Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 07-11-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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10 OPINION JULY 11-17, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION The Catholic Church needs a campaign fast and it's not the $50 million drive it is undertaking at this moment to raise funds, inter alia, for repairs to the Cathedral and to burnish the pensions of its priests. It needs to show the Catholic community and the Church employees that they have a recognition of its responsibility for justice and mercy. Certainly, the hierarchical cover-ups of priests' activities in the abuse of children which pockmarked the reputation of the Church was a near fatal blow to its credibility. Yet, here are some other activities which add to the perception that the humans administering the church policies are not only out of touch but also causing a scandal and nurturing distrust. • The St. Joseph Pension – Some 2,700+ pensioners are threatened with at least a 40 percent reduction of their paltry pensions (the average is $750 with no cost-of-living- adjustment) because for the last decade the Church ignored the actuaries who were telling Bishop Thomas Tobin what he needed to put into the coffers to main- tain it. I should disclose that I and my colleague, Robert Senville, Esq. are free volunteer lawyers rep- resenting over 250 elderly nurses, orderlies, bakers, lab techs etc. Nary a day goes by that I do not have an elderly retiree speaking with me about her (it's usu- ally women who worked these jobs for lower pay that their colleagues in the private sector) anxiety and stress as to her future. Their Social Security checks are smaller since their salary was lowballed. • Pensions for Catholic school teach- ers and lay workers – After being "outed" by a memo sent to mem- bers of the Diocesan Lay Employees Retirement Fund, the diocese acknowl- edged those vested employees stand to lose a chunk of their pensions. Other lay folk, all of whom work at reduced rates as professionals, who are not vested will lose 100 percent of their promised retire- ment benefit, according to that memo. The bishop's response wasn't to apolo- gize profusely after telling the lay employees months ago that everything was copacetic, but rather chas- tised whomever leaked the memo. • Funeral Masses – A client contacted me in extreme distress following the funeral of her beloved mother. She spoke with the new pastor of the church where her father had been a low-paid sexton for 60 years, and her mother a volunteer who ironed the altar linens and arranged the flowers for the church Holy Days. She asked if a family member could do the eulogy at the end of the Mass, handing the priest the actual speech. He responded, "I don't allow that." She then asked him if he would offer the remarks and he declined. The funer- al Mass was devoid of any personal commentary and barely audible in the cav- ernous church. She asked Bishop Tobin about the policy and he defended the priest. She paid $450 for the service. • Memorial Garden – On a good note, a pastor in Pawtucket did the right thing by an 81-year-old widow whose husband's memorial was being altered. While the parish did have a legal right to modify it since the hus- band's memorial was on church property as agreed to by a prior pastor, the new pastor, nonetheless, decided to honor the origi- nal intention. Now, that's the kind of mercy that needs to pervade the dio- cese. Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. Church continues its mis-steps The work began just a few weeks ago in my neighbor- hood. Toll gantries, part of Gov. Gina Raimondo's RhodeWorks program for toll- ing trucks to pay for repairs to roads and bridges, are coming to the area near quiet Scott Road and Ashton Elementary School. The road above is the entrance to Rhode Island from Massachusetts for those taking I-295. It's also the busiest short-cut in town. If they ever do decide to toll cars, there will be hell to pay. My wider thought is this, though. All of these gantries, all of this infrastructure, and even all of the collections of a gas tax – all of it is obsolete. About that shortcut. Cumberland is a bit odd. Wide at the north, narrow to the south. And two basi- cally parallel north-south roads – Diamond Hill Road (Route 114) and Mendon Road (Route 122) are the town's arteries. Connecting them are main thoroughfares like Nate Whipple Highway, Angell Road, and Marshall Avenue. Finally, there is another: I-295. Thousands of residents daily take the interstate as a short- cut to Dave's Marketplace or Depault Hardware or Planet Fitness or other local business- es. And the new toll gantry will be right here, between exits 20 and 22, chipping away at the wallets of trucking companies in the next year or so. Raimondo has made it clear: Tolling will never be applied to cars. Many, many Rhode Islanders don't believe her. I happen to believe her today, but as we all know, things change. Our state's thirst for money is unquenchable. Suddenly, we'll have a reces- sion and toll gantries in place, ready to confiscate your fam- ily's money with the flip of a switch. None of it needs to be this way. Suppose we had a system of satellites in the sky (like those which now provide driving directions to us through GPS) that "pinged" every single car and truck in the United States and counted miles traveled, then debited our checking account, in much the same way toll transponder companies do now? How might it work? You'd pay "per mile" for driving. What would the trade-off be? You would no longer pay any gas tax, and there would be no tolls. There would be no reason at all for Rhode Island to waste millions of dollars on gantries, and no reason to share toll revenue with the collecting companies. How is this more fair, more "just"? Consider this: If you've got a 15-gallon gas tank, you pay the federal government $2.76 in gas tax per fill-up. You'll pay Rhode Island anoth- er $5.10. That's $7.86 in gas taxes every time you fill your tank. And the guy driving that gorgeous red Model S Tesla? The guy who could cough up $85,000 for the car (and anoth- er $6,000 in sales tax)? That guy? His car is electric, so he pays no tax to use the road. Obviously, I'm not anti-elec- tric car. The use of them will grow dramatically in the future, which is all the more reason to figure out today how to more fairly charge a fair rate to every single vehicle which uses the road. It seems every time this comes up, the privacy warriors act up. "We don't want the gov- ernment tracking us ... knowing where we're going and how many miles we've gone." But do drivers need to be tracked? I think not. We need only elec- tronically ping a car monthly to find out how many miles the car – or big rig, or RV, or UPS truck – went and charge them a per-mile rate, with higher rates for large vehicles. What we are trying to accomplish with costly gantries – the tolling of trucks only – doesn't need any of this infrastructure. We're wasting millions! Mind you, this cannot be done by Rhode Island alone. It will take a national effort to transition to a new system. But it will come, as more and more electric vehicles hit the road and more and more those with gas engines figure out they're getting cheated. In the near future, gas taxes may be forced up to make up for the shortfall in revenue caused by a greater percentage of electric cars. This is fair? The collection of gas taxes and tolling is already obsolete, and we can do better. It's just too bad it will take years – even decades – to transition to a future that is technologically possible now, and so obvious to see. Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze Toll gantries obsolete even before they're built From the Publisher TOM WARD Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally owned and operated group of free weekly newspa- pers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 60,000+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher tward@valleybreeze.com James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Doug Fabian, General Sales Manager doug@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume XX, Number 50 July 11, 2018 valleybreeze.com @ Breeze THE NORTH PROVIDENCE

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