Help a Child’s Dream Live On

Every so often, I find a story that really touches me in the news.  One that isn’t full of violence, destruction or hatred. Although the story of Matthew McIntyr’s wish to help adopted children, like himself, is not the one that his family would have necessarily written since Matthew passed away at age 9 last June; they are doing all they can to make his wish of helping other children in need of adoption a reality.

The McIntyre family of Cranston adopted Matthew, a former resident of Boys Town in Portsmouth, RI, in 2003.   He had been abused as a small child and through Boys Town he became a member of the McIntyre family.  After he passed away in June 2008, his family established the Matthew McIntyre Memorial Fund to assist children like him who are placed at Boys Town and hope to make the transition to a family of their own.

The Fund’s first event will be held Friday, February 27 at 6:30pm at the West Valley Inn and the money raised at the dinner will assist Boys Town to provide the opportunity for children to experience recreational, educational and other activities that fall outside of the Portsmouth facility’s budget.

For more information about the Fund or to reserve tickets for Friday’s dinner, please visit http://www.MatthewMcIntyreMemorial.com or contact Denise or Paul McIntyre at 828-0001.

Equality

A hearing is scheduled at the State House today for the “Marriage Equality Bill” that would allow same-sex couples to legally marry in Rhode Island. If it were not for a Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, 1967, we might still be fighting state by state for the right to marry regardless of race. This is what happened to the Lovings in 1958–

The plaintiffs, Mildred Loving and Richard Perry Loving, were residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia who had been married in June 1958 in the District of Columbia, having left Virginia to evade the Racial Integrity Act, a state law banning marriages between any white person and any non-white person. Upon their return to Caroline County, Virginia, they were charged with violation of the ban. They were caught sleeping in their bed by a group of police officers who had invaded their home in the hopes of finding them in the act of sex (another crime). In their defense, Ms. Loving had pointed to a marriage certificate on the wall in their bedroom. That, instead of defending them, became the evidence the police needed for a criminal charge since it showed they had been married in another state. Specifically, they were charged under Section 20-58 of the Virginia Code, which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and then returning to Virginia, and Section 20-59, which classified “miscegenation” as a felony punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years. On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia.

Before she died, Mildred Loving stated her support for marriage equality. Marriage is a right of citizenship, with privileges and responsibilities. As we move through uncertain economic times, it’s good for all of us to encourage open, legal bonds, because the state can never match the support that spouses give one another.

Interview with Matt Jerzyk, Fellow Cranstonian

As many of you know, Rhode Island blogging star Matt Jerzyk has taken up residence in our fine little berg. As a result, I have decided to query him on all the hot Cranston issues such as the plan to build a new Stop and Shop in Pawtuxet (he hates it!) and whether we should have a yearly business registration fee. He also talks about what it’s like living on the river and delves into one of his favorite topics — Rhode Island tax policies that give breaks to the wealthy and big corporations.

Kiersten Marek: So, now that you are a Cranston resident with kids, how do you feel about the estimated 9 million dollar deficit for our schools? Are you hoping to send your kids to the Cranston public schools?

Matt Jerzyk: My hope if for my two boys to attend Rhodes Elementary on Shaw Ave. Both my wife and I are big believers in the public education system. In fact, my wife Suzanne is currently a teacher at Gladstone St. Elementary.

Regarding the Cranston School Department’s current deficit, I have not had time to study or research my new city’s finances yet. I look forward to sitting down and talking with my school committee member, Steve Stycos, who I have a lot of respect for. However, the continued and outrageous shifting of the tax burden from the state to the municipalities has got to stop. Local property taxes keep skyrocketing and education funding keeps plummeting so that politicians can wave their tail feathers and announce that they haven’t raised “broad based taxes.” That’s a lie. Each year, the most regressive tax (property tax) goes higher and higher. And working families in Cranston and children across our state suffer.

