Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 06-04-2020

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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Page 22 of 39

NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET | VALLEY BREEZE | JUNE 4-10, 2020 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 23 Brien: Mayor's press release shows lack of leadership On Saturday afternoon, May 23, on what otherwise should have been a pleasant Memorial Day weekend, the mayor of the city of Woonsocket issued a press release wherein she "called for the chair of the School Committee, Paul Bourget, and the Woonsocket School Department to double down on efforts to provide a meaningful graduation to the Woonsocket High School Class of 2020." The email in which she delivered her seemingly unhinged press release had a subject line that read: "Chairman of WSC Needs to Step Up Ceremony for 2020 WHS Graduating Seniors." This insensitive action by the city's cur- rent mayor demonstrates the need for a change on the fourth floor of City Hall. Effective leadership is being able to work collaboratively and constructively with the other elected officials in the commu- nity. This press release demonstrated a lack of leadership. Unfortunately, the press release was issued without first having any discus- sion or communication with the School Committee Chairman who was conde- scendingly called on to "step up." This latest lack of leadership by the current mayor should cause the community to ask some of the following basic ques- tions: • If the current mayor had concerns or questions regarding the Woonsocket Education Department's plans around graduation, why didn't she, prior to issu- ing such a divisive press release, contact the Chairman of the School Committee to express her concerns? Why not dis- cuss and understand what was driving the WED's actions and share what alter- native ideas she may have had for their consideration? • My City Council colleagues and I are frequently accused of "grandstanding" if we ask questions at public meetings. These questions are usually met with the response of "if you have any questions, just call my office." With that in mind, is there a reason why the current mayor does not practice what she preaches? • Politics has been described as the art of compromise. Does the issuance of an irresponsible press release without hav- ing first reached out to the interested parties foster collaboration, consensus and compromise? • Was there ever a contemplation that the issuance of this press release would only serve to sew confusion and divisive- ness in a community whose students and parents have already endured enough trauma and stress? Lastly, I would note that the Rhode Island Department of Education as recently as May 8, issued the follow- ing graduation guidelines that explicitly stated: "the Governor announced that social events and in-person gatherings larger than 50 people will not be allowed through the end of the summer – this includes in-person high school gradua- tions. Since no in-person ceremonies of any kind are allowed, virtual ceremonies are an option for districts hoping to cel- ebrate their graduates." The Woonsocket High School Class of 2020 is approxi- mately 350 students, a number far out- side of the 50 person threshold. Quite simply, the issuance of this press release displayed a complete lack of leadership. The creation of unneces- sary controversy and division within the community is what is literally holding us back from reaching our unlimited potential. The Office of the Mayor is not the only elected position in our city. The ongoing efforts to circumvent those other elected officials have served over and over again to hurt and divide our city, and to deter the city's progress. Rather than creating divisions within the community, causing confusion, and giv- ing false hope to our graduates, I would suggest that the current mayor follow her own advice. Pick up the phone and call the chairman of the School Committee and have a conversation. The potential result is a collaborative effort amongst the interested parties. That's the type of leadership our city is lacking and so des- perately needs. JON D. BRIEN Vice-President Woonsocket City Council Ranglin: We must be willing to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable with the truth to succeed The morning after the death of George Floyd, I walked for seven miles, angry with tears flowing down my cheeks as the video keeps replaying in my head. Yes, that video that we have all watched as a police officer mur- dered George Floyd. As a black woman in these United States, the death of yet another black man sickens me as this inhumane behavior continues to plague my community. Many of us watched in horror, disgust, and anger. People are sick and tired of wit- nessing the slayings of innocent black men, and it must stop. This treatment of Black Americans cannot continue. We are all seeing the devastat- ing consequences throughout American cites, from riots to looting, and the destruction of buildings and businesses – this is wrong. We cannot tolerate this behavior. We are angry about the lives of black men being cut down in our streets. It is up to all of us to use our voices and influ- ence to bring about change. Black Americans have been left behind for too long. Our rights and dignity continue to be vio- lated, and we lack wealth, high- quality education, health care, job opportunities, and the basic human right to live a fruitful life without fear of being murdered simply because of the color of our skin. The ideals of freedom and equality remain out of reach for the black community. We ask that you join us as we confront and resolve systemic issues. We need you to help us with planning, strategizing, organizing, and mobilizing our communities to deliver needed solutions for our people. Black Lives Matter. Change is hard but it is necessary and all of us must be willing to do our part in these dark days to bring out the best in us. It is our responsibility to be part of the movement. We must eradicate systematic racism and structural poverty from our state. We must be willing to get comfortable with feeling uncom- fortable with the truth if we are going to succeed. For decades, we have seen many federal and state policies, laws, social-economic changes that have produced the cur- rent status of inequity in Rhode Island. It requires all of us to join forces to fix this ugly wrong. We cannot afford to remain silent while our brothers and sis- ters are dying with knees in their necks and screaming, "I can't breathe." We are better than this and I know we can count on you to join this movement to elimi- nate hatred, racism, and injustice. We ask that you continue to speak out, and also join us in this fight. My sincere condolences go out to George Floyd's children and his family during this difficult time and challenging times. Learn more about RIBBA's work at . LISA RANGLIN Rhode Island Black Business Association founder and president SEE MORE LETTERS ON PAGE 24 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. Walid Saber, MD FACC, FSCAL, RPVI Chief of Cardiology - Landmark Clinical Assistant Professor Warren Alpert Medical School Ibrahim Elgabry, MD FACC Director of Cardiac Rehab - Landmark Clinical Assistant Professor Warren Alpert Medical School World Class Care . . . 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