Dave's Column

Dave Richards for July 31st.......................

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for July 31st…………….

 

 --The summertime fun rolls right along every Friday night at the River Island Art Park with the Levitt/AMP Woonsocket Concert Series.  Last week’s crowds were the largest yet, as the series seems to be hitting its stride.  

  This Friday they’ll have a little competition as the final Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Carnival gets under way tomorrow night and continues each night (plus a Saturday matinee) until the big drawings at the close on Saturday evening.  While the Our Lady Queen of Martyrs parish has been merged to become Holy Trinity Parish, they’re keeping the O.L.Q.M. name for one more year because all the contracts had been signed before Holy Trinity became official.  So, in a way, it’s the last “Queen-a-Mahtahz” Carnival, but I’m told to expect another carnival next year under the Holy Trinity banner. 

  Ahhh, the memories that have been made over the past decades on that little corner of land at Park Square!  I don’t care what they call it, it’s great and I’ll be there having a whale of a great time, I hope you will, too.

  

--So we now have our answer to why nobody wanted to debate the question of an elected or appointed school committee in Woonsocket’s charter referendum question, decided a week ago.  Virtually everyone seemed to have their mind made up and the advocates for the appointed version were soundly defeated by a 4 to 1 margin. 

  I still would have liked to see a debate on the issue, but most everyone had their minds made up.  Now that the method is decided, we will need to decide who gets elected.  

  I spoke with present School Committee Vice-Chair (and newly-minted Autumnfest Grand Marshal) Paul Bourget yesterday when he visited our Coffee An’ program.  Paul described the time at the Rotary Charter Night when he was named and how he actually didn’t hear them name him the first time.  Still “stunned”, he’s looking very much forward to Autumnfest in October and riding in the parade with his wife and some family members.

  I took the chance to ask Paul about his take on the recent referendum question which will essentially take him off the school committee when it ceases to be an appointed body.  He told me that he is planning on running to be an elected school committee member in the November election and mentioned also that current school committee chair Soren Seale will run for an elected seat, former appointed school committee member Donald Burke whose lack of re-appointment precipitated, in large part, the referendum switching back to an elected school committee will run for an elected seat also, and Lynn Bouvier-Kapiskas, the Chair of the Special Education Local Advisory Committee has also told Paul she will run for an elected seat this November.  That makes 4 people committed to run already and it’s still weeks before the declaration window will open at the city board of canvassers to make it official. 

  I’m delighted there is so much interest right out of the gate.  Of course, I’m really not surprised at these four names, either.  Plus, I imagine there are others, perhaps those appointed but not confirmed by the city council in the past, who might want to throw their hats into the political ring.  Or maybe not.  It’s quite a different thing to be appointed to a job compared to running in a public election to get it.  That’s a point that Paul Bourget made on the air yesterday.  He told me he would never have thought he would ever run for an elected office.  But things are different now.  His work as an appointed school committee member has been so rewarding to him that, even though he never thought he’d do it, he will commit himself to the electoral process in order to continue his hard but rewarding work.

  So, we now have a diverse field of citizens who have offered themselves for elected office which, I think, sets the stage for a lively debate on the issues Woonsocket faces and possible solutions to the problems at hand.  No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

   Just the fact that voters can change the charter which governs them and later, deciding the change is no longer needed, change the charter back as it once was proves to me that our system of government is working, and working well.

 

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

 

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Dave Richards for July 24th

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for July 24th…………….

 

 --Does anybody know what it means to type in all capital letters in an email or a ‘Tweet’ message on social media?  Sure you do.  In the 21st century it commonly means the writer is shouting the words, presumably for emphasis.  This is just what President Trump did this past weekend, and to me, it’s just another “Ewing Can’t Read” episode where the person making the statement defeats themselves with their own words. 

  I refer to a time I went to the Civic Center in Providence with my friend Vin Ciavatta to watch the P.C. Friars play basketball against the Georgetown team.  Playing for Georgetown at that time was the now-famed Patrick Ewing.  Patrick was a very big boy, a great basketball player, but not a very good conversationalist.  The word got around that he was in college strictly on a scholarship for basketball and his academics were not his focus.  Well, at the game, I saw a spectator on the sidelines hold up a sign in front of Patrick’s face which read, “Ewing Can’t Read”.   The sign said more about the one holding it than it did about Patrick Ewing.  If, only if, the young man really couldn’t read…….then he couldn’t read the sign and the message was lost.

 President Trump “Tweeted” out, in ALL CAPS, that the leader of Iran had better stop threatening the United States or…….and here’s the embarrassing part…….Mr. Trump proceeded to make specific threats to Iran’s well-being. 

  It seems to me that if you wanted to stop another country’s leader from threatening your country, the wrong way to go about it is to threaten his country.  Ugh.

