Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 04-18-2019

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 APRIL 18-24, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION Politics in Rhode Island can be a breathtaking ride. Recent actions taken by pol- iticians show the high and lows of the players in power. For examples: The good Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Attorney General Peter Neronha are supporting a bill sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Jamestown) and Rep. Joseph McNamara (D-Warwick) that would pro- tect Rhode Island borrow- ers from predatory student loan practices. Regrettably, far too many entities in the student loan business do not provide accurate informa- tion about the loan, often resulting in higher interest and longer debt, making it more likely the student will default. Neronha's office will investigate and enforce vio- lations of the student loan standards contained in the legislation. Kudos to all! • Magaziner gets another bow for initiating and sup- porting legislation that requires non-ERISA pen- sion programs to report annually to its members the pension's actual financial condition. Were this leg- islation in place the fiasco caused by the Diocese of Providence (among other entities) "short-sheeting" nurses, custodians, cooks, technicians etc. at its Catholic hospitals would probably have been averted. The bad The R.I. House approved overtime after 42 hours, well below the 53-hour- per-week federal overtime standard for firefighters. It's another money grab. According to RIPEC and its latest report (FY 2016) our state pays the highest cost in the nation already for fire protection. In terms of personal income, the cost to R.I taxpayers for fire service is $6.08 per $1,000. States like Texas weigh in at $2.48 per $1,000 and $3.15 in New York, both states that have a density of skyscrapers and security issues. Add in the practice like that in Johnston where firefighters scoop up overtime in their last three years to bulk up their pen- sions (the pension is based on the last three years of work) and you have a fiscal train wreck caused by those legislators who suck up to unions. • The House seems intent on passing legislation that would replace mandatory physician supervision of physician assistants (PA) because House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello's son, who is matriculating to become a physician assis- tant, says so. The Providence Journal pointed out that MD dermatologists spend at least eight years in training (four in medical school plus internship and three years of residency) while PAs spend two years in school with 2,000 hours of clinical training. The bill introduced by Rep. David Bennett, a registered nurse, eliminates physician legal liability for the work done by their physician assistants. That's hardly a vote of confidence for PAs by MDs who are trying to escape responsibil- ity for malpractice. • The state is chasing $60 million apparently over- paid to nursing homes for Medicaid payments because of UHIP hiccups. • After swallowing the sole source gambling industry numbers of $23.5 million per annum for state coffers from sports betting, the gov- ernor and legislators now see that the $13.6 million that the state "should have gotten" by now is barely over $300,000, according to state figures. Patsies! To end on a positive note: • Police Chief David Tikoian of North Providence investigated the taxpayer-funded credit card charges made by the town's former school superinten- dent which led to her being charged with embezzle- ment. I never should have forgotten the tenacity of this former state trooper. Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. Good news, but mis-steps continue North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi was pleased recently that the city of Providence was not going to be selling its water supply to private interests to bail out its pension fund. "Someone's going to pay," said Lombardi about the plan, and that somebody was going to be ratepayers, he expected. Still, "someone's going to pay" some day to bail out the mismanaged Providence pen- sion fund, now $1 billion in debt. Legislative jackals will be circling the Statehouse for a bailout. Personally, I'm for bankruptcy and renegotiation. The party's ending, and sober taxpayers don't need sloppy-drunk pols emptying their pockets. Who can say no? Come one, come all! I admit I was surprised – happily – with last week's story that the town of Cumberland was in an agreement with a company called Southern Sky for a "net metering contract." Here's the thing: Cumberland gets $11 million in "free" electric- ity over 25 years for its town and school buildings, and there are no solar panels in town. This deal began under former Mayor Bill Murray, and was improved and completed by Mayor Jeff Mutter, who asked for $500,000 up front – and got it! Hey, I don't under- stand this either, but well done to the mayors and Town Council. Green energy; green in our pock- ets. Count me in! No shame There is no shame from either legislators or Gov. Gina Raimondo following Sunday's Hummel Report in The Providence Journal which notes that last year's uproar over diverted 911 emer- gency phone service funds meant nothing. And kudos to North Providence's Robin Giacomini, a woman in health care who thinks that – egad! – money collected for top-notch 911 service should go to 911, and not the state's fiscal black hole. In short, we pay – in surcharges on our phone bills – $17 million to support 911. It will only cost $6.9 million. Our charges should be lowered. That's what honor- able people would do. But not here. Not our legislature. Gov. Raimondo claims it's the General Assembly's fault. They should just change the law. "I would sign it," she told Hummel. But she eventually got around to the truth. When Hummel asked if the state was "addicted" to the revenue, she said, "You would say addicted. I would say it's invested in public safety." In other words, when it comes to your money, she's first in line with any bright idea that pops up. You get the leftovers. And if your phone bill is a lie, so be it. She's kidding, right? Honestly, what's with Rep. Maxine Waters, the new chair- woman of the House Committee on Financial Services? I was stunned last week as I listened, on radio, to her questioning of big- bank CEOs. It seems she had the student loan crisis on her mind, and it went exactly like this: "What are you guys doing to help us with the student loan debt? Who would like to answer first? Mr. (Brian) Monahan, big bank?" Waters asked. Monahan, the CEO of Bank of America, answered, "We stopped making student loans in 2007 or so." Waters then moved to Michael Corbat, Citigroup CEO, who told her, "We exited student lending in 2009." Not yet up to speed with mat- ters of a decade ago, Waters kept pressing, asking JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon the same question. "When the government took over student lending in 2010 or so, we stopped doing all student lend- ing," Dimon explained. Thirty-seven years in Congress, and Waters did not know that President Obama pretty much took student lending out of the hands of "big bankers" and moved it to the government. Since then, student debt has sky- rocketed. Why? Because there are no limits to what government will give kids, financing even the most useless college degrees. "What are you guys doing to help us with the student loan debt?" The unvarnished answer would have been, "You made the mess, Rep. Waters. You cheered for the guy who took away our business. So clean up the mess yourself!" Greatest? Was Tigers Woods' win of the Masters Sunday the "greatest comeback" ever? Well ... not bad, but I'll take the Patriots Super Bowl comeback over Atlanta any day as #1. Second best? The Red Sox win after being down 3-0 to the Yankees in the ALCS in 2004. That was pure magic! Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze 'Someone's going to pay' anyway for Prov. mess From the Publisher TOM WARD Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET Volume XX, Number 34 April 18, 2019 valleybreeze.com @ Breeze THE VALLEY 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, 58,500+ 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 Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com

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