Angel Taveras talks transportation

I would like to thank Providence Mayor Angel Taveras for providing me with some much needed laughter today. The mayor, who is running for governor, has unveiled a plan to rebuild and maintain the state’s schools, roads, and bridges.

Maintaining the state’s infrastructure is one of the most pressing problems facing Rhode Island. With that said, isn’t Angel Taveras the last person you would want to take advice from on this topic? After nearly 3 1/2 years, the city’s schools are falling apart, and potholes seem to be everywhere. For a while, I actually thought Clay Pell’s Prius might have been lost in one of Providence’s larger craters.

I’ll start taking Angel Taveras seriously on infrastructure once he gets Providence’s act together.

Another day, another non-”assault weapon” is confiscated

On Saturday morning, the Rhode Island State Police pulled over a car for speeding and charged a 24 year-old New London man with carrying a pistol without a license. The man had a Bersa 9 Ultra Compact. My guess is that it would carry 8 rounds or fewer, and would not have been banned by recent gun laws proposed by Rhode Island liberals.

Do you see a pattern here? The police are confiscating guns, but the guns they are confiscating are not the ones law makers have identified as a problem. Another inconvenient fact is that the guns are often possessed, but no used. Therefore, if you can’t jump through all the hoops the government puts before you, you either can’t carry a gun, or you are charged with a felony.

Here’s a great idea: Give citizens the benefit of the doubt. Let’s be a complete “shall issue” state, and give citizens the opportunity to defend themselves.

Gordon Fox’s home is for sale

11 Horton st Gordon fox house

Are you in the market for a lovely 5 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home on Providence’s East Side? If you are, former House Speaker Gordon Fox has the home for you!. The home at 11 Gorton Street is currently on the market for just $615,000.

It has been an eventful month for Fox. After the FBI removed items from both his home and State House office, he resigned the speakership within days. He has also been absent at the State House, leaving his district without representation. I’m sure his decision to sell the house so soon after the search and resignation is purely coincidental.

Should I feel bad for illegal aliens?

If you haven’t read Bob Kerr’s latest piece of liberal drivel, it is quite stomach-churning. It details the plight of an undocumented immigrant illegal alien and her family. The point of the article is to show us how wonderful immigrants are, how much they contribute, and why we should welcome them with open arms. There’s just one problem: Not all immigrants are the same.

There is one type of immigrant who waits their turn, fulfills the many requirements of U.S. Immigration law, and becomes a citizen. These are the people who recognize U.S. laws and respect our sovereignty. The other type of immigrant knows there are laws, but ignores them. They are a drain on the system, almost always taking more than they pay in taxes, then asking for more. The politically correct among us have chosen to call them “undocumented workers.” It makes them seem like honest people who are just looking for a job. I believe the better term is illegal alien, since it better describes their nature as individuals who broke the law.
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Two more guns confiscated, neither would have been banned

State police arrested two men yesterday, charging both with possessing a pistol without a license. The handguns were a .380 Cobra and a .32 Smith & Wesson. The cobra very likely has a capacity of 7 rounds or less, while the .32 is almost definitely below 10 rounds.

Two more guns confiscated by alleged criminals, two more guns which would not have been banned under the laws proposed by liberal gun-grabbers. Those are the people who are trying to make Rhode Islanders think we have gang members on every street corner with AR-15′s, AK-47′s, and similar rifles. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

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Another gun is confiscated that isn’t “high-capacity”

The Providence Police arrested an alleged gang member last night. He was charged with possessing a pistol without a license. The weapon? A .45 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun.

As far as I know, no .45 caliber Smith and Wesson handguns hold more than 10 rounds. I did some research, and wan’t able to find any. So, what’s the point of this article?
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Rhode Island is number one…in unemployment…again

Once again, Rhode Island has the highest unemployment rate in the United States at 8.7%. The rate for the nation is 6.7%.

Here’s a look at how Rhode Island compares to its New England neighbors:

Vermont……………….3.7%
New Hampshire…….4.5%
Maine…………………..5.9%
Massachusetts………6.3%
Connecticut…………..7.0%
Rhode Island…………8.7%

Good going Rhode Island! Keep voting for those Democrats!

A prostitute was arrested: Do you feel safer?

