2016-03-17 / Opinion


Political March Madness

Up until now, college basketball has pretty much owned the phrase “March Madness.” We sincerely wish that the hoopsters still had the phrase all to themselves.

But alas, national and local politicos have of late made a move to claim the moniker for themselves. Like many other Americans, we have had enough of likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s rhetoric, as well as his inclination to fan the flames of disagreement and general discord. Let’s just say that Mr. Trump, for all his money, is no Abraham Lincoln, who perhaps remains as his party’s most notable chief executive ever.

Newporters and other Rhode Islanders will have their say on Trump and the other Republican and Democratic contenders when the presidential primaries are held on Tuesday, April 26.

Closer to home, we have two members of the Newport School Committee, David Carlin and David Hanos, reportedly shoving and yelling at each other after a City Council meeting that included consideration of a strategy to pay for at least part of the new roof scheduled for construction this summer at Rogers High School.

The confrontation apparently occurred outside of the Claiborne Pell Elementary School, where the March 9 council meeting took place. The meeting itself saw a tense interchange between Carlin and councilors as the council examined a five-year school facilities capital needs plan that was completed as a requirement to qualify for future construction reimbursements from the state. Whether those long-term estimates of around $26 million were actually committing the city to expenditures down the road was the source of the disagreement between Carlin and City Councilors. Concluding that the numbers were for planning purposes only, the council unanimously agreed to its submission to state officials. But the residual discord carried forward after the meeting into the encounter between Carlin and Hanos.

We of course understand that public figures may often disagree with each other over the myriad issues that come before them. Disagreement is one thing, but taking those feelings to such an unpleasant personal level is uncalled for.

The people of Newport who voted these two school board members into office deserve much better. And so do our school children whose interests they are supposed to represent.

And to think that while all this political “madness” unfolds both nationally and locally, Lee Russell’s sixth-grade social studies pupils at Thompson Middle School are just now learning how the President of the United States interacts with his Cabinet of advisers when confronted by a thorny problem or issue. (To read more about the Thompson program on the executive branch, turn to page 8.)

We are certain that Mr. Russell’s instructions do not include tactics such as those recently demonstrated outside the Pell School.

Talk about March madness!

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