This post reprints a section of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s new report, “RI Union Political Spending: A Web of Corruption.”
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for July 28, included talk about:
- Teachers protesting school
- Secretary of state protesting election security
- Councilwoman protesting enforcement of the law
- Journalists not protesting attacks on journalists
Wherever one looks at the labor unions in Rhode Island, one finds not just a connection to Democrats, but also deep crony corruption mixed with an overt plan to bring a “one big union” approach to pushing far-left policies.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for July 20, included talk about:
- Elorza reparations
- Gina beach restriction
- Gorbea ballot intentions
- Unions’ school reservations
The survival rate for COVID-19 is now in the range of 99.35% – 99.74%, per CDC data. But even this high rate is almost certainly on the conservative side as it does not include all unidentified cases, an important data point which scientists continue diligently to try to quantify.
Conversely, grimly, deaths from the lockdown have moved from projection to reality and are rising.
I have been close to these budgets. Very close.
A “lack of funding” cannot be the culprit for every decision from local officials that change services or reconsider programming. When a 1% or 2% fiscal nudge in anything is blamed, I seriously question the competence and/or the integrity of those using the argument.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for July 6, included talk about:
- Phase 3
- Lack of budget
- The secret consultant
- Nursing home problems
- Not a real Bristol parade
- RI schools’ future
- Lt. Gov. McKee tries an online petition
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for June 15, included talk about:
- Teaching Columbus a lesson
- Speaker pokes his head out of hiding
- State of the RIGOP
- What’s in a name?
Without commenting on the substance of any particular policy proposal, it can be noted that, in the state of Rhode Island, the number of sworn officers on a police force is frequently determined by the police union contract. This seems to be the case in Providence, according to a Projo article by Mark Reynolds…
The tentative agreement with the Providence lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police also includes some new language on staffing levels. The language basically requires the city to maintain a staffing level of at least 435 positions. If staffing falls below that level, the city would compensate officers with additional sick days.
So whatever “defund the police” means in a Rhode Island context, will it mean that the local police union has to directly approve any major policy and budgeting shifts covered by their contract, or will the powers-that-be in Rhode Island come around to challenging the idea that major public policy changes can be vetoed by an organization not democratically selected by the people?
And if it is the latter, will there be an explanation of why police unions are different from other public-sector unions?
It has been argued in this space that allowing union contracts to be a major constraint on state and municipal government decision-making creates a democratic accountability problem, but many Rhode Island leaders were content to ignore this, when they could pretend the issues were mostly fiscal and could be reduced to choices between cuts to existing programs and tax-increases. Well, the issues around policing that government must address right now are much bigger than fiscal ones, and the problems of dealing with them with less-than-democratic governing structures can no longer be ignored.
As may or may not be happening in other Rhode Island towns, the governor’s emergency declaration (not to mention the example that she’s setting) has dramatically reduced the number of town officials who actually matter. With three Town Council members — Joseph Perry, John Edwards (the Fifth), and Stephen Clarke — as well as the leadership of the Budget Committee completely abdicating their authority and shirking their responsibility, the town is being entirely run by the triumvirate of Town Council President Patricia Hilton, Interim Town Administrator Christopher Cotta, and Town Solicitor Michael Marcello, with a supporting role for Vice President Denise DeMedeiros. No other elected officials in town matter. Even the town’s Home Rule Charter bends to what the Triumvirate decrees.
Meanwhile, on the school side, the suspended teachers’ union president and the National Education Association of Rhode Island are taking advantage of the fact that the school department is forbidden by law from disclosing details of the incident. NEARI is also pledging to stick it’s well-funded, mobster-like nose in the town’s elections to ensure that the town has management that the union prefers starting in November.
When a special interest has this much money and power and a taxpayer-funded infrastructure to maintain the muscle for a nonstop political campaign, how can the people of any town really have their own voices represented?
Public schools and teachers unions in RI and MA are providing our state an education that can lead us to a post-plague renaissance if we’ll learn the lessons.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for April 13, included talk about:
- The governor’s handling of the virus crisis
- The silence from everybody else
- The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s suggestions
- The decisions facing the governor and the people of RI
Michael Marra is a teacher of history and economics and asserts that Providence schools are not the only schools in need of improvement. His focus is on teacher contracts, which need to be modified to foster good teaching and diminish poor performance.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for March 9, included talk about:
- Unionist Pat Crowley’s promotion.
- More grand jurying around the speaker.
- Gina and her endorsements.
- Minimum wage.
- Anti-Second Amendment tax honesty.
Powerful union head Randi Weingarten has no problem getting rough-and-tumble with the education commissioner, and Rhode Island students need somebody willing to do the same for them.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for March 2, included talk about:
- The degree of confidence in the state government to contain a contagious disease.
