If you are done watching politics as usual in RI then do three things this week. They are easy, quick and meaningful.
Make a difference.
Contact Speaker Mattiello to let him know that you want subpoena power granted to the House Oversight Committee as they continue their public investigation into the financial
scandal fraud of 38Studios.
Utilize RICAN's site to let your representative know that you do not approve of the Speaker's intent to roll back education to the bad ol' days!
Attend RI Taxpayers' rally to implore Senate President Paiva Weed to bring a vote to the Senate Floor to repeal the Master Lever.
Make Some Waves in the Ocean State this Week!
Gather with the leading good government groups in RI and let your voice be heard.
At this point, it’s just plain shameful that Senate President Paiva Weed continues to place the Repeal of the Master Lever Bill on the back burner. The people of RI have spoken, numerous times, and those who have spoken all call for repeal of this antiquated system of voting.
Next Thursday, the RI Taxpayers organization will gather good government groups and other activists, all of whom recognize that the time is now for repealing the Master Lever. Please attend on May 29th, from 3:00 - 5:00 in the Rotunda of the State House. Help send the message that RI needs to change the political culture of this state.
It looks like more of the same under new leadership.
First we had the Speaker upholding the status quo with public labor unions when he dismissed the rallying cries of Coventry residents as they begged to take back their fire district. Instead of providing legislation that allowed democracy to reign, Mattiello pushed through a bill that would keep the Central Coventry Fire District in the hands of the public unions despite a plan for a new, semi-privatized approach for the District as proposed by the voters.
Now, as we see with last week’s vote, the Speaker plans to derail the progress made by the Education Commissioner. The House Health, Education and Welfare Committee passed a bill to dilute the Education Commissioner’s reforms by reducing the frequency of teacher evaluations (H 7096). According to RICAN (RI Campaign for Achievement Now), that would mean 95% of the teachers wouldn’t be evaluated on a regular basis! The week before, the Senate Education Committee voted to delay the implementation of the graduation requirement (H2059) to be PARTIALLY proficient in the various subjects of a standardized test!
We can only draw the conclusion that the General Assembly does not want to provide our children with the best education possible, but rather wants to protect the adults in the equation. More effective teachers equals better instruction. Attaining reachable goals through standards equals a diploma with meaning. Both of these reforms mean the possibility of graduating more and more employable young adults.
The full Senate has already passed the bill to delay the standardized test requirement. The full House will take up the vote on reducing the frequency of teacher evaluations on Tuesday of this week. If you would like to voice your opinion about the teacher evaluations, we urge you to do so through the RI CAN Action Alert.
And when it comes to potential corruption, it’s best to respond “it was the old Jedi mind trick”.
Speaker Mattiello has said ‘the facts are in’ from Wall Street. Apparently, it doesn’t matter that the House Oversight Committee has made serious headway in obtaining documents that delineate the numerous lucrative contracts between Fox’ friend, Corso and 38Studios. It doesn’t matter that we learned of two meetings with 38Studios - one, a secret meeting with Chafee Administrator Licht and one, a meeting with former Speaker Murphy (close ally of Fox), both of whom apparently fell victim to a Jedi mind trick. The verdict has been handed down by Mattiello - it’s best to pay the 38Studios bonds and it’s best to ‘let the investigators investigate’, ie. no subpoena power for the Oversight Committee. While this may sound reasonable, remember that the state’s AG’s office has been asleep at the switch from the beginning when it comes to investigating 38Studios and the RI State Police have not said exactly what they are investigating. Perhaps their investigation results will be similar to their reported results when they investigated former candidate Gemma’s allegations of voter fraud - a big 0. As for Federal investigators, the US Attorney General’s office said they concluded their ‘review’ in 2012 and are not investigating 38 Studios any further.
AG candidate Senator Dawson Hodgson has advocated a three step approach investigating the nightmare we now know as 38Studios. He believes there should be both a Senate and House Oversight Committee investigation. He believes that the AG’s office should lead an investigation and initiate a civil lawsuit. He also believes that, similar to the approach taken after the credit union crisis in the ‘90s, an independent investigative commission (in the ‘90s it was known as the Teitz Commission, after the House Judiciary Chairman Teitz). RIPR reported that the commission even required the former Speaker at the time, to testify under oath. These proceedings were televised. Shouldn’t former Speaker Fox and Senate President Paiva Weed testify under oath about the wheeling and dealing that led to the ultimate 38Studios debacle?
So who is watching the store?
It looks like the only people interested in the job are Chairwoman MacBeth and Representative Chippendale. The only public inquiry that has transpired since the beginning of this debacle has been from the House Oversight Committee. Is it possible that, like these two representatives, Speaker Mattiello has received some kind of threat regarding how he proceeds with the 38Studios investigation? Perhaps, but one would think that the Speaker of the House would be at least as brave as those representatives who are working for him on what appears to be a significant financial fraud perpetrated against RI taxpayers. Let Speaker Mattiello know that you would like to see subpoena power granted to the House Oversight Committee so that the truth about this deal can be disclosed in its entirety once and for all.
The Annual Chess Game.
Every year it boils down to two key players deciding the fate of the entire state through the Budget process. The typical jockeying is going on in the State House with regard to The RI Transportation Infrastructure Fund (S 2335 Sub A) bill, legislation that would eliminate the Sakonnet Toll and provide a rational vision for funding RI’s statewide infrastructure repairs and maintenance. The vote was pushed from last Thursday to this Wednesday for a full vote in the Senate. Will it happen? Who can know, (Representative Edwards may know) but be sure that there is a lot of horse trading going on behind the scenes and there will be all kinds of unexpected twists and turns when the budget is unveiled.
Legislative Hearings 5/27/14 - 5/29/14
TUE, MAY 27
Room 35, Rise (4:30 pm)
H 7245 Increases the personal income tax 2% on income over $250,000.
Sponsors: Guthrie, Valencia and Cimini
Senate Lounge, 3:00 pm
S 2143 Increases the estate tax to $1,500,000.
Sponsors: Felag, Bates, McCaffrey, Jabour and Walaska
S 2988 Reduces the corporate income tax from 9% to 7%.
Sponsors: DaPonte, Paiva Weed, Ruggerio, Algiere and Walaska