Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 07-10-2019

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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PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | JULY 10-16, 2019 LETTERS / THE VALLEY 9 Criminal culpability for DCYF deaths Legislators who publicly admin- istered a tongue-lashing against Director Trista Piccola of the DCYF want to punish those criminally cul- pable for the horrifying death of yet another child in state care. Certainly the social workers, lawyers, supervi- sors, and others who showed cal- lous disregard should be fired and referred to the Attorney General for possible prosecution. But can they be? Here is the crux of a much larger systemic problem: despite enormous power to remove children from their homes and even to subject them to adverse conditions, the DCYF has never been accredited. In 2010, years before Dr. Piccola arrived, both chambers unanimously approved bills to get this chroni- cally inept department professionally accredited. This became law (RIGL 42-72-5.3 Accreditation) without the signature of Gov. Carcieri, who had been named a defendant in a lawsuit brought by his own Child Advocate. In that same year, the legislature and governor obligated taxpayers for state loans of $75 million to 38 Studios and $5 million to Capco Steel. Both borrowers soon defaulted while the General Assembly never set aside funds to accredit the DCYF. Rep. Steven Costantino, who chaired House Finance and promot- ed both loans, went on to direct the Department of Health and Human Services with direct oversight for the DCYF and the Training School for youthful offenders. By 2014, when I and others met with him, he showed no interest in accrediting those agen- cies even though RITS had spent 40 years under a federal consent decree, probably the longest in the nation, to address long-standing problems. He touted the decreasing census at RITS without noting how many youth simply disappeared with no attempt to follow them. Some would later be found as victims or perpetra- tors of major crimes. Shelters con- tracted by the DCYF would eventu- ally be closed with staff accused of sexually trafficking youth in state care. Rhode Island has an entrenched culture of helping family members and friends get state jobs whether or not they are qualified. Once hired, those workers are often protected by public service employee unions that hold inordinate power over many elected officials because of the money and votes unions can deliver or withhold. Vitriolic demands for Dr. Piccola's resignation only reinforce this prob- lem. Oversight Committee members insist she must fire workers who are not doing their jobs. But if she upsets the unions, their officers, members, and lobbyists will pressure the legis- lators to harass her and threaten her job, as some legislators did on televi- sion at the recent Oversight hearing. "I think your whole department is a disaster and should be wiped out," one representative exploded. That would only recreate the prob- lem. Dedicated, seasoned workers would lose their jobs. Eventually the General Assembly would establish a new agency to protect at-risk children but without professional standards or an external system of accountability. Legislators would join the rush to get their family members into new state jobs. Public-employee unions would reinvigorate a culture of self-protec- tion at public expense. Rhode Island deserves far better than driving out any DCYF direc- tor who threatens the status quo. We need legislators with courage to establish a strict code of campaign finance reform to end the unions' power over them. We need legisla- tors to set aside funds for accredita- tion of the DCYF and to protect the director when she follows through and requires excellence from their staff. Let's break the cycle of recrimi- nation and undertake this deep cultural change to systematically raise standards for this essential Department to finally win and main- tain professional accreditation. ANNE GRANT Pawtucket Retired pastor, former executive director of the Women's Center of Rhode Island from 1988 to 1996. Thanks to Pawtucket's LaPlume for help with tournament Jimmy Fund Golf extends its sin- cerest thanks to the organizers and sponsors of the New England South Applebee's Golf Tournament held on June 26, at Blissful Meadows Golf Club in Uxbridge, Mass. Special recognition and appreciation goes to Lori Prunier of North Hampton, N.H., and Herve LaPlume of Pawtucket, and the committee who organized the 4th annual event. The New England South Applebee's Golf Tournament is one of more than 160 Jimmy Fund Golf tournaments in 2019 that helped raise critical funds to support the lifesaving mission of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. AMY MCCALLUM Assistant vice president, Jimmy Fund Golf do you know? You're holding 1 newspaper, but we fill 5 every week! They're all at The recipients of Pawtucket Credit Union's INVESTING IN YOUR FUTURE SCHOLARSHIPS are, in front, from left, Samuel Wohlever, Barrington High School; Melissa Munoz, Saint Raphael Academy; Kasmira Galla, Lincoln High School; and Jonathan Montalvan, Saint Raphael Academy. Pictured with the students are, in back, from left, Jason Hernandez, AVP/Community Outreach; George J. Charette, president and CEO; and Tim Jermain, executive vice president and COO. Four scholarships totaling $32,000 were awarded to the high school students pursuing higher education. Recipients will each receive $2,000/year for the next four years. PCU scholarship recipients Lincoln Johnny Lightning Race Club hosts Diecast Jam July 20-21 LINCOLN – The Lincoln Johnny Lightning Racing Club will host its two-day Diecast Jam on Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, at the MacColl YMCA, 32 Breakneck Hill Road. The event will be held in the gym and program rooms in the YMCA, and the hours both days are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Activities will include vendor tables with Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Johnny Lightning and other types of die cast vehicles to buy, sell, and trade. There will be live auctions to raise money for A Wish Come True and Operation Stand Down, raffles, silent auction, downhill rac- ing with Hot Wheels and other die cast brands both days, HO Slot Car Racing on Saturday, Hot Wheels Monster Truck racing to benefit A Wish Come True, food trucks, Car Cruise outside both days, Straw Draw, Wiffle ball game on Saturday, and more. For more information, call 401- 248-1625. Pawtucket Library hosts Teen Graphic Novel Book Club PAWTUCKET – The Pawtucket Public Library, 13 Summer St., will host the July Teen Graphic Novel Book Club program on Saturday, July 20, at 11 a.m. Teenagers 12-18 can sign up at the Reference Desk at the library. The July book club is working with the book entitled "Illegal," by Eoin Colfer. The program will include a discussion on the book. Contact Shannon Bloom, teen librarian, for any questions at 401- 725-3714, ext. 221. Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor are welcome from readers. Please: • Limit to 500 words. Longer letters may appear online only. • Letters on local or state topics and issues will take precedence over those on national issues. • No more than one letter per person every 8 weeks, please. • All letters must be signed and include a hometown. Send by e-mail to:, or mail to The Valley Breeze, 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite 204, Lincoln, RI 02865. 1968 Mineral Spring Avenue, North Providence Hours: M-F 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Lowest Prices Guaranteed On Name Brand Tires North Providence Tire & Auto Complete Auto Repair Foreign & Domestic 231-6868 Family Owned & Operated for 36 Years! $ 40 - $ 200 REBATE on 4 Select Goodyear Tires TIRE SALE

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