Maria Hernandez: Criminal or Choice-Seeking Parent?

It’s been an eventful few days on the education scene here in my hometown as Maria Hernandez, a parent of a student attending our local high school, Cranston East, was arrested for allegedly falsifying an affadavit in which she claimed to be a resident of our city. She is being criminally charged with fraud and larceny for allegedly stealing approximately $36,000 in educational services.

Ms. Hernandez wanted a better education for her son. This is the promise of No Child Left Behind: that parents will be able to choose the best school for their child. It’s a big promise, and, unfortunately, it’s a fairly empty one at this point. Only 1% of schools reportedly are fulfilling the school choice option of No Child Left Behind.

Why isn’t the option being used? In a city like Providence, one answer is that the choices are limited. Would you like to send your child to a really bad school, or just a kind of bad school? Remember: the choice to send your child to another school is only within the district. So what if, as in a city like Providence, only one of the large high schools is high performing? What if the slots in the smaller community schools sponsored by the school system (two of which are also high performing in Providence) are all filled?

Will the stated goals for school choice become easier to fulfill under Bush’s 2007 plan for education? While money has been allocated in Bush’s budget to fund new initiatives to help at-risk youth, the bottom line is that funding for education is being reduced in this country. Money for smaller community schools within large urban school districts is being cut by $94 million. These appear to be some of the more successful initiatives in urban education for at-risk students, at least in Providence.

According to the Projo article on Ms. Hernandez’s arrest, about 300 students in the Cranston public schools are non-residents. Our current per-pupil cost of education in Cranston is $11,546. That means approximately $3.5 million dollars a year is going toward education of children whose families are not paying Cranston’s taxes. This makes a lot of Cranston tax-payers angry. It stirs up lots of energy around the mayor, who is taking a stand, and hoping this stand will win him recognition and votes in his bid for Lincoln Chafee’s US Senate seat.

But I wonder if our energy would be more productively directed by working on a plan for the city of Cranston to collaborate with the city of Providence to make No Child Left Behind a reality: if we accepted students who wanted to enter our school system and were fully reimbursed for the cost of their education by the LEA (Local Education Agency) from whence they came. This is what No Child Left Behind recommends for school districts to do when they do not have adequate choices within their own districts.

I know, it’s right up there with “Give Peace a Chance.” But it seems to make a lot more sense than political grandstanding and arresting parents who have to borrow money from their children to post bail. And it would be a step in the direction of fulfilling one of the stated goals of No Child Left Behind.

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20 thoughts on “Maria Hernandez: Criminal or Choice-Seeking Parent?

  1. Now, our mayor, is trying to soak up camera time by arresting a Providence mother for sending her teenage son to the high school and charging her with a felony. In my opinion, this is all political theater; Laffey is currently trying to unseat Senator Chafee. He is trying to make some noise to collect more campaign funds from out of state (particular conservative anti-immigration folks). There should be no surprise that the Providence family is Latino “sneaking” across the border to attend a better school.

    Also, America’s public school system is under attack across the country. There is a national movement trying to privatize education. Nothing wrong with private schools, mind you, but public schools should not be eliminated.

    This conservative movement wants to cut, downsize, consolidate, privatize and outsource anything and everything “public” just to bring down that bottom line and cut taxes.

    From social security, to the military, to small elementary schools – all is fair game.

    “Starve-the-beast” is a strategy which uses budget deficits to force reductions in government expenditure, especially spending on social security programs. The term “beast” is used to denote government and the social programs it funds, including publicly funded healthcare and welfare, the implication being that expenditure on such programs, or the programs themselves, is wasteful or destructive.

    A current example is the tax cutting policy of the Bush administration in the United States. A well-known U.S. proponent of the strategy is Grover Norquist.

    Grover Norquist once stated, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

    This idea is wrong. This idea has aways been wrong. It sets into place a plutocracy of the rich exploiting the poor.

