the entire structural deficit the board had created at the time.
Full detail on how the district got into this position, is in the main post.


Back to top



Welfare

Progressive Policy and Acceptable Suffering

Josh Barro’s willingness to break a few eggs for the minimum wage omelet raises questions about the Congressional Budget Office’s economic assumptions.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 16 (Chafee & Tea Party)

Justin and Bob Plain talk Chafee’s State of the State and the influence of the Tea Party in Rhode Island.


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.


Back to top