Editorial & Opinion

The Uprising, September 7, 2018

“Schools are sacred places of teaching and learning so this public health tragedy is hard on our community. Families must send their children to school and know that they will return home.” -Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell Welcome to The Uprising. Gun violence has once again rocked our small state, with the senseless death of William Parsons, an innocent and bright 15-year

Published on September 7, 2018
By Steve Ahlquist

Schools are sacred places of teaching and learning so this public health tragedy is hard on our community. Families must send their children to school and know that they will return home.”
-Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell

Welcome to The Uprising. Gun violence has once again rocked our small state, with the senseless death of William Parsons, an innocent and bright 15-year old boy, outside a high school in Providence. Let us not lose sight of the fact that two lives have been lost: The suspect in the killing is reportedly also a child, a child who had access to a gun. He will now face murder charges and may spend his life in prison.

1. William Parsons

Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) has called for the General Assembly to reconvene immediately to take up a resolution (2018-H 7613) she introduced that would create a 13-member commission to study the impact of the trauma inflicted on children who are exposed to violence.

Ranglin-Vassell has also called for passage of the Safe Schools Act (2018-H 7591), which was introduced by Representative Katherine Kazarian (Democrat, District 63, East Providence). The bill would allow only peace officers and persons approved by school authorities for the purposes of educational instruction to carry firearms or other weapons on school grounds.

In an oped, Representative Joe Almeida (Democrat, District 12, Providence) supports “increasing state funding for after-school programs, an assault weapons ban, increased mental health services, expanded mental health screenings, and laws that make it mandatory to keep firearms under lock and key in a household. Also, we need to be able to quickly detect where criminals are getting their guns and hold whoever gives them these weapons accountable too.”

These are political responses. On Thursday I sat with over 100 people in the Judah Multicultural Church on Narragansett Avenue to hear a community in pain pray.

Later today I will attend a vigil scheduled for after school at the spot outside the Providence Career and Technical Academy (PCTA) where William Parsons died.

2a. Gina Raimondo

Rhode Island State Senator Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence) held a press conference outside the State House Friday morning with a group of people she called, “[g]rassroots Democrats who have been in the trenches for years fighting for progressive values.” The press conference was held to show support for incumbent Governor Gina Raimondo, who is in what looks like an unexpectedly tight primary race with former Secretary of State Matt Brown.

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Advocates for gun control, LGBTQ rights, labor, reproductive choice and Latinx issues joined with Goldin to sing the praises of Governor Raimondo.

One noticeable absence was any member of an environmental advocacy group.

“Matt Brown has talked about a lot of issues that I care deeply about,” said Goldin. “And they’re really resonating with people and I get that, because I’m the Senate sponsor of a lot of those bills. I also sit on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the Labor Committee, so I know who comes out to support progressive bills, and I know who doesn’t. One of the things I value a lot in politics are the people who show up.”

Gina Raimondo, said Goldin, shows up.

2b. Matt Brown

An attorney for the Matt Brown for Governor campaign issued a cease and desist letter to incumbent Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and her senior campaign staff calling on her to immediately retract the false and defamatory statements made in TV and mailer advertisements about Matt Brown.

Specifically, the letter cites the following allegations made by the Raimondo campaign:

  1. Beginning August 30, the Raimondo Campaign has broadcast a television advertisement that asserts that Mr Brown “ran” his United States Senate campaign “with apparent laundering of campaign contributions,” “hid $150,000 in debt,” and “stiffed his workers over $100,000 in pay”; and that, at the nonprofit organization where he subsequently worked, Mr Brown “pa[id] himself nearly $300,000 a year.”
  2. On July 5 the Raimondo Campaign sent a message to the Providence Journal, with intent that the newspaper would further circulate it publicly (as it did), that “[Matt Brown’s last campaign in 2006 ended in a criminal investigation.”
  3. On or about July 23, Governor Raimondo stated to Rhode Island resident Brianna McFadden that Mr. Brown is “most famous for having engaged in money laundering and had to drop out of his Senate campaign for doing that.”