Kiersten Marek: Regarding the shifting of burdens issue, I recently had a phone conversation with our local elected official, Robert Jacquard, who serves on the General Assembly’s finance committee. I have a lot of respect for Bob. He was tremendously helpful to me in understanding how to run a mayoral campaign in Cranston and he has been responsive and dependable as a legislative leader. One thing Bob and I disagree on, though, is the issue of the tax cuts for high income earners in Rhode Island. Bob thinks that these tax cuts are “good for Rhode Island’s image.” (NOTE: Since I wrote this question, Bob sent me an email saying he was “leaning toward” voting to repeal the tax cuts for the wealthy) while I’m more concerned with what these tax cuts do to our tax base for funding education and other services. Do you have any thoughts about this?

Matt Jerzyk: I sure do!

For the last decade, the Democratic-controlled House Finance Committee has conspired with the last two Governors in creating some of the largest tax breaks on record for the richest of the rich in Rhode Island.

Their claim was that these tax cuts would “trickle down” into job creation for the rest of us folk. Of course, the policy makers never directly linked tax cuts and job creation (what a novel idea!).

Now, years after the “tax cuts without strings for job creation” planhas been implemented, Rhode Island has unemployment in the double digits and a long list of factory closings and layoffs.

Question: has anyone in Gov. Carcieri’s office or in House Finance produced a fact sheet on how their previous tax cuts for the rich produced a single job?

And yet they want to keep slashing taxes for the rich and for big business (meaning higher property taxes and less funding for public education for middle class Rhode Island)?!?!?

They say that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This seems a pretty accurate assessment of the General Assembly’s finance committee at this point in time.

Kiersten Marek: I have a hard time understanding how people manage to buy the “trickle down” theory. But how do we change things? Do we need an infusion of representatives who understand how to put working families first? And strategically speaking, how do we pull this off? Have you any thoughts of running for public office in Rhode Island?

Matt Jerzyk: We have seen an increase in the number of Representatives and Senators who understand that we need to change the failed economic policies championed by Governor Carcieri and Speaker Murphy. The 2008 election of Chris Fierro, Scott Guthrie and Michael Rice are but one example.

Regarding your specific reference to Bob Jacquard, I must say that I have always found him to be a great listener on these issues. He has a quality that few politicians have – a willingness to change his mind. And to take advantage of this, it is incumbent on people in his district to email and call him and let him know that trickle down economics just doesn’t work. As for me running for office, I have no current intention as I am focused on my new legal career and my young family. I intend to get to know and to press my concerns with my new elected officials: Councilman Livingston, Mayor Fung, Rep. McNamara and Sen. Miller.

Kiersten Marek: I understand your house is right on the Pawtuxet River. What do you see out your windows? Have you noticed the water levels on the river rising or falling? Do you notice any wildlife in or near the river?

Matt Jerzyk: We see the river out of our windows and ducks! it is very relaxing and peaceful. and across the river, we see the back of a manufacturing facility – I think its the Unit Tool company. We haven’t been in our house long enough to notice rising or falling water levels. Although, it was interesting to learn recently that the Pawtuxet river was the original boundary of “Providence” as deeded to Roger Williams by the Narragansett Indians.

Kiersten Marek: Speaking of the river, there was a proposal recently to put a Stop and Shop up in Cranston right near the Pawtuxet River, an idea opposed by the group, Friends of the Pawtuxet River. Do you favor this idea or not?

Matt Jerzyk: Regarding the Stop and Shop, I am 100% opposed. Changing city zoning laws to benefit multi-national companies and big box developers while threatening the Pawtuxet River with increased pollution is disgraceful. There is absolutely NO NEED for a big box grocery store a block away from another one. The city council and the mayor should be ashamed. They would find a better use of their time talking to current Cranston small business owners about the help they need to weather this economic crisis. After all, it is small businesses – not big box stores – that have the greatest economic multiplier effect in a local economy.

Kiersten Marek: You may have heard that Cranston is considering enacting a new fee and regulation process for small businesses not already regulated locally. (This bill has since been voted down.) What’s your take on this idea?

Matt Jerzyk: Regarding a new fee for all businesses in Cranston, I am opposed. We should be encouraging the growth and entreprenurial spirit of small businesses, not drowning them in paperwork and fees. The city has planning and zoning regulations for a reason and there is no need to add an extra layer of bureacracy.

