CHAFEE WAFFLING TO THE END: Governor Chafee's record during his almost four years in office is replete with examples of his waffling on important issues. He just hasn't seemed able to make up his mind on many issues or couldn't articulate his logic for supporting or opposing them. In short, he has shown himself to be a vacillating waffler. And it's continuing as he finishes out his term.
While he has expressed major concern with several bills the General Assembly has sent to his desk, he hasn't had the courage to either sign or veto them. Instead, he has expressed his concern and allowed the bills to become law without his signature. From the elimination of annual teacher evaluations, to child-safe employment, to how technical schools operate, Chafee has once again shown that he doesn't have the courage of his convictions to either sign or veto many important bills.
At this point in his tenure, when he is a lame duck who doesn't have to worry about reelection, when he should have the moral courage to stand behind his beliefs, he still waffles.
MORE CLAY PELL DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING: Clay Pell can't seem to stay away from deceptive, misleading advertising in his probably-fruitless campaign for governor. And his deception is starting to truly irritate those of us who have served in dangerous assignments in our country's military.
Once again Pell, the Coast Guard Reserve lawyer who never served in a seagoing assignment, has produced a TV advertisement that implies he was a line officer who fought violent seas and saved lives. He even implied that he piloted Coast Guard helicopters by posing in the pilot's seat of one of the service's choppers, appearing prepared to fly it away. Does the image of presidential candidate Michael Dukakis posing as an Army tank commander come to mind?
Even on his website in his "biography" Pell tries to mislead. This sentence, "As an officer in a service dedicated to helping people and saving lives, Clay Pell had the privilege of leading men and women in uniform," implies that Pell led men and women in uniform as they helped save lives. Yes, Pell led men and women in uniform, but it was in the cozy comfort of Coast Guard legal offices and courtrooms, far from the dangerous waters where rescues and drug interdictions take place.
This deception will surely backfire on Pell. If there's anything military veterans abhor, it's someone trying to claim valor or service where it didn't exist. And veterans vote!
UNION SUPPORT SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT CANDIDATES: Can we tell which Democratic candidate for governor might be most successful at creating jobs and pulling our state out of its economic doldrums by looking at which unions support which candidate? Many of us would respond with a resounding YES!
Practically every public employee union in the state is supporting Angel Taveras or Clay Pell. Unions of teachers, firefighters, social workers, bus drivers, DEM employees, etc., are all among the plethora of taxpayer-paid workers who support Taveras and Pell. These are unions who push every year for tax increases so their numbers can grow, their salaries can be hiked and their already-generous benefits can be increased. They aren't exactly friends of the taxpayers.
On the other hand, practically every business and private enterprise union in the state has endorsed Gina Raimondo. Unions of plumbers, construction workers, pipe-fitters, electricians, etc., all support Raimondo. These unions don't ask for tax increases. Instead, they push for economic growth and creation of more jobs. They subscribe to the theory that successful, growing companies can afford pay increases to their union employees. No taxes needed.
Based on which unions have endorsed which candidate, it certainly looks like the only Democratic candidate who would likely keep taxes down and who would work the hardest to create private sector jobs is Gina Raimondo.
CORSO HEARING SHOWS POOR JUDGMENT BY MOLLIS: When you are running for lieutenant governor and a television reporter confronts you with information that your office might have failed to do its job of monitoring lobbying efforts at the State House, you get scared. Instead of conducting a proper investigation into the information presented and coming up with your own evidence before making a decision, if you're Secretary of State and lieutenant governor candidate Ralph Mollis, you quickly order a hearing and try to force a person, Michael Corso, to appear and prove himself innocent of your charge that he conducted lobbying on behalf of 38 Studios without having registered as a lobbyist.
Was it a political stunt by Mollis to make the public believe he is doing his job? Was it improper catering to a public that is disgusted with the whole 38 Studios fiasco and still, for the most part, upset that the state is repaying bondholders? Or, was it just plain old poor judgment on the part of a frightened Mollis?
Most thinking Rhode Islanders would agree that it was the later. Although the lieutenant governor's office has no real responsibilities, do we really want someone holding that office who has exercised such poor judgment?
GUN DEATHS IN RHODE ISLAND: A letter to the editor in last Wednesday's Providence Journal presented a very interesting statistic. The writer said that Rhode Island has the lowest rate of gun deaths in the country at 3.14 deaths per 100,000 population.
What? Rhode Island at the top of a good list? It was worth checking. Google quickly led to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's web site where gun deaths per 100,000 population are tracked for every state. Indeed, Rhode Island is at the top of the list for having the lowest gun death rate in the country. It's certainly an enviable position for a state that usually lands at the bottom of all lists.
While any gun death is bad, Rhode Island's low rate of gun deaths seems to prove that our little state already has the kind of gun-control laws that prevent gun deaths. States with draconian gun-control laws, states like California, New York, Maryland, and the District of Columbia have much higher gun death rates.
NO WONDER COLLEGE TUITIONS ARE SO HIGH: Previously, Rhode Island paid the President of CCRI, Raymond Di Pasquale, an extra $62,000 per year above his normal $203,000 annual salary to also act as the state's Commissioner of Higher Education. The cost of that position has now skyrocketed.
The state Board of Education has hired a new Commissioner of Postsecondary Education. No longer will Rhode Island taxpayers get by with the $62,000 annual cost for the position. Instead, the position will now cost taxpayers $175,000 per year for salary, close to $20,000 in health benefits, $390,000 per year in retirement contributions, and another approximately $25,000 in vehicle expenses. Oh, and by the way, we're going to continue paying the CCRI president the extra $62,000 per year.
The total cost to Rhode Island taxpayers to fund the new education position will be over $650,000 per year - that's a 1,000 percent increase over the previous $62,000 cost. Is it any wonder that college tuition costs have increased so dramatically in the past few years and that graduates are burdened with lifetime tuition debt?
WHO SAYS FOOTBALL IS A DYING SPORT? Pundits, prognosticators and some parents say that football - at all levels - will in the not-too-distant future be a sport of the past; that football is a dying sport because of its relatively high risk of injury to players.
A recent Harris poll found that when asked to name their single favorite sport, 35 percent of respondents answered professional football and 11 percent answered college football. This combined 46 percent of Americans polled far outdid the 14 percent who named baseball as their favorite sport, the 9 percent who named professional and college basketball, the 7 percent who favored auto racing, and the 5 percent who preferred ice hockey. Indeed, football is more popular than the other four major sports combined.
So, who says football is a dying sport? Apparently most Americans don't hear the sport's death knell.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, speaking to reporters about the possibility he and other veteran players might be released to make room for talented rookies, had this to say about whether or not he is worried about the prospect: "I've learned not to look into that. Negative thoughts and negative energy are the exact same thing as eating bad. You eat bad, you get out of shape. You think bad, you think about things you can't control, you won't get fat, but it will beat you down." From the mouth of an athlete, words we should all heed and live by.