Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 12-06-2018

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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14 OPINION DECEMBER 6-12, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION Sometimes I think that too many folks have lost their moral compass. It is particularly disturbing when the people involved are supposed to be role models for children. When those very children are the "alibi" for the distorted actions by the adults then their behavior becomes even more egregious. Right now in South Kingstown, where the National Education Association (teachers union, or NEA) represents 95 percent of the teachers and school personnel, one of its top union organizers got elected to the School Committee. Her running for office smacks of self- dealing for the retention of her union position and union colleagues. Here's why: • Background: South Kingstown has lost more than 1,200 students – from 4,200 to about 3,000. The then-leaders in 2017 stud- ied and decided to close Wakefield Elementary School because of this attri- tion. Enter Sarah Markey, the union honcho, who actively spearheaded the opposition to the closing. In fact, she tried to get herself appointed to fill a vacancy on the school board so she could further the union agenda of pre- serving the NEA jobs in the school. She solicited the assistance of fellow Democrat, Bryant Da Cruz, who refused the endorse- ment because he saw the apparent conflict of inter- est. He noted that there would be a direct correla- tion to keeping the school open and Markey's job as the union organizer to do so and her potential role on the School Committee to rule on such matters. Undeterred, Markey ran for the School Committee and was elected last month. She is now its vice-chair. She is obviously myopic as to her conflicts since she brags, instead, of her expertise on school matters as a result of her NEA position, which fetches her $166,000 per year. As of this writing she has refused to seek an advisory opinion as to her ethical responsibilities since she claims she knows it all. Her union colleagues have rub- ber-stamped her running for this position. In fact, over the years, the NEA has had a stealth campaign of supporting candidates for school committees around the state who belong to the union precisely to increase their bargaining power. After all, it makes it quite easy to negotiate contracts when you are on both sides of the table. All Rhode Island communities should beware! • The current situ- ation: Ms. Markey has received not one but two legal opinions from School Committee lawyers to seek an advisory opinion from the Ethics Commission as to what she can or cannot vote on. Instead, it would appear that she is threat- ening the present lawyer, Sarah Rapport, by raising the issue of the appoint- ment of counsel by the new School Committee. In any event, as bad as the failure to seek any guidance, the reality is that she should not have run for office in the first place. Even were it legal it is immoral to game the system as she and the NEA have done. She will sit in on the School Committee contract negotiations with teachers. She has espoused the view that she can at least com- ment on school closings, the budget, personnel etc. She probably feels that the voters have spoken so she is entitled to be in that position. I would counter that not everything legal is necessarily moral. As some- body in her field of educa- tion she and her union are deficient. It's a shame. Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. Obvious conflicts seem unclear in R.I. After a rough and rainy Victory Day weekend in August, the leaders of the CumberlandFest festival had some soul-searching to do. Sports organizations which had benefited mightily from the event over its 28-year run were no longer coming for- ward with the needed volun- teers. The weekend washout nearly sealed its fate. And so, a last-ditch meeting was held Nov. 26, and I'm glad to see there may be new blood coming forward with new ideas. It is "kick in the pants" time; a reset is a must. But let's not kid ourselves. Much more help is needed. It was a bit disappointing to see only one elected official at the meeting – Councilor-elect Mike Kinch – for this, the town's largest annual event. I'm heartened to see, how- ever, that going forward there may be new beneficiaries in the arts, and not just sports groups, assuming the arts groups provide volunteers. After all, more than $30,000 is raised in an average year. CumberlandFest is worth sav- ing! Special thanks to all – Joe and Carol Vela, Jerry Schimmel, Rebekah Puloe, Ernie Labbe, and others – who have worked through the years to keep Cumberlandfest humming. It's a tall order, and the real planning will begin after the holidays. Call anyone named here or town Recreation Director Michael Crawley to learn how you might help. It's Electric! Last week's win by Mayor Joe Polisena in Johnston could push part of the streetlight electric bill off to the state in all of Rhode Island's cities and towns. Polisena won an eight- year battle with National Grid. Now, the state – and not cities and towns – may have to pay for electric lighting on "state roads." Many cities and towns have state roads, and residents can most easily tell which they are by watching snowplows in a storm. If a state D.O.T. truck is plowing the road, it's a state road. Now, Rhode Island might get the electric bill, too. Of course, before we all get too excited, it's just an exercise of which pocket we're all pay- ing the bill from. Both state and local taxes come from us, so.... Still, for cities with greater fiscal challenges, this may help. Baby They're Cold It seems the 1944 holiday duet "Baby It's Cold Outside" is no longer appropriate in the Me Too era. You know, the song has predatory sug- gestions and the guy's just a rapist. Actually, I had never heard this song until about a decade ago, so it must have spent about 40 years in the deep freeze, where it's going back, thanks to political cor- rectness. Hillary, Just Stop! It's coming from The New York Times, so perhaps we can finally stick a fork in Hillary Clinton. Last week, colum- nist Maureen Dowd went to Toronto for the Clintons' (both of them) appearance in a huge arena. Few showed up. (Honestly, is anybody surprised?) Dowd made fun of their money-grubbing years and this final attempt at rel- evance. Of course, this is the Clintons she's insulting, and that's no small sin on the left. So Dowd added, "After los- ing to an orange puffer clown fish who will go down as one of the most destructive forces in American history." Ah, way to go, Maureen! After all, it's cocktail party season in Manhattan. You wouldn't want to miss out chortling with the swells! Bush v. Trump The passing of President George H.W. Bush, one of the classiest and most dignified men to ever hold the office, puts into sharp relief how far we've been polarized and sep- arated as a society in just 30 years. Eventually, there will be a post-Trump president who will behave more diplomati- cally. Still, social media dema- gogues on both the right and left will keep driving wedges between us. I fear what hap- pens next, when free speech is declared the enemy, as it has been already on many of our nation's campuses. Finally, thanks to all of you who reached out with your condolences regarding the passing last week of my broth- er, Kevin. He was a kind and sensitive brother who grew to become a devoted husband and gentle friend. He will be missed. Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze newspapers An electrifying win for towns 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 Volume XX, Number 15 December 6, 2018 valleybreeze.com @ Breeze THE VALLEY

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