- The effect of distrust on public perception of the Veterans Home debacle.
- The meaning of Weingarten’s texts to Infante-Green.
- The ubiquitous Mr. Nee.
Conspicuous relationships between powerful people and employees of the Convention Center Authority are just snow on the sharp point of the tip of the iceberg of RI’s patronage network.
Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green is right to worry that adult agendas will derail any chance of reforming our system.
Is it time for you to get involved… to save our state? If we are ever going to change the policies that are driving away families and crippling businesses, the sad truth, my friend, is that we are going to have to change the players.
Rhode Island’s political class is so beholden to so many special interest groups and agendas, that they are paralyzed when it comes to considering common-sense, pro-growth policy reforms.
The common interests of labor unions and progressives are draining the Ocean State of its lifeblood.
The pervasive theme throughout Tiverton on Track Episode 11 (stream below) is that a lack of transparency and a lack of respect for confidentiality when it is justified mix to create tension in a community. That’s the case whether somebody elsewhere in the state tweets a detail out of supposedly confidential contract negotiations or the leadership of the Town Council attempts to resolve a community disagreement the way they want it resolved by keeping the details out of public view.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for February 3, included talk about:
- Raimondo’s anti-Trump special-interest PAC.
- Will the new Providence superintendent earn his pay?
- Everybody could be right, but is wrong, on the Convention Center.
- RI gambling giants’ form a super-crony organization.
As public attention understandably turns to legal developments in the toll case and the very visible construction of toll gantries around the state, it is important to note how the governor explicitly broke her word on the critical matter of when toll gantries would go up and highlight the heavy financial consequences to which she has needlessly exposed Rhode Island residents with this completely unprincipled volte-face.
A familiar subject floated through Rhode Island’s news cycle again last week when Warwick schools Superintendent Philip Thornton reported to his city’s school committee that the district should do something about teacher absenteeism:
Two schools — Wyman Elementary and E.G. Robertson Elementary — have chronic absenteeism rates of 24.4 percent and 22.7 percent, respectively. Chronic teacher absenteeism is defined as missing 18 days or more of school out of a typical 180-day school year.
Two more schools — Oakland Beach Elementary and Sherman Elementary — have rates above 20 percent.
In the 2018-2019 school year, more than 11 percent of all Warwick teachers — 100 teachers — were chronically absent, Thornton said, using data from the Rhode Island Department of Education. That said, more than a third of all teachers — 312 — missed less than five percent of school.
This isn’t just some hobby horse on which the superintendent wanted to beat for some reason. He raised the issue because teacher attendance is part of the formula that the RI Department of Education (RIDE) uses to grade the Ocean State’s schools. Looking for some means of holding our education system accountable (without actually changing anything), the state has developed metrics, and the chief executive of an organization has strong incentive to have his metrics look good.
We’re used to these spats, around here, but it’s worth stepping back a moment and plainly noting what is going on. The superintendent has identified a metric on which he believes the district can make improvements, and the relevant labor union, the Warwick Teachers’ Union, led by Darlene Netcoh, called out the troops and ramped up the objections, staking out ground for the fight. Some teachers have to work until 67, she says, which drives up the sick time, as if Rhode Islanders in the private sector have anywhere near the days off that government-school teachers get. Netcoh also attacked the numbers themselves.
Big picture, our elected and appointed officials have to be able to discuss ideas big and small, and they won’t feel as free to do that if every comment or proposal might begin the gears of the labor-unrest machine. In the private sector, management can discuss things and make plans before a possible dispute is placed in the open. In the public sector, only the unions have that privilege.
If we want open, transparent government, then we need some social (or legal) pressure on the labor unions to back off.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for January 13, included talk about:
- A union president accuses race heretics
- OPEB swamping Providence and Warwick
- Fear about “red flag” laws
- The legislative session starts
- RI losing claim to a Congressional seat,
- The rolling fundraising party of the State House
Transparency in local contract negotiations will help, but calling for state-level legislation to force it is too easy at this point, because it will never happen.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for January 6, included talk about:
- RI Congressmen’s bad alignment with the enemy
- Projo points to key issues for the legislature
- Linc finds another party to run with
- RI pols try to get out of the way of the Census
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for December 30, included talk about:
- Elorza’s interest in being governor
- Causes and effects of Providence Mall brawls
- Disappointment in Raimondo’s failure to succeed
- Stephen Skoly’s warning about opioid nannyism
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for December 16, included talk about:
- The governor’s Projo interview
- Where’s all the money go… in Providence and RI?
- Progressives’ state-killing tax proposal
- Women’s caucus: another progressive organization