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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 85,659

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Why raising taxes on wealthiest 1% is a long-term investment in Rhode Island


With the expected influx of $1.78 billion in federal aid from the American Rescue Plan, some would say there is no longer a need to raise any taxes. However, the point of our legislation to raise the income tax of the top 1% is not to address the coronavirus recession. That's the job of the one-time infusion of federal relief dollars.

By contrast, raising the income tax on the top 1% is about Rhode Islands long-term success addressing challenges that predated the pandemic and that will continue if left unaddressed. The problems include an unbalanced tax code which disproportionately benefits the wealthiest and systematically benefits white Rhode Islanders over Black and Latinx Rhode Islanders. The challenges include finding revenue to pay for the goods and services that make Rhode Island a wonderful place to live and grow businesses.

Our proposal to raise the income tax rate from 5.99% to 8.99% on income above $475,000 will only impact the top 1% of earners about 5,000 taxpayers. This proposal is not designed as a fix for the damage done by COVID-19. Indeed, it takes effect beginning with tax year 2022, meaning that most of the estimated $128 million in new, annual revenue will not be generated until people pay their 2023 taxes, after most of the one-time federal aid will be gone. Our proposal is therefore an investment in Rhode Island that will raise valuable revenue and help rebalance our tax system.

The truth is that our tax system has long been unbalanced and the Bush, Carcieri, and Trump tax cuts only further unbalanced our system and provided windfalls for the wealthiest. Today, the top 1% of Rhode Islanders pay only 8% of their income in state taxes income, property, and sales taxes combined whereas those in the lowest 20% of income pay over 14%. That's far from balanced.

Read more: https://warwickonline.com/stories/why-raising-taxes-on-wealthiest-1-is-a-long-term-investment-in-rhode-island,162047

Governor McKee believes student resource officers are needed - Students disagree

Since the mid-90s, the Providence Public School Department has employed Student Resource Officers (SROs), which has resulted in hundreds of students being arrested and criminalized nationwide. Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee met by phone with the Providence Alliance for Student Safety, a youth-led coalition of multiple organizations fighting for the removal of SROs. The governor expressed the opinion that SROs should remain in schools, drawing upon his experience as an educator, saying that we need to “bring communities together, not apart.” However, the students he spoke to have been fighting for the removal of SROs from schools through the Counselors Not Cops campaign for years. In fact, the call was full of students currently enrolled in Providence Public Schools who presented the history of the campaign as well as their concerns about keeping SROs in schools.

Governor McKee claims that SROs are needed to protect students, yet students pointed out that the school he founded – Blackstone Valley Prep – has no SROs. Why does the Governor finds it so necessary for “every Providence public student to have interactions with SROs” while his concern for “safety” falls short when it comes to charter schools, asked students.

The concern about SROs is widespread among Providence Public School students. In a survey of students conducted by the Center for Youth and Community Leadership in Education (CYCLE) which was presented to the governor, 50% or more disagreed with the statement: “I feel safe with SROs in schools” and over 70% disagreed with the statement: “I am comfortable with SROs having guns in my school.”

The role of SROs in disciplining students is unclear, because there is no set of guidelines specifying how they are supposed to respond. Often, SROs are used to threaten students when they’re misbehaving. Whether or not a minor behavioral issue leads to a referral to a guidance counselor or an arrest frequently and most often comes down to race and ethnicity. Black students are overrepresented in arrest data. From 2016-2020, black students made up 30% of all arrests despite making up only 16% of the student population, a trend common in arrest data across the nation.

Read more: https://upriseri.com/daniel-mckee-sros-providence-alliance-for-student-safety/

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea announces run for RI Governor

From a press release:

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea today announced her plans to run for Governor of Rhode Island in 2022. In her video announcement, Gorbea promised to make government work for all Rhode Islanders and create a Rhode Island where everyone thrives – together. Gorbea, a Democrat, is the first Latina in New England to run in a gubernatorial race, making her candidacy historic for the state and region.

“I have a track record of meeting challenges head-on, of thinking beyond the status quo and building consensus on tough policy decisions,” Gorbea said. “As Governor, I will continue to make our government more accountable to the people, to challenge special interests and the status quo and connect people to opportunities that will help them thrive.”