  2. OK, I’ll risk another post, as this is near and dear to my heart and my profession. Your post Kiersten makes a great deal of sense. Many have been advocating voucher systems, which allow parents of students in failing schools to shop elsewhere. For too long urban school students, often poor and minority, have been forced to tolerate substandard schools. These children, however, deserve the very best education we have to offer, as they are in desperate need of an edge, a leg up to find success. We as a society would all benefit from such success. Urban students, however, has been ignored in many ways for political reasons. Unions oppose vouchers, so leaders refuse to accept such a program. Unions oppose charter schools, many of which find success at reaching needy children, so leaders in RI pass a measure preventing any new charters. These two issues should infuriate anyone who professes concern for the amazing children stuck in these failing schools.

    Perhaps you might not expect a conservative to make this statement, but my heart sinks everytime I drive passed Hope High School (an absolutely failing school which until recently had been ignored) only to run into two of the state’s most elite schools, Moses Brown and Wheeler. Literally a stone’s throw away. While we cannot afford to give every student a Moses Brown education, so many at Hope deserve the best we can. Mothers like Ms. Hernandez should not have to break the law to find it. We must support reform initiatives, and truly put the kids first.

    Comments like those from Andre Araujo do nothing to help the situation. It dismisses a city’s cry for help as political theater so the issues don’t have to be addressed, inserts race to further muddy the water, and then attacks conservatives in general. Such comments are true political rhetoric that do nothing to extend debate and attempt solutions.

    I could care less whether those willing to step forward and support reform are Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. Initiatives that help children out of despair and don’t bankrupt the taxpayers should be considered and debated. Kiersten is right when she says that much of NCLB has been ignored, particularly in the Northeast. Its reliance on standardized tests has left a bad taste in the mouths of educators (incluing mine). But the premise is a good one, and should be refined and enacted when it benefits children. The fact that it was initiated by President Bush should be irrelevent.

  3. I have issues with NCLB. The federal government sets a high standard, does not provide the needed resources to meet that standard then punishes you for not meeting that standard by shutting you down. It’s madness!

    It is wrong for the unwillingness of the federal government to fully fund the act.

    While heavily promoted by the President and applauded by both political parties, neither the Senate nor the White House has requested funding up to the authorized levels for the program. Republicans in Congress have viewed these authorized levels as spending caps, not spending promises and have not funded the program. All talk and no action.

    Testing is not coupled with plans and funding to remedy problems that might be detected by the testing. Instead, a system of increasing punishments is provided to take away resources from schools which exhibit failing threshold scores. The system is setup to eliminate school not create them.

    Indicators of school performance are vague at best. A measurement of performance is counting how many children entering the ninth grade will complete a four year college education. Currently that number is roughly 20%.

    Although local freedom is advertised as a benefit of NCLB, school districts are free to choose one curriculum package from a federally developed list of about 6 products, and cannot use the funding for any other purpose. Thus, the main immediate effect of NCLB is to reinforce an oligopoly of large curriculum publishers. There is accusation of political cronyism in this result.

    NCLB urges many states to gradually lower standards, since states are rewarded for annual gains in the percentage of students passing state reading and math exams. NCLB encourages states to manipulate test scores to look good, instead of really meeting the needs of the children who are left behind.

    NCLB also encourages schools to remove poor performing students and eventually remove them from the system entirely (watch your high school drop out rates in the future).

    NCLB is designed to set the stage for the eventual privatization of the U.S. public school system: reports about struggling schools sour public opinion and may cause more and more voters to question the viability of public education.

  4. It has always struck me as more than a little ironic (and perverse) that the government can leave schools and communities behind yet expect those same entities to somehow prevent children from being left behind. Isn’t it reasonable to assume that, when the engine that pulls the train disengages from some of the cars, the passengers are left behind WITH the cars? Perhaps what is needed is a No School Left Behind bill. Or would that be too much to ask?

  5. First of all, let’s be clear – Ms. Hernandez was clearly breaking the law. She was stealing from the taxpayers of Cranston. She is an affront to all the parents who want the same thing for their children and moved to Cranston to get it LEGALLY! This notion that it is OK to do what she did because is absolutely WRONG! It opens the door to anarchy. It starts us down a very slippery slope of lawlessness if it is condoned that the end justifies the mean.

    This thought process is a dangerous and – dare I say -liberal mindset that presents great danger to a civilized society. It is understandable that Ms. Hernandez wants the best for her child. But, she is NO different than any other parent. She needs to live by the rules like everybody else. Just because she is a minority does NOT make her any different!

  6. Morgan, I agree that it was wrong, even illegal, for Ms. Hernandez to enroll her son in Cranston. However, this is a symptom of a larger problem. In my opinion, the reaction of our mayor does not address the larger problem. If he wants to impress sophisticated voters, he is going to need to do more than grandstand. If the mayor held a press conference saying we were cracking down on the problem AND he was working with Providence, or with our state senators, or with our US senators to address the problem of children not getting adequate education choices in the state, then I would have been impressed. As it is, all I see is someone milking a knee-jerk NIMBY reaction on the local level. If he thinks that going to get him to the US senate, in my opinion, he’s got another thing coming.

  7. Kiersten,
    On one hand you are critical of the mayor politicizing this, and then you say it won’t help him get to the Senate. Well, which is it? You can’t have it both ways.
    I think you are just going to be critical of Laffey no matter what.
    The citizens of Cranston should be thankful that Laffey ever wanted the crummy job of running Cranston. HE gave up literally millions of dollars of earnings to be mayor. And, he did a damn good job of it. There are structural problems that exist that will take years and years to fix – it took years and years to get there.
    The time has come to wrest control of our city from the unions that are destroying it. That is the problem.
    It’s about time all of you people who love to complain start to focus your anger and complaining on the real problem. Cranston and Rhode Island are no different than GM and Ford. They are being destroyed by unions. THere is only one difference – a municiipality can just keep raising taxes and doesn’t have to be competitive.

    Kiersten, when are you going to the larger problem that is responsible for Ms. Hernandez’ plight? Laffey has been attacking the problem since he took office. And guess what – he gets attacked for doing that, too.
    Face it Kiersten – he’s going to piss someone off if he is going to fix things. Or, perhaps you could give me your solution that is amenable to all involved. I won’t hold my breath.

  8. Sophisticated voters might just be the ones that count their change after their paychecks are cashed and bills are paid. In Cranston, there aren’t many coins left. Corruption and overspending have resulted in ridiculously high taxes. While Mayor Laffey certainly appears to love the camera, he still must do his job. But to ensure the record is straight, the school committee initiated this, and asked for support from the mayor. Contacting parents and paying the salary of a truant officer had little affect. While Cranston officials would be wise, and Providence officials equally wise, to address the problems, the so-called “knee-jerk” reaction will be powerful. If someone steals your VISA, you don’t have meetings and along with the bank try to figure out a solution so the thief need not steal again…you block the VISA from future use. Consider this that block.

    True change will not come if we allow parents to simply break the law. How does that offer an incentive for change? Parents whose kids attend broken schools need to rise up and demand change. Sending their children to another school district simply leaves the problem in the hands of someone else.

    Kiersten, the fact that this may not help Laffey get to the Senate speaks volumes – perhaps he’s not looking at the political ramifications but rather what is best for the people of the city he is now obliged to represent. Sounds like someone I want on my side.

  9. Morgan,

    When I find the mayor’s leadership deserving of praise, I give praise. You can ask Paul Grimes or Robin Muksian-Shutt how many emails they have received from me thanking them for doing a good job on various things. When I do not agree, I offer the reasons why and the evidence. You can also ask Paul Grimes how many times we have emailed back and forth arguing about certain things.

    I was willing to give the mayor my vote when he ran the first time around, as well as some publicity that got him some other votes. You can read my interview with him here:

    http://kmareka.com/community/laffey.htm

    In this instance, I do not believe the mayor is showing adequate leadership, mainly because his response did not encompass the bigger picture, which is what I want in a leader, especially someone who wants to represent our state on the broader level of federal government. I also believe his response is overly punitive (a misdemeanor charge would have been sufficient) and that it engenders divisiveness, which is what Lincoln Chafee recently said: that as a senator he has worked to build consensus, whereas the mayor seems to thrive on contentiousness.

