ARLENE VIOLET – We yawn over labor corruption

ARLENE VIOLET – We yawn over labor corruption

Slowly but surely far too many Rhode Islanders act as though they have had a lobotomy when it comes to corruption. The ”Well, that’s the way it always has been” excuse dismisses many a scandal which should have had folks lathered up rather than acquiescing. Here are a couple of examples.

Recently, former gubernatorial candidate Ken Block wrote an op-ed column in the Providence Journal about the rigged game at the R.I. Labor Relations Board. This entity hears cases about alleged unfair practices from unions and employees lodged against employers. Under Rhode Island law the board is supposed to be seven members, consisting of three that represent management, three that represent labor, and one who represents the public. In fact, on the management side all three either represent labor during their careers or violate the prohibition in the statute that you can’t hold two public offices. One such management member is a lawyer who negotiates labor agreements in Providence, where raises are sky high, absenteeism in the school contracts is condoned, and the part-time bus monitors who work 20 hours a week have lifetime health benefits. He also has to recuse himself when any of the Providence’s unions file a complaint. The labor representatives also violate the provision of dual office holding. Only two members need be present for a quorum.

No wonder businesses think twice about relocating to the state lest they face this kangaroo court. Yet, three governors, including Gina Raimondo, load the board with pro-labor members. Despite the exodus of sons and daughters to other states for employment, the sorry state of affairs as epitomized by this board’s composition is largely greeted by a “ho hum.”

Then there is the scandal of Hollywood stars, lawyers, fashion moguls, mucky mucks all, cutting the line to get their children into top schools through lies and bribery. College entry scores were changed and a cartel of coaches wrote laudatory letters about the sports acumen of their children, some of whom never played the sport so the anointed one could get into the top schools. Reaction from the proletariat was that this is the way it is!

Well, the reason why the above “is” only exists because of the incapacity of the public to get angry over injustice. My lawyer friend, Bill H., says it quite correctly when he notes that we have a lack of understanding, interest, and informed participation in our democracy. He further points out that there is generally little or no public or private discourse on the responsibilities of citizenship, and further, that such discourse is becoming extinct since schools don’t provide near adequate civic education, if any. Consequently, the public in Rhode Island and nationally are led around like sheep or lemmings.

Adding to the yawning over these matters is the fact that there almost seems to be a “patina of superiority” cloaking those who embrace the “that’s the way it is” mentality. It’s as though they think they are sophisticated enough to understand this world vision while the peons who get upset over the “good ‘ole boy” back scratching have a lot to learn.

I beg to differ. Folks who accept this as the status quo are dumb, deaf, and blind metaphorically. You are selling us out.

Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general.

Comments

Atty. Violet, this is an excellent article. Your 'lawyer friend, Bill H., is right on target regarding his comment that people “...have a lack of understanding, interest, and informed participation in our democracy.” However, we also know and realize that MOST of our news sources are very BIASED, thus confusing many people. The MEDIA is often so DEPRESSING [especially the FAKE news] that many people now choose to not view them. Also, there is very little 'DISCOURSE' because much of it depends on one's political affiliation. People prefer to avoid these types of confrontation.

As your 'lawyer friend' also indicated, '...adequate civic education has become extinct in our schools', thus the reason for their being UNINFORMED and DISINTERESTED!

Sometimes, it's easier for some people to NOT get involved in certain activities than to PARTAKE in them, and POLITICS is one of them. Thus, these same people are easily LED by various propaganda which “suits their needs”. AMEN!

Here we go again with the telephone game. You know the one where a story gets repeated and eventually the "facts" change. Arlene is doing that here with one key piece of information:
"violate the prohibition in the statute that you can’t hold two public offices"
That's not true. For one, Block wrote that it appears that they may be. When I asked Ken what he is basing that off of, he said it is the opinion of a lawyer he spoke to. However when I looked up the definition of "public office" in the RI General Laws, the only reference to it says that it is *elected office.

C'mon Arlene, be better.