Amid Financial Crisis, Cranston Ponders New Fees for Small Business

UPDATE: The City Council had a tie on the business fee ordinance — 4 to 4 with Pelletier not voting. Here is a link to the article in the Projo.

Geoff Schoos has done us the favor of providing a well-formed opinion on the proposed regulation of all businesses in Cranston being considered by our City Council:

Cranston City Council Alert

Maybe you saw this in Wednesday’s paper, maybe you didn’t. But on Monday, the Cranston City Council will vote on a resolution to request that the General Assembly grant permission for the city to impose a new “regulation” on all local businesses.

You can read the projo article here: link to Projo article.

Or the Cranston Herald article here: Link to Herald article.

Associated with this regulatory scheme is a “Fee” of an undetermined amount. We’re assured that it will be “modest” but modest is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re a small business struggling to keep the doors open, the last thing you need is a “modest” fee associated with a “regulation.”

In the interests of full disclosure, I no longer operate a Cranston-based business. Last month, I relocated to the “dark side”. That’s right, I’ve moved my agency to Warwick. As a result, I have no “skin” in the fate of this resolution one way or the other.

Currently, this regulation/fee will affect all businesses. So, if you run a non-profit agency, you might be lumped in with the for-profit businesses. Mom & Pop stores, auto mechanics, doctors, lawyers, fledgling counseling businesses all could be brought under the regulation.

While I think I understand the motives of the proponents of this regulation, I assert that this is the wrong move at the wrong time. When small businesses are looking for help just to stay open, this amounts to a kick in the slats. Maybe some time when things are better, for a purpose more clearly defined, such a proposal could have some merit. But not now.

If you are a small business owner, you should go to Monday’s council meeting and tell them what you think. This is your opportunity to make yourself heard before the enactment of a new ordinance/regulation instead of complaining about it after it is implemented.

My own personal opinion, and yes I do have a dog in the fight as a fledgling business owner in Cranston, is: please, no new forms to fill out and things to file and charges to pay! As a health professional and a school certified social worker, small businesses like mine are already heavily regulated — to the tune of about $800 a year in associated licensing, malpractice, and organizational fees. There is no reason for paying another fee to Cranston.

If the Cranston City Council wants to help business development by setting up a free online registration for Cranston businesses, that might be a relatively easy and inexpensive way to keep track of things and possibly help promote the wide variety of services available in the city. Beyond that, I think our local government should let us churn our little wheels of employment without added fees.

A Sip of Water, a Taste of Sweetness

It’s really cool being a nurse, often stressful, never boring, seeing the science of nursing and medicine evolve. My favorite technological advances are those that make you slap your head and say — duh. As in, why didn’t someone think of this before?

Here are two life-saving inventions that have been around for a few years, and one new study that points the way to fast emergency relief for sick children…

Plumpynut is a remarkably simple concoction: it is basically made of peanut butter, powdered milk, powdered sugar, and enriched with vitamins and minerals. It tastes like a peanut butter paste. It is very sweet, and because of that kids cannot get enough of it.

The formula was developed by a nutritionist. It doesn’t need refrigeration, water, or cooking; mothers simply squeeze out the paste. Many children can even feed themselves. Each serving is the equivalent of a glass of milk and a multivitamin.

A clump of peanut butter in a plastic bag. This could easily be made locally for long-term response to malnutrition. The next is high-tech to manufacture, but simple to use…

Half of the world’s poor suffer from waterborne disease, and nearly 6,000 people – mainly children – die each day by consuming unsafe drinking water.
LifeStraw® water purifiers have been developed as a practical way of preventing disease and saving lives, as well as achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe water by the year 2015.

And this is really good news

PARIS (AFP) A teaspoon of moistened sugar under the tongue could save the lives of thousands of children suffering from hypoglycemia caused by malaria, a researcher who conducted clinical trials said Thursday.
Malaria claims more than a million lives a year — 800,000 of them African children aged under five — and sickens hundreds of millions more, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The rapid drop in blood sugar that frequently accompanies severe malaria kills many children in remote parts of Africa before they can reach a clinic for an intravenous dose of glucose, the proven treatment for hypoglycaemia.

