Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 09-12-2018

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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Page 17 of 51

18 OPINION SEPTEMBER 12-18, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION By the time you read this, you will probably know who made it through their respective primary challenge. Chances are strong that the leading can- didates for governor, i.e. Democratic incumbent Gina Raimondo and Republican Alan Fung, will emerge as the winners of their respec- tive races. If so, the voters will be the losers, because you have rewarded cash- book campaigning since these better known and funded contenders refused to participate in meaningful debates. Some commentators have suggested that participating in debates is no big deal. They are wrong. Democracy cannot survive unless lesser known challengers get the forums available to chal- lenge the well-funded candi- date and to put forth their own ideas. Nobody would ever run if there were no avenues available to articu- late a different point of view in a forum where you don't have to pay to be heard. Shouldn't there be at least an opportunity to vet ideas and challenge the record of an incumbent face to face without having to pay for it? If the suggestion is that there shouldn't be a debate forum, then you have just surrendered elections to only rich people to run. You also are missing out on potentially creative ideas for governance by ordinary folks who pay the bills in the state. Furthermore, it is the height of naiveté to sug- gest that everybody knows where the well-heeled candi- date stands on issues. Even a cursory review of their campaign literature and media ads show carefully crafted nuances of posi- tions to polish off the rough edges originally espoused by the candidate. Many times the "data" supporting how "wonderful" the candidate is was actually selected to the exclusion of other informa- tion that doesn't paint such a rosy picture. In this particular elec- tion, gubernatorial candi- date Fung has very rarely expressed any stances while Gov. Raimondo has revised some of her positions through her ads. Therefore, to say that the voter "knows" where a candidate truly stands is ludicrous and untested without the burnishing of ideas through debate. Further, as political cam- paigns progress, unexpected events can occur that may not be favorable to a candi- date. A well-financed candi- date can bomb the airwaves with "explanations" of "what happened" as a "spin" without having to face the underfunded opponent who can challenge the explana- tion. The public should think twice about surrendering to the media mashers who try to bring about a "Pavlovian response" to the "virtue" of their meal ticket. Further, the debate nay-sayers fail to understand the importance of body language and the voters' need to assess the candidate in a real setting as opposed to the concocted advertising. So, Rhode Island voters are on the cusp of elect- ing folks to lead the state into the future. Do you really want to delegate your responsibility to vote for the best leader by being spoon- fed with political pablum via media? If somebody wants to be your next governor, you ought to have "face time" with them. If they cannot rebut their oppo- nents, particularly when they are attacked, how will they convince legislators to go along with their priori- ties? Before the November elections, insist on multiple debates. It's a citizen's duty to do so for the evaluation of the true person running vs. the media-created myth. Otherwise, you've settled for celluloid candidates. Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. Stealth campaigns define candidates May I offer a word of caution to the Woonsocket Teachers Guild in their "work to rule" return to work last week? Be careful. Many years ago, when this was a new paper, the Cumberland teach- ers did the same, and parent support for teachers turned to fury against them on just one little "exception." But first, the facts. Woonsocket's teachers are the lowest paid in the state, by far. Top-step teachers earn about $71,000 annually, on average between $5,000 and $10,000 per year less than colleagues doing the same work across the state. (North Smithfield – right next door – just OK'd a contract paying top-step teach- ers about $80,000 annually.) Woonsocket teachers also have some of the largest average class sizes. What irritates the teachers union is that educators there made sacrifices during the recession, going years in some cases without raises. Now that the economy is humming, they expect to get raises that might help them catch up a bit. It's not an unreasonable request. But then there's the ques- tion few ask: Can taxpayers in Woonsocket afford more? Sadly, city residents don't have growing incomes, on aver- age. In a chart prepared by my brother, Lincoln Finance Director John Ward, he shows that median household income has grown only 43 percent in the city since 1990, while in other towns average income growth has been nearer to 70 to 100 percent. He believes the state funding formula is flawed, cheats Woonsocket (where he served on the City Council), and has plenty of evidence to back his assertion. None of this makes things easier for deserving teachers. But back to my original point: Teachers are right- fully feeling left out, but they should be careful in their use of "work to rule." Many years ago, Cumberland teach- ers tried the same, and were generally successful – for awhile. But then it came time for teachers to write letters of recommendation to help their best students get into colleges, a task generally done in the fall. Work to rule teachers wouldn't help their best and brightest college-bound kids, and parents became anxious. Then, it happened: Teachers were found to be writing let- ters of recommendation secret- ly for the children of other teachers, and the lid blew off! Parents of college-bound students were apoplectic, and work to rule – and the parent support it had – came crashing down. I didn't have to give this history class, but I chose to anyway. Learn from it, teach- ers. And good luck in your negotiations. First Test Check the election results in Burrillville when you get up Thursday morning and see how Gov. Gina Raimondo did there. That should give you some idea of how Republican U.S. Senate candidate Judge Robert Flanders will do with his anti-power plant position, announced last week. As everyone knows, the company Invenergy wants to build a near-1,000 megawatt electric power plant fueled by natural gas in the woods of Burrillville. Despite its promise of clean, predictable power and tax revenue, residents in town have expressed vehe- ment opposition to it. Those who originally were in favor were long ago bullied into sub- mission on social media. Raimondo came out in favor of the plant years ago, but its movement forward has languished over questions regarding water – and more. I expect she'll be savaged in Wednesday's Democratic pri- mary there, but we'll see. Judge Flanders is running against Climate Change Warrior Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who (it appears) avoids talking about the "fracked gas plant" (as oppo- nents call it) as much as pos- sible. That said, he has called for "sustainable balance" in energy delivery. With last week's announce- ment, Flanders claims Whitehouse is a hypocrite, and pokes fun at him and his Johnny one-note climate change mantra. Will it help Flanders gain traction in north- west Rhode Island as he gears up for November? Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze Tread carefully, teachers, with your 'work to rule' 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 James Quinn, Deputy Publisher Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor Doug Fabian, General Sales Manager Barbara Phinney, Controller Volume X, Number 4 September 12, 2018 @ Breeze THE VALLEY

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