 

 

 --Today Woonsocket voters will go to their respective polling places and cast their vote to either pass or reject a referendum question which, if passed, will change the Home Rule Charter of the City of Woonsocket to return to a School Committee which is elected by the voters instead of appointed by the Mayor and Ratified by the City Council. 

   I’ll avoid going over the details at this point, since I suspect that if you are reading these words you are either interested or involved enough in your community to know the facts relating to this question and probably also your own position on it.  What I will say here is simply my opinion and observations on this election. 

  First, as I think back on the election which brought about today election, the one where the voters changed the charter from an elected to an appointed School Committee, I remember it was in reaction to an unresponsiveness of the last elected School Committee to the wishes of the electorate.  The main issue was repeated financial deficits within the school department.   

   I remember thinking I didn’t know why voters would give up their right to choose who sat on the school committee and I remember shaking my head in wonder when the voters did just that.  I comforted myself with the knowledge that the voters could always change it back the way it was once Woonsocket’s financial problems were brought under control.

   So you can easily understand why I was not only not surprised, but rather pleased to hear talk of the switch-back becoming serious.  I thought it was the kind of question which could, because it was the only question on the ballot in this special election, receive a proper vetting with a public debate as to the pros and cons of both methods of seating a school committee.  I have been disappointed such a debate did not take place.

   As circumstances have unfolded, the question we will decide today has not been debated on its essential merits, but instead by who supports the approval or rejection of the question.  This is a shame.  But we come by this problem honestly, as a matter of circumstance, and I think that you and I are smart enough to recognize this fact and rise above the personalities involved and vote with our intellect, not our emotions.  I’m equally sure that you already have an opinion on the matter and know your own mind. 

   Today is the day your opinion matters.  No one will know how you vote, so vote the way which is right for you.  Vote for what YOU think is best for our city.  But above all, please vote today.  All 12 polling places are open, so unless you’ve changed addresses you will vote at the same polling place you voted in last time.  And consider also that with all polling places open and a light turnout (sadly) predicted, you’ll be in and out in no time at all.

 

 --That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

 

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Dave Richards for July 17th

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for July 17th…………….

 

 --Okay, I’m going to make a comment regarding a subject on which I should probably keep my thoughts to myself.  I will reject my own wise advice this time because, while the behind-the-scenes workings of broadcast stations isn’t interesting to most people, if you knew something about it, yesterday’s actions and comments by federal government officials will make more sense to you. 

  The topic at hand is a petition to the FCC by an enormous broadcasting company named Sinclair to be allowed to purchase even more TV stations than it presently owns, and to purchase them from Tribune Broadcasting.  This application has not been acted upon favorably by the FCC yet.  Instead, it has been sent to an Administrative Law Judge. 

 You need to know that there really are limits to the number of stations which can be owned by one company.  Because of those limits, when very large broadcasting companies like Sinclair want to buy more stations, they often have to sell off some of their lesser stations to avoid going over the cap in any one market.  And here’s where something smells ‘fishy’ for the Federal Communications Commission.  The Chairman of the FCC, Mr. Ajit Pai, has made a statement saying he is suspicious that some of the stations Sinclair will sell off in the proposed deal will still be under the day-to-day control of Sinclair.  This is completely against the law.  

  The idea of “divestiture”, as selling off stations in this kind of situation is called, is to keep one company from controlling too much of the programming America sees.   So, to control programming after you sell the station, as is suspected here, is simply not allowed.  To hide this control is worse.

 What few people are coming right out and saying here is Sinclair, with this purchase of Tribune stations would control by majority the local news programs on more TV stations than any other company has in U.S. history.

 Time was that local TV news organizations, even those owned by large companies, were allowed to report the news the way they saw it at their local stations.  What everyone is afraid of here is that Sinclair doesn’t operate that way.  They tell the local newsrooms at all their stations what opinions to air and what ‘spin’ to put on stories, and even force their stations to air news stories and editorials which are not produced locally but which Sinclair wants broadcast, turning “local” news into “Sinclair Network” news.

 You can now say, “who cares, it’s their station they can do what they want with it”.  Well, here’s where I have to say I agree, to a point.  However, that ‘point’, in my opinion, has been crossed when a virtual monopoly of out-of-town opinion is being forced upon the newsrooms of local stations masquerading as local news.  To me it is dishonest.

 People ‘in the know’ are already aware of this practice by Sinclair, but they are careful in expressing themselves for the obvious reasons.  Congressman David Cicciline (D-RI-1) released the boldest of all the statements on the subject after yesterday’s FCC announcement, and I quote, “This is the right decision. If Sinclair buys Tribune, it will control the local TV news market. It will be able to raise costs, eliminate jobs, and threaten the integrity of local reporting.”

 “Media consolidation doesn’t just raise the possibility of higher prices on consumers—it raises far deeper concerns about the ability of corporate monopolies, motivated both by profit and politics, to influence public opinion by injecting or withholding information from elected officials and voters.” 

 “Vigorous antitrust enforcement is one of the most important tools to protect our democracy against the concentration of economic power. The American people expect the FCC to prevent mergers like this one.”  This is one time I can completely agree with Congressman Cicciline. 

  You see, we need to be careful here that we don’t just deny Sinclair’s actions because we disagree with the opinions they force their local newscasters to express.  That would be wrong.  What we need is more stations expressing their own opinions, thus diversifying opinion, points of view, and promoting a lively discussion on issues of public importance.

  If Sinclair allowed their local newsrooms to make all programming and editorial decisions locally, I think this matter could be settled.  But that is not the way they want to do business.  

  I’ve been in the broadcasting business all my working life.  50 years this past April.  I’ve worked at stations which were sold.  It’s often a terrible work experience.  On one occasion I was the buyer.  It’s never an easy thing for the employees.  My heart goes out to my colleagues at Channel 10 TV, the Sinclair-owned station in Rhode Island.  I want you to know that your friends here in Rhode Island know and appreciate the position you are in and we all hope that Sinclair, facing increasing pressure from government officials, will change their policies and allow more decisions at WJAR to be made by Rhode Islanders.

 

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

 

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Dave Richards for July 10th

­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for July 10th…………….

 

--This weekend we have two really nice outdoor events going on in our city, and both at River Island Art Park.  We have week three of the Levitt/AMP Woonsocket Concert series on Friday night, featuring The Lexies and headliner band Steve Smith and the Naked Truth to be followed on Saturday and Sunday by a delightful Art and Music Festival with continuous music and food and booths. 

   Some folks talk about “the good old days”.  I say rubbish to that.  I was there and they weren’t so good.  I remember growing up here and there was truly ‘nothing’ to do in the summertime except for the St. James, Manville, and the Queen of Martyr’s Carnival in Woonsocket.  Now, we have three great events in one weekend!  Make the most of it and make good memories, folks! 

 

--I heard an interesting interview on the radio yesterday.  The person being interviewed was Steve Brown, the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.  Yes, I had the same initial reaction when I heard A.C.L.U. as many of you do.  They have a reputation of being the St. Christopher of the legal system, that is to say, “the patron saint of lost causes”.  That’s not particularly accurate, but it’s the image they have built for themselves among the general public, it seems to me.

  Regardless of what we may think of the organization, the interview left me with one clear idea.  The idea is that our country is changing fundamentally and on many different levels.

  The change I see is not about liberal or conservative points of view or political leanings.  The change I’m talking about is one of the most basic changes this country has ever seen.  It is the reason historians give for the American Civil War of the 1860s.  This topic has been debated since the earliest days of the Republic.  It is the balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual states and the rights and responsibilities of the federal government. 

  The Constitution, which is the fundamental instrument of our country, says it well.  Those rights not specifically reserved by the federal government belong to the individual states.  What has actually happened, though, down through history is the Federal Government has gotten stronger and the states have, if not gotten weaker, have at least looked to the feds to do the dirty work they didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to do.  This appears to be changing. 

  Whether it’s because so many people now look at a bloated federal government as ineffective, or because so many people disagree or disrespect the federal government, state after state is passing laws they agree with, even in contradiction to federal statutes. 

  One example of this is the phenomena of so many states passing laws regarding the use of marijuana.  But it won’t stop there.  My deadline for this column prohibits me from knowing as I write these words who President Trump nominated to the Supreme Court, but conventional wisdom indicates it will not be a persona of liberal or progressive leanings.  In fact, the odds-on bet is it will be a conservative.  

  Liberals all over the country are predicting the 45 year-old Supreme Court decision regarding the legality of abortion, commonly known as “Roe vs. Wade” may be re-interpreted by the new Supreme Court to either dis-allow it or make other changes to weaken its effect.  The ACLU and others have sounded the “all hands on deck” klaxon and are now working, at least in Rhode Island, to pass state laws which will codify that Supreme Court decision and make it state law here.  They reason that if the state acts in this manner, it doesn’t matter what happens in Washington, at least in Rhode Island. 

  They have a point.  And this is only one example of how states are reacting to a federal government which seems to be dividing us instead of uniting us.  I am uneasy with this development, as I’m sure you can understand.  Of course, it is a trend so big and so fundamental that neither you nor I can do much to alter its course.  That is something only a president can do.  The president must unify the majority of the people in the country into a group with one common direction and with concern for others as well as themselves.  It takes a special kind of leader to do that.  It takes a person of uncommon skills to do that.  I certainly hope we can elect such a person next time.  It appears this president doesn’t have the skills to unify, only to divide. 

 

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

 

 

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Dave Richards for July 3rd.........

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for July 3rd…………….

 

--The current heat wave is certainly making the Blackstone Valley bake!  After months of ‘almost spring’ the summer season is unmistakably here.  And with the mercury, tempers are getting hotter.  Some people are uncomfortable and unhappy and they don’t hide it.  They disagree with others and fight with each other, sometimes just to blow off steam.  It is not mankind’s most attractive feature.  

   Protesters last week across our area joined those across the country in protesting the separation of immigrant children from their parents who brought them into the country in violation of our laws.  That’s a fine idea, if it weren’t two weeks after the government had already stopped doing it.  But why waste a good protest topic simply because it’s gone? 

  Politics is getting to be a blood sport.  People more and more ignore common sense and become suicidal about winning a political argument or destroying a political foe.  No holds are barred.  It’s terrible behavior.     

  Yes, my friend there is certainly much to make us unhappy these days, but I don’t know why it has to come to this.  There is much to be happy about.  For instance, tonight at Barry Field the city will stage its concert and fireworks display, and I plan to just go there.  Oh, I’d thought about broadcasting it, but frankly, I’m tired and if I broadcast it, I’d just become more tired.  I’m just going to take a nice walk up there and sit and enjoy.  I hope you do, too.  I hope our city leaders do as well.  Forget the disagreements for a day or so and come back with a fresh outlook and maybe a solution.  You never know until you try.

  

--Another thing to be happy about?  Last Friday was the first of the Levitt/AMP Woonsocket concerts in River Island Art Park and a fine time was had by all.  The crowds were nice and well-behaved.  Not big like Autumnfest, but very nice with plenty of room under the shady trees to unfold your chair and relax.  The experiment of selling alcohol for consumption within the park was a success, and everyone respected the rules.  It was a fine time.  This Friday will be week two of ten and there will be dancing there I can assure you, as a young lady from Providence called EhShawnee will bring her tropical island dance music to the stage.  Take some time to be there.

  

--Yes, it’s for sure that tempers can run short when the heat makes us uncomfortable.  So it is at this time I think we should remind ourselves of the many blessings we share the days, bought with the lives and blood of thousands who came before us.  On Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day we pause and reflect.  But I think it’s even more appropriate that on July 4th we pause for a moment and reflect on the sacrifices made by those we never knew.  People who could have tried to get along under British rule, but chose instead to bring upon themselves the unspeakable horrors and hardships of war in order to bring upon us a legacy of liberty.  These people, older than our great-grandfather’s great-grandfather are separated from us by time, but their gift to us, bought with their sacrifice, remains for us to enjoy. 

  My father taught me that one of the greatest shames a person can bring upon themselves is to disrespect a gift.  Whether from God or from another person, a gift is special and deserves both our sincere gratitude and our special care to preserve it.  It could be a talent you come by naturally and share with others, or it could be the opportunities and advantages of simply living in the United States of America.  Yes, for all of her faults she still gives her citizens a place to live, to aspire, to win, and to fail………but then the chance to try again, this time to win.  What more can a person truly ask for than a chance to make a better life?

  Many people from other countries have asked for the same and come here to get it.  If my numbers are correct, America’s population has doubled since the last World War.  Yes, some came here illegally and some came here in accord with our laws.  But they all came here for the same reason.  To have a better life than where they came from could give them.  To enjoy the Hope of a better life for themselves and their families.  Some have endured much to get a share of that Hope.  We who were born and raised here got it for nothi--  no, that’s wrong.  We got it as a gift from those who came and worked and fought and sometimes died so we could have what we have.  

  Stop for a moment and consider that, friend.  Doesn’t it seem wrong to disagree and argue so much with each other……….when we all have it so good?

  

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. 

 

Have a safe and Happy Independence Day……..and ………Thanks for reading. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dave Richards for June 26th

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for June 26th…………….

 

--Well, for the first time since the beginning of 2018 the citizens of Rhode Island can breathe a sigh of relief, we are finally “safe”.  The Rhode Island General Assembly has completed their work for another session.  As sessions go, it was on the whole less harmful to the personal rights of Rhode Islanders than last year’s session, probably because it’s an election year and, while they had to do something to please the special interests in the home districts, they had to also tread softly and not displease the masses or give likely opponents ammunition for the campaign trail. 

  I say this each year when the Assembly ends their labors and I say it with my tongue firmly set inside my cheek because as much as we may say, with no undue cynicism, that the General Assembly will do what it wants with no regard to right or wrong, it’s not always like that.  I’ve commented before that a person is only a leader when others are following them.  I believe that to be true.  So, too, with our elected leaders in the General Assembly. 

  One reason the Speaker of the House had such a tough time this year is that he was obliged to address the desires of the folks back in the district he represents.  He had a close election last time and he doesn’t want another one.  This fact moderated his behavior on several topics during the session.

