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POLITICS AS USUAL (By Jim Baron) Occupiers, Tea Partiers fighting the good fight

October 16, 2011

A year or so ago I wrote a column about a group of people in Tiverton who had been plagued for years by industrial pollution in their neighborhood.
I declared it one of my favorite news stories ever because, instead of rallying at the Statehouse or lobbying the governor or protesting to the General Assembly, those folks went to where they knew the real power was: they protested outside the Pawtucket law office of one of the state’s top lobbyists.

POLITICS AS USUAL (By Jim Baron) Are we going to enforce immigration law or not?

October 9, 2011

This being Columbus Day weekend, it seems appropriate to ponder the vexing question of immigration.
I must be one of the few people in Rhode Island who is ambivalent about the issue of allowing illegal alien high school graduates pay in-state tuition at URI and the state colleges.
Everyone else seems to be on one side or the other — loudly, passionately, dedicatedly, even angrily on one side or the other.

POLITICS AS USUAL (By Jim Baron) Many eggs were broken to make CF omelet

October 2, 2011

If Receiver Robert Flanders’ plan for Central Falls’ recovery really allows the beleaguered city to emerge from its financial black hole and stumble into the future on its own he will indeed deserve a tip of everyone’s hat.
Flanders was handed a formidable and thankless job and he went about it with the dignity and seriousness it deserved and indeed submitted a blueprint by which the tiny but plucky city can operate for five years.
Impressive … but.
The man broke A LOT of eggs to make this omelet.

POLITICS AS USUAL (By Jim Baron) Republican audiences are downright scary

September 25, 2011

When it comes to the two major political parties, I’m pretty much a “plague on both your houses” kind of guy.

POLITICS AS USUAL (By Jim Baron) Union win won't matter in the long run

September 19, 2011

Public employee unions won a significant victory last week in their court fight against changes to their pensions made in 2009 and 2010.
The state did not want pension promises it has made to workers over the years to be interpreted as contracts. But that is exactly what Superior Court Judge Sara Taft-Carter did on Tuesday. The state had hoped to squash the case on summary judgment and with it any legal precedent that state employees and teachers have a contractual right to their pension benefits. But that did not happen.

POLITICS AS USUAL (By JIm Baron) We can be safe and free at the same time

September 11, 2011

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is a fitting time for poignant memorials and sympathetic reminiscences. It is also a time for flag-waving patriotism and “never again” steadfastness and vigilance. All those things have their place.
But it is also a fitting time for clear-eyed look back to where we have come since that day and how we have gotten here, a sober reassessment of our behavior in response to that horror.
The Rhode Island ACLU has given us that with an excellent report titled “The Legacy of the Indefinite ‘War on Terror’ in Rhode Island: Civil Liberties in the Aftermath of 9/11.”

POLITICS AS USUAL (By Jim Baron) We need a new way to deliver electricity

September 5, 2011

Let’s hope that by this time everybody has their lights back on and you are not trying to read this with a flashlight or kerosene lamp.
Last week was a hellish time that I don’t want to have to live through again for at least another 20 years or so.
But let it not just be an annoying and frustrating 2-7 days (depending on where you live) in the dark. The blowhards who tried to minimize this by deriding people as soft, or unprepared or crybabies because the lack of electricity for an extended period caused a major disruption in their lives are as short sighted as they are thickheaded.

POLITICS AS USUAL (By Jim Baron) Binding arbitration in Ken Block's sights

August 21, 2011

Gina Raimondo, the state’s general treasurer, famously said a few months ago that pension liability isn’t “a” problem, it is “the” problem facing the state.
Not necessarily.

POLITICS AS USUAL (By Jim Baron) We need sanity, not partisan buffoonery

July 31, 2011

A small, radical band of zealots is attempting to take over the United States government and may be in the process of crashing the nation’s economy.
The federal government has had its ups and downs since 1789, but seldom has its foundations and operations been as threatened as they are right now. Serious people are now giving serious thought to whether the Congress of the United States can function properly any longer. And, as often happens, the spark that is setting it off is over a usually trivial, routine matter that suddenly becomes momentous.

POLITICS AS USUAL (By Jim Baron) The Great Bankruptcy Experiment begins

July 17, 2011

Tomorrow is the day it all starts to hit the fan.
Central Falls, the state’s smallest city, is going to be the test tube for the experiment of what the hell are we going to do about pension funds we can’t afford to maintain anymore. Next to that will be the Petri dish growing a culture to determine whether bankruptcy is a solution for fiscally crippled municipalities.

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