In videos announcing her campaign, everyday Rhode Islanders touted Gorbea’s vast experience, her integrity, record of accomplishment and her genuine commitment to Rhode Island.

Notably, Gorbea has modernized Rhode Island’s elections infrastructure, increased cybersecurity measures and brought both online and automated voter registration to the state. She has developed online resources and reduced red tape to make it easier for small businesses to start and grow. Additionally, she overhauled the lobbying laws to hold special interests accountable when they don’t follow the law, ensure better compliance so the public can see who is influencing their government and enhance transparency.

Read more: https://upriseri.com/nellie-gorbea-announce-run-for-governor/

After a long battle, the Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act becomes law

Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee overcame initial concerns and signed the Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act (S0002A, H5012Aaa) on Thursday, which sets minimum staffing levels for Rhode Island nursing homes. Signing this legislation into law marks the end of a successful three year battle to more properly compensate direct caregivers and to allow them to deliver the kind of care nursing home residents deserve. The bill was given little serious attention by former Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, who blocked the bill’s passage twice before being voted out of office.

The most recent time the bill was blocked was a year ago, during a pandemic that claimed the lives of well over a thousand nursing home resident and workers. Instead, the House opted for a nonsensical study commission. In reaction to Speaker Mattiello, the caregiver’s union, SEIU-1199 helped lead the successful campaign to oust Speaker Mattiello. Meanwhile, the Rhode Island Health Care Association (RICHA), the for profit nursing home owners trade association, spent over $70,000 to try to re-elect Mattiello including over $38,000 in direct campaign contributions. In addition to ousting a sitting Speaker, SEIU 1199 NE helped elect State Representatives Brandon Potter (Democrat, District 16, Cranston) and Leonela Felix (Democrat, District 61, Pawtucket). Both were present at the bill signing on Thursday.

New House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (Democrat, District 23, Warwick) seemingly disinclined to repeat Mattiello’s mistake, supported the bill this year.

The new law, says Adelina Ramos, a CNA at Greenville Nursing Center who works with seniors in a dementia unit, “means we get more time with our patients – especially since I work in the dementia unit and basically have to rush through the care for our residents. So this means we can take more time with our residents and do more activities with them.”

Read more: https://upriseri.com/nursing-home-staffing-and-quality-care-act/

Feds sue Canton construction company for threat against employee in OT investigation

CANTON — The federal Department of Labor secured a restraining order against a Canton construction company being investigated for wage theft after officials say the owner threatened a former employee.

The Department of Labor, headed by former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, filed the lawsuit against Capone Bros., Inc. and Charles Capone last month seeking the restraining order and punitive damages for the alleged violation of anti-retaliation laws.

Department of Labor attorney Sheila Gholkar said in the complaint that the company owed back wages to employees who worked overtime in March.

After the department filed its complaint, the construction company's owner, Capone, said he would "go after" former employee Nicole Hanson, whom he perceived to be responsible for the investigation, Gholkar said. Capone called Hanson's new employer and accused her of being "sneaky and a thief."

Read more: https://www.patriotledger.com/story/news/2021/05/27/labor-department-suing-canton-company-threatening-former-employee-wage-theft-ot-charles-capone-bros/7430609002/
(Quincy Patriot Ledger)

A man with a chain saw attacked Black Lives Matter protesters in South Texas. Could it spark a

A man with a chain saw attacked Black Lives Matter protesters in South Texas. Could it spark a conversation about Latinos, race, and racism?

MCALLEN, Texas — Jessenia Herzberg and Lorena Houghton, two idealistic college students outraged over the recent killing of George Floyd and racial injustice, were chanting “Black Lives Matter” with a trickle of protesters as they marched last summer past the quinceańera dress shops and discount stores on Main Street in this sleepy Texas border city.

Suddenly, a blue pickup truck pulled up in front of them. Out sprang a man in a baseball cap, jeans, and work boots.

“Get the [expletive] home,” he furiously shouted at the group of mostly young Latino activists. The man, who also was Latino, hurled a racial slur referring to Floyd, saying the outrage over his murder didn’t “belong here.”

