Rachel McNally Running for Cranston City Council Ward 6

Rachel McNally, President of Save Cranston’s Open Space, is tossing her hat into the ring for City Council in Cranston. She states in the following letter that the current Ward 6 Council representative, Jeff Barone, will not be seeking re-election.

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

I have decided to run for the Ward 6 Cranston City Council seat because I feel that is the best way to continue my efforts to protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods. I will be running as an Independent and ask that you continue to support the work that I have done on all of our behalves. Over the past year, I have proven my dedication to issues of concern to residents and will continue to do so. Factoring into this decision was the fact that Jeff Barone, our current City Councilman, chose not to seek re-election. I see this as an opportune time to take my commitment of representing the best interests of the residents of Ward 6 to a higher level.

As your Councilwoman, I would be a strong advocate for protecting the Mulligan’s Island property from ill-conceived commercial development and work with you on issues that affect the quality of life in our neighborhoods. You have seen what I can accomplish when I am motivated by the best interests of the community and have the support of my neighbors. You also know that my commitment to protecting our homes and neighborhoods is unwavering and holding a position on the City Council would enable me to have a stronger voice in the City and to keep the concerns of Ward 6 in the forefront.

In order to campaign effectively and maintain the integrity of Save Cranston’s Open Space, I will be stepping down as President during the election season. Lori Chartier will be acting as President of Save Cranston’s Open Space until after the election, at which time the outcome of my campaign will be decided. I understand that this will be an uphill battle, but so was stopping the big-box development at Mulligan’s Island and a city-owned ballfield; yet, together we were able to accomplish that. I am confident that I am the best person to represent Ward 6 and ask you to remember my commitment to you and know that you can count on me to work diligently to serve as your voice in City Council. I have earned your trust and will work to maintain that trust because it means a great deal to me.

If you are interested in assisting me in anyway or would like to be added to my official campaign e-mail list, please contact me at rachelmcnally@cox.net.

Thank you,

Rachel McNally
Independent for Ward 6

No Buses On Our Block!!!

To the concerned citizens who posted handbills all over the South end of Angell Street, right off Wayland Square –

I give you an ‘A’ for effort. You not only covered every telephone pole, sometimes twice, but you chose a screaming flourescent green color that is impossible to ignore. Unfortunately I have to give you an ‘F’ for public relations. You are anonymous. When you urge us to ‘Call our reps and RIPTA and voice your protest today!!!’ don’t expect me to jump.

“YOUR PROPERTY VALUE JUST WENT DOWN, due to NOISE and AIR POLLUTION, TRASH, LOITERING, and SHAKING STRUCTURES (OUR HOMES)!!!�

I think you would do better to ask your neighbors why a lawn the size of a handkerchief requires a giant truck, three guys with leaf blowers, two guys with power mowers and an underground sprinkler system to keep it green. You can’t enjoy the beautiful walk down Elmgrove Ave for the excruciating noise and diesel fumes. Not to mention the workers without ear protection or dust masks. What are they, expendable? Just imagine the whir of a hand mower and the smell of cut grass. Imagine it, because you’ll seldom see it.

And the traffic. There must be a sale on Hummers, because they’re everywhere — clogging our narrow streets and parked on corners so that you can’t see what’s coming. Also, summer is motorcycle season. Fuel efficient, but way noisier than buses.

Maybe it’s the ‘loitering’. Let’s clarify. — waiting for the bus is not loitering. Anyone who wants to loiter in Wayland Square has had easy access via several bus routes since the dawn of time, and they can even stop off at the Salvation Army while they’re there. Adding a stop will not change anything, except maybe to make using the bus more convenient.

Why is this important? Because gas is not getting cheaper. Because good public transit would aid employment, and relieve people of the necessity to maintain a P.O.S. car in order to work. A really good public transit system might persuade some drivers who need to hang up their license to finally do it — and you East Siders know what I am talking about.

So, you anonymous people who posted the handbill — thanks for the contact info. I’ve already emailed all the people on it to declare my support for making RIPTA as accessible and convenient as possible, and I’m reproducing the list here—

Councilman Cliff Wood 521-7477 Cliff@councilmancliff.com
Senator Rhoda E. Perry 222-1734 x711 Sen-perry@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Edith A. Ajello Rep-ajello@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative David A. Segal Rep-segal@rilin.state.ri.us
RIPTA 781-9400

If you think that public transit is one of the solutions to pollution, gridlock and dependence on foreign oil then contact them and show your support.

And Now a Word from Ralph Mollis

The Secretary of State, Ralph Mollis, wants to make sure everyone knows that this Wednesday, June 25, 2008, is the deadline for filing for candidacy. Secretary Mollis cares deeply about everyone being as involved as possible in the political process and so has sent this message out, to make sure everyone knows what to do if they want to run for election:

Candidates for federal office must file Declarations of Candidacy with Mollis at his Elections Division, 148 West River St., Providence. Anyone who is planning to run for state or local office must file with the board of canvassers in the city or town that is their legal residence.

“A number of other crucial dates in the election calendar are just around the corner. Ensuring our elections are accessible to those who vote and those who hope to serve is one of my priorities,� said Mollis.

The next important milestone is July 1, when candidates can pick up nomination papers. Candidates for federal office can obtain the forms from Mollis’ Elections office. Candidates for state and local offices should pick up their papers at the Cranston Board of Canvassers.