    And I take back what I said about whether this will help Laffey get to the senate. I made the mistake of thinking he was appealing to sophisticated voters. I am now doubting that assertion. He is appealing to the largest number, which probably takes us back to the fact that the country’s voters are getting less sophisticated, not more. The link in this post says more about that:

    http://kmareka.com/index.php/?p=51

  10. OK, let’s take inventory here. We seem to have strayed from the original topic of Mrs. Hernandez, and drifted onto the topic of His Honor.

    First: Mrs Hernandez. What she did was wrong. However–and this is where we get to the mayor–the way the mayor chose to address the issue has become an issue in itself, and that was flat wrong, too.

    This all goes back to the strategy/tactics that Mr. Laffey has employed pretty much from the day he took office. Not during his first campaign (read the link to the interview), but after he took office.

    Morgan: I have a challenge for you. Name ONE accomplishment of the mayor. Remember the guys he taped sleeping on the job? Remember how he took the tape to network TV? Answer me this: are those guys still on the payroll? Guess what. They are. I wonder if the mayor was not able to fire them because of the way he handled the situation.

    And that has been typical. He played for the camera rather than actually DO something to solve the problem.

    The mayor did not save the city. He raised taxes, three times (I believe. I sort of lost count). Anyone who was not brain-dead could have done that, and would have been forced to do that. Raising taxes to fend of bankruptcy was a no-brainer. It had to be done. But, beyond that, what has the mayor done to improve the city finances? About zilch.

    Morgan, you keep bringing up what a great job the mayor has done. I say: prove it. Don’t tell me. Show me. With chapter and verse. That means actual evidence, rather than bald assertions.

    Pretty much everything the mayor has done has been with one eye to the cameras. He has pointed out real problems with the unions, and with the contracts that have been signed. Yes, these are big problems. However, a REAL leader does not attempt to address these problems by calling the other side “greedy” and “pigs.” Those are tactics for a 5th-grade schoolyard. These tactics have probably done more to hinder real reform than they have to move it along. They’ve gotten the mayor a lot of publicity, but they have not attained tangible results. Openly insulting people usually results in them digging in their heels. Real problems require maturity, patience, and a willingness to work towards a solution. The mayor has shown none of these traits. Rather, he shoots of his mouth, gets his publicity, and the problem festers.

    Come on, Morgan. It’s time to do more than simply blather about the mayor’s greatness. Show us some way that the mayor has really made a positive difference.

    And, slightly OT, but you brought it up. Being rich does not imply or confer moral stature. Too often, it’s the opposite. Al Capone was rich. The Medellin cocaine cartel was rich. Moral value?

    And, your opening line was very misleading. You presented a false choice: sort of a “have you stopped taking drugs” thing. It’s a logical fallacy called ‘complex question.’ I hope your “proof” of the mayor’s alleged greatness is constructed on more solid ground. Saying something often enough doesn’t make it so.

  11. Kiersten,
    I understand what you mean by “building consensus.” Believe me I do. What it means is getting nothing done. Certainly nothing meaningful. It means not pissing anyone off. But guess what, it ain’t going to happen. Someone will be pissed if our problems are going to be addressed. Someone who is worried about not pissing someone off is someone who is not serious about fixing the problem. And that, Kiersten, is exactly what has gotten us to where we are today. Please give me your solution to fixing our problems, and not angering anyone along the way. Please, don’t talk in abstracts, just give me your solution.

    That leads me to Klaus’ comments that any idiot could have raised taxes. You know what Klaus, you’re right. Now just tell me this – if it was so damn easy, why the hell didn’t anyone just do it? Well, why not? How about this – they were a bunch of spineless cowards before Laffey that didn’t want to piss anyone off. They wanted to build a consensus. And, in the end, what did they do? – NOTHING! Is this getting through? Laffey is the only one that has the balls to do what is right, not what conforms to this nonsensical concept of “consensus.”

