Fung to Present Budget Tomorrow Night

The Projo reports that Fung’s budget will be presented at tomorrow night’s City Council meeting, and it won’t be pretty — with proposed layoffs in the police department and possibly “two dozen” other layoffs in the city. We all hoped it wouldn’t come to this, and yet here we are. From the Projo:

…Even with the city standing to lose some $5 million in state aid this fiscal year, Muksian-Schutt said many of the layoffs could be avoided if the council approves the police contract.

She said that by tabling it, the council’s Finance Committee sent a message that it would not act on Fung’s efforts to negotiate contracts or gain concessions from the police or with other unions.

“It stopped all concession talks, because the council made it very clear that they’re not moving on anything,” she said.

Our Council is questioning whether this is the best deal we can get, and that’s what they are supposed to do. But it perplexes me why this level of questioning didn’t come up when the previous teacher’s contract was at stake, or the last firefighter’s contract, or the last laborer’s contract. Is it because we are in worse financial straits now, and the council members have a deeper understanding of just how bad it is and how hard they have to work to get the best deal? Or are there other reasons, such as not wanting Fung’s agenda to move forward too fast because that would be giving him power, and the council is not ready to cede this much power to a new mayor? Is Fung moving too fast? Is there reason to suspect that, because the police union supported him in the election, this contract should be treated with extra skepticism?

I just ask the questions. I don’t know the answers. My hope is we can solve this with civility and compassion.

I also hope there is good news in the Mayor’s budget proposal for the schools. Last week’s negotiated settlement with the schools that fell apart at the last minute was a disappointment. This week will hopefully bring back that sense of cooperation that seemed to be developing before everyting fell apart.

Preschoolers Store Info and Use As Needed

Here is an enlightening piece of research for those of us raising the strange little creatures known as preschoolers, and those of us providing treatment to families raising the little barbarians as well. Research by Colorado Professor Yuko Munakata suggests that three-year-olds are often listening when you give them directions — they simply choose to ignore you until there is evidence that the directions are needed. From Science Daily:

“… For example, let’s say it’s cold outside and you tell your 3-year-old to go get his jacket out of his bedroom and get ready to go outside. You might expect the child to plan for the future, think ‘OK it’s cold outside so the jacket will keep me warm,’ ” said Chatham. “But what we suggest is that this isn’t what goes on in a 3-year-old’s brain. Rather, they run outside, discover that it is cold, and then retrieve the memory of where their jacket is, and then they go get it.”

Munakata doesn’t claim to be a parental expert, but she does think their new study has relevance to parents’ daily interactions with their toddlers.

“If you just repeat something again and again that requires your young child to prepare for something in advance, that is not likely to be effective,” Munakata said. “What would be more effective would be to somehow try to trigger this reactive function. So don’t do something that requires them to plan ahead in their mind, but rather try to highlight the conflict that they are going to face. Perhaps you could say something like ‘I know you don’t want to take your coat now, but when you’re standing in the yard shivering later, remember that you can get your coat from your bedroom.”

I would argue that this tendency to ignore advice until there is evidence to support its necessity extends beyond preschool — I still go through this with my nine-year-old! The point is, you can probably save your breath and a lot of extra annoyed feelings by accepting that your small child’s brain does not operate in a way that tends to accept futuristic warnings. Showing them what will happen if they don’t listen, or helping them imagine the scenario of how they will benefit if they heed your directions, will probably be more effective than just repeating yourself ad nauseum.

(cross-posted on my psychotherapy site at

4,800 Calorie Burger

I’m on a diet, and I can’t explain why this makes me smile, but a Michigan ballpark is serving one burger that contains about 3 days worth of calories…

The 4-pound, $20 burger features five beef patties, five slices of cheese, nearly a cup of chili and liberal doses of salsa and corn chips, all on an 8-inch sesame-seed bun. That’s a lot of dough!
The Grand Rapids Press reports that anyone who eats the entire 4,800-calorie behemoth in one sitting will receive a special T-shirt.

Sometime soon, someone will win that T-shirt, and I have to kind of admire them. Whatever else happens they won’t die hungry.

Excuse me while I chew on a lettuce leaf.

New Morning

This is a song I’m hoping to sing at my church, Church of the Ascension, once we get past Lent and into Easter season. The song “New Morning” was written by Bob Dylan and is performed below by Elizabeth Mitchell and Lisa Loeb. It has a beautiful simplicity to it — a sense of coming out a time of ravaging grief or trouble, but also acknowledging that things are still going to be a struggle going forward — “Groundhog runnin’ by the country stream, this must be the day that all my dreams come true…”


New Morning – Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell

Thanks to Kathryn Kulpa who gave me the CD containing this song, Catch the Moon.

Newport Review Event: “Writes of Spring”

Kathryn Kulpa, editor of The Newport Review, forwarded this invitation to a public reading and photography show:

Newport Review is celebrating spring with an afternoon of art and writing at Second Stage Studio in Cumberland, RI. Join us from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, May 3 in a beautiful, historic gallery setting to view photography from Newport Review’s featured photographers and hear Newport Review authors perform their works live.

Matted prints will be on sale at the gallery, and there will be delicious refreshments and a chance for local authors and artists to learn about publishing opportunities in Newport Review.

Featured photographers are Eugenia Hepworth Petty, Christopher Woods and Melanie Faith. A complete list of writers will be announced as details are finalized.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for this exciting event!

Appeal for Help

Dear Kmareka community,
One of my co-workers, a nurses’ aid who provides care every day for elderly and handicapped people, is facing a crisis in her own life. Her 23 year old daughter has scleroderma and the burden falls heavily on her and her family. Ideal Home Care has organized a benefit to raise money to provide a weekend away for a mother and daughter who have been through a lot.

On Saturday, March 28, at St. Alban’s Parish Hall, 1964 Smith St., Centredale we will be holding a Macaroni and Meatball benefit dinner, with a raffle and entertainment. It’s from 5-7pm, tickets are $10.00. It’ll be a real Rhode Island good time. Centredale is at the edge of North Providence near Yacht Club soda.

Ninjanurse will be there, and a lot of good neighbors. If you can buy a ticket, make a donation, or want more information, call Mary Jane at Ideal Home Care, 353-2230, and if Mary Jane is not there any of the office staff will be glad to give you more information.

I know we hear appeals for good causes all the time, but this is the real deal. I’m hoping Kmareka will make a showing and we’ll be able to do something nice for a family who really deserves it.

Cranston Police Contract

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a bigger story about this on the ProJo’s website tomorrow, but around 1 pm today they posted a small article on their blog about a hot topic in Cranston right now: the Police Department contract.  In case anyone missed the outcome of last week’s Finance Committee Meeting, Mayor Fung and the Police Union reached a tentative contract agreement and it was tabled by the Cranston City Council’s Finance Committee until April.  Which means it won’t be sent to the full committee (if they vote to do so) until the April meeting at the earliest.  There were at least 2 articles in the ProJo and 1 in the Herald about this last week and all are available online.

Today’s article said that Mayor Fung announced today that: “the council leaves me with no choice but to begin layoffs. I cannot prepare a budget based on assumptions that the City Council will vote in favor of any labor contract with concessions. I must budget savings for the taxpayers only through layoffs.” 

According to the article, the proposed layoffs will begin next Monday, but it did not provide additional details.

Is this politics as usual–based on a Republican mayor and the 9- member Democratic Council?  Will it lead to other municipal unions being less likely to make concessions if they don’t think the council will approve them (as mentioned in the article)?  Will the Council members put forth suggestions and options based on the proposed contract?  The red-line draft of the proposal is posted on the City’s website.

The ProJo articles always feature a comments section, most of which I typically ignore, but I did find one post interesting.  It alluded to one of the current council members preparing himself for a 2010 mayoral run.  Any guesses as to who that may be?

Lots to discuss (as always) