October 22, 2014
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So, what’s behind a high school diploma, now?
Lonnie Barham

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS BECOME LAUGHABLE:  The state department of education has announced that students who failed the NECAP tests and thus could not graduate high school will now be granted high school diplomas if they are accepted into colleges that do not require SATs. As it is, to graduate high school students don’t have to really “pass” the NECAP; they only have to score “partially proficient” - an acceptable failure, in other words. Even after scoring less than partially proficient, students can retake the test and “pass” so long as they make any improvement at all - even if they still score far below partially proficient.

Now we’ve given failing students yet another avenue to graduate without demonstrating they have acquired minimal high school knowledge. The whole process has become laughable. We might as well return to the days of no standardized testing at all and rely simply on subjective grading by teachers.

CICILLINE AND LANGEVIN JOIN REPUBLICANS ON BILL:  In a move highly unusual for our Democrat congressmen, both Congressman Cicilline and Congressman Langevin broke ranks with fellow Democrats and voted for a successful Republican bill that would require more stringent security measures in the collection and use of Americans’ personal information by the Obamacare program, to include the requirement that Americans whose information may have been compromised are notified within two business days. The Obama administration calls the proposed requirement unnecessary and burdensome, and the bill will most assuredly fail in the Democrat-controlled Senate. 

Congressman Langevin has always been a relentless proponent of cyber security, so his vote with Republicans on the bill was understandable. Cicilline, on the other hand, has been such an Obama lackey that his vote was totally unexpected. Regardless, it looks like both of our congressmen were rightfully looking out for the security of Rhode Islanders with their votes.

TAVERAS CONTRIBUTIONS’ ETHICS WEAKENING:  To his credit, when Angel Taveras was running for mayor of Providence in 2010 he refused to accept campaign donations from employees of the city. He called it “pay for play” when candidates for office accept donations from those the office holder can “hire, fire or promote”.

Now that Taveras is running for governor, he is reconsidering his decision to refuse contributions from city employees. His office says that the “pay for play” reason for refusing donations from employees no longer applies since, as governor, Taveras will not be in a position to hire, fire or promote city employees who contribute to his campaign chest. What an illogical argument this is!

Even if Taveras is eventually successful in his gubernatorial campaign, he still has a year left as mayor of Providence. That is certainly plenty of time to promote or otherwise reward city employees who donate to his election campaign.

Furthermore, as governor he will be able to hire into well-paying state positions some of those city employees who donated money to his campaign. So, the pay for play issue remains on the table. The question is, will Taveras stick with his ethical position or abandon it in favor of political expediency?

NORTH PROVIDENCE FORTUNATE TO HAVE ITS MAYOR:  Thank goodness that somewhere in Rhode Island there is a mayor who has the guts to tell it like it is, and who has the fortitude to relentlessly pursue disability retirement fraud that costs taxpayers so much. That mayor is Charles A. Lombardi of North Providence.

Last Monday Lombardi showed up at a meeting of the state retirement board to emphasize that a North Providence firefighter who was on the job for only three years when he went out on disability at age 38 does not warrant a disability retirement that would give him $44,000 per year. The retirement board put off a decision pending a hearing scheduled for February 6th.

Lombardi also demanded the retirement board give him a written explanation on why it granted another North Providence firefighter a costly disability pension after the firefighter had worked only five years with another five years out on sick leave. 

Lombardi is equally aggressive about fixing other areas of his city’s operations, especially those that, because of employee laziness or misconduct, costs taxpayers dearly. Due largely to Lombardi’s efforts, his city now has a $1.6 million surplus and its bond ratings have been raised. 

We have a few very good mayors in Rhode Island, some of whom are as effective as Lombardi. However, if all cities and towns had mayors with Lombardi’s passion and persistence, our entire state would be better off. 

DEMOCRATS POUNCE ON NJ GOVERNOR CHRISTIE:  In moves that are clearly political, Democrats in New Jersey and Washington, DC are pulling out all stops in their efforts to discredit NJ Governor Chris Christie, the Republican considered most likely to win the party’s nomination to run for president in 2016.

Of course, Christie opened himself to criticism when he failed to realize that a secondary staff assistant had apparently directed the NY/NJ Bridge and Tunnel Authority to close entry lanes to the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, NJ to punish that city’s Democrat mayor, a closure that tied up Fort Lee traffic for days. When the matter came to light, Christie promptly fired the assistant along with another aide who may have known about the improper political retaliation.

Smelling blood, Democrats scoured the political environment looking for more mud to fling at Christie. And on Monday they thought they had found the mud they had been looking for. They flooded the airwaves with accusations that Christie had misused federal disaster recovery money to run political campaign ads during his successful bid for reelection to the governorship.

The “Stronger Than The Storm” ad campaign was designed to encourage NJ residents during the recovery and to stimulate businesses and tourists to return to the Jersey shore. Because a few of the ads had Christie and his family in them telling the audience that NJ is stronger than the storm, critics now say they were “political campaign” ads paid for with federal money. The Obama administration jumped on the bandwagon and initiated an “investigation,” even though the Obama administration had approved the ad campaign.

What a bunch of hogwash! There couldn’t possibly have been a more appropriate time for a governor to appear in a recovery ad. Democrats, already burdened with the disastrous results of Obamacare, are obviously running scared. The dirty, deceptive, unethical political practices the national Democratic Party has perfected are getting out of the gate early it seems. 

31 MILLION AMERICANS LIKELY TO LOSE INSURANCE: Obamacare requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance to their employees or pay an annual fine of $2,000 per employee. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are not required to provide health insurance. Unfortunately, according to a commentary piece in the Providence Journal, Obamacare has boosted the cost of providing health insurance by $1.79 per hour per employee. That’s an additional $3,723 per year per employee. So, what will the small companies who employ 31 million Americans do? Many, perhaps most, will either opt to drop health insurance altogether or require their employees to greatly increase their contributions to make up for the added costs Obamacare has foisted on employers. Either way, 31 million employees will either lose health insurance or lose a substantial amount of their earnings. Employees who lose their employer-provided insurance will have to then purchase health insurance through the Obamacare program, insurance that will cost far more than their previous workplace contributions and with far higher deductibles. The question arises again and again, what’s so affordable about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Providence mayoral candidate Jorge Elorza, in a commentary piece for last Wednesday’s Providence Journal, talked about the governor’s since-retracted decision to move parole and probation offices to downtown Providence. He believes that “different sides of the debate are missing a critical point.” The point: “We are all in this together.  We are all one Providence, and that means that each of our residents - whether he or she owns a major business or is re-entering society from the criminal justice system - is an equal stakeholder...”

Since when is a criminal who has committed nefarious, even brutally violent crimes equal to a hard-working small business owner who obeys the law, pays his taxes, and contributes tremendous value to society?

Criminals on parole and probation should be assisted as much as possible in their reintegration into our society, but, regardless of the leftist thinking of Jorge Elorza, they are still criminals serving out the rest of their sentences and should not be thought equally valuable to the community as business owners, peaceful residents and law-abiding visitors.


Comments
2 comments on this item

Again,no mention of Raimondo. Has she accepted donations from staff at the Gen. Treasurers office? We sure know she's accepted them from the financial industry in the millions. Talk about pay for play.

Mr. Barham, they will soon introduce the "certificate of participation" to escape high school...Unfortunately, even the military is saying no to many GED's and other worthless pieces of paper supposedly representing some sort of "academic achievement"...Breathing is not a 3 credit course.

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