Dave's Column

Dave Richards for August 21st

­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for August 21st…………….

  

--When I was a small boy, I remember my grandfather told me I couldn’t go with him into town to shop because my blue jeans had rips in the knees.  He told me that “they’d think you were a beggar and arrest you for vagrancy.”  Well, maybe Grandpa was laying it on a little thick with that comment, but I got his meaning.  “Don’t look like a beggar”.

   Fast forward to today and begging is now an almost legitimate profession and we see them in many public places.  Perhaps they really need help and perhaps they are just looking for an easy buck, I don’t know.  But I do know that it is tolerated today as it never was years ago.

  

--That thought put me in mind of a news story I recently read.  Social media on the Internet has given rise to yet another phenomena.  “Crowdfunding”, as it is now called, is being used by more and more people to fund medical expenses. 

   Despite the efforts of President Obama, more than 28 million Americans still have no health insurance.  And the CEO of one of the better known “crowdfunding” websites, Rob Soloman of GoFundMe.com says that one in every three funding campaigns on his service is to raise money for medical expenses.  

  A disturbing trend.

   But it still remains that our country is the only western nation without some form of universal health care, and the U. S. spends more than any other nation in the world on health care costs.  

  A very disturbing trend.

 

 --I have a file full of information on the whole Pawsox episode going back years.  Now that the decisions have been made and the deals have been done and the battles have been lost and won, I was going to write something deeply moving and profound on the subject.  I did the research work.  It was going to be my best writing, I thought. 

   However, I just don’t want to anymore.  I can no longer write objectively because I’m really, really angry.  I’m not angry about the Pawsox decision to move to Worcester.  That’s business and I felt their move was all but assured when the Rhode Island General Assembly failed to act on the proposal by the end of the 2017 legislative session.  At that point it would have taken a full reversal of attitude to save it in 2018.  Of course, I hoped I was wrong.  But I wasn’t, as it turns out.

   So, it wasn’t the decision to move that had me spitting mad last Friday.  It was the news release we received from Governor Gina Raimondo’s office saying she’ll “fight to keep the Pawsox from leaving Rhode Island”.  Just writing those words again stirs up my temper!  As I fight to calm myself, I remind myself to keep it civil, but a citizen’s duty is to critique the work performance of our elected leaders and to speak out when we find it lacking.  No personal attacks, just keeping the comments to the subject of work output of someone whose paycheck I contribute dollars to.  I say this,  “The time to fight was during the 2017 Assembly session and also during the past 2018 Assembly session, not now!”  

  What any governor could have done was to go to the assembly, or send trusted and skilled emissaries, and win the votes needed to make a deal that would make the club want to stay here.  This governor did not do that.  If asked, she said she wanted them to stay.  But she did not do all she could to make it happen.  So, in my opinion, to make the statement quoted here AFTER the fact is, in light of the lack of effort in the past, not only disingenuous, but I think it rises to the level of misdirection, subterfuge and, yes, a boldfaced dishonesty.  I am insulted by it.

   Yes, I am disappointed with the actions of the General Assembly, but you cannot lay all the blame on them.  They should be held accountable, yes, but I give them a pass because they are not free to vote their conscienses for fear of retribution from their chamber leadership.  I am also disappointed that the ball club themselves could not re-group to put on the kind of campaign that, for instance, Twin River management put on to get the grassroots support of the people of Rhode Island.  But when we started this whole thing the Pawsox were told (based upon past results) that the proposal wouldn’t be a hard sell.  By the time they realized initial projections of support were inaccurate, time was not on their side.

   In conclusion there was a little blame for some, but the one person who could have done far more to prevent the loss of this business to Massachusetts “phoned it in”.  However, for that person to claim they will fight to reverse what that person “let” happen is just so…………so…..infuriating! 

  What we needed to avoid this loss is a governor who doesn’t just let the title of their temporary job do the talking for them, but to be the one who rolls up their proverbial sleeves and “makes the right thing happen” in act and deed.  We need somebody like Pawtucket Mayor Dan Grebien.  You know, it’s too serious a matter to joke about, but I would really like to have a governor who would advocate for our state the way Mayor Grebien advocated for his city.

  

--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 August 7th...

 Dave Richards for August 7th…………….

 

 --Congratulations to the Holy Trinity Parish for their successful Carnival/Festival last weekend!  Exemplary weather for most of the four-day run brought out the crowds, and a grateful Father Dan Sweet was gracious in his acknowledgement of Saturday’s rain which, though it only cancelled the matinee, appeared to also affect the evening crowds as well.  Still, many fine memories were made and fun had.  It is a huge undertaking.  I hope the members of the parish know just how grateful the rest of the community is that they do this each year.

 

--I had an interesting situation happen to me yesterday.  My staff made me aware of a hand-written note from candidate for the RI Senate representing District 24, Carol Friske, stating she had withdrawn from the race.  The reason for the note was in response to an ‘equal-time’ invitation extended to Ms. Friske to appear on our radio station.  She expressed her gratitude but stated her withdrawal as the reason for her refusal to appear.

   Keep in mind, once a person has qualified to be on a ballot and their place on a ballot is certified, they will appear on the ballot, even if they withdraw.  This is the law.  I use the extreme example, which really has happened in the past, that if a person whose name has been put on a ballot for election dies before election day, their name still appears on that ballot on election day.  So, this change-of-heart by the candidate, while understood and respected, will not alter what voters in Senate District 24 see when they enter the voting booth.

   When I decided to write about this subject, I notified Russ Olivo in The Call’s newsroom about the facts I knew so he could cover the story more completely.  My purpose here is not to report news, but to offer commentary upon it.

   Woonsocket City Councilor Melissa Murray is also a candidate for the Senate District 24 seat, and I learned that she and I have a similar opinion regarding the elective process.  When we spoke on the phone yesterday she told me she has an enormous respect for anyone who offers themselves up for public office.  The personal cost of the criticism, the debate, and the many hours of campaigning to get their message to the voters is often under estimated.  She understood how someone could want to serve, but become overwhelmed. 

   I completely agree.  I respect Carol’s desire to serve and her decision to drop out of the race.

 

 --I received a nice, hand-written card from Congressman David Cicciline, thanking me for my shout-out to him three weeks ago in these pages regarding the FCC’s decision to adjudicate the merger applications of Sinclair broadcasting.  We disagree a lot, the congressman and I, but when he does something nice, I want to mention that, too.

 

 

 --Boy, they just won’t leave it alone.  When it comes to climate change, there’s money to be made by making people afraid of it, and those with little care for the consequences of their words have zeroed-in this time on babies.  The latest edition of the magazine PLOS Medicine has come out with a story claiming babies are more affected by climate change (a.k.a. “Global Warming”) than adults are.  Because of their smaller surface-to-body ratio, the magazine claims, excessive heat and dehydration are an issue for little ones.

  Let me tell you why this article pushes my button.  In my opinion, when you take common sense and weave it into a story in such a way as it implies the information is a “revelation”, it’s dishonest. 

   Parents for all time have watched over their babies, preventing too much sun exposure and plenty of air and water or milk for hydration.  Except for those few who shouldn’t be parents in the first place, that is, and that group is not likely to be reading that magazine.

  Let me just repeat my position for clarity.  Climate change is real and ongoing.  So-called “Global Warming” has been going on since the Ice Age and continues today.  Some people think the warming has been accelerated by the acts of mankind.   Whether it has been or not is immaterial, except to those who wish to make money for themselves peddling fear and guilt. 

 

 --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 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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