State law then gives candidates until July 11 to collect the signatures of enough eligible voters to officially put them on the ballot. The threshold ranges from 50 signatures for the state House of Representatives to 1,000 signatures for the U.S. Senate.

All the necessary forms as well as a calendar with every key date leading up to Rhode Island’s primary and general election are posted on Mollis’ website.

Every time around, I contemplate running for school committee. This is one of the most important positions that a person can take on in a community. Not only are you working for the purpose of providing the best education for our children, but you are also responsible for more than half of most municipal budgets. For these reasons, it seems to me that school committees are as important if not more important than city councils.

So why don’t I run? Lots of reasons. But I may run two years from now.

Fogarty to Get Cranston Democratic Endorsement

Elizabeth Seal of The Cranston Herald is reporting that Cindy Fogarty is going to get the Cranston Democratic city committee endorsement.

I don’t know what to say that would sound remotely objective. I supported Cindy’s campaign for Mayor last time, helped her set up her website, walked my neighborhood with her and stood by her as she listened to concerns of neighbors and gave them honest answers. She served diligently as a city council member and did well in her primary battle with Napolitano, despite spending only a fraction of what Napolitano spent.

This is where politics can get good — when someone who doesn’t have the money but has the courage steps up. That’s a good thing. What’s even better is when they get the support they deserve. I wish Cindy the best and will be supporting her campaign as she moves forward.

Andre Araujo: Rhode Island Needs More Trains

Fellow Cranstonite Andre Araujo has a Letter to the Editor in the Projo. Unfortunately, they got his name wrong (called him Andrew), but the letter still stands as a strong call to action for how to develop better mass transit in the Ocean State:

Oil prices are set by supply and demand on the world market. We cannot adjust supply but we can change demand by changing our habits and becoming energy-efficient. A great inefficiency is our commuting habits. Every day, millions of us sit idly and alone in our cars in highway traffic going back and forth to work.

Before this country was an automobile culture, it was a rail one. The rails connected the coasts making America a continental nation and streetcars dominated the cities. The automobile and cheap gas ended that era in America but when one travels to Europe, one is pleasantly surprised by the ease and reach of rail.

What this state needs is a mass-transit system. We have buses but they are impracticable for too many. What is required is a rail service connecting Providence to cities as far as Newport, Narragansett, Woonsocket and Westerly.

The time is now that we should demand from our leaders that we have a solution to our economic and environmental problems caused by oil and one of those solutions is a fast, reliable and efficient statewide mass-transit system.

Pawtuxet Book Sale, Canoeing and Farmer’s Market

School Committee member Steve Stycos alerts us that it’s time again for the annual Big Green Book Sale and the official opening of the Pawtuxet Village Farmer’s Market this Saturday:

This Saturday, the Pawtuxet Village Farmers Market officially opens its sixth season in the Rhodes on the Pawtuxet parking lot in Cranston with canoe rides, a wildflower walk and a used book sale, in addition to strawberries, spinach, lettuce, basil and a variety of other early spring vegetables.

The Big Green Book Sale will run from 9 AM to 12 PM to raise money for the market and our environmental projects. The book selection will be better than last year as we have received donations of about 100 cartons of books, with an especially strong collection of fiction from writers ranging from Daniel Steele to Franz Kafka. Most books will be a dollar each. Last minute donations can be brought directly to the sale between 8 and 9 PM.

Starting at 9 AM, Friends of the Pawtuxet will also offer canoe rentals hourly from the lower Rhodes on the Pawtuxet parking lot. Paddling the calm river for an hour, canoeists often see turtles, swans, muskrats and an occasional blue heron. $3/adult and $1/child. Trips leave from the lower parking lot. Reservations are strongly recommended. Please call Hillary at 784-8240.

At 10 AM naturalist Rod Rodrigues will lead a wildflower walk along the river. The free walk leaves from the lower parking lot. Stay as long as you like, but please do not bring your dog.

In addition to spring vegetables, Governor Francis Farm honey, hand made soaps and lotions, free range eggs, locally baked breads and pastries and a variety of plants will also be on sale at the market.

Enhancing Education with Video Games

(Cross-posted from my private practice site.)

This is a wonderfully illuminating discussion about video games and education. The discussion is between David Williamson Shaffer, author of How Computer Games Help Children Learn and James Paul Gee, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of Why Video Games are Good for the Soul.

The overriding message from Shaffer and Gee: games can do many important things that traditional education can’t.

1. Games can teach critical thinking. Among the educational advantages of Shaffer’s concept of “epistemic games,” the concept calls for a greater focus on metacognition in education. Metacognition is one of the executive functions that can be learned from interacting with digital technologies, as described by Randy Kulman at Learningworksforkids.com.

2. Games can capture the natural enthusiasm of children for learning. As Shaffer and Gee emphasize in the video, games can make you care in a way that listening to a lecture or memorizing facts for a test really can’t. In another video from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Gee talks about how playing the game “Portal” teaches all sorts of important science concepts. (He also talks about the problem of “the fourth grade slump” in education, another important issue that needs to be addressed.) In addition, Gee points out that many video games come with an online community for support, with other players of the games willing to offer mentoring to newer players. This is a feature of the gaming community that the educational community would do well to mimic.

3. Games can prepare us better for “solving real world problems.” The ability of games to simulate reality — to present students with a problem that more closely resembles a real life situation — is another reason why games can be such powerful educational tools.