Dave's Column

Dave Richards for September 18th........

Dave Richards for September 18th…………….

--Before we begin today, I just wanted to express my sadness and deep condolences to the family of Stephanie Chaplin, a wonderful woman who lost a battle with cancer last Sunday. 

  Stephanie and I shared one thing.  Our love for Autumnfest.  As a member of the Autumnfest Steering Committee, Stephanie worked with the Autumnfest Souvenirs.  It won’t be the same this year without her smiling face in the booth, but I know the members of the Steering Committee will be thinking of her at this 40th Autumnfest.  So will I.

 

--It’s only September, but already I want to SCREAM at the two major political parties in Rhode Island.  Yesterday I received another interminable negative and disgraceful press release, this time from the Rhode Island Republican Party characterizing the Democratic Governor’s administration and “Scandal Filled”.   They’re all so busy calling the other side creeps, the average voter is left with the impression that there are no trustworthy people of quality running for any office anywhere in government.  Knock it off, I say.

 

--Venom seems to be everywhere in the public debate and on any subject.  I’ve always thought that the popular opinion of the American Civil Liberties Union was unfair to them.  Before yesterday I had always thought of the ACLU as a group of people who were not afraid to take an unpopular position on issues of public importance if they saw someone’s rights being abused or a law being broken.  I was disappointed and disillusioned by their actions yesterday.   

   The deadline for this column arrived before the North Smithfield Town Council met last night to consider, among other business, a resolution of official support for a boycott against the Nike company, calling upon all departments of their town government to stop buying Nike products.  It doesn’t say so, but I suppose it is because Nike has hired as a spokesperson the football player responsible for many players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.  I don’t know how the town council voted, but that is not important to the point of my comments…

   The reason I object to the ACLU’s letter to the town council, warning them not to adopt such a resolution, has little to do with the thinly-veiled threat included in it, but it has everything to do with the what I consider to be an unprofessional comment contained in their press release.   I quote, “We recognize that the Town Council is free to express its views, however questionable they may be, on important political issues of the day”.  In my opinion, an opinionated comment such as that is unprofessional and has no place in such a letter.

 

  They went on to say, quoting here, “But to the extent any of the Town’s municipal agencies decide to take action consistent with the resolution, the Town and its taxpayers will face both legal and financial liability for violating the First Amendment. A government agency simply cannot ban the purchase of products from a company based solely on its political views.”

 

   I am repulsed and confused by that second quote.  I wonder why the ACLU would side with a multi-national corporation and abandon the rights of Rhode Island citizens to refuse to give do business with a company regardless of what their collective reason may be, if they think that company is not the kind of company they want to do business with.

 

  You can say that governments don’t have the same rights as individuals.  You can say it, but “No Sale” to me.  Our government is made up of individuals…….”of the people and by the people”…. So why does a government agency HAVE to do business with a company if they don’t want to?

 

  In my opinion, the entire concept of the ACLU being the champion of the disenfranchised and the Knight of your Rights is strained by their actions in this matter.  And I think that’s a shame because I do think we need what the ACLU’s mission is in our country.  I think they missed it this time.

 

--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 September 11th..............

Dave Richards for September 11th…………….

 

--Before we get to today’s topic, I want to be sure to mention a great event scheduled for this Saturday in North Smithfield.  It’s the Great PumpkinFest.  Starting at 11am and going until 5pm, for one day only.  Nearly all of North Smithfield will turn out to meet and greet each other and as many of their neighbors from surrounding towns as will come. 

   The location is on the grounds of the North Smithfield Middle and High Schools at the intersection of State Routes 104 and 5.  There’s plenty of free parking right on the grounds and even handicapped parking. 

   It’s the best that the town has to offer.  Local vendors, local performers on stage, local volunteers helping you find what you’re looking for and tending the booths. 

  Look for the giant-sized versions of the popular games Twister and Operation.  And speaking of Giant, The Re-max Hot Air Balloon will be providing a bird’s-eye view of the area and offering rides aloft.  Bring your camera. 

  As the name implies, there will be pumpkins.  Hundreds of them!  You’ll see the “Greatest” (largest) Pumpkin grown in (Burrillville) Rhode Island there.  And some pumpkins will be launched into the air during the Great Pumpkin “Chuck”.  

  Make some time to visit The Great PumpkinFest this Saturday!

 

--I’m sure I’m not the first to point out to you that today is September 11th.  Up until 2001 the significance of that date to me was that it was my younger sister Robin’s birthday.  On her birthday in 2001 I forgot to call her to wish her a happy birthday.  It was that kind of a day.  She said she forgave me for that, but I was never sure. 