    Furthermore Klaus, you have no clue what you are talking about. One of the guys who got caught in the taping incident has become a model employee. In fact, today, he is a big fan of Mayor Laffey.
    Pretty neat, huh?
    Klaus, let’s just say I like Laffey running things and I’m glad someone of your intellect is not.

  12. Morgan, thank you for your response.

    Now you’ve added “ad hominem” to “complex question.” You had nothing to counter with, so you disparage my intellect. If I am so intellectually challenged, it should be easy for you to prove me wrong by presenting a logical argument instead of by calling me names.

    You are the one claiming that the mayor is so great. Therefore, the burden of proof falls on you to prove this. I asked for examples, you provided none.

    You disparage “building consensus” because nothing gets done. So, to resolve our differences, should we all sit in different spots and throw stones at each other? Or should we organize gangs to beat up the other side, the winner gets to set city policy? If we don’t build consensus, how are we supposed to operate?

    I am reasonable; I voted for Mr Laffey the first time out because I hoped that a Harvard MBA would have some ideas about improving revenues. He didn’t. You ask why no one raised taxes? Whoever was elected in 2000 would have, because there was no choice at that point. The previous mayor left a mess. The current mayor raised taxes. The city’s situation has improved, but Mr Laffey has shown no real leadership on the issue of putting the city on a more solid financial footing.

    I ask you again, can you provide a list of accomplishments? If not, on what basis do you claim that he’s so great? Because he calls people names, polarizes the community, and makes real reform even more difficult? How is that great?

    So again, I respectfully ask you to provide some evidence, some basis for your claim that we are lucky to have a mayor as great as Mr Laffey. I will continue to do so. Winning over a single municipal employee is not sufficient accomplishment to put Mr Laffey in the ranks of “Great Leaders.” If you cannot do so, then the reasonable conclusion is that there are no accomplishments.

  13. Morgan,

    Did you read my initial post or my earlier response? My suggestions are as follows, and I’m cutting and pasting:

    But I wonder if our energy would be more productively directed by working on a plan for the city of Cranston to collaborate with the city of Providence to make No Child Left Behind a reality: if we accepted students who wanted to enter our school system and were fully reimbursed for the cost of their education by the LEA (Local Education Agency) from whence they came. This is what No Child Left Behind recommends for school districts to do when they do not have adequate choices within their own districts.

    and:

    If the mayor held a press conference saying we were cracking down on the problem AND he was working with Providence, or with our state senators, or with our US senators to address the problem of children not getting adequate education choices in the state, then I would have been impressed.

    These are not abstractions. I’m suggesting that along with cracking down on the problem legally, the mayor also take the initiative to work with the leaders around him to solve the problem. This means calling up Jack Reed or Lincoln Chafee (oh wait, never mind) and saying, “Hi Jack, this is Steve Laffey in Cranston. You know, Jack, something really needs to be done to address the educational problems in the state. Right now we have parents illegally enrolling their children in Cranston because they are so desperate to get their kids out of Providence, where 9 of the 13 high schools are low performing. We’re cracking down on the problem but we’d also like to work with you and with Mayor Cicilline to find a way to meet the needs of as many students as possible while still maintaining our quality school system in Cranston.” Then he calls up Mayor Cicilline and says, “Hi David, this is Steve. I’m sure you’re aware of the problem we’ve been having with parents illegally enrolling their children in Cranston. We would like to work on this problem, just like we worked on the problem of Cranston making ambulance calls for Providence. While we can’t afford to educate children whose parents aren’t paying taxes in Cranston, we are neighboring communities and we can help. If nothing else, we can help advocate for school reform initiatives in the state that reduce other costs such as duplicated administrations, so that the pool of funding for helping our at-risk students is as large as possible.”

    Instead, the response was, “Scofflaws! Get out!”

    Real classy.

