2016-09-29 / Opinion


Fight for NCCMHC

To the Editor:

The mental health system in Rhode Island is reaching a crisis stage. Decisions that have been made over the past year severely challenge the ability of local community organizations, such as Newport County Community Mental Health Center (NCCMHC), to maintain the service levels essential to serve people in serious need.

In January, the state implemented, without sufficient advance planning, the Governor’s Reinventing Medicaid Plan that has been unable to pay our agencies on a timely basis or in full for the services they provide. The eight major community mental health providers have not been paid for over $1,000,000 of services provided since implementation of the changes. The state now plans to place opioid and children’s services into the same ill prepared managed care payment system. None of this is acceptable.

Please contact your legislators to encourage them to fight for NCCMHC to ensure that we have the ability to provide critical services. It is unconscionable to allow Rhode Island's mental health system to remain in shambles. Remind them that every dollar spent on quality community-based services and prevention saves $three dollars in hospital, correctional and other state expenditures.

Julie Toland

Smith Short on Details

To the Editor:

Lauren Carson made the right decision regarding 38 Studios by voting against yet another investigation on top of the State Police investigation which, at the time, had not even finished. After all, why start another in mid-stream that would just muddy the waters? I also applaud her recent decision to do what she can to have the results of that now completed State Police report made public.

The accusation that these were somehow “business as usual” decisions is ridiculous. I wish Mike Smith, rather than nitpicking and name calling, would tell the voter specifically what he would do for Rhode Island, how he would do it, and what related experience he has had that will make us believe he can do what he promises. Until he can do that, I am voting for Lauren Carson for Rhode Island General Assembly House District 75.

Ann McMahon

15,000 Left Out

To the Editor:

Rhode Island families of 15,000 school children filed applications in 2015 (the most recent data) to move their children out of municipal schools and into charter schools, where there are only 1,400 available seats.

Fifteen thousand!

If that staggering figure doesn’t ring the chimes of municipal school administrators, teachers, school committee members, and even union officials statewide, there is something wrong with them.

And there is definitely something wrong with the current status of municipal school education in Newport, as well as elsewhere in the state. Many, if not all, of those education officials would agree with the upset parents that the current curriculum in municipal schools is not providing Rhode Island’s children with adequate educational preparation to compete in a world dominated by technology.

The children do not get enough math, nor science, nor technology. That includes public school children in Newport. Gov. Raimondo has said she is “drawing a line in the sand and setting a clear goal [so that] by 2025, when kids born this year enter third grade, three out of four will be reading at grade level.”

In Newport, more than 25 percent of students in the sixth grade cannot read at that level, according to statistical surveys conducted by a number of independent organizations, like Rhode Island- Campaign for Achievement Now (RI-CAN), which aggressively promotes sound policies designed by education professionals to upgrade municipal school curricula.

It’s not that the kids would be stressed if they had to handle an increased focus on math, science and reading. It’s a sure bet that the youngsters in our public schools know how to operate a cell phone, an iPad, a laptop computer, and they can do it faster than most adults. They text daily and feed Facebook more often than they eat.

Learning geometry or physics or basic science skills is no more challenging if both the teachers and the kids are motived to partner with each other. The old teaching format of long rows of sitting students facing a teacher at his/her desk or scribbling on a blackboard is stale bread.

Industry does not work that way; meeting participants sit around a table, exchange viewpoints, discuss, argue, reach consensus. Why shouldn’t a Thompson Middle School classroom or a Rogers High School classroom function the same way? The interchange of ideas, directed by an instructor who forces the students to think, to rationalize, to work as a team: That approach is guaranteed to result in higher education performance.

It may take a siren call to motivate education officials to begin the process of revamping public education. But, like the parents of those 15,000 children, if more parents begin to make waves, there will be an ocean of change. It cannot come soon enough.

Don Dery

True Euthanasia is Painless

To the Editor:

I would like to comment on the article in the Sept. 15 issue, “Euthanized: Final Fate for Coyote.” I do wish to express my interest and praise for the work done by the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study and the conservation that they are dedicated to. I find the work done by Dr. Mitchell and her group interesting and important. However, I am disturbed by the way the demise of Cliff was handled. I am not necessarily objecting to ending Cliff’s life if he indeed was becoming a danger and nuisance, if in fact, no alternative could really be found. However, “euthanasia” is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “a painless killing ……” Therefore, the “lethal gunshot force to euthanize him” is a contradiction in terms.

Perhaps Cliff deserved a true euthanasia – delivered by Dr. Mitchell or a veterinarian via remote delivery of heavy sedation (dexmedetomidine with ketamine) – followed by an intravenous lethal injection of euthanasia (pentobarbital) solution. That would be a true euthanasia for which, I think, Cliff deserved.

Lynne Kushner, DVM, DACVAA

Editor's Note: Following a public outcry to save Cliff, state and local officials are now hoping to relocate him.

Carson Blindly Follows Leadership

To the Editor:

I shook my head yet again as Rep. Lauren Carson once again tried to come up with another ridiculous explanation for her flip-flopping on issues once challenged. Our fearless leader of the Oversight Committee, who went along for the ride during the disastrous R.I. tourism campaign rollout of "Cooler and Warmer," tried to backpedal her vote against establishing an independent investigation of the 38 Studios saga.

Once her widely respected Independent opponent Mike Smith demanded the document release and it dawned on her that people like transparency, she jumped on board. But let's not forget her record. Lauren Carson voted against an independent investigation of the 38 Studios saga this year. She voted for continuing to pay the failed 38 Studios moral obligation bonds and to put R.I. further into debt. How do you square that with election time changes of heart? How can we change the way business is done if the average person can't see how business is done?

But this is the trend with Rep. Carson. She goes with the crowd and doesn't think for herself or the people of Newport. According to a recent statewide survey, she votes blindly with leadership 99.2 percent of the time. She takes her orders from Statehouse leadership, not those of us who live in the Yachting Village, the Point, or Historic Hill. By golly, how can you look yourself in the mirror when you are living on this island and vote for adding tolls? How can we think she is representing us when she is always voting for the interests and by the decree of those upstate?

Her results have been disastrous for Newport.

Barbara Ann Fenton

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