   I remember that in 2001 September 11th was a Tuesday that year, just like this year.  Unlike today’s forecast, the weather on that historic day was about the same in both Woonsocket and New York, crisp and cool, very much expectant of the Autumn weather to come.

  We all remember what we were doing when we first heard of the attacks, just like those of us who are old enough remember when we learned of JFK’s assassination.  Those moments stay with you your entire life.  In my case, these two world-changing events have something in common.  They both came with a second unforgettable moment shortly afterward.  It was the only two times in my life that I saw people actually killed on live TV, as it happened. 

  In 1963 it was when Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President Kennedy the previous day.  In the years since, I have never seen a re-broadcast of what I saw that day, only filmed highlights from a different angle.  Perhaps at that time there was no videotape recorder recording the picture from the camera that CBS-TV had trained on the scene as Oswald was brought down to the basement garage of the police station for transport.  What I saw was the silhouette of a man’s arm holding a gun in his hand on the right side of the TV picture.  I knew what it was and I instantly knew what was about to happen, though I couldn’t believe it.  The shadow of the arm with the gun then moved in front of the camera seconds after I first saw it and the man attached to the arm shot and killed Oswald on live network TV.  I was 8 years old then. 

  It was to be 38 years later that I would have the same feeling, the same thought, and the same feeling of helplessness as I watched people die. 

  The news of the first aircraft crashing into the World Trade Center twin towers came to me when, in the final seconds of the Coffee An’ program broadcast, our News Director burst into the studio to tell me a plane flew into a skyscraper in New York.  I pictured a Cessna or other small plane when he said that and I remembered that during World War Two a military plane crashed into the Empire State Building.  Instead of asking him on the air and extending the program with his bulletin, I closed the show and waited to hear the report in the regularly schedule newscast which followed less than a minute later. 

  Meanwhile, I went down to the news room to see the live TV coverage. 

  I was alone in the news room watching the TV monitor when the second jetliner came into view.  Again, my brain tried to process what I was seeing.  Was this a taped replay?  No.  One of the towers is burning, this is a second plane.  It’s going to crash.  “No!”, I yelled at the TV screen.  A second later, hundreds of people died in front of my eyes on live TV.  You don’t ever forget those things.

  Let’s take a moment today, any moment you choose, and just pause to say a silent prayer for victims of violence.  Whether on live TV or just walking home after school, their deaths are equally tragic.

 

--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 September 4th..............

Dave Richards for September 4th…………….

 

--A note of congratulations to all who organized and volunteered for the just concluded LevittAMP Woonsocket Concert Series.  A good time was had by all, and I hear talk of wanting to do it again next summer.  Stay tuned for further developments.

  This coming Saturday the Northern Rhode Island Council for the Arts will take over the River Island Art Park at 9am for the day long French Heritage Festival.  In addition to arts and crafts, exhibits, and food, two French-Canadian bands will play and it’s all free for you. 

  When we were growing up there were dozens of these celebrations.  These days, this is the big one.  Anyone who remembers the days when French was spoken in the stores every day and just about everywhere in Woonsocket will feel quite at home this weekend.  I think it warms the heart to go back to your childhood now and then.  And, for those who do ‘parlez vous’, you’ll really enjoy yourselves listening to the live musicians playing songs you’ll remember from years ago. 

  Then in the evening, the fun moves up the hill to the cafeteria of the Holy Trinity School (formerly Our Lady Queen of Martyrs) for a good old fashion Soiree, including more live entertainment, beer and dynamites and soft drinks and hot dogs.  Tickets are only $10.  Don’t miss it.  This kind of event is few in number and far between these days.

 

--Oh, and speaking of ‘dynamites’, I bumped into the President of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, Bob Billington, at last Friday’s concert in the park.  Bob was on a mission.  Now, I’ve learned over the years that when Bob Billington puts his mind to something, even the brave stand back.

  Bob told me he’s bugged by an article he was interviewed for by a reporter from a newspaper in Maine.  The reporter wanted his comments on the claim of the people of Madison, Maine who say that they, not Woonsocket, invented the Dynamite Sandwich.  Tom Tatro, of A Special Place, makes regular business trips to that area of Maine.  He brought Bob a supply of what these Mainers call “Dynamites”.  Now, Bob is working to organize a public challenge to prove Woonsocket is, indeed, the birthplace of the Dynamite Sandwich.  Stay tuned for further developments on what could develop into an “explosive debate.”

 

--I received a larger than usual number of comments about last week’s column.  Also unusual was the number of people who agreed with my sentiments.  Some thought that I made my point well, even without “calling out” the players by name.  Based upon this response, I feel the message of my comment is so important that I would do well to restate it for those of you who may have missed it. 