  14. Klaus, perhaps you are right. Perhaps raising taxes was a solution anyone would have used (although Mayor O’Leary didn’t?). But the truth is raising taxes doesn’t automatically raise the bond rating and save the city. Solutions need to be found to cut spending, and prepare for the future. Mayor Laffey has done that, by targeting excesses in contract negotiations and city spending. Laffey didn’t want Cranston residents fired from their jobs…he wanted them to do their jobs (compassionate conservatism?). And I bet they are now. He wanted children crossed safely, and not by breaking the backs of the kids’ parents. If anything, Mayor Laffey has brought attention to the problems in Cranston, and has created a far more, dare I use Kiersten’s term, sophisticated citizenry (note results of Laffey’s re-election). Now that’s a legacy.

    Other cities haven’t been so lucky. Take a look at the taxes in, say, North Providence. Or the city government of Johnston. Both have been weighed down by free spending political machines in the past, and neither has had a Laffey type willing to take a hard stand. The result: high taxes with an inefficient, wasteful government.

    And the case against Ms. Hernendez is just another example of the mayor doing what’s best for Cranston. I bet Mayor Cicciline will be eager for a sitdown with Mayor Laffey now.

    Cranston has a lot to be proud of. I wish Laffey was staying here in Rhode Island.

  15. Mike, thanks for your insight. My sense is that, by the time of the 2000 election, things were so bad that tax increases were inevitable. I realize this cannot be proven or disproven, but revenue was needed, and quickly.

    As for the bond rating, I would also ascribe a lot of that to the tax increases. I am not a finance expert, but I have a general sense of how these work. The rating is the bond company’s assessment of how likely a bondholder is to be paid back in full, plus interest. Or, conversely, it is the rating agency’s estimate of how likely the issuer is to default on the bond. A rating does not change on a one or two issues, but, financial solvency is pretty much the major factor. Thus, my sense is that the increase in revenue brought about by the tax increase had a lot to do with it. Cranston went from a big liability to having a surplus, which drastically reduced the chance of default. That had to carry a lot of weight.

    However, if there are other tangible steps that the mayor took to improve the rating, then I’d be happy to hear them. His finance background may have carried some weight with the rating agencies, but they deal with finance people all the time and have no qualms about downgrading a GM or a United Airlines. So I am a bit skeptical that his MBA was much use; bond agencies deal with MBAs and Ph.D. economists all the time.

    And I agree with you wholeheartedly that the system is broken. A couple of tax increases are not going to be enough. That is why I’ve been so disappointed by the mayor’s approach. There’s an expression about attracting more flies with honey than with vinegar; my opinion is that the mayor needlessly polarized the situation by calling people names. Someone calls me a pig, I’m a little less likely to consider what they have to say.

    Now I’m going to borrow one of Kiersten’s terms and say that a consensus needs to be built. The underlying problem is that median incomes have been falling over the past five years. (Stats on this are available at the Bureau of Labor Statitics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.) Given this, we cannot simply keep raising taxes to pay for larger union contracts. But putting all of the blame on the unions isn’t realistic, either. And it doesn’t help that the mayor may have an ideological bent to break the unions as a goal in itself. I don’t know that he does, but he needs to convince me–and probably a whole lot of other people– that this isn’t his real goal.

    Any solution will be difficult, and will require some creativity. But it will also require a consensus of taxpayers, the unions, and everyone else. As such, the mayor needs credibility; in my opinion, he lacks this. From my perspective, his methods have played to the media to build his political career, and the good of the city came in a distant second. The incident with Mrs Hernandez fits too well into this pattern.

    But I’m willing to listen to the other side, provided it’s presented in a rational manner. Name-calling is counterproductive.

  16. OK Klaus,

    For one, Laffey took office in 2003, after being elected in 2002 – not 2000. And, the multiple audits of O’Leary were over 18 months late. They knew they should raise taxes – they were cowards – they didn’t. End of story.

    Now, you revel in verbal gymnatics, in the end saying nothing. You would like us to believe you are intelligent, and then continue on to claim no understanding of the simplest concepts that have increased our bond rating. If you had the slightest inclination to know what happened you could have simply read the rating agencies’ reports. They are on the City’s web site for those not so lazy and have the most rudimentary intellectual curiosity.

    Nonetheless, here are just a few things that Laffey did, that gained the confidence of the rating agencies, leading them to raise Cranston’s bonds rating back to investment grade from the lowest rating in the country, in the fastest municipal turnaround in US history.

