2018-04-12 / Opinion


No Disrespect Intended

To the Editor:

We are currently going through a lengthy and contentious negotiation with the police department, and it is unfortunate that my comment in regards to the Middletown Police Officers memorial seal for fallen officers at the April 2 Middletown council meeting was taken out of context by some police officers later. I would never disrespect a department that I truly love and admire.

At the meeting, I did say that the $41,000 expenditure for a doormat was insane. I was a member of the council ten years ago when the funds were appropriated for the police complex, and those of us who have visited the police department over the years are quite aware of where the seal was placed. Councilor M. Theresa Santos recently suggested that the seal be placed on the wall of the police department and not in the walkway. That memorial seal has been walked on for the last ten years. In fact a woman slipped and fell on it, sued the Town and was awarded over $11,000 in damages.

My use of the word "doormat" was never used to disrespect what the seal symbolizes. It was making reference to where the seal was located. I was a Middletown Police Officer for 15 years, retiring as a Captain. I wore that uniform with immense pride and honor and I will never forget those officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I admire and respect everyone who has chosen law enforcement as their profession.

In closing I will continue to scrutinize every tax dollar that is spent.

Robert J. Sylvia / Captain
(retired) Middletown Police

Spotlight on Military Children

To the Editor:

Did you know that April is the Month of the Military Child? Did you know that Middletown Public Schools have the highest percentage of kids from military families (including international students) in the State of Rhode Island? Did you know that Forest Avenue School has the largest percentage of military kids in the state?

Month of the Military Child honors the sacrifices military families make and celebrates the important role children play in the military community. To celebrate, the Middletown Prevention Coalition, a coalition of individuals from the public and private sectors whose vision is to create a safe, healthy and drug-free Middletown, has partnered with our Middletown schools to help them recognize our military kids this month and acknowledge their unique service to our nation.

At Gaudet Middle School and Middletown High School, table tent cards will highlight famous military kids such as Jessica Alba, Reese Witherspoon, Christina Aguilera and Mark Hamill who all grew up in military families. Sports legends Ray Allen, Bart Starr, Shaquille O’Neal, Tiger Woods and even New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick were also military kids. Our elementary school children will receive a memento celebrating the month as a symbol of our support.

The celebrity military kids mentioned grew up to become giants in their field. There are hundreds more like them. But what about our local military kids? Like many, they may face stresses from constant moving, adjusting to new schools and towns, deployed parents, friends lost and new friends gained. Has your child or grandchild made friends with any military kids? Have you taken the time to get to know them and their families? Many will be gone this June, off to new duty stations or back to their home countries. How did you make their year in Middletown memorable? Reach out to them especially this month, the Month of the Military Child.

Thomas F. Lyons, Chair
Middletown Prevention Coalition

'Daffy Days' Celebrates Spring

To the Editor:

Modest actions can put smiles on thousands of faces. Enacted for the common good, they become a social contract, an implicit agreement among all of us to act for our community’s benefit.

This was the inspiration ten years ago behind the simple act of planting daffodils in public spaces throughout Newport; a “gift to the street,” if you will. The first plantings evolved into an ambitious goal: “Daffodillion” – a community-wide effort to purchase, donate and plant one million bulbs. Neighbors, churches, schools, businesses, the City and generous funders all joined in the effort.

Spring is now the time to revel in the daffodils’ glorious arrival: 867,500, to be exact. We are on the brink of reaching our once unfathomable “daffy” goal.

To celebrate these “troubadours of spring,” please join in the many Newport Daffodil Days Festival events from this Saturday, April 14 through April 22, when the Festival concludes with a classic car parade of over 50 cars departing Easton’s Beach at 2 p.m. and arriving at the Audrain Museum and Bellevue House where a free garden party will take place. For more information and more daffy fun, go to NewportDaffyDays.com.

Ronald Lee Fleming

City Supports Technology Improvement in Schools

To the Editor:

Investing in technology for the students of Newport is vital. The Newport Public School has an ambitious program underway to dramatically improve technology in the schools. The key program objective is for every student in the Newport Public Schools (NPS) to have a chromebook computer in the classroom and to provide all teachers with the technical tools and support needed to more effectively integrate technology into the school curriculum. This was a critical step because, until recently, student needs were not being met, we were behind schools in our neighboring communities, and Newport had been playing an urgent game of catch-up.

