The Uprising, August 24, 2018

“Come on! We all know how this ends! You guys leave, escorted by the police!”
-Antifa counterprotester

Welcome to the Uprising!

I have some thoughts about the rise of fascist groups David Duking themselves to appear reasonable and mainstream. But I want to get some other business out of the way first, so…

1a. Providence City Council, Housing and Poverty

Samuel Howard bluntly stated that this election must be about housing and he wasn’t wrong. We are no longer talking about a housing shortage – we are now using the term housing crisis. Since Sam’s piece was published DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality)’s Tenant and Homeowner Association has held an action outside Rhode Island Housing and organized a candidate forum for Providence City Council candidates.

Less than a third of the city council candidates showed up. As someone commented on Facebook, it is, “Very telling who showed & who didn’t.

Jason Roias, who is running for Providence City Council in Ward 4 against Nicholas Narducci Jr in the September 12 Democratic Primary gave voice to what many attending the forum or watching the videos online have thought:

“I am so disappointed in the amount of candidates not here,” said Roias (at the 1m38s mark). “If you live in Providence and you city councilor is not here, then they do not care about the housing crisis that’s going on in Providence… If you’re not here, you should not be elected.”

1b. Pizza and Politics Mayoral edition

One of the odder fixtures of Providence politics this year are the Pizza and Politics forums emceed by Federal Hill Pizza Chef Billy Manzo. Manzo is an intense and even gruff moderator. I cut the videos to keep the focus on the questions and the candidates, so if you want to experience this particular slice of Rhode Island politics, I encourage you to show up for at least one of these forums.

On Thursday Manzo hosted all three Providence mayoral candidates, including incumbent Mayor Jorge Elorza and his two challengers, retired educator Dr Robert DeRobbio and community organizer Kobi Dennis, all Democrats.

Elorza repeated his plan to “monetize” Providence Water in order to save the city’s finances (5m35s in the video), saying “I’m not saying that everyone has to agree with my specific proposal, but what I am saying is that if you disagree my proposal, you have to propose an actual, a real proposal to honestly engage in this debate… What we need is an honest, adult debate about what it takes to address our long term fiscal challenges.”

1c. Belen Florez

Belen Florez is the endorsed candidate for House District 7 in Providence. Incumbent Representative Daniel McKiernan, says Florez in an oped, “states that he did not seek the endorsement from the local district committee because he is not an insider. However, he received the maximum $1000 donation from Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, received thousands more from special interest groups, was appointed a Municipal Court Judge just one month after being elected as State Representative, and joined a law partnership with a statehouse lobbyist. You can’t be much more of an insider that he is.”

McKiernan is endorsed by Rhode Island Right to Life (see item 16 below).

1d. Daniel McKee and Marriage Equality

In a recent campaign ad, incumbent Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee talks about his support for marriage equality. Now LGBTQ activists who were heavily involved in that effort are pushing back.

“I was involved in helping lead the fight for marriage equality in our state over decades of activism and organizing,” said Lauren Nocera, a leader in the LGBTQ community and longtime marriage equality activist. “From 1998 until 2013, I never saw Dan McKee take action – not until our bill was already on the verge of passing and it was politically safe to do so. It was disappointing to see McKee claiming credit for our fight in his campaign commercial. That’s not what leaders do.”

Aaron Regunberg has actually shown up for our community,” added Wendy Becker, a decades-long advocate on LGBTQ issues. “Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee was entirely absent from our fight to ban conversion therapy, and our advocacy for respect in death for transgender people – fights that Aaron actively supported. And Aaron was knocking on doors and making phone calls for marriage equality years before McKee finally took action, just prior to the marriage bill being signed into law. Politicians can claim credit for our work, but we know Aaron is the leader who has actually been there for us.”

