Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 07-08-2020

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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NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | JULY 8-14, 2020 OPINION 9 PANDEMIC: An out- break of a disease that occurs over a wide geo- graphic area and affects an exceptionally high pro- portion of the population (Miriam Webster dictionary) As of this writing, COVID-19 deaths top 500,000 globally and the number of confirmed cases top 10 million. The Centers for Disease Control announced at the end of June that for every reported case, there were 10 other estimated infections in the United States. Using only the known cases, the United States constitutes 25% of the cases and the deaths while being only 4% of the popu- lation. So, rational people should conclude that we have an epidemic. Social distancing and wearing masks seem to be the two most important curbs to the spread along with testing and contract tracing. Yet, the president of the United States and his followers seem to espouse the theory that it is OK to ignore these protections. Accordingly, it is no surprise when the Bryant University poll announced that 48% of Republicans in Rhode Island back the governor's pace in reopening Rhode Island while 46% wanted a speedier reopening. I guess the latter want us to catch up with Texas, Florida, and Arizona. To punctuate the sup- port of the president and the far right ideology, the Burrillville Town Council voted to declare a "First Amendment Sanctuary Town." No, silly, not THAT First amendment i.e. the Freedom of Speech. The five on the council prob- ably think that journalists are purveyors of fake news, undeserving of protection. Their version of the First Amendment is to declare Gov. Gina Raimondo's executive orders as uncon- stitutional and calls upon the Police Department to exercise "sound discretion not to enforce" these orders. This declaration is a "wink" since Police Chief Stephen Lynch has a proven career of appropriate discretion. So, what are we to make of our fellow/sister citizens in Burrillville? Are they maneuvering for a Tweet from the President? They seem to be playing poli- tics with people's health. Nobody has an unbridled right to exercise their own judgment which jeopardizes other people's rights. The case law amply requires Christian Science adherents not to refuse life-saving treatment for their children or Hasidic Jews to flaunt inoculations while demand- ing entrance to public schools. Do the civic leaders in Burrillville really believe that they can do whatever they want in violation of precautions supported by the scientific community to stop the spread? Correctly, the right to live trumps the Trumpian ideology they apparently espouse. Raimondo would prob- ably admit that not being a perfect person she hasn't gotten everything right but for heaven's sake, Rhode Island is only one of two states with a decreasing census of infection rates. Her excoriation on talk radio and other places is unfair and, I suspect, sexist. Why else would someone who has a program which is a model for other states become a lightning rod for verbal abuse? As a former Republican officeholder, I have come to identify with Legislator Jack Lyle (Lincoln) who is running as an independent since "his party left him." The "official" Republican Party has become extreme and espouses positions that divide rather than unite. Sadly, the party of Lila Sapinsley, Claudine Schneider, Susan Farmer, John Chafee, Ron Machtley, etc. is defunct. Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. Methinks thou doth protest too much America's small businesses are its backbone. Even more true here in Rhode Island, which has maintained a res- taurant and retail culture that has at least put up a good fight against the homogeni- zation of the country's box store shopping and franchise dining landscape. Add in the thousands of other small businesses in multiple catego- ries and we have a vibrant base that has battled a tough recession and swum against the current of a tax-and- spend environment. Any minute now it could drown. Remember, so many of these businesses had to shut down. The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) kept those with employees whole for eight weeks while employee $600 bonus checks on top of normal unemploy- ment benefits buoyed some sole proprietors. Some busi- nesses got nothing. Rhode Island could and should help itself further. The federal CARES Act hurriedly passed in March sent $1.25 billion to Rhode Island. Section 5 of the act allows for states to use "expenditures related to provisions of grants to small businesses to reimburse the cost of business interruption by required closures." Meaning, your business was shut down. We will allow the state government to cover, at least in part, your loss. But Gov. Gina Raimondo has held the money back. Her logic? We need to hold the money until we get a guarantee of another round of federal stimulus for broke state governments to fill bud- get gaps, which in our case, is mostly pre-COVID. She calls it fiscal discipline while she patronizes the business community with sympathetic speeches about how hard she knows this is for them. Meanwhile, the same CARES Act says the follow- ing on the first page under necessary expenditures: "Funds may not be used to fill shortfalls to cover expenditures that would not otherwise qualify under the statute." Meaning, hey states, this is COVID money, not CYA money. Missing in action, of course, is the General Assembly. It could call the governor on the carpet and demand a properly pre- scribed grant infusion. That requires them to reverse their course of leaving leader- ship authority exclusively to the governor for all things COVID. And right now, all things are COVID. Interesting as well is our federal delegation. Busy searching for more federal money to bring home, they have been mostly silent on what amounts to a kind of governor law-breaking. But alas, a Rhode Island small business coalition has grown organically from the first COVID days, in large part due to the work of Lieutenant Gov. Dan McKee. A small core group of benevolent communication businesses joined his early conference calls. Part infor- mational, part advocacy, part group therapy, it grew. They tackled some key phasing issues. It grew some more. They built a website to stir economic activity for closed and struggling businesses. Now there are hundreds. You can find their petition at petition. More than 2,000 have electronically signed the document which calls for the governor to release 10 percent of the CARES Act money for grants to qualify- ing small businesses. The math works out to $125 mil- lion, still far short of other states such as, say, New Hampshire, which infused about $400 million for the same purpose. Sign it. Ironically, given her occa- sional finger waving, it will be your turn to tell her to "follow the rules." She also needs to hear a new version of that classic Fram Oil com- mercial: "If you don't pay them now, they won't be around to pay us taxes later." Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7 FM/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weeknights on MyRITV/ Fox Providence and owns com- munications/crisis consulting firm DYCOMM LLC. Save our small businesses now Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET DAN YORKE Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume XXII, Number 50 July 8, 2020 @ Breeze THE NORTH PROVIDENCE 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. James Quinn, Deputy Publisher Jack Birolini, Director of Sales Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor Barbara Phinney, Controller

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