  If you agree with me that people in government should give up the “win at all costs and destroy anyone who disagrees with me” attitude, then you should vote accordingly. 

  One of the responses to last week’s column came from a former city official who told me when he was on the council years ago the members used to disagree all the time with each other on issues, but once the vote was taken they all put the disagreements behind them and moved on to the next bit of business, which they would then “vigorously discuss”, just as they did the previous issue.  There were no personal attacks or skullduggery, and the business of the city moved forward.

  I think there are too many weak personalities in politics these days.  I call them ‘weak personalities’ because it doesn’t take real strength to be an obstructionist.  That only takes hate and spite.  I say it takes true strength of character to work with people you don’t get along with, and a positive attitude which will eventually show a way to compromise.  And remember, a compromise is when both sides win a little and lose a little from what they originally wanted.  History is full of examples showing when one side wins all, it’s the beginning of the end.  Resentment sets in, resistance galvanizes, and the winner has to resort to more and more bullying to maintain their position until they eventually go too far and destroy themselves. 

  It starts with us, the voters.  Do not elect people who have no appetite for a lively debate and a civil acceptance of the views of others with an eye toward compromise. 

  I won’t vote for 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

WOON AM & FM Radio

985 Park Avenue

Woonsocket, RI   02895-6332

 

Tel. 401-762-1240

Fax 401-769-8232

 

www.woonsocketradio.com

 

 

Dave Richards for August 28th

­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for August 28th…………….

 

--It may have been because of the announcement of the impending death of U.S. Senator John McCain, but I saw a movie on TV the other day I’d never seen before.  It depicted the day to day conditions and survival of prisoners of war in Vietnam.  The movie was graphic, to a point.  It certainly opened my eyes.  Most of my buddies who served in the Vietnam Conflict won’t talk about what happened there.  Among the POWs who were highlighted in that movie was John McCain.  When I paused for a moment to think of what that man did during his life it fills me with awe.  In addition to his military service, becoming a U.S. Representative and then a U.S. Senator and running for the Presidency….?  It seems to me that any one of those would be enough for most people.  This man did it all.  Amazing!

 

--We seem to be in a time of unrest in our city.  Disagreement between departments of our own city government is at a level I cannot remember seeing in my 40 years as a broadcaster in Woonsocket. 

   Our City Council failed to come to terms with the Mayor over appointments to the School Committee.  It got so bad that finally the citizens took back the right to appoint members of the School Committee.  The Mayor vetoed the City Council’s changes to her budget and because a so-called “super-majority” was required to override that veto, the Mayor prevailed.  The Zoning Department allowed Rise Prep to relocate to 30 Cumberland Street, and now the City Council is hiring legal counsel to stop the school from operating there.  Now we hear the city cannot even come to accord with the teacher’s union and our teachers have no contract  Ugh!

   It is natural that sometimes people don’t get along.  When people don’t get along and yet are forced by circumstance to work together, it is, I suppose, not surprising that after a while tempers will flare.  But this is when they need to step up their game and to the hard work of government!

  Disagreement can be healthy and constructive.  But sometimes it can be an obstacle to progress and destructive to productivity.  From what I can hear and see, the standing disagreements among Woonsocket’s various leaders have now become destructive. 

  I try not to take sides or point fingers.  It’s tempting, but it would do no real good.  The people involved here don’t need me to tell them where the problems lie.  They also don’t want to listen to me preaching to them to stop keeping score and put aside the differences.  They don’t want to hear it, but it would do them good to consider it. 

   The big issue here is that everyone has an opinion.  And they like their own opinion and they like anyone who has the same opinion as they do.  And they don’t like anyone else who fails to share their opinion.  But that’s not how government works, friend.  Everyone needs to put their ideas forward.  If others agree, good.  If they disagree, then try to persuade them to see things your way.  If you fail to convince them to agree with you, it’s not time to dig your heals in and fight to the death.  That’s what children who don’t know better do.  What responsible adults are supposed to do is to find some way to work together, even if you cannot agree. 

   I think anyone in government who sabotages the efforts of another because they disagree with that other person should not be in government.  Politics is not supposed to be a ‘blood sport’.  It is supposed to be a select few working for the betterment of all.

   I realize the likelihood of the feuds suddenly ending simply because I wrote these words is poor.  But, if people who are offering themselves for our approval at the polls are people who cannot work with others who don’t agree with them………then we have chosen unwisely. 

  Let’s keep this in mind in the upcoming elections.

   A wise man once said that “Harmony is the strength and support of all institutions.”  Those working to promote a climate of harmony and cooperation are those who will succeed.  And those are the people we should elect to serve us.  Otherwise it will just be more childish ‘championship wrestling exhibitions’…….at the taxpayer’s expense.

 

--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 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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