    -Hired an expert in municipal finance
    -Properly budgeted for a realistic tax collection rate.
    -Held tax lien sales to recover delinquent taxes
    -Improved financial reporting and record keeping
    -Completed audits on time, each year he has been in office
    -Proposed realistic budgets that resulted in no deficits
    -Stopped the practice of taking pension money for the general fund.
    Is adding funds to the pension fund, above the minimum requirement, reducing the unfunded liability.
    -Took the school committee to court adn won to save over 3,000,000 in one year alone, and many millions more going forward.

    If you think the rating agencies upped our rating for simply raising taxes – you are dead wrong.

  17. Morgan, nice to hear from you again. Thanks for getting back to me. And my bad: Mr Laffey was elected in 2002, as you said. Other than that, just a few points.

    First, the “expert in municipal finance” has been involved in three (count ‘em) corrupt administrations. That sort of expertise I can do without.

    Second, again with the name calling. First I was stupid, now I’m stupid and lazy. Geez, I’m going to get a complex. Can we have a discussion without the name-calling?

    Finally, you have described an administration that is competent. OK, they’re competent. They have done what they are supposed to do. If that is your definition of “great,” then I guess I can’t argue with you. You hold the bar pretty low.

    And a BTW–you keep mentioning the previous mayor. I have not defended him. I am not in a position to judge what he did, or didn’t do. It seems that he did indeed leave the city in bad shape. However, that is not the topic.

  18. Klaus,
    And exactly what is it that you are accusing Jerome Baron of doing?

    Do I have to prove you wrong, yet again?

    Klaus, you are exhibiting all the signs of type I’ve seen many times. When Laffey started to run you supported him, figuring no politician would really do what he said he was going to do. But lo and behold, Laffey wasn’t the slimy politician that you figured. You never thought that you might actually be caught in the crosshairs. I will bet that you or a close family member is in a union in Cranston. You know that Laffey is on to you and you just can’t stand it, so all you are left with is to make all kinds of ignorant unfounded accusations to make yourself feel better. But all you do is make yourself sound stupid. I do however, hope you fell better.

  19. Okay, Morgan. It’s becoming increasingly clear you are not interested in civil discourse, so this will be my last reply. I’m not feeding a troll.

    I don’t belong to a union. No one in my family or my immediate circle of friends belongs to a union. I’m not even from Rhode Island. I’m a highly respected corporate finance employee.

    I voted for the mayor because I hoped he would make headway on the major municipal contracts in the city and that he would bring economic development to the city. He has done neither. He made some headway on small contracts. But on the larger contracts, particularly the police and schools, he has not curbed spending, and his polarizing style of “leadership” may have actually made things worse.

    He has done an adequate job of managing the city’s finances. But the major factor driving the recovery is tax increases.

    It’s unfortunate that the mayor’s behavior is so divisive at times, because he could have done a lot more good. The same could be said about you. We could have had a more civil exchange of ideas here, but your baseless accusations and vitriolic comment have ended my interest in engaging with you.

    I have read many of the RI blogs and watched pro-Laffey trolls like yourself berate other blog participants and browbeat them with your talking points. You may believe this is helping to move Laffey’s agenda forward. I would like to suggest that you consider whether this is serving to further alienate potential voters from Laffey as they see how his loyal defenders mimic his reckless and disrespectful behavior. You may get your 20 to 30% of the vote, but that’s as far as you’re going to get with this kind of an attitude.

  20. Klaus and Morgan,

    Thanks for your comments. This has been a spirited debate. However, we have strayed way off the topic of Mrs. Hernandez and school choice. Hence, I am closing this thread for further comment. I hope you both will be back for more discussions, though perhaps not with each other, as it looks like things have gone a bit sour between the two of you.

    I’d like to state for future reference, and maybe I need to put this in the spot under the posting box, that all comments need to be respectful. If you are being disrespectful to other commenters on the site (and yes, I am the sole subjective judge of this), your comments will not be posted.

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