  One topic where the Speaker had some consternation was the so-called “Pawsox deal”.  This was a no-brainer good deal for everyone, but the folks back home in the Speaker’s district didn’t want it because it would help Pawtucket and do nothing for them.  Okay.  That is their privilege to think that way.  But on the other hand the Speaker knew that other representative districts represented by other Representatives were squarely behind it.  If he killed the deal outright, the affected Reps might not vote him in as Speaker again.  If he didn’t do it at least some harm, he might not be re-elected to the House to stand for re-election by his colleagues as Speaker.  You see, even the so-called “most powerful man in the state government” doesn’t have it as easy as you might think.

  So the deal which passed took away any financial guarantees of the state and let the deal move forward IF the ball club and the City of Pawtucket could swing the deal without the state being a ‘co-signer’.

  Given what we are hearing about the proposal the City of Worcester has put on the table to entice the Pawsox to move to their city, there is clearly a big decision to be made here.  

  I’m sure the owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox would rather stay in Rhode Island if they can have a new ball park to work in.  But “rather” doesn’t pay the bills, does it?  It will take a complex analysis of a number of variables, some of which the club will not be in control of, before a decision can be made. 

  It will cost them more money to just stay in Rhode Island.  But the new ball park planned here will give them many more opportunities to make the extra money.  They also have a fan base here which cannot be expected to drive up Route 146 every time they want to see a game.  There will be at least initial losses at the gate if they move.  

  Then there are the extra expenses of a move to another city.  The loss of the fan base and the expense of building a new one.  Plus, the losses which might be expected to continue while the fan base is built up there.

  And consider this.  What if the team doesn’t win consistently at Worcester?  If that happened in Pawtucket, and it has happened in Pawtucket, the fans still come out to see the games.  Could you expect that to happen in Worcester?  I don’t think so.  A bad season just after the move could be financially disastrous to the ball club.  And remember that it is much easier for a minor league team to have a bad year through no fault of their own.  All you need is a bunch of injuries on the Boston Red Sox team calling up minor league players and taking the talent away from the minor league club.

  So at least a deal is on the table after a year and a half of bumbling by elected officials who at times more resembled frightened kittens than confident leaders.  I know the public will support the team, that has been proven over the many years.  But the real question here is whether the team’s affection for and warm relationship with its fans can overcome the damage to the team’s relationship with government leaders who, in my opinion, treated the Pawsox as if they were bums looking for a handout.

  I think the owners of the Pawsox have a right to resent this treatment.  I hope they decide to take the deal, such as it is, and stay in Pawtucket.  Remember as you deliberate, guys, that government leaders come and go……..but baseball goes on forever!   

 

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

 

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Dave Richards for June 5th.............

­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for June 5th…………….

  

--Romeo Berthiaume was on our Monday radio show telling us he had heard that after months of discussion the final decision regarding Woonsocket’s Holy Family, Sacred Heart, and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Roman Catholic Churches is in.  This summer the three parishes will officially merge into one parish which will probably be called Holy Trinity Community.  Not everybody is happy about this change, of course.  That is understandable.  Few people embrace changes they have no control over. 

  To be sure, nobody had much control over this.  And when I say “nobody”, I include the leaders at the Diocese of Providence in that group.  Sure, they are the ones responsible for the final decision, but what were their options?  I used to do technical work for the Diocese years ago when Bishop Gelineau was in charge.  There were closures in those years also.  It was heart-wrenching for the leaders as much as the parishioners then, I can tell you from my personal observations.  I have no reason to expect it was any different for Diocesan Leaders this time.  

  Perhaps it is easier to understand the situation with an analogy.  Imagine you are a passenger in an airplane.  Everything seems to be going well to the passengers, but something is wrong with the engines.  They are using too much fuel.  They don’t have enough fuel now to finish the flight.  They can shut down two of the three engines to conserve fuel, but the plane will need to fly lower and the flight will be bumpy.  There are sure to be passengers who object to the bumpy ride, but the alternative is not finishing the flight.  Continue with one engine or maybe not reach the destination with three engines gulping fuel.  It comes down to that.  Survival with discomfort or possibly not surviving.

  When the decision needs to be made, it needs to be made.  It’s not time to complain about how you got into the position of needing to make the decision or finding blame. 

  Anyway, that’s the way I see it.  Yes, I know you’re thinking it’s easy for me because I don’t belong to Sacred Heart or Holy Family parishes.  But that’s not true, either.  In my heart I am disappointed for members of these parishes.  But I am subject to the same economic realities as they face.  We all are.  Let’s all focus on building a stronger, combined parish and hope we see a change in The Church’s fortunes in the future.    

  

--News came yesterday that the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with a cake-maker who refused to make a wedding cake for two people who were getting married because they were of the same sex.  Original news reports indicated the objection was on religious grounds.  Well, that was a surprise to me!  

