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  Education, Finances and Honest Government are the issues that are important to the residents of Providence. On this page, you can read my positions on the issues of Education, Tax and Spending, Ethics and Honest Government and the Ten Commandments monument issue. We need to act responsibly for the good of all the citizens of the great city of Providence.
Providence
Population: 176,862
Elevation: 115 feet
Land area: 18.5 square miles
Education

I applaud Governor Carcieri for proposing to give an additional $3.9 million in school aid to Providence in this year's state budget. Since the state will not raise taxes; and the General Assembly will not take money away from the other 38 cities & towns to give to Providence; I urge the Mayor to accept this aid graciously and not demand even more.

I also commend the Governor for proposing to give $600,000 more to the Metropolitan Career & Regional Technical Center (The Met), a network of small alternative High Schools in Providence.

And I especially commend the Governor for proposing an end to the moratorium on Charter Schools, which benefit Providence more than any other city. ( Rhode Island is the only state in the nation which legally blocks the creation of new Charter Schools, that provide a superior education at low cost, due to their freedom from burdensome teachers union controls). Providence currently has the legal limit of 4 Charter Schools (Textron, Cuffee, Highlander & Times 2), but would easily have a dozen or more if allowed to. The Mayor should support legislation to allow Providence an unlimited number of Charter Schools.

I also praise the Governor for trying to make it easier for scientists and engineers to teach math and science in the Providence schools, without having to take all sorts of worthless education courses to gain certification.

I also give credit to the Governor for having the state take oversight over Hope High School, and starting the process to straighten it out. While the Mayor tries to claim responsibility for this, I note that the State Department of Education had to step in, after the city and the teachers union were unable or unwilling to act.

I applaud the efforts of School Superintendent Donnie Evans to improve public education in Providence. But we recognize that he cannot succeed unless we find ways to reduce costs, relieve overcrowding, and provide competition that forces the teachers union to relax its stranglehold on needed reforms.

The time has also come to consider using school vouchers for private & parochial schools, as a way to reduce the city's education costs. This would eliminate overcrowding; end cross-town forced busing; remove the need for costly new buildings; and improve education for everybody.

Taxes & Spending

To balance the city budget without raising taxes, I call on the Mayor to look for ways to spend less, while still providing the same level of services. Specifically, I call on the Mayor to actively support Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey's "Taxpayers Relief Act Of 2006", a creative series of bills that would allow cities to spend less money, by relieving them from unfunded state mandates.

Laffey's legislation would relieve the city from several costly mandates, involving school busing, special education, and property revaluation. The legislation would also lower pension costs by raising retirement ages and reducing cost of living adjustments; waive some education regulations; clarify management rights on privatization, layoffs, pensions & health insurance; and control health costs.

I also call on the Mayor to propose additional cost-saving legislation not included in Laffey's bills. I suggest repeal of the prevailing wage law, that drastically drives up the costs of construction work and services contracted for by the city. I also call for an "Unfunded Mandates Act", that would relieve cities from complying with any mandates that are not funded 100 percent by the state.

The School Department offers the best opportunity for reducing spending, since this is 55 percent of the city budget. I say there should be fewer children in costly special education programs, which cost twice as much per child as regular programs. The percentage of children in special ed in Providence (and in R.I. as a whole) is double the national average.

I urge the Mayor to follow Mayor Steve Laffey's wonderful example in our neighboring city of Cranston. There, Mayor Laffey has successfully taken on special interests (like the crossing guards), and has been able to convince most unions to accept reasonable compromises on health benefits and work rules. Providence needs to do the same.

 

Honest Government

I join the Mayor in urging the Democrat - controlled City Council (14 Democrats, 1 Green, & no Republicans) to finally pass an Ethics Ordinance. But I would go further than the Mayor's proposal. I ask the Council to refuse all contributions from city workers or people who do business with the city. This would encourage even more economic development in Providence.

There are many people who wanted to bring their business to our city under the previous administration, but were unwilling to pay bribes, kickbacks, or political campaign donations. Now, these businessmen are streaming into our city, knowing they do not have to pay up. If the City Council would do its part, we could do even better.

Ten Commandments

I call on the Mayor to invite the Fraternal Order Of Eagles to return a Monument To The 10 Commandments to Roger Williams Park As you may recall, the Mayor (with no public notice) ordered this monument removed last year, in response to a bizarre complaint from the ACLU that it violated the constitutional separation of church and state. Subsequently, in June of 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an identical case in Texas, that this display was in fact permissible.

I note that Providence relies heavily on private donations to finance many things in our Parks system (monuments, playgrounds, the zoo, etc.). The city also depends on the good will of voters in approving state Open Spaces bond issues. Inviting the Eagles to return the 10 Commandments would send a good message, to show donors and voters that their gifts will be appreciated, and would encourage future donations

In January of 2005, I (serving in my 12th year as a member of the Board of Park Commissioners) introduced a motion to invite the Eagles to return the monument as soon as the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. The Mayor (who is Chairman of the Parks Commission) asked me to hold off on the motion until after the Supreme Court ruled it was OK, and I agreed. But later that month, the Mayor chose to replace me when my current 4-year term on the Commission was up. (The Mayor has this right, under the City Charter). Nobody else on the Commission has made any attempt to pursue this, even after the courts ruled favorably.

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