Since publishing this, which came in the form of a release from the Aaron Regunberg campaign, several more LGBTQ activists have commented about McKee’s actual involvement in the marriage equality debate, including this comment from Facebook:

I worked nonstop to win marriage equality here, for 12.5 years. I was one of our leaders. I never heard of any action Dan McKee took to support us, and I never saw him at any action, rally or other public event. On the other hand, Aaron Regunburg was with us from his first days in Providence.”

1e. McKee and PAC money

Also from the Regunberg campaign:

Campaign finance reports filed Tuesday, August 21 with the Rhode Island Board of Elections reveal that incumbent Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee is set to receive $25,000 in Super PAC spending from Wall Street Investor Andrew Boas. This is in addition to an earlier filing showing Wall Street millionaire Anthony Davis contributed $50,000. This raises questions about how much additional corporate dark money will be come into the state to support McKee, says Rhode Island State Representative Aaron Regunberg, who is challenging McKee in the September 12 Democratic Primary.

1f. Gina Raimondo and fossil fuel PAC money

Stacy Schusterman of Tulsa, Oklahoma, chairwoman of Samson Energy Company (a fossil fuel company with leases for off-shore drilling) has donated a cool $250,000 to help Governor Gina Raimondo get re-elected.

No wonder Raimondo won’t sign the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. If she signed, Raimondo will be agreeing to accept no more money from fossil fuel companies.

1g. DontNeedMike.com

“From demonizing immigrants to praising President Trump’s divisive agenda, Mike Earnheart’s own words show he is not fit to represent the 3rd District,” said Representative Moira Walsh campaign manager Alex Hoffman. “DontNeedMike.com will highlight the radical views Mike held as recently as May, and that he has attempted to hide from voters by deleting his social media profiles and starting over from scratch.”

1h. Matt Brown’s housing plan

Gubernatorial candidate Matt Brown has released his housing plan which includes:

  • Unlocking a housing boom by lowering barriers for construction permits and cutting red tape for home builders and helping developers build the 40,000 new homes needed to meet demand over the next decade and lower costs
  • Working with cities and towns to encourage more affordable housing in places that that serve as hubs for jobs and transit
  • Protecting tenants from eviction and homelessness through a Tenant Bill of Rights that includes a cap on statewide cap on annual rent increase to help ensure the incomes of working and middle-class families keep up with the cost of rent.

“Every single person in Rhode Island should be able to afford a home. To solve the housing crisis, the state must lead,” said Brown. “By cutting the red tape that prevents the construction of homes, we can help developers build the 40,000 new homes needed to meet demand over the next decade, bring down the cost of housing and transform our state’s economy and future. We will encourage cities and towns that serve as hubs for jobs and transit to continue expanding their stock of affordable housing. And we will protect tenants through a Tenant Bill of Rights that includes a statewide cap on annual rent increase to help ensure the incomes of working and middle-class families keep up with the cost of rent.”

2. FANG v ICE

On Monday afternoon multiple blockades were erected by activists from The FANG Collective to obstruct the entrances of the Bristol County Jail and House of Correction, a facility that also hosts a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility. At one entrance two 24 foot tripods were set up, that were then scaled and occupied by two demonstrators.

Minutes after the tripods were erected, as can be seen in the video above, with no emergency medical crew on hand or any help from the fire department, unidentified members of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) and personnel  from the facility toppled first one, then the other tripod. At one point an official can be heard saying, “I don’t care,” in answer to cries from onlookers that, “You’re going to hurt her!”

Sherrie and Anne, the two women toppled fro the tripods, both suffered concussions. Four people were arrested and charged with trespass, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. They were released on personal recognizance and will be back in court in New Bedford on October 30.

See:

Entrances to Bristol County Jail blocked by demonstrators over ICE connection

Video: Officers topple FANG tripods blocking entrance to Bristol County Jail

3a. Eastland Food Products Inc

It’s not often that stories can bring tears to my eyes, but the workers at Eastland Food Products Inc in Cranston were once working under conditions that can only be compared to a Dickens novel. In 2016 I wrote:

“There are employees at Eastland who have worked there for twenty years, and they’re still making minimum wage. Workers claim to have never been paid time and a half to work on Sundays. There are allegations of sexual harassment, wage theft, and 60 to 80 hour work weeks. No one working there has ever had a vacation or paid sick days.