  I am surprised because I see all the laws and change going in the opposite direction as this decision suggests. 

  Of course, when the controversy arose I couldn’t understand why anyone would escalate the question up to the highest court in the land.  I struggle with the idea that this couple decided to do it, and I find it easier to imagine that some litigious group did it as part of their mission, not the couple’s.  I mean, any young couple I have known would simply go to another cake shop and the penalty for the baker who refused is that they would lose a sale.  Supreme Court challenges are pricey to say the least.  Somebody else had to bankroll it.

  I have known people who are convinced by some pastor at their church that hate and bigotry are rightful expressions of disapproval for whomever the pastor disapproves of.  It’s a shame that still happens in this day and age, but it does.  I personally prefer to try to get along with everyone and wish them happiness in life so long as they are not attacking me or my loved ones.  I believe strongly in positive acts of caring and love, so I would not belong to a church that taught me to do rotten things to people who aren’t hurting me.  But not all of us have those kinds of convictions.  They are called “followers”.  And there seems to be no shortage of young bucks out there who will exhibit control over their followers.  That’s what I think happened here.  And then five out of the seven members of the Supreme Court agreed they didn’t want to rule that people couldn’t live according to their religious convictions, regardless of how they came by them.

  

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. 

 Thanks for reading. 

  

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Dave Richards for May 29, 2018

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for May 29th…………….

 

--Having just finished the Memorial Day weekend, it’s back to the grindstone for all of us.  For our secondary school students, it’s the last break before either graduation or matriculation.   Although sometimes it is both.  I see sometimes they have special ceremonies when a youngster finishes Kindergarten, 3rd Grade, or moves to the Middle School.  At first I thought it diminished the importance of the High School Commencement, but it’s harmless, really.  There’s no reason we shouldn’t celebrate the little things in life.  And, when you’re that little, the little things are bigger than they seem to others.

   

--We had a great crowd show up at the United Veterans’ Council Armed Forces Park yesterday, and that’s nice.  I do remember when I was growing up in the 1960s that Memorial Day activities were falling out of favor due to the public dislike of the Vietnam War.  The public wanted us out of there, but our leaders not only stayed in, but they drafted even more young men and escalated the hostilities by the end of the decade.  Frustrated, many Americans took their frustrations out on the poor guys who fought.  I have one friend who finished his hitch, got off the ship, threw his duffle bag and uniform in the harbor and never mentioned his service to anyone until recently.  When I mentioned my friend to a Vietnam Era Veteran last week, he told me more guys did that than anybody knows.

  Today things are different, thankfully.  We can now separate the troops from the leaders in our minds, and that’s a good thing.  I overheard two men talking recently and one said to the other, “Remember when we were kids they used to tell us we could be anything we wanted to be?  And the other guy says, “Yup”.  Do you remember they told us that anyone could even grow up to be President of the United States?  The other guy again says, “Yup. Ain’t it a shame they were right?”  Then the first guy says, Yup.   

  Like I said, at least now we can differentiate between the leaders and the troops.

 

--I received some good news from Father Kiley the other day.  He tells me that the people of St. James Church in Manville have just finished re-furbishing the parish rectory and turned it into a new convent to welcome three sisters who will minister in area health facilities.  Father Thomas Ferland, pastor at St. James, will be joined by Bishop Thomas Tobin to offer the Mass of Blessing to dedicate the new convent this Thursday.  

  Father Kiley makes the point in his note to me that in an era such as ours, this is quite a positive and unique occurrence.  Congratulations to the parish, and welcome to the Blackstone Valley, sisters!

  

--In apparent response to my words last week about my concerns that Governor Raimondo’s zeal to toll trucks may have an adverse effect on CVS’ relationship with Northern Rhode Island, I received an email in which a reader felt moved to vent-off their frustrations with Woonsocket’s apparent blunders with big business.  They brought up Wal-Mart’s exodus to North Smithfield and others.  They commented on the bickering between the legislative and executive branch in open meetings.  And they wondered how long the few businesses in East Woonsocket’s Diamond Hill Road Business District will survive.  This reader also brought up Woonsocket’s supplemental tax bills of a few years ago.  

  They signed their email, so I do want to comment on it.  I don’t want to mention their name, however, I don’t have permission for that.  And, since I will disagree with them here, I will not ask for permission. 

  I said I will disagree.  That’s not totally true.  I agree there have been regrettable things happen in our city over the years.  I also cringe when I hear my elected officials bickering in public.  And nobody liked the additional tax bills.  But you need to remember that life is 10% what happens and 90% what you do about it.  I’ve analyzed some of our recent losses to study the story behind the story.  