“These absurd, false attacks reveal Gina Raimondo’s deep disrespect for Rhode Islanders, who she assumes aren’t smart enough to spot a blatant lie when they see it,” said Brown in a written statement.

Brown also went after Raimondo’s campaign financing, saying, “She’s earned corporate campaign contributions from the same companies that she offered or awarded corporate handouts to, supported a fracked gas plant despite public outcry, and has been bank-rolled by an opioid manufacturer and people behind anti-LGBTQ Islamaphobic propaganda. We cannot allow someone like this to steal our democracy. We must end corruption in our government so that Rhode Islanders come before corporate donors and Wall Street.”

Matt Brown and Spencer Dickinson debate on RIPR

Matt Brown interviewed in Motif

2c. The Pink Wave

Around 85 women and a few men joined forces at the Rhode Island State House Thursday to celebrate the hundreds of women who are running for state and local office in Rhode Island and the hundreds of women who formed the Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus to change the political culture in the state.

“Women have the most to gain in this election, and they also have the most to lose in this election,” said Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown). “We saw what happened at the end of the last legislative session. In fact, Kathy Gregg wrote the article so that the rest of the state could see it…

“Too many issues were left on the table,” said Tanzi, including a bill that would have extended the statute of limitations for sexual assault. “That is what will happen when there are more women involved – bills like that will pass.”

“We had a package of bills that dealt with sexual harassment. Some of them were as simple as changing a number from four to one. And we were told that thee was not enough time left in the year to review these.

“When it comes to reproductive choice – it’s not just Roe v Wade,” continued Tanzi. “It’s all of the little cuts and little slivers and slices that are taken away from a woman’s right to choose…

“Pay equity,” said Tanzi, citing a bill that died an embarrassing death in the House last session. “When women aren’t at the table, they’re on the menu.”

2d. Providence Mayoral Race

All five candidates for Mayor of Providence attended the he Providence League of Women Voters candidate forum this week, but only four candidates took to the stage. Independent Jeffrey Lemire told me that he wasn’t going to be actively campaigning until after the September 12 primary.

This left the stage to the three Democrats, incumbent Mayor Jorge Elorza, former school superintendent Robert DeRobbio and community organizer Kobi Dennis along with Independent candidate DianneDee-DeeWitman, a political fundraiser.

Witman supports Cranston Mayor Allan Fung for Governor of Rhode Island. Lemire told me he’s been an independent all his life, except for when he briefly registered as a republican to vote for Donald Trump in the last primary.

I thought one of the more interesting responses was from candidate Robert DeRobbio when he was asked about the Community Safety Act:

Candidate Kobi Dennis wrote an open letter to a retired Providence Public Schools teacher here. Teachers in Providence have been without a contract since January.

2e. East Providence Mayoral Race

In what may be some historical footage, here’s the candidate forum for East Providence’s first ever mayoral race. Previously, the city was headed up by a City Manager, elected by the City Council from among its members. Democrats Roberto DaSilva, Chrissy Rossi, and James Russo, along with Independent Albert Quattrucci Jr, took to the stage. Democrat William Maaia dropped out of the race.

Quattrucci brought unintentional laughter to the debate several times. For instance, when asked about his community activism over the last few years, Quattrucci replied, “Well, I’m not into that, really.”

As the crowd erupted into laughter, Quattrucci added, “I spend too much time working to be an activist.”

Earlier, Quattrucci said that East providence High school needs to be repaired, not replaced, and noted that his own children attended the school wearing raincoats (because of leaking roofs) and are doing just fine.

2f. Senate District 14

Democrats Delmar Condinho and Valerie Lawson are running for the Senate District 14 (East Providence, Pawtucket), held by Daniel DaPonte since 1998. DaPonte is not seeking re-election. The winner of the September 12 primary will not face an opponent in the general election.

Here’s all the video.