The NPS five year strategic plan (called One Newport) is the foundation for the technology plan, which had its beginning last year. The fundamental concept of One Newport is that we will all work together as partners, in collaboration as a community, to make our public schools a world-class educational system over time. Our students will increasingly need the full support of Newport’s community, given the many challenges ahead.

The plan received the full endorsement and approval of the School Committee. The City Council, in turn, provided the financial support to fund the first phase of the computer purchases for the 2016/2017 school year.

More important, the Newport teachers have been vitally instrumental in the development, implementation and success of the technology plan. In addition to carrying a full teaching load, our teachers had to take time for professional development to become more fully trained to assist the students with technology in the classroom. The teachers are to be thanked for taking on the significant challenges of this role.

As a result, there have been many successes in the classroom. For example, at Pell and Thompson there are more STEM programs, such as with FabNewport. At Rogers, PTECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) is in place and eight Rogers High students are earning college credit at CCRI. Students in the Career Tech AOIT (Academy of Information Technology) and Robotics programs have been very successful in state and national competitions. These efforts and successes are helping to prepare the students for a world that is quickly changing and becoming more challenging.

Tools, such as chromebooks, help the students learn, acquire information, solve problems, be more creative and develop important skills for the future job market. In the short term, we expect that having these learning tools will help create a positive learning environment and demonstrate to our teachers and students that our community is willing to give them the support they need and deserve.

Having supported the first year of the strategic technology plan, members of the Newport City Council have recently expressed a desire to continue their support this coming year. This is very good news. The One Newport subcommittee wishes to applaud the leadership and commitment of the School Administration, School Committee and City Council in providing the vision and support needed to help our students prepare for the challenges ahead. Thank you.

Ken Nomiyama, Chair,
One Newport Subcommittee

New Bill Does Not Account For Depression

To the Editor:

In the April 5 issue of Newport This Week, a letter from Chuck Flippo urges support for a bill introduced into the Rhode Island General Assembly misleadingly entitled the “Compassionate Care Act.” Mr. Flippo assures us that “Compassionate care is not assisted suicide.”

However, he is dead wrong. I have read the bill, and it should be entitled the “Assisted Suicide Act” or, more precisely, the “Physician-Assisted Suicide Act.” If you don’t think this is a bill to legalize assisted suicide in Rhode Island, read it yourself. Just Google “RI Senate 2018 S 2443" and it should be the first document that comes up.

The bill contains a lot of verbiage about how carefully everyone must act, but it states plainly that physicians are allowed to prescribe a medication that will hasten death to patients with a “terminal condition." That means an incurable and irreversible disease that would, within reasonable medical judgment, result in death within six months or less, although the bill also says that “the patient could live longer than the time predicted.”

So what’s wrong with that, if the patient is going to die soon and is in a lot of pain? Maybe you remember the widely publicized case of 17-year-old Michelle Carter, who last year was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a Massachusetts court. All she did was repeatedly send text messages to her severely depressed 18-year-old boyfriend urging him to commit suicide until he did it.

Of course, there are a lot of differences between urging an 18-year-old to commit suicide and providing deadly medicine to an elderly terminally ill patient. But they also have one very disturbing similarity. The boy probably wouldn’t have killed himself, even with those texts, if he hadn’t been depressed.

A lot of old, sick people are depressed too. They may go in and out of depression. But if they take that doctor’s pill, they won’t wake up the next morning, see the sun shining, and decide that maybe life is worth living after all.

That Massachusetts teenager also had a malicious girlfriend. Do elderly people ever have, maybe not malicious, but fatigued caregivers? Are they ever made to feel that they are just a burden? Does it ever happen that even well-meaning relatives, who would never hurt a hair on Grandma’s or Grandpa’s head, might feel that there is an easy way out?

I am very sorry that Dawn Euer, whom I greatly respect, has put her name on this pernicious bill. Rather than urge everyone to support her on this issue, I would ask that everyone think carefully about its ramifications. Sometimes there really is a “slippery slope” from good intentions to really bad consequences.

Roland F. Chase

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