Earlier this week, the East Greenwich police arrested a woman for allegedly engaging in prostitution. The alleged prostitute worked in a nondescript building billed as a “relaxation center.” From the outside, most individuals probably wouldn’t know what was allegedly happening on the inside, until the police looked into the establishment. Now, the woman, who is in her mid thirties, has been arrested. My question for you: Do you feel safer?

Since the arrest, the woman’s name and picture have been plastered all over newspapers, websites, and television news. I will not follow their lead. I will not be using her name, posting her picture, or including links to any news story that includes this information. I will not contribute to her embarrassment, nor will I pat the government on the back for telling someone what to do with their own body.

You might recall that at one time, Rhode Island was the only state that legalized prostitution throughout the entire state (Nevada only legalized it in 2 counties). The law, as originally written, allowed indoor prostitution, but outlawed any activity occurring outdoors. Why would someone commit a crime outdoors when they can do the same thing indoors without repercussions? The law addressed prostitution perfectly. It took the activity off the streets and put it behind closed doors. Prostitution is often referred to as “the world’s oldest profession.” It’s always been around, and it won’t stop any time soon.

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Payday loans: Don’t blame the product, blame the borrower

At one time or another, most of us run into a problem and need some extra money. When this happens, you can dip into savings to take care of the shortfall. For others, this isn’t possible. They might have to borrow money. If you’ve ever borrowed money, you know that not all lenders are the same, and neither are borrowers, for that matter. The low-risk borrowers get the low rates, while the high risk borrowers get the higher rates.

Over the past few years, many legislators have taken aim at a certain type of product known as payday loans. Typically, almost anyone can get a short-term loan, regardless of credit. The loans are usually do in a few weeks, and as one would expect, have a high interest late. There’s no question they are far from ideal, but if you need money and have a lousy credit history, it might be the best option. Of course, many liberals don’t see it that way.

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Tax Returns: What’s the difference Ken?

Moderate Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block refuses to release his tax returns. Campaign manager Jeff Britt claims it would harm the candidate:

“As an S corporation owner public release of Ken’s taxes would give his business competitors an unfair advantage. For that reason we will not be releasing them. When elected governor… as a public servant he will release his tax information then.”

I don’t have any reason to believe there is anything suspicious about Ken Block’s tax returns. With that said, I think he misses the point. If a candidate does have something questionable on their return, shouldn’t the public know before they are elected? Also, does it make a difference whether competitors see the returns in April or November?

Clay Pell escapes criticism

Ken Block blasted Allan Fung, Gina Raimondo, and Angel Taveras for donating to former House Speaker Gordon Fox in the past, and specifically criticized Taveras and Raimondo for campaigning with Fox in 2012. Of course, Block isn’t the only gubernatorial candidate who didn’t assist Fox.

Clay Pell never donated to Gordon Fox, or helped him campaign. I guess that’s the plus side of running for governor of a state where you have hardly ever lived, voted, or been involved.

‘Contracts’ are bad news for the state

I have a feeling the State of Rhode Island will be receiving bad news shortly after September 15th. That’s the day the pension lawsuit will begin. With mediation behind them, both sides will be headed for a trial I feel the union has a good chance of winning.

Today, Judge Sarah Taft-Carter ruled against the State of Rhode Island’s motion to dismiss. Taft-Carter’s reason? Pensioners have “implied contractual rights.

Recently, I discussed the case with a union representative who supported the settlement worked out in mediation. I told her how I didn’t understand why the union didn’t just want to have their day in court. My rationale was that the benefits were negotiated through collective bargaining. If you could go back on a contract to change pension benefits, couldn’t you also slash salaries by an outrageous percentage, have employees pay 60% of their health insurance, and limit everyone to one weeks vacation? Does that sound outlandish? If so, I’m not sure why. If it’s legal to essentially void one portion of a contract, then why not others?
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MADD refuses Jayne Donegan’s $5,000 ‘donation’

I commend Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their Executive Director Gabrielle Abbate for refusing a $5,000 donation from a woman accused of violating the social host law, and obstructing a police officer. Accepting the donation, would trivialize the alleged crimes, while sending the wrong message to the community. Ms. Abate agrees:

“The sentence sends the wrong message about the dangers of providing alcohol to those who are underage,” Abbate said. The law needs to be enforced to its full extent and should apply to everyone regardless of their financial situation, she said.