I.V. therapy saves lives, but needs skills to administer and is not without risk, especially in a place where resources are scarce. The first action to take when you suspect someone is dropping their blood sugar is to get them some sugar fast. You can, and should, try this at home. The African research findings support a fast response to low blood sugar and help save I.V. supplies for other needs. We already have cheap, small and accurate blood glucose meters that can be used in clinics to monitor the child’s response, or lacking that, just watch their condition. Cool.

I had wondered why people in parts of the world where diarrhea kills children had no folk medicine for it. But I was talking to a nurses aid who had been a medic in Liberia, and she said that they did, in fact, make homemade rehydrating drinks, from fruit and sugar and salt. This totally makes sense.

Growing up in the Rapture-ready 70′s gives you a weird outlook, a kind of survivalist sense. I always wonder how you take care of people without the machines that go beep. A spoonful of sugar to save a life. That’s cool.

How Can We Miss Him if He Won’t Go Away

I’ve refrained from writing about Roman Polanski’s latest efforts to paint himself as the real victim of his rape trial in 1978. I don’t want the discriminating readers of Kmareka to think I’m cyberstalking him. I’ve already written about the reluctance of the media to call him what he is. So for the record:

He is not that interesting. He’s a perp, doing what perps do. Minimizing his crime and maximizing his pain and suffering, there in Paris. He’s hired a lawyer to make a case that he should be allowed to have his charges dismissed without coming to the US and facing a court. His victim, who is a non-famous, adult woman living an ordinary life, has to see her name in the papers every time he does something like this, but he doesn’t seem to care.

What is worse, much worse, is that the press blamed the victim at the time, and thirty years later, still fails to acknowledge the nature of his crime.

Bill Wyman, in Salon, takes apart the media spin

Feb. 19, 2009 | Bad art is supposed to be harmless, but the 2008 film “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” about the notorious child-sex case against the fugitive director, has become an absolute menace. For months, lawyers for the filmmaker have been maneuvering to get the Los Angeles courts to dismiss Polanski’s 1978 conviction, based on supposed judicial misconduct uncovered in the documentary. On Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that if Polanski, who fled on the eve of his sentencing, in March 1978, wanted to challenge his conviction, he could — by coming back and turning himself in.

Espinoza was stating the obvious: Fugitives don’t get to dictate the terms of their case. Polanski, who had pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, was welcome to return to America, surrender, and then petition the court as he wished.

I doubt Polanski will take the risk. Bill Wyman’s essay is excellent, and long overdue. I haven’t seen anyone else hold the media to account for their enabling role.

As a society we have become more tolerant of sexuality in the last thirty years. We speak more openly and acknowledge choices and relationships among consenting adults. At the same time we have become less tolerant of adults who exploit children. That’s progress.

If Roman Polanski is determined to get back in the papers and re-open his case, then let the press report the real story. So far, he’s been able to tell it on his terms, with the press going along. It’s unpleasant to admit that a man who is admired by so many could commit a crime like that. He’s still important, and important men never do those kinds of things, do they?

Some Home Truths

I count on Patricia J. Williams as a voice of reason, and her recent essay, Eight is Enough in The Nation is clear-sighted and compassionate without letting anyone off the hook. She discusses not only “the Octomom” but large families on reality TV, and Alex Kuczinski who paid a surrogate to carry her baby and wrote about it the New York Times Magazine.

Against the backdrop of a cold, impersonal and lonely world, these well-feathered and overly populated nests look villagey and warm. It’s an undeniably seductive vision, even if other options like adoption and fostering are almost never mentioned. Also less discussed are the side effects of this mad race for biological generation at all costs: the likelihood of multiple births, low birth weight and birth defects; the ethics of using poorer women as fetal hatcheries; the health risks to young women who have their “Ivy League” eggs extracted for handsome sums of cash.

Freedom and responsibility, choice and consequences. The questions won’t get easier as science advances, and we have to find answers.