“It’s the kind of situation we don’t imagine happening in Rhode Island. It’s the kind of company we picture operating in a right-to work state down south, where workers are not treated fairly or humanely.

“But it’s happening right here in Rhode Island.”

But last Friday I received a press release from the UFCW Local 328. After two long years the workers have a union contract guaranteeing workers wage increases each year of the three-year contract, paid vacations, paid bereavement leave, paid sick days and paid holidays.

“This is a big day for all of us who work at Eastland Food,” said Victor Castro, an employee with 13 years with the company and a leader of the negotiating committee. ” We are proud of what we have accomplished by sticking together.”

3b. Rhode Island Hospital and UNAP

Members of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5098 resoundingly voted Wednesday to approve a new five-year contract with Rhode Island Hospital according to a UNAP press release.

The deal makes significant gains for union members on matters surrounding patient safety and economic security, including:

  • Addressing unsafe staffing and resource concerns by establishing a new staffing, equipment and supplies committee that will meet regularly for the duration of the contract. The committee shall be comprised of UNAP members and management and be led by an independent facilitator. The joint committee will make make recommendations to the hospital administration for its consideration and implementation.
  • Providing a competitive wage plan and addressing economic inequities for both newer and veteran members. All members will realize across-the-board salary increases over the life of the contract. 
  • Preserving the continuity and affordability of UNAP member’s existing health insurance plan.
  • Maintaining the current UNAP member pension plan and also allowing voluntarily opt-in to the hospital-administered 401k, including a six percent employer match.
  • Establishing new humanitarian and military leave guidelines: Members volunteering to participate in two-week humanitarian missions will now receive one week salary. This is a change from the previous policy, which required members to use vacation time for all such activity. Additionally, active military members will be allowed to keep their families on the UNAP health insurance plan. This also represents a change from prior policy, which required members to move their families’ coverage to TriCare. 

“I’m proud of all UNAP members who stood up and raised their voice to win a fair and competitive contract at Rhode Island Hospital,” said Frank Sims, RN, UNAP Local 5098 president. “This has been a long, and at times, difficult process, but I believe we made significant gains for front line caregivers and our patients by remaining committed to the common principles and commitment to care that bind us.”

3c. Groden Center

“We’re striking to show that the current situation with high turnover and all these temporary staff is unacceptable,” said Kersten Brothers, a Behavior Specialist in Providence. “All students, and especially students with autism, need consistency. We will never be able to recruit and retain the staff our students need if management continues to pay poverty wages.”

4. ACLU v Woonsocket

“The ACLU of Rhode Island filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Woonsocket for unlawfully withholding critically needed grant funds from Sojourner House, a social service agency that helps victims of domestic violence. Filed by ACLU of RI volunteer attorneys Matthew Oliverio and Stephen Prignano, the lawsuit alleges that the City withheld the funds without cause or due process, and retaliated against the agency after it petitioned other government agencies for help in resolving the dispute over the funds.

“The suit argues that the City’s actions – which also involve a ban on the agency receiving any similar funding in the future – are irreparably harming the organization and, by extension, the vulnerable groups it serves.”

5. EcoRI: No Decision in Johnston’s Power-Plant Water Deal

6. PawSoligarchs

All of Rhode Island should take a deep breath and realize that the PawSox were never going to stay in in the state if we were unwilling to match or beat the deal $101 million Worcester put on the table. Grant Welker, writing for the Worcester Business Journal, polled spots economists nationwide for their view of the deal. The consensus?

“It virtually never works,” said Nola Agha, a professor at the University of San Francisco who has written about economic effects of minor league stadiums.

