November 22, 2014
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Taveras’ budget signals his intent to run for governor
Lonnie Barnham

AIDING FUTURE TERRORISTS:  While it appears immigration reform isn’t going anywhere fast in Congress, our country still needs to slow down and scrutinize closely the projected impact that such reform may have.  That analysis must consider the weaknesses inherent in our current immigration policies.  Exactly how widespread is our practice of allowing immigration by folks like the Tsarnaevs who spawned the Boston Marathon terrorists, people whose primary contribution to America was collecting welfare and food stamps?  Do we need such immigrants? Surely there were many far more talented and hardworking immigrants who were turned away so people like the Tsarnaevs could enter the U.S.  Of course, immigration authorities had no idea some of the Tsarnaev family would learn to hate America while eagerly accepting the bountiful benefits our taxpayers bestowed on them.  Follow-up monitoring of the family’s activities and terrorist leanings was notoriously and inexplicably absent.  One thing any immigration reform bill must contain is an improved policy that ensures those granted entry will not have to rely on the public dole.  Providing immigrants such public assistance gives some the leisure to become radicalized and the time to build bombs.  The vast majority of immigrants are hardworking, law-abiding people, but let’s make sure that our immigration policies don’t put us in the position of inadvertently aiding future terrorists.    

 

LIBERALS TAKING SECOND LOOK AT OPEN DOORS?  “Radical Islam provides fragile male egos a class of inferiors to feel superior to.  That would be women.”  Froma Harrop, a syndicated columnist for the Providence Journal, hit the nail on the head when she described why Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the dead Boston Marathon bomber, like many other male Muslim immigrants, couldn’t assimilate into the American culture and, instead, turned to radical Islam for an ego boost. Harrop continued, “It is not America’s duty to give such troubled individuals talk therapy and a pile of Lexapro.  It is to keep them out of a country that they can’t fit in.”  Though Harrop is usually pretty far to the left, in this case she is spot on.  

 

A SURE SIGN TAVERAS IS RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR: Providence Mayor Angel Taveras presented his budget proposal for next fiscal year to the City Council last week.  He proposes to keep at current levels the tax rates for commercial property but wants to hike residential property rates by 6 percent.  This seems to be a clear signal that Taveras plans to run for governor in 2014.  If he intends to run for reelection to the mayor’s position, he would not be ramming a hefty tax increase down the throats of Providence residents who constitute the voting bloc that would reelect him.  However, if he intends to run for governor, it makes sense that he is protecting businesses from a tax increase to show that he would be, in his words, “an economic growth and job creation” governor.  Yes, he is busily establishing himself as a statewide candidate.  Unfortunately, his tax increase on homes shows he is willing to abandon the Providence voters who elected him to his current office. 

    

A CHILLING EFFECT ON PUBLIC SERVICE:  It seems serving as an elected public official is becoming very costly, especially if you were elected by the citizens of Central Falls. Three members of the Central Falls City Council who used their elected positions to resist state-imposed financial receivership, have been billed over $50,000 each to pay for the cost of legal services and arbitration that resulted from their council votes.  We should all be outraged about this!  The citizens of Central Falls elected these council members to act on their behalf; to vote their consciences on issues affecting their city.  That’s exactly what they did.  They voted to resist receivership; and when the state imposed it anyway, they took the matter to court.  That’s what they were supposed to do; protect the citizens’ financial interests as best they knew how. And now the state wants to bill them for doing what they were elected to do - represent the citizens of Central Falls.  This is wrong on so many levels!

Elected officials sometimes make stupid decisions and vote for unpopular positions.  Does that make them liable for the costs that result from their votes?  If that were the case, no one would ever run for public office.  Should the legislators who voted to approve the program that guaranteed the now-defaulted $75 million loan to 38 Studios have to repay the money to taxpayers or bondholders?  Should the U.S. representatives and senators who voted for the Iraq War have to personally repay the country for the war’s cost to taxpayers? 

Requiring elected officials to shoulder financial responsibility for their good-faith votes will have a chilling effect on our democracy.  Only the super-rich who can afford such potential liability will be able to run for office.  And, once penalizing elected officials for their votes becomes commonplace, the next logical step would be to imprison them for such votes.  Starting to sound like a banana republic or a totalitarian state yet?

Penalizing elected officials for their votes should remain the sole province of the voters.  We can penalize them by throwing them out of office at the next election if we think their votes were stupid and costly to taxpayers.  Penalizing them is our job, not the job of state officials.      

 

DEMOCRACY OVERRIDE IN COVENTRY:  Our state legislature is contemplating overriding the votes of Coventry residents who overwhelmingly rejected the Central Coventry Fire District’s proposed 64 percent tax rate increase.   Voters rejected an increase from $182 to $299 per thousand dollars of property value.  Now, a bill passed by the House that is headed for the Senate would force Coventry taxpayers to suffer an increase from $182 to $286 per thousand - virtually the same rate increase voters rejected by a three to one margin.  This is totally wrong! The voters have spoken through the democratic process.  Politicians should not be allowed to override the ballot Yes, central Coventry needs fire and ambulance protection.  However, the voters have told the fire district that it must find a way to function in a more streamlined way to keep its expenses within acceptable limits.  The bill passed by the House must be amended in the Senate to reflect the voters’ mandate while still allowing the fire district to continue temporary operations until district and municipal leaders can cobble together a replacement fire protection plan.  Keeping tax collections at the previously approved rate of $182 per thousand dollars of property value would be an acceptable approach.  It would honor the voters’ rejection of the tax increase while giving the district enough money to continue operations at a reduced level until the end of the fiscal year, by which time a permanent plan should be in place - a plan that should include privatizing ambulance service and reducing the number of fire personnel.    

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  “I really think I’m going to be able to live my life in a normal way.” That statement by Boston Marathon bombing survivor Heather Abbott of Newport, whose leg was amputated last week, reflects two things.  First and most noteworthy is the tremendously positive attitude and strength of character Heather displays as she confronts what many would find totally devastating. Secondly, the fact that she foresees a life of normalcy with a prosthetic leg is a tribute to advances in limb-replacement technology that have resulted from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  While war is perhaps mankind’s most despicable invention, at least some of the results are salutary.  Heather’s attitude not only sets a perfect example of how all of us should approach severe personal setbacks, it delivers a message to terrorists everywhere - you can’t defeat us, no matter what you do.  Rhode Island is very proud of you, Heather!


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