2g. Senate District 23

Paul Roselli, Democratic candidate for Rhode Island Senate District 23 says that if he is elected he will use his new role to stop the proposed new power plant in northwestern Rhode Island by insisting the state use eminent domain (the forced purchase of land) to safeguard the location for the environment.

“In recent times, eminent domain has been increasingly used to help corporate interests acquire land for profit,” said Roselli. “How about we use this tool to actually benefit communities instead? If elected I will use my position as a new senator to push through an eminent domain ruling so that the State sets aside this site to protect these precious natural resources in Rhode Island.”

2h. Senate District 24

After this piece ran, Candidate for Senate District 24, Melissa Murray, returned a campaign contribution from Attorney Elizabeth Noonan. Noonan works for the law firm Adler, Pollock and Sheehan and serves as one of the lead attorneys for Invenergy, the company that wants to build a $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant in the midst of the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island.

2i. House District 13

Representative Ramon Perez (Democrat, District 13, Providence, Johnston) does not “reflect the views or values of his community,” writes Nick Inglis in an oped. “He has brought porn browser tab screenshots into the State House and has allegedly behaved inappropriately towards his female colleagues. Perez’ voting record is light and his advocacy leaves a lot to be desired. District 13 deserves better.

“The newcomer, Mario Méndez, has taken the endorsement of both Planned Parenthood and Moms Demand Action because of his commitment to a woman’s right to choose and his desire to ensure the safety of his community. He’s committed to making life better for the people of District 13 while focusing on jobs and education. He is a fresh face to politics but not to his community, where he has lived his entire life – lots of folks know him and know his values because they’ve watched him grow up in the community.”

2j. House District 66

Democrats John Chung and Liana Cassar are running for the House District 66 (Barrington, East Providence), held by Joy Hearn since 2008. Hearne is not seeking re-election. The winner of the September 12 primary will most likely face Republican Rhonda Holmes in the general election.

Here’s all the video.

2k. Providence City Council Ward 5

The Rhode Island People’s PAC is asking, “What’s with this guy Steven Cianci?

“…twice now [Cianci] has confirmed his attendance at important community conversations alongside other candidates to answer the difficult questions facing the city and both times he didn’t bother to show up. It is especially disappointing that he couldn’t be bothered to attend the forum on the affordable housing crisis, as the displacement of the working class families of this city is a problem of epic proportions and one that needs to be dealt with deliberately and immediately.

“It’s also concerning that a first time candidate would be over 30 days late with his required financial disclosures to the Rhode Island Ethics Commission.”

3. Nature’s Trust

Nature’s Trust Rhode Island, a youth-driven campaign for the legal right to a healthy climate, joined by Sisters of Mercy Ecology, initiated legal action to compel the State of Rhode Island to “step up and do its fair share to stop climate change before it is too late.”

The action, a petition to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), starts a 30-day clock. During that time, DEM will either initiate a public process to consider and implement this proposal, or the department will have to justify its inaction to the courts.

“We are here to tell you that this beautiful planet we live on belongs to us too,” said Jeremy, 11. “We children of Rhode Island and me specific of Providence demand that you stop polluting it. If you continue to destroy our planet we will have nothing. We will not simply stay quiet and play our video games all day. We will stand up; I will stand up. In my school we are learning about revolution and revolts. We learned about the Haitian revolution. I feel in my heart that climate justice is our revolution.

“Hear me now. We will revolt, take back our planet, and win.”

4. Prison Strike

Members of Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee PVD and their allies held a Prison Strike Solidarity Noise Demo at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) in Cranston in an attempt to contact incarcerated people and let them know that they have allies ready to help them.

Whether or not there are people at the ACI participating in the nationwide Prison Strike is unknown. Organizers inside prisons have asked outside allies and supporters to hold protests and demonstrations  outside of prison facilities to help spread the word.

Over 60 people rallied and made noise in Cranston outside the intake, minimum security, medium security, and the women’s prison (with another stop at minimum on the way back to the cars) to let those incarcerated know they had allies outside. Large banners with contact information were displayed outside the buildings. The crowd shouted and amplified the demands of the national prison strike.

