2016-02-04 / Opinion


Hoaxes Mar Newport’s 'Sleepy' Time

This sleepy time of year during Newport’s off-season received a jolt of unwanted energy this week as cowardly, anonymous pranksters used their apparent technology know-how to disrupt the city’s three public schools with automated telephoned threats that, thankfully, proved to be hoaxes.

That Newport and state police found these threats to be baseless was the only good thing to come of these sordid episodes. There is no solace in knowing that other communities have experienced this same sort of nonsense.

We were happy to learn as this issue of Newport This Week went to press that Middletown had so far been spared this kind of needless disruption. According to police there, they have encountered no similar need to increase police presence at schools. Nor have they heard any safety concerns from parents.

These anonymous telephone threats are made even more troubling by the callers’ ability to use their technical skills to make it seemingly impossible for law enforcement agencies to trace them.

Meanwhile, Newport public school students and their teachers at Rogers High School, Thompson Middle School and Claiborne Pell Elementary School have experienced considerable disruption this week.

Other news in Newport at this “sleepy” time of year has been more satisfying. For one thing, the city’s prolonged search for a permanent city manager moves ahead. The City Council has interviewed two candidates and further interviews are set for Friday, Feb. 5. This sounds like progress to us. We urge the City Council to keep up the pace on this vital matter.

Another event that caught our attention occurred on Broadway, where work on the streetscape project has understandably slowed because of winter weather. Slowed, it seems, but not completely stalled. Not long ago, an unplanned covered bus shelter was installed along this route. Residents spoke up at a community meeting held at the police station. Within a day, the offending shelter was unbolted and removed. The people, it seems, were heard!

Finally, we are heartened by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo’s determination, repeatedly expressed in her State of the State address, to create new opportunities for well-paying jobs in technology and other futuristic endeavors—Massachusetts did so successfully decades earlier.

Leaving aside the obvious question as to what Rhode Island’s leaders were doing all those years ago while their Massachusetts counterparts were courageously taking their state into uncharted but fruitful economic waters, we can only hope that for Rhode Island’s sake, it’s not too late.

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