Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 01-09-2020

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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12 OPINION JANUARY 9-15, 2020 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION It seems a bit xenophobic to focus on the future of America since, after all, we are part of a global envi- ronment. Yet, many politi- cal events are shaped and influenced by American values or the lack thereof so it's probably worth it to see where this country has been and where it appears headed. The United States can pivot toward its better nature, or the worst is yet to come. This column is about American values. Economically, the country and those around the world are mostly doing better fol- lowing the malaise of the last decade. Health care has improved throughout the world. Yet, there is a sick- ness behind the headlines which bodes for a woeful outlook. Democracy is endangered. In this country partisan- ship has blinded Americans to the good arguments of those who don't share the same political party moni- ker. Folks cannot talk to each other without rage. Congress is stalled because of allegiance to party as opposed to what is right. The president spews hate- ful rhetoric on a daily basis and his supporters cheer. Totalitarianism is emerging without any resistance. Even hallowed institutions like the FBI have become cra- ven. The chilling 434-page report by the U.S. Inspector General showed gross abus- es by some agents investi- gating the Trump campaign in 2016. Yet, some members of that campaign also acted cravenly as evidenced by the Mueller convictions. There seemed to be no ethi- cal line in the sand not to cross. FBI officials should similarly be prosecuted for violations of civil rights. The public should not be exculpating violators of law just because they are attuned to their political likes. Coupled with overbroad surveillance by the govern- ment is the despicable trend of technology companies, in effect, spying on the public. Nothing much has happened to curb these companies' intrusions into the life of folks by the sale of information gathered through the internet or "spying Alexa's." The public has become anesthetized to the potential harm of an all-knowing government or Google. The First Amendment has been attacked by the casual acceptance of censorship. While it is partially true that some so-called journal- ists have frittered away the tradition of objective report- ing, nonetheless the sense- less chant of "fake news" is so overused that its very cacophony threatens objec- tive reporting of facts. The public has become naïve by dissing reports that run counter to their predilec- tions. The continued separation of children from immi- grants seeking refuge from brutish regimes in Central America and the failure to resolve the immigration crisis undermines the very heart and soul of this coun- try. Building walls doesn't address the horrific violence visited upon families who seek only a better life for their children. Not any one of us would lie down on the job of fleeing with our loved ones who are endangered. Yet, Congress plays off each other and has failed to make reform since the days of President Ronald Reagan. Yes, this country has too few judges to process asylum applications and adequate holding facilities, but the real culprit is the propping up of despots by federal policies that ignore their wrongdoing. In a future column, the woeful state of civic edu- cation will be addressed. Coupled with the factors above, 2020 may begin the decade of erosion of what makes us Americans. Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. Can American values be restored? It's hard to imagine what Pawtucket City Councilor Mark Wildenhain was thinking when he made his "breathtakingly disrespectful and reprehensible" comment to Councilor Elena Vasquez (her quote) at a Dec. 16 Christmas party. She's right. He did. Since then, he has apologized repeatedly, but Vasquez has not accepted the apology, asking instead to bring it all up at a public council meeting. Other coun- cilors are balking at that. I would suggest Wildenhain apologize to Vasquez in pub- lic session, and end it. She deserves that. What happens after that, however, should be up to voters. Enough. Good wishes Best wishes to new North Providence Police Chief Arthur Martins, who officially replaced Col. David Tikoian Tuesday night. Nearby North Smithfield is still looking for a new chief to replace retiring Steven Reynolds. Short of cash? The town of Lincoln may have to pare back its wish list as Twin River Casino is finding it difficult to snap back from financial losses suffered at the hands of the new Encore Casino in Boston. Everyone knew and expected gamblers would head to Boston to try out the new, full- blown Las Vegas-style casino. For years, Twin River has done a great job creating rela- tionships with Massachusetts gamers, and hoped that many would return after a few spins of the Encore wheel. So far, though, it's not happening nearly enough. Lincoln may be down a million dollars in table game and slot losses by fiscal year-end, according to my brother, Finance Director John Ward. Further, sports gambling isn't catching on in Rhode Island as hoped. What does this mean? Less money for Rhode Island – and the town of Lincoln. The good news? For years, Lincoln kept those funds "off budget" and paid cash for things like the town's Senior Center, expanded police station, and many improved town streets. With reduced cash from Twin River, no cuts are needed. It just might take a bit longer to get some things done around town. Still, here's hoping the Bay Staters come back! Check 'em out There are a couple of new things for residents of Smithfield and North Smithfield to check out in the days ahead. And why not? It's winter! In Smithfield, the YMCA, 15 Deerfield Drive, will open its doors to the com- munity to show off its recent renovations. It takes place on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon. Besides some general brightening, a new fitness center is open after a recent auto accident damaged the facility. New CEO Shauna Lewis promises much more – including pool work – in the months ahead. See for yourself! • In North Smithfield, resi- dents will be invited to inspect the new science labs at the town's high school. The open house will be on Monday, Feb. 3. at 5:30 p.m. prior to the Town Council meeting. The $2.3 million project includes a complete overhaul of three old labs, and the addi- tion of two more new class- rooms for science. Parks and Rec Finally, in Cumberland, Mayor Jeff Mutter and town officials plan an open meet- ing soon to tell the public more about the plans for Diamond Hill Park. Some of the discussion will center on the much-unloved (to put it mildly) pond in front of the bandstand, a pond that keeps musicians away from their audience, and vice versa. Add to that the bureaucracy of the state's Department of Environmental Management, and significant change there is difficult to design. Still, I'm interested to hear what the plans are for park improve- ments. No meeting date has been set yet, but the mayor expects it will be soon. Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze newspapers. Apologize in public, and be done with it From the Publisher TOM WARD Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET Volume XXIV, Number 42 January 9, 2020 valleybreeze.com @ Breeze THE VALLEY ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally operated group of free weekly newspapers 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 Jack Birolini, Director of Sales jack@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com

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