Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 04-24-2019

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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8 OPINION APRIL 24-30, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION Some 150-plus years after the ratification of the 13th Amendment, which abol- ished slavery in this coun- try, the issue of reparations to African Americans has dominated not only some collegiate campuses, but also the debate among several Democratic presidential can- didates. At least three steps are necessary to evaluate the issue of reparations. The first step is to understand the hor- ror of slavery and the effects of generations of discrimina- tion and institutional racism. The second is to examine what, if any, counterbal- ance the abolitionists' efforts should weigh in on the ques- tion. The third question is to parse just what solution(s) address the issue. The horrors of slavery should never be forgotten any more than the Holocaust against Jews. Slaves were warehoused into ships, forced to endure the filth of living in their own excre- ment amid dead bodies of felled slaves in stifling heat, while sleeping one upon the other in stacks of human bodies. To stifle hunger they were given sticks to gnaw on. If they made it to America after smallpox, dysentery and dehydration, their lives were wretched. Slavery has pockmarked the face of America. There is a case for reparations. The second question, however, is to answer what counterbalance there should be to the persis- tent efforts like those of the Quakers or states like Massachusetts whose high- est court abolished slavery (1783), and Pennsylvania (1780), Vermont, and New Hampshire that took action to end the practice? Some historians hold the opinion that the issue of slavery was finally settled by the Civil War at the cost of 600,000 lives. It is a mistake, they argue, to punish collectively all Americans based on race. Yet, these historians are less clear about exactly what "exemption" they seek. Should, for example, the descendants of the Quakers not have to deal with repara- tions or the descendants of James Madison who wrote, "Slavery is a barbarism of modern policy"? The aboli- tionist cause became national and international in scope so nothing further needs to be done. Still, the record is clear that institutionalized racism has perdured even to this day, notwithstanding the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sen. Kamala Harris has argued for the study of the effects of generations of discrimination and institutional racism in order to gauge an appropri- ate remedy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren advocates a national full-blown discussion about reparations. Such a conver- sation is long overdue, but it is too bad that the issue has arisen amidst a political campaign since it negates the seriousness of thought that needs to go into this matter. Far too often folks respond to columns like this with what their opinions already are as opposed to trying to see the issue from the coun- terpoint to their view. That is why nothing ever moves forward, so intent are folks in confirming their own "rectitude." Does throwing money as opposed to target- ing reform help anybody? One has to look at what misdirected funds have not done for Rhode Island's edu- cational system. Hopefully with the focus on this issue the United States can rationally propose real reform and not knee- jerk reactions that look good on "paper" but have little efficacy. A really serious reflection where everything is on the table and vetted would be welcome as to what helps, not hinders, progress on this serious question. Let the discussion begin! Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. Can reparations be fairly discussed? "On time and under budget." That's always music to the ears of taxpayers, and it should be. On Saturday morning at 11, the Cumberland Police Department and EMS, along with town officials, will cut the ribbon on the beautiful new John J. Partington Public Safety Complex on Diamond Hill Road, across from the exist - ing police station. Following the ribbon cutting, there will be tours of the modern new facility, and free refreshments, courtesy of this newspaper and our advertisers, who brought last week's special section to Cumberland readers. I had a chance to look the building over with Chiefs John Desmarais (police) and John Pliakas (EMS), and it's a beauty. I learned a lot about the challenging work done by modern first responders, and you will, too. Please join town officials and police and EMS families as they celebrate the open - ing of this new building. Oh, and the cost? It came in about $500,000 under budget. Learn the lesson In North Smithfield, Tony Guertin, a member of the "Veterans Memorial Stadium" subcommittee appointed by the School Committee last fall, returned April 9 for an update. His charge, in part, was to honor NSHS graduate Spc. Matthew Turcotte, killed in a 2017 Army training accident. It seems the group's work has ballooned, however, into asking for new facilities – a bathroom and concession stand – popular with residents. That's understandable. School Committee members were reminded, however, that the turf field – the first in northern Rhode Island when built, is now 10 years old, and that means its surface will need replacement soon. Approximate cost: $500,000. One commenter wrote at the end of our story: "When I was on the School Committee, we had an expert in to discuss the turf field and track. His recommendation was that we should have been putting aside $50,000 annually from day one. Replacement cost every 10 years is estimated at $500,000. We have not addressed that at all." Sadly, that's always the prob - lem with government, it seems. Obviously, the town should have put aside the money for the "rainy day" when the field surface would need replacing, but they haven't. What is so difficult about government that set-aside, restricted savings accounts like this can't be created for needs that towns know will come? And so this is a word to the wise, in Cumberland, Lincoln, and other towns with aging turf fields: Set aside some money, please! The day is coming, like sunrise after night, when the field surface will need replac - ing. Why wait for the emer- gency? Poor timing With the advent of sports betting at Lincoln's Twin River Casino, the General Assembly granted a flat $100,000 annual payment to the town. Now the town is hoping to double that grant to $200,000 annually. There's only one problem. Twin River isn't making any money with sports betting. Well ... not much, anyway. As we reported last week, "The state lost nearly $900,000 on sports betting in February (Damn you, Tom Brady!). It has earned roughly $150,000 in revenue from sports wagering since last November, a far cry from the previously projected $11.5 million officials expected to earn by July." The added $100,000 for Lincoln has long been cham - pioned by Councilor John Picozzi, and political officials have every right to ask for more. But if timing is every- thing, it's hard to imagine this will gain any traction. I expect Twin River leaders – you know, the people who had to build the facility – are asking, "Do you folks mind if we make a little money, too?" Hold your breath! Finally, the state's Revenue Estimating Conference is meet- ing now to work out for state legislators the final numbers on how much government has to spend, based on up-to-the- minute tax receipts. According to every estimate, revenue is coming in a bit lower than anticipated. The days ahead may include the conversations where expensive new ideas by politicians go to die. Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze. Challenging fiscal times require thoughtful plans 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, 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 James Quinn, Deputy Publisher Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor Barbara Phinney, Controller Volume X, Number 36 April 24, 2019 @ Breeze THE VALLEY

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