More damning is this view from Neil DeMause, a New York City author of a book on sports economics titled Field of Schemes.

“Worcester’s city leaders haven’t just outbid Pawtucket, they’ve ladled on goodies like they’re trying to buy Larry Lucchino‘s love. Assuming they can get past all the legislative hurdles, it should be enough to get the city a pro sports team, but it’s tough to see spending more than $100 million in tax kickbacks and state infrastructure subsidies on a team that you could buy outright for $20 million as smart bargaining.”

Of the ten sports economists polled, only one thought the price being paid by Worcester is worth it: Andrew Zimbalist, a professor at Smith College, who was paid by Worcester to, “help land a deal with the PawSox.”

7. Catholic Church and sexual predators

From the Providence Journal:

“During his earlier years in Pittsburgh, Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin acknowledges he ‘became aware of incidents of sexual abuse when they were reported to the diocese.’

“But in response Tuesday to questions posed earlier about what he knew, when he knew it — and what he did about it, the Providence-based bishop says these allegations were outside his realm of responsibility.”

The Providence Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church earlier this year worked very hard behind the scenes to scuttle a bill that would extend the civil statute of limitations to 35 years after the victim turns 18. Church Lobbyist and occasional priest Bernard Healey warned that, “that a wave of lawsuits could ‘drain resources from other important ministries’ in the diocese.”

I wonder Jesus said about money…

Meanwhile, the debate over celibacy as a contributing cause to the problem of pedophilia in the church once again reared its head.

NPR reports:

James Faluszczak, 48, was one of many witnesses to testify before the grand jury about being abused by an Erie priest. He is a former Northwestern Pennsylvania priest himself and told the grand jury that he also witnessed abuse during his time in the priesthood…

“The grand jury report… paints a picture of a Catholic Church replete with priests who were abusers themselves or were willing to watch and condone the abuse. Faluszczak says that description rings true in his experience. He says the secrecy is connected to the myth that priests are true to their official vows of celibacy.

“Many experts, including A.W. Richard Sipe, a researcher and psychotherapist who studied clergy sex abuse and treated abuser priests, estimate that at any given time, no more than 50 percent of Roman Catholic clergy are actually celibate.

“So when a priest discovers evidence of abuse by a fellow priest, Faluszczak says, he often won’t report it for fear his own indiscretion, albeit not criminal, will be revealed.

“‘People have a right to express themselves sexually and to be in relationships, and those are normal human needs,’ he says. ‘But under the auspices of a promise of celibacy, it becomes a secret that the bishops also have to maintain and a secret that gives cover to the criminal behavior of some of these priests.'”

Given all this, why did Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio kill the bill that would have help Rhode Islanders get justice for such terrible crimes?

8. Fascism and Antifa

Though they claim they are not fascists, racists, or white supremacists, organizers of the “Free Speech Rally” in Boston last Saturday timed their event on the anniversary of last year’s event in Boston that was held one week after the violence in Charlestown that led to the death of Heather Heyer. That last year’s event in Charlestown was meant to be a big coming out party for the so-called “alt-right” and the Boston rally was meant to be the beginning of a multi-state tour has been conveniently overlooked by the media. Boston stopped the alt-right col last year, and they’ve been working to find their footing ever since.

We should not be fooled. Fascism and hate love to clothe themselves in wholesome values: Think Father Charles Coughlin, Reverend Billy Graham and Grand Wizard David Duke.

Right-wing rallies in Boston and Providence have a rather sad track record. About two dozen people show up to claim that they are not racists but nativists and not violent but peaceful, only to be countered by hundreds and even thousands of people who know otherwise.

Some people on the left want to disregard these protests, and claim that the counterprotests are much ado about nothing.

History shows that such a position is a mistake.

