DOES STACIA HAVE A SHOT IN WARWICK?
For years no one in either the Republican or Democratic Party has had the guts to put up a really strong fight to oust longtime Mayor Scott Avedisian. That’s changed this year. Republican Stacia Petri is bringing not just a battle, but a war to the mayoral campaign and it appears the threat may be frightening Avedisian.
Evidence of Avedisian’s worries includes the fact that after seven years of level-funding the School Department while all along shooting arrows at the School Committee (much of it deserved), Avedisian has suddenly decided that he needs to actually talk to the School Committee and the school department administration. He has appointed a “Municipal/School Commission” to help improve city/school relations.
Many residents would say that after so many years of belittling and underfunding the school system’s leadership, Avedisian’s sudden move to communicate is simply a poorly disguised political ploy during a tougher-than-anticipated campaign.
Most Warwick residents have experienced tax increases every year for the past 10 or so years, though the increases have been fairly moderate. Petri points out that most residents don’t realize that those tax increases have gone almost entirely to fund higher employee salaries and increased employee and retiree benefits, with very little going to city operations.
For example, of the $138 million budget that is devoted strictly to municipal funding after school department funding has been set aside, only $450,000 is devoted to road repairs. Besides garbage collection, few city services are more visibly important to residents than seeing potholes fixed. Yet the budget devotes less than 3 percent to road repairs.
After seeing Petri’s success with social media, especially Facebook, Avedisian has jumped in and created a Facebook page. Though it has yet to come close to the popularity of Petri’s Facebook page, the mere fact that Avedisian felt the need to get involved in a previously unused media in order to compete with Petri is quite telling about his concerns.
So, does Stacia Petri have a shot at unseating Scott Avedisian? It appears that she does. Even though most Warwick residents would say that Avedisian has done a respectable job as mayor, perhaps folks are thinking that 14 years in office is enough, that new blood could be just what the city needs.
CRANSTON’S PALUMBO VIOLATED ETHICS CODE:
Cranston Democratic Representative Peter Palumbo is either a crook or he is very stupid. In either case, Cranston residents are being poorly represented by Palumbo in our legislature.
The state ethics law is very specific that no member of the General Assembly shall seek or accept state employment or service as an independent contractor or consultant to the state while serving in the Assembly, or for a period of one year after leaving.
Palumbo either crookedly disregarded the law with personal gain in mind or he is just too dumb to realize that his actions were in violation of the law his legislative body enacted.
Common Cause Executive Director John Marion summarized why legislators should be held to obeying the ethics law. “By controlling the state budget, members of the Assembly control the purse strings, and shouldn’t be allowed to stick their hands in the same purse for personal gain.”
That’s exactly what Palumbo either stupidly or crookedly did. Cranston residents shouldn’t have a crook or a moron representing them on Smith Hill.
“TURN, TURN, TURN” IN IRAQ: President Obama’s reluctance to use American military power anywhere in the world led to his pulling all U.S. troops out of Iraq three years ago before the nascent Iraqi government could establish control of the country. The decision has been recognized by military and diplomatic experts as a huge mistake. His decision to now re-engage in Iraq, while a good decision, is likely too late.
As any military leader will attest, once a force retreats from a stable position, it is virtually impossible to retake the position, especially if it is held by stubborn, ideological fanatics who care nothing for human life – to include the lives of innocent women and children.
Had we pulled all U.S. troops out of Germany after World War II, Germany might now be ruled by a communist or autocratic government. Had we pulled all U.S. troops out of Japan after World War II, Japan’s government might now be just another third world dictatorship.
In the immortal words of the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastics and put to music by Pete Seeger, “To everything there is a season.” President Bush made a huge error when he chose to attack Iraq in 2003. It wasn’t the “season” for such a war and it cost the lives of 4,500 Americans. President Obama made a mistake almost as egregious when he pulled all U.S. troops out of Iraq while the country was still struggling with insurgency. It wasn’t yet the “season” for peace in Iraq; it cost thousands of innocent Iraqi lives and rendered useless the deaths of so many young Americans.
With Islamic State terrorists overrunning Iraq and committing genocide on displaced Christians, to include the beheading of Christian children, Obama’s vacillating, indecisive past has caught up with him. As his critics and many supporters point out, the president’s re-engagement in Iraq is probably too little, too late.
PRELUDE TO CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION: The panel responsible for educating the public on potential topics for discussion and decision at a state constitutional convention conducted a barely-publicized meeting for public input last Thursday. It plans to conduct two more meetings at the State House this month.
The panel itself is heavily weighted in favor of politicians with the majority appointed by the legislature. This must change when the delegates to a constitutional convention are selected. Keeping politics out of the convention and allowing the public to decide what amendments are to be considered is paramount.
The best suggestion thus far comes from the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. It suggests that party affiliation be downplayed in the delegate election and that all current elected officials and declared candidates be banned from serving as delegates.
The purpose of a constitutional convention is to allow voters, through their selected delegates, to address important issues the legislature has failed to address because of its debt to special interest groups and campaign donors. Clearly, the public will not be served if these same legislators or their political hack friends are allowed to serve as delegates.
MORE STUDENT LOAN DEFAULTS COMING: The student loan default rate in the U.S. is already above 15 percent and now the federal government wants to loosen the already loose requirements for student loans so that more students and parents with shady credit history qualify for loans. Didn’t we learn anything from the housing crisis that was caused in large part by the government forcing mortgage guarantors to push easy mortgages on those who could not afford them?
MATHEMATICIANS EXCORIATE COMMON CORE: Many mathematicians, including some I know personally and many nationally-renown experts, are calling the Common Core math standards a tremendous reduction in learning standards.
For elementary students, the Common Core requires drawing stories to illustrate simple and complex math problems and solutions. At the middle and high school levels, Common Core delays or eliminates such college-required subjects as calculus, half of algebra and much of geometry.
According to Marina Ratner, award-winning professor emeritus at Berkley, Common Core’s standards “mean replacing math with some kind of illustrative counting saturated with pictures, diagrams and elaborate word problems. Simple concepts are made artificially intricate and complex with the pretense of being deeper - while the actual content taught is primitive.”
Saying the common core standards are several years behind the old standards, especially in states with already-high standards like California, Ms. Ratner said “the new standards represent lower expectations ... students taught in the way that these standards require would have little chance of being admitted to even an average college and would certainly struggle if they did get in.”
Perhaps most important, while proponents of Common Core say the standards are benchmarked against world standards, they are not! The Common Core may be benchmarked with poor-performing countries, but are not compared even closely to high-achieving countries – countries against whom our students will one day compete.
It certainly sounds like Common Core deserves a second look. Perhaps Rhode Island was wrong in jumping on the Common Core bandwagon without listening to mathematicians and without extensive study of the new standards’ long-term effect on our students.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “My worst nightmare is Raimondo as governor.” That was the president of the Service Employees International Union, Philip M. Keefe, an avid supporter of Angel Taveras. When such a powerful union’s president makes a statement like that, it’s an unintended endorsement of Raimondo for those voters who value keeping more of their hard-earned dollars out of the hands of government.