Jayne Donegan was accused of violating the social host law and obstructing a police officer, but a judge offered to drop the charges. In return, she would need to make a $5,000 donation to MADD. I don’t know why we have laws if people are just allowed to buy their way out of trouble. Some would argue that the justice system is biased toward the well-off, and I’m inclined to agree, to an extent. In this case, the blatant disregard for the legal process is shocking.

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Constructive criticism for some Rhode Island Republicans

Sometimes, I reread one of my articles and I wonder if I’m being too tough on some of the Republican politicians I’ve written about. Typically, that thought will last about a second, and I think about why I’m so critical. Usually, I feel like the individual is acting in a moderate fashion in an attempt to be everything to everyone, a Democrat with a twist of conservatism. That’s unacceptable.

As anyone who follows Rhode Island politics is aware, the General Assembly has been under the control of Democrats for decades. There are only a small number of Republicans in the House and Senate, and many cities and towns have few, if any Republicans on councils or in the mayor’s office. How is moderation paying off for us?

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Allan Fung’s tax cuts: Not bold enough

Cranston Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung has released a plan to cut taxes, if elected governor. I’m not surprised by the details, but I am disappointed.

Fung’s plan involves cutting the state sales tax from 7% to 5.5% over 3 years, reducing the corporate tax to 5%, and holding state spending to annual increases of 2%. Tax cuts are great, but they’re not game-changers. If you want to do that, you don’t cut a tax, you eliminate it. My preference would be for getting rid of either the sales tax or the income tax, with a slight preference for the latter.

Cutting taxes a bit is not much more than a feel good measure. It puts a few dollars in your pocket, but cuts are very easy to reverse. Instituting a new, broad-based tax after it has been eliminated? That would be quite a bit harder. Eliminating a tax also gets people talking and puts Rhode Island on people’s radar. Here’s an example to illustrate my thinking.

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Get out of jail free…or for $5,000

I have great news for all the well-off criminals out there: Evidently, you can now legally buy your way out of charges! North Kingstown police have dropped charges of violating the social host law and obstructing a police officer against Jayne Donegan in return for her making a $5,000 donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Donegan is an attorney for Textron.

Donegan’s problem started when she allowed drinking at her daughter’s 16 birthday party. Police noticed several children at the party, liquor in the basement, a beer pong table, and reports of teens urinating in neighbor’s yards. Who would have thought that 16 year-olds and beer pong didn’t mix?

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Caleb Chafee’s records should be public

The Providence Journal is still fighting for records pertaining to the Rhode Island State Police’s investigation of Governor Lincoln Chafee’s then 18 year-old son Caleb Chafee.. The younger Chafee pleaded no contest to violating the social host law. He received a $500 fine and 30 hours of community service.

In deciding against the journal, Judge William Carnes, Jr. felt that favoring the privacy of the Chafee family was more important than providing transparency to more than 1 million Rhode Islanders. Here’s a troubling excerpt from the article:

The Journal had argued the balancing test under the Access to Public Records Act called for the disclosure of the records because of the strong public interest in shedding light on how the state police handled a case involving the governor’s son. That public interest, it said, outweighed any privacy interests of the parties named in the reports. The state police argued the newspaper did not produce any evidence that any improprieties had occurred that would compel disclosure under court precedent.
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Armed campus police: It’s about time

URI logo

It’s hard to believe there are so many who oppose, or are concerned with the decision to arm campus police officers at the University of Rhode Island. Critics of the decision probably don’t realize that the officers are not just security guards, they are graduates of police academies who are well-trained and prepared for the task at hand.

URI has an enrollment of nearly 16,000 students, and its campus is approximately 1,250 acres. When you consider that the sum of URI’s total enrollment and staff is greater than the population of 19 out of 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island, it’s clear that arming the police is the right decision.
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The Tax Day rally is still on!

It looks like Providence is expecting heavy rain and high winds tomorrow afternoon…right around the time of the Tax Day rally. The good news is that it has been moved indoors, into the State House Bell room. The time has also been moved back to 4 p.m. Please stop by and show your support for limited government, lower taxes, and more liberty.

Providence tax payers are being robbed

Providence tax payers are being robbed. An article by Golocalprov.com details the many ill-advised tax stabilization agreements (TSA) entered into over the past decade or so. The agreements aren’t monitored to ensure that recipients are complying with terms of the agreement, many recipients pay just a small percentage of what they should (without the TSA), and in total, the giveaways increase the average taxpayer’s bill by 3%.