9. Jerry Elmer on the Minutemen attack

“Today, August 24, 2018, marks the fiftieth anniversary of an armed attack by a far right-wing group called the Minutemen on the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA) Farm in Voluntown, Connecticut. Seven people were shot during the Minuteman assault, none fatally. I was at the Farm at the time of the attack (I was not shot), and later served for some years on the CNVA Board. Though the Minuteman attack has today been all but forgotten, it was big news at the time.”

10. DNC on fossil fuels and superdelegates

Lauren Niedel calls out the Democratic National Committee as it backs away from its commitment to reform the Superdelagate process and its “no fossil fuel money” pledge in this oped.

11. Sheldon Whitehouse and Bob Plain

“Actually I think there is a very realistic prospect of a carbon bubble bursting,” said Whitehouse. “It is a high risk and low reward proposition and it contributes to a possible economic hazard that could have very broad implications throughout our economy.”

12. Samuel Howard: You probably shouldn’t directly elect legislative leaders

13. The Bartholomewtown Podcast

The Bartholomewtown Podcast interviews Rhode Island GOP Gubernatorial candidate, House Minority Leader, Patricia Morgan

14. Providence Daily Dose: Mattiello Must Go

“I know I sound like a broken record but House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D-Cranston) keeps adding to his list of outrages,” writes Beth Comery. “Today we have a twofer: Mattiello’s cynical use of legislative grants; and Mattiello’s donation to Trump-voting “former” Republican, Michael Earnhart, currently masquerading as a Dem.”

15. Rhode Island Latino PAC endorsements:

In a press release, the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee (RILPAC) proudly announced the endorsement of candidates running in local races included city council, mayor, state legislature and some statewide elections.

RILPAC is committed to educating and electing the best candidates that will best serve and represent Rhode Island’s growing Latinx community. After a lengthy endorsement process over the last few months the endorsement committee has made the following recommendations, which were reviewed and accepted by the PACs Board of Directors.

Endorsements for primary elections went to the following candidates:

Providence-

  • Senate District 1 – Maryellen Goodwin
  • Senate District 7 – Frank Ciccone
  • Senate District 5 – Nick Autiello
  • House Rep Dist. 13 – Mario Mendez
  • House Rep Dist 12 – Luis Vargas
  • House Rep Dist 11 – Grace Diaz
  • House Rep Dist. 9 – Dwayne Keys
  • House Rep Dist. 7 – Belen Florez
  • House Rep Dist. 5 – Marcia Ranglin-Vassell
  • House Rep Dist. 4 – Rebecca Kislak
  • Mayor – Jorge Elorza
  • Council ward 15 – Sabina Matos
  • Council Ward 14 – David Salvatore
  • Council ward 13 – Cyd McKenna
  • Council ward 12 – Kat Kerwin
  • Council ward 8 – Deya Garcia
  • Council ward 6 – Michael Correia
  • Council ward 4 – Jason Roias
  • Council Ward 2 – Ryan Holt
  • Council Ward 1 – Justice Gaines

Pawtucket-

  • Senate District 8 – Sandra Cano
  • House Rep Dist. 60 – Karen Alzate
  • House Rep Dist 58 – Jonathan Vallecilla
  • Council at Large – Emmanuel Echevarria
  • Council at Large – Janie Segui Rodriguez
  • Council at Large – Michael Araujo
  • Council Ward 6 – Tim Rudd
  • Council Ward 5 – Meghan Kallman
  • Council Ward 4 – Andrew Maguire

Central Falls-

  • Council at Large – Maria Rivera
  • Council Ward 1 – Jonathon Acosta
  • Council Ward 4 – Jessica Vega

Cranston-

  • Council at Large – Steve Stycos

Newport-

  • Council at Large – Susan Taylor

Smithfield-

  • Senate District 22 – Stephen Archambault

Statewide-

  • Secretary of State – Nellie Gorbea
  • State Treasurer – Seth Magaziner

16. Rhode Island Right to Life endorsements

Courtesy of Ted Nesi:

17. Picture of the week:


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About Steve Ahlquist 597 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com

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