He pointed to the sky. “This is not up there,” he said, his breath catching in exasperation as he apparently gestured toward Minnesota. His arm flew back down, and he wagged a finger in the faces of the protesters. “This is here.”

Read more: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/05/29/nation/man-with-chain-saw-attacked-black-lives-matter-protesters-south-texas-could-it-spark-conversation-about-latinos-race-racism/

Black Lives Matter sign stolen from Massachusetts church; noose-like rope left behind

The theft of a Black Lives Matter sign from a Massachusetts church and a rope fashioned into what appeared to be a noose left dangling from a church sign are being investigated as a possible hate crime, local authorities said.

The theft and rope was reported Wednesday night by a volunteer at the Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church in Danvers, according to a statement Thursday from town officials.

“We do not yet know who did this or why, but the message a symbol like this is intended to send is one of fear and intimidation,” read the statement, signed by the town manager, select board chair and police chief. “We reject such acts of cowardice and want to be clear that this type of hateful and discriminatory behavior has no place in Danvers or any community.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police.

A voicemail seeking comment was left with the church on Friday.

(no more at link)

Much Of Ohio Is Trump Country. And That Complicates Things For The GOP

In Licking County, Ohio, east of the capital city of Columbus, bumper stickers on pickup trucks make it clear it is Trump Country.

And at a recent meeting of the county's Republican women's group, 66-year-old retiree Geraldine Jacobs made it clear that she's a Trump supporter.

"It's a shame that we went from the best president to now really the worst president," she says.

Trump won 63% of the vote in Licking County in last year's presidential election, en route to easily carrying the state for the second time. The result seemed to prove that Ohio is not the perennial battleground state many had still thought it was.

Republican politics in Ohio has also changed in the era of Trump. And with the retirement of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman — a fixture of the GOP establishment — more change is coming. As the Republican field to replace him begins to take shape in these very early days, it's clear Trump retains an outsized influence in the state.

Read more: https://www.wgbh.org/news/national-news/2021/05/29/much-of-ohio-is-trump-country-and-that-complicates-things-for-the-gop

A remarkable turnaround for Green Line extension

CONFIDENCE APPEARS to be mounting at the MBTA that the nearly $2.3 billion Green Line extension project will come in under budget, allowing Somerville and Cambridge to recover the combined $75 million they donated to the initiative in 2016 and still leave money left over for other needs.

Joe Aiello, the chair of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, said on Monday at the panel’s meeting that the Green Line extension is significantly under budget right now. He urged T staff members to seek federal guidance on whether some of the left-over money could be used to help finance initial work on a proposed subway connection between the Red and Blue subway lines.

The idea that extending the Green Line from Lechmere into Somerville and Medford could come in under budget is somewhat remarkable given its tangled and tortured history. In its early stages, the price tag of the project ballooned from $2 billion to $3 billion and forced state transportation officials to redesign and revamp the project to eliminate roughly $1 billion in costs.

A T spokesman declined to comment directly on the Green Line extension’s current financial situation, but agency reports suggest the project is trending in a favorable direction with service set to begin later this year. “Overall trends for the program remain within overall program budget,” the T said in a recent report.

Read more: https://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/a-remarkable-turnaround-for-green-line-extension/

HIV cases spiking among Boston homeless

HEALTH OFFICIALS have identified a growing cluster of 134 HIV cases primarily among homeless people who inject drugs in the Boston area, a worrying sign for health officials who several years ago were talking about a goal of eradicating new HIV cases in the state.

“What we see is not only HIV transmission occurring, but the data indicates that we continue to see active clusters,” said state Sen. Julian Cyr, a Truro Democrat who chairs the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery.

Since the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic nationally in the 1990s, education, harm reduction efforts, and advances in medicine have significantly reduced the prevalence and toll of the disease.

In Massachusetts in 2000, there were nearly 1,200 new cases of HIV diagnosed and more than 350 deaths. By 2007, the number of new cases dropped below 800 for the first time that decade and deaths dipped below 300. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of new cases diagnosed each year hovered around 700, and that number dropped to an average of 640 for the five-year period after that. Most cases since 2009 have been transmitted by sex between men.

Read more: https://commonwealthmagazine.org/drug-addiction/hiv-cases-spiking-among-boston-homeless/
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