Councilwoman Sabina Matos says she isn’t opposed to the agreements, but she is seeking a moratorium on TSA’s. “There’s a lot of information we should be paying into attention to….we don’t have anyone in the city who’s monitoring them. It’s a disservice to the taxpayer,” said Matos. She also added:

“I think that with all the development that’s coming, we don’t have a clear process, we’re picking winners and losers,” said Matos. “While we’re granting these, our commercial tax rates are the highest — the regular tax payer is making up the money those TSAs are not paying. We really aren’t ready to take on more if we’re not able to slow down what we’ve already granted.”

I agree with Ms. Matos. Seeking a moratorium is the correct course of action, especially when you consider the amount of money being lost, and the poor over-sight of the agreements. The only point I disagree with Matos on is the existence of such agreements. The city should end the practice of granting tax stabilization agreements immediately.

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Three RI state senators submit corporate welfare bill

industrial Trust Building

Senators Josh Miller, Juan Pichardo, and Dominick Ruggerio have submitted a bill, S 2898, which would hand over $39 million to help fund a private development project in Providence. The developer, David Sweetser of High Rock Development, is also seeking $10 million to $15 million in tax breaks from the City of Providence, as well as $21 million in federal historic tax credits.

A few years ago, I tried to buy an existing business. I approached a bank for funding and looked for a partner. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Not one time did I ever consider going begging to the government for money to fund my venture, nor did I seek to have legislation submitted. Those who do should be ashamed of themselves, and those who submit legislation to help such individuals deserve to be defeated in their next election.

The government should not be used as a piggy bank that can be smashed open at will by the wealthy and politically connected.

Allan Fung vs Ken Block: Not much to choose from

Republican Elephant Democrat Donkey logo

If the Republican Primary were held today, I would vote for Allan Fung rather than Ken Block. With that said, it’s not a vote I would cast with any satisfaction. I see it as a choice between the lesser of two evils. When viewed this way, Fung is the superior candidate, by far.

The Providence Journal’s Ed Fitzpatrick wrote about the two Republicans vying to be the next Governor. It’s mainly a description of the back-and forth between Fung campaign manager Patrick Sweeney, and Block campaign manager Jeff Britt. Both are doing their best to present their candidate as an actual, real Republicans.

We have Allan Fung, who was a registered Democrat and left because he wasn’t welcomed in the party. The man who gave several donations to Democrats, including Gordon Fox, David Cicilline, Angel Taveras, and Harry Reid. Then, there was the resolution imploring Cranston gun shops not to sell “assault weapons.”
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A disturbing murder needs to be addressed properly

One of the saddest, most disturbing incidents of violence I can remember is the murder of 12 year-old Aynis Vargas, which also left three other women injured by gunshots. The incident occurred when a group of gang members drove through the Hartford neighborhood looking for members of a rival gang, who they believe shattered a van window. Instead, they came across an innocent gathering of friends and family (no gang members), and decided to open fire, leaving three women injured and a 12 year-old girl dead.

Angel Valerio, one of the gang members, pled guilty to three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy. Valerio was one of 5 gang members who were charged with the crime.

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The Rhode Island Tea Party names a new president

The Rhode Island Tea Party has announced that Mike Puyana will be their new President. The Providence Phoenix recently interviewed Puyana about taxation, the Second Amendment, and limited government. Check out the interview, then make plans to attend the Tea Party’s Tax Day rally on Tuesday, April 15th. The rally begins at 3:45pm on the State House steps.

High Rock Development requests its welfare payments in installments

Have you heard about the new welfare program that was recently proposed? David Sweetser of High Rock Development, a Massachusetts company, has once again requested a $39 million package of corporate welfare from the state, which would be used to renovate the “Superman Building” in Downtown Providence. Because Sweetser is an understanding guy, he is only asking for 4 annual payments of $9.75 million from the state, rather than the one-time $39 million he sought from the state this year.

In order to strengthen High Rock Development’s pitch, Sweetser has also included protections for the taxpayers, including the ability for the state to recoup some of the money in the future, an endowment to maintain Kennedy Plaza, and a bond to ensure that the project is completed, so that the 278 planned apartments are guaranteed to come to fruition. By the way, Sweetser is also seeking $10 million to $15 million in tax breaks from the City of Providence, and another $21 million in federal historic tax credits. In total, approximately $75 million of taxpayer dollars is being requested for the project.

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