 The Wal-Mart incident was simply not the fault of city leaders.  They did all they legally could to help Wal-Mart.  Residential neighbors of the Wal-Mart facility were the ones who objected to the expansion and they were successful in securing financial backing by businesses in that area so they could tie-up Wal-Mart’s planned expansion in court.  By the way, one of those businesses closed down after Wal-Mart moved out of the neighborhood.  I always thought that proved the opposition was short-sighted.

  The supplemental tax bills were unavoidable after the Woonsocket School Department failed repeatedly to adjust to decreases in financial support from the State.  They simply had no choice. 

  That leaves the bickering in public.  Well, you have me there.  I have always felt that moms and dads may have fights, but that they shouldn’t fight in front of the kids.  I liken what we are seeing here to that.   

  But I think I can say with confidence that a probable by-product of the upcoming municipal elections may actually be more civility between the branches of city government.  If I am right about that, then, as the late former Mayor Francis Lanctot often said, “This, too, shall pass.”

  I think we can also take heart in the new businesses which are slowly moving into the Diamond Hill Road Plazas.  Even McDonalds is showing they are here to stay with further investment.  And someday ……someday………the registry will move up there from Pond Street.  I don’t think Pond Street will miss the Registry as much as the Registry will benefit the plazas.  Just think……..hundreds of people drawn to the plazas every day, forced to stand in line for hours……….I’ll bet they’ll be hungry and thirsty after that!

  

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.   Thanks for reading. 

  

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Dave Richards for May 22nd................

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for May 22nd…………….

 

--For those who don’t believe there is such a thing as “legislative creep” I offer this from a Press Release of the R.I. General Assembly.   “Measure 2018-S2530 is sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket).  This bill would expand the current law so that adult residents of Rhode Island would be “included” in the Department of Health immunization registry presently maintained for children.”

Remember when it was no big thing that the Department of Health wanted to keep records of what immunizations your kids had?  Guess what?  Now they want to keep tabs on you, too.  Of course, it’s for your own good, you know. 

  I say it takes no imagination to figure where they’re going with this.  Can’t you just see some self-righteous do-gooder in the General Assembly proposing a law sometime in the future mandating we all get immunizations for whatever they think we should get them for whether we want them or not?  I can imagine that.  And it begins with legislation such as this.  Legislation which is not even honest enough to tell you where they are hoping to end up.

  Oh, and just so I cannot be accused of withholding facts, this year’s bill does allow adults to “opt-out” of the registry if they go to the Department of Health and fill out a form.  This year they’ll let you opt-out, that is.  Next year?

 

--Before we meet again on these pages our nation will have observed Memorial Day 2018.  For weeks, Veterans groups and volunteers have been “flagging” the graves of deceased Veterans at area cemeteries with American Flags.  A true labor of love and dedication.  Area communities  will observe in their own ways.  For example, Blackstone has a celebration including fireworks.  North Smithfield has an absolutely charming parade.  Woonsocket will gather at the monument in the Veterans Park on Davison Avenue to honor our dead.  The Woonsocket event will be broadcast and streamed live for those who cannot attend.   

Almost everyone will do something this coming weekend to mark the holiday and the customary start of Summertime.  I feel I wouldn’t be doing my part without reminding everyone to consider personal and group safety when enjoying the great summertime weather.  Enjoy it.  Treasure it.  Make good memories.  But live to do it again next year.

 

--For those of you who travel the North Smithfield Expressway………wait.  Stop.  You don’t know what stretch of road that is?  Well, it’s the part of R.I.146 between the exit with R.I.146A just north of Branch River Village and running south to the West Acres Interchange where R.I.146A once again joins R.I.146.  They were going to call it the “Woonsocket, Union Village, and Branch Village By-Pass” when it was built in the early 60’s, but they couldn’t fit all those words on a sign.  So they just called it the “North Smithfield Expressway”.  Then the sign fell down. 

But I digress…… 

For those of you who do travel along the North Smithfield Expressway, you have no doubt observed the construction work to rebuild the overpass bridge for Woonsocket Hill Road.  You probably also noted some construction work a little further north at the Pound Hill Road exit.  That work, I am told is to construct the toll facilities for Governor Raimondo’s famous “Truck-Only Tolls”.  (Well, “Truck-Only” at first, that is.)  I think it’s a shame they are building them there, when just a bit south of there are the truck inspection turn-offs.  They’re not used much today for inspecting trucks, but if they used them for the tolls they’d save us a lot of construction costs, I think.  Why weren’t they used?  Simple.  Gotta get tolls from those CVS trucks turning off at Pound Hill Road to get to their warehouse.

But even that answer doesn’t make me feel right.  You and I both know a lot of people who work for CVS.  This company, started in Woonsocket by the Goldstein boys, has grown to the point that they could make the decision to move their headquarters and operations to another part of the country in 5 minutes over a bowl of soup.  It would be that simple.  So why would we want to give them any reasons to do that? 