At least some prisoners did see and hear the demonstrators, as evidenced by their reactions. Some waved. One held a sign that simply read “HI.”

Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee PVD stands ready to ally with incarcerated people inside the walls to help them achieve their demands.


5. Can we go high if they go low?

Proud to have published this oped from Lesley Bunnell and Teresa Guaba

Here’s an excerpt:

“…Our challenge to candidates running for office across the State of Rhode Island is to tell us what you can bring to the table; not what your opponent can’t. We can figure that out on our own. Stop lowering the political morale and will of the people with negative propaganda about your opponents and the people that surround us. Don’t showcase our issues as a political platform. Stop the ugly tactics that put a muzzle on women who are already muzzled. Stop running to champion marginalized communities when your actions are perpetuating marginalization. Run on your own strengths and let the voters decide who is the strongest. Showcase your capacity to resolve and build. Tell us how you are invested in us; give us options to thrive not misery on which to dwell. Show us the path to success, not the road to failure. There is too much at stake in our neighborhoods, cities, and towns. We deserve more and we definitely deserve better.”

6. Labor Day with Unite Here!

“For a lot of our neighbors and friends Labor Day means having cookouts, doing back to school shopping, maybe go to the beach, but for us, it means it’s time to fight,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 organizer Jonah Zinn, addressing the crowd of Omni Hotel Providence workers, allies and supporters. “These 200 workers at the Omni Providence have been without a contract for seven months now. Our demands are very simple, and I think they are demands that most Rhode islanders can identify with: Good wages, affordable healthcare, a good pension, and safe work loads.”

The 200 employees at the Omni Providence Hotel workers have been without a contract for seven months and “are tired of waiting.”

7. Sam Howard suggests…

8. Reverend Donnie Anderson

My friend and ally Reverend Donnie Anderson profiled in the Providence Journal after taking a 3-month sabbatical from her work at the Rhode Island State Council of Churches to transition to a woman.

“I looked in the mirror and I said out loud, ‘Admit it, you’re a woman. That’s who you are,’” recalled Anderson…

“Never once did I question that God loved me and cared for me the way I am. And as I got clarity around what it means to be transgender, I also realized this is the way God made me. I am not a mistake. This is the way I was made, and I celebrate that.”

9. Alleged?

Why did Dan Yorke used the term “alleged” when titling his talk with Bishop Thomas Tobin about the Pennsylvania Catholic Church sex abuse scandal on State of Mind?

Over at the Rhode Island Catholic there is no mincing of words by Tobin, who said, “We need to apologize for the terrible suffering they have endured at the hands of some members of the Church, including clergy. The effects of abuse are horrendous, they are long-lasting and they do not heal quickly. We have to remember that these victims go to bed every night and wake up every morning with the consequences of abuse. So we need to be acutely aware of that and continue to do everything we can to respond to allegations of abuse, to purify and reform the Church and reach out to those who have been harmed. That is our challenge now and our mandate from God.”

10. The Woman Project interviews Kiersten Marek

“It is essential to the practice of health care at every level that reproductive freedom is maintained,” said Marek, a clinical social worker & feminist philanthropy publisher. “As a therapist, I am perhaps more aware of this essential nature of reproductive health care because I am privy to the difficult decisions that women and men make regarding reproduction. I see it as part of my job to ensure that we have all options available reproductively.”

11. Saturday’s full lighting at WaterFire sponsored is by National Grid.

12. The Bartholomewtown Podcast: Spencer Dickinson

“In this episode, Bill Bartholomew welcomes Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Spencer Dickinson to the loft, just days ahead of his Democratic primary contest against Governor Gina Raimondo and former Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown. Mr Dickinson offers a deep-dive into his position that Rhode Island government is massively corrupted by Dark Money Politics, and that his experiences in the United States Army, Rhode Island General Assembly and in business uniquely qualify him to ‘clean-up’ state government.”

13. Picture of the Week:

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