October 25, 2014
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Phantom candidate Pell needs to tell us what he’s about
My take on the news
Lonnie Barham

WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT PELL? His silver-spoon name appeared on the local scene 3 to 4 months ago as he indicated a possible interest in running for governor. He’s initiated an exploratory committee. He’s made sure his name gets talked about in state political columns. But what he’s not done is tell anyone what his beliefs are, what his philosophy of government is, and what he would attempt to achieve as governor. Even political leaders, like Senate President Paiva Weed and House Speaker Gordon Fox, have no idea what any of Pell’s ideas are. In short, Clay Pell is a phantom candidate who is either afraid or simply unwilling to share with Rhode Islanders anything about himself except his pedigree.

Well, we aren’t electing a show dog for governor. So, if Pell can’t come out of hiding and let Rhode Islanders know that he stands for something besides the Pell name, then we should all stop talking about him.

CHAFEE’S LAST YEAR STARTING OFF WITH MORE BAD JUDGEMENT: Just as he has done for the past three years, Governor Chafee again made a decision that disregarded those who would be affected by it the most.  Without seeking a bid and without consulting with Providence political and business leaders, he opted to move the state offices of parole and probation to downtown Providence.  Initially, Chafee seemed perplexed that Providence businesses were agitated.

Angus Davis, founder and CEO of Swipley, the software company that is the third largest job creator in Rhode Island, told Governor Chafee, “Your administration’s proposal to move the Department of Corrections parole and probation offices to a new downtown location...will triple costs to taxpayers...(and will) attract violent offenders to a downtown location.” Davis says the move will create “a government-mandated criminal convention center” in downtown Providence.

While Providence leaders and its police department have been trying to clean up downtown Providence and attract new businesses, upscale residences and more visitors to the downtown area, the governor’s office seemed to be working in the opposite direction. With WaterFire, nice restaurants, sports and convention venues, and a clean environment, Providence is poised to make great strides in downtown economic growth. Forcing convicted felons, many of them violent repeat offenders, to frequent the downtown was a terrible idea from the start.  Chafee finally understood. On Monday he backpedaled and decided to put the move out to bid, stating, “Perception is something people care about.  We will re-bid and see what happens.”

It boggles the mind how a public figure could have gotten so far in politics with a mind so scattered that it doesn’t see the obvious.  Perhaps it’s because most of his political momentum was provided by his name, not his political savvy.  Does the name Clay Pell ring a bell?

ARE THOSE RECEIVING LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS DILIGENT ABOUT SEEKING WORK? In a follow-up to a story it published earlier, the Providence Journal wrote on Sunday about a Warwick woman whose long-term unemployment benefits ended on December 28th. Though she had been collecting unemployment payments for almost a year, now that the benefits have stopped she may finally find a job. According to the article, she had two interviews scheduled for Monday but the idea of an interview was “nerve-wracking” to her. This certainly sounds like she was not seriously looking for work during the year she collected unemployment compensation. If she were, she would be well-accustomed to interviews by now.

This and other stories seem to indicate that, once on the long-term unemployment rolls, many jobless people - especially those whose spouses are still working and have good, employer health insurance - do not seriously look for work until the threat of losing the unemployment payments stimulates them to get serious about finding a job and giving the taxpayers a break.

UNION GROUP’S FALSE ACCUSATION : The union-backed group that seeks the ouster of WPRO radio talk-jockey John DePetro has made an egregiously false accusation in its online petition seeking DePetro’s firing. The group, For Our Daughters RI, backed by the American Federation of Teachers, claims in its petition that DePetro was accused of sexual assault in 2012. What DePetro was actually accused of was sexual harassment, a far different charge than sexual assault. The first is a civil matter while the later is a criminal charge that can land a person in prison. Sexual assault includes such actions as attempted forcible rape, unwelcome sexual fondling, etc. Sexual harassment, while also harmful, can be something as simple as a person asking an unwilling co-worker, “Hey, babe, want to go out with me?”

When questioned about the false accusation by PolitiFact, the union-backed group refused to change its online accusation, saying it defines sexual assault as “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances”. The organization can define conduct in whatever inaccurate way it wishes; however, when it knowingly publishes such inaccuracies as a false and malicious accusation, it is flirting with libel.

DePetro’s on-air conduct has frequently been ugly and highly distasteful. His comments do not represent the philosophy of conservatives he purports to support. WPRO would do well to rid itself of DePetro’s angry, juvenile and frequently vile voice. However, those seeking DePetro’s firing should stick to the facts instead of manufacturing their own highly inaccurate “facts.”

OBAMA RETREATS ARE BEARING ROTTEN FRUIT IN MIDEAST: Everyone who reads a newspaper or watches national newscasts is aware of the growing and seemingly unchecked presence of al-Qaida in the Mideast, especially in Iraq and Syria. This week’s news confirmed that al-Qaida has taken control of two cities in Iraq’s Anbar province, a province whose liberation from terrorists took the lives of hundreds of American soldiers and Marines. Equally disturbing is this week’s news that al-Qaida influenced radical Islamist rebels have become so plentiful that they have pushed aside moderate Syrian rebels. Everyone also remembers President Obama’s famous proclamation during his reelection campaign that al-Qaida was “decimated” and “on the run,” totally erroneous descriptions issued for political gain that he backpedaled on after being reelected.

There are many factors that have contributed to al-Qaida’s rise from Obama’s fictional ashes. However, Obama himself has clearly contributed to the terror organization’s growth and power. It was Obama who pulled all U.S. troops out of Iraq, leaving none to deter the re-growth of al-Qaida. It was Obama who retreated from bombing Syrian dictator Assad’s military infrastructure and thus destroyed moderate rebels’ chances for a government overthrow. It was Obama who refused to substantially aid moderate rebels and thus allowed radical Islamist rebels with clear al-Qaida influence to become the dominant anti-Assad force. It was Obama who refused to listen to Israel and Saudi Arabia and went forth with an interim agreement with Iran that virtually “gave away the store” on sanctions while getting close to nothing from Iran; in fact it gives Iran a risk-free six months to continue its uranium enrichment and its construction of a plutonium-producing reactor.

If al-Qaida establishes another base of operations in Iraq, Syria or Iran, as it did in Afghanistan before 9/11, where it will have the safety and stability to mastermind another successful major attack on U.S. soil, much of the blame should be laid at the feet of Obama’s retreats.

ANOTHER REASON FOR WARWICK HIGH SCHOOLS TO CONSOLIDATE: The Providence Journal just released its list of all state high school football players, those players who have most impressed sportswriters and coaches. Of the 28 first team all-state players, none hails from one of Warwick’s three high schools. Moving to the second team of 28, one player - defensive lineman Nathan Gagnon of Tolman High - hails from Warwick.

When a city the size of Warwick sports three public high school football teams, the distribution of football talent is pretty widely spread. It’s tough for sportswriters and coaches to recognize individual talent when an outstanding player is playing on a team that, because of its school’s size, doesn’t play powerhouse teams from cities with consolidated high schools - schools against which individual talent is more easily showcased.

It’s clearly the least important reason for Warwick high schools to consolidate, but, to very talented football players (and those playing other team sports), it is important indeed. College scholarships may depend on it.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist, speaking to the Wall Street Journal last week about whether or not President Obama will be able to get anything done during the remainder of his presidency, “He cannot continue to be in or pretend to be in a bubble of ignorant bliss about everything going wrong with his agencies. If he does, it will only further erode the nation’s belief that he is capable of leading.”


Comments
2 comments on this item

Lonnie....I agree with almost everything except the move of Probation downtown. There are already probation offices in the District Court and Superior Court buildings downtown. There are a large number of criminals going to those courts everyday. Additionally, the state gives probationers/low income workers/SSI people/ SEX OFFENDERS....RIPTA bus passes and they ride all day long. Downtown is already full of crooks and Providence has the highest percentage of sex offenders in the state. Perception may matter when moving the office but the reality is the criminals are there by the hundreds already. It's actually kind of fitting since Providence produces the majority of criminals per capita in the state.

Again,no mention of Raimondo,just negative comments about her possible opponents. She will have to ultimately answer the following question,did she ever in her private,corporate,or public invesmentt decisions,use "expert groups" to advise her,on her private, corporate or public investment decisions? It has recently come to light (with indictments},that many of these groups advised hedge fund managers on the basis of contacts of people within companies that shared information that was not available to the public. In other words,"insider trading". Did any of the hedge funds that she invested in use these "expert groups",and, if so,who are they?

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