I’m not afraid to tell you that I am more than just a little uncomfortable that the fate of our entire Northern Rhode Island region seems to be taken so lightly by a governor who clearly has high personal ambitions outside our state.  I personally feel that she just doesn’t care enough about the possible consequences because they won’t be her consequences……she’ll just leave……and leave us to deal with the calamity which would follow. 

If it did happen, it will be beyond any governor’s ability to reverse once it started.  It is for this reason that I think carelessly giving CVS another reason to move out of Northern Rhode Island is bad public policy for our entire region. 

  

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

 

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Dave Richards for May 14th............

­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for May 14th…………….

 

--You may have heard that yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court took an action which some say will ‘open the flood gates’ to sports betting across the nation.  You may have heard that this is the beginning of the end for honest sports play.  And you may have heard it’s the best thing to happen in years to the sports fan. 

  Depending on your perspective, all of the above may be true.  But I think we’re all hearing the usual exaggerations which predominate whenever there is an unknown.  It’s true, there is a lot which is unknown.  But here’s what we do know.

  The U.S. Supreme Court has declared ‘unconstitutional’ a 25 year-old law which banned, in all states except Nevada, betting on sports games.  The reason it gave for that decision is that the law didn’t regulate the gambling in all states except Nevada, it banned it.  The court’s opinion was the constitution says if the Federal Government would not regulate it, it was up to each State to regulate it.  I remember from Social Studies class in high school that ‘all powers not specifically given to the federal government by the Constitution are given to the States’.  The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the constitution in matters which come before it.  In this case, the Court ruled that Congress passed an unconstitutional law. 

  You may ask, “how could it take 25 years for the Supreme Court to decide this?”  Well, it didn’t take that long.  It took mostly that long for someone, in this case the Governor of the State of New Jersey, to ask the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.

  Now that it has been challenged and struck down, what will happen next?  Well, that depends on your perspective.  In Nevada, nothing new will happen.  In states like New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Mississippi and others, they’ll need to pass quick laws which regulate this type of betting to their states.

  A press release received at our radio station from the President of the Rhode Island Senate, Dominick J. Ruggerio, yesterday indicated at least his house in the legislature was not caught by surprise.  President Ruggerio said, “In anticipation of this decision, I introduced legislation this year to enable sports betting at the facilities where it has been approved by voters already, Twin River in Lincoln and the new venue being constructed in Tiverton.”  Other legislators were quick to support the idea with the same enthusiasm in which an inmate on death row would welcome a reprieve from the Governor.  Facing monumental budget issues, they are trying hard to keep their dignity as they reach for the sunglasses to hide their tears of relief.  The term “Giddy with Laughter” would not go too far in describing the mood of some legislators at the prospect of being able to spend the millions of new dollars this expansion of gambling will yield.

  However, I’m not happy with Rhode Island jumping on the “Sports Betting Boat”.  Don’t get me wrong, for the good things which can happen with these changes I am happy.  But there is a down-side to all this.  No, I’m not a pessimist.  Listen, we already have a state budget which is so dependent upon the traditional vices of smoking, drinking, and gambling, that if everyone suddenly ‘got religion’ and gave it up the entire Rhode Island State Government would have the life expectancy of an Ice Cream Cone on the Fourth of July.  I’m not eager to see it any more dependent on sin taxes than it is now.

  I have nothing against people having fun.  But we all know that some people have a hard time knowing when ‘enough is enough’.  For these people we have just made life much more perilous.  And this doesn’t even consider the extra temptations and pressures this will put on the athletes. 

  I know I sound like a ‘Debbie Downer’ with this talk.  I’m not happy I think this way, and I don’t want to spoil anyone else’s fun.  I am just remembering the words of a dear friend who turned out to be a ‘wise old man’.  Former Lt. Governor Joe O’Donnell and I used to amuse ourselves debating big and important topics over lunch.  Topics like the uselessness of party politics (my position) or the dangers of the expansion of gambling in the state (his position).  I have to say that Joe made a great point in his argument against the expansion of gambling which I never forgot.  He told me no matter how much gambling we allow we will never have enough money from it because the General Assembly will just spend more.  That, he concluded, is no way to run a government.

  Joe’s words have been proven true many times since then.  Rhode Island first allowed a state lottery “to fund education”.  Then it funded everything they needed money for.  They have casino gambling now and it’s still not enough money, our deficits have never been bigger.  Just over the border to our west we see the State of Connecticut also running terrible deficits despite having two of the largest casinos in this part of the world within their borders.  I can only conclude that fixing a budget deficit with gambling money has proven to be as effective as having Curley from The Three Stooges fix your plumbing. 

  Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision was laudable in its wisdom.  I think the Supreme Court justices did their job well.  We can only hope and pray the leaders in each state exhibit the same level of wisdom.  

  You see, I can be a starry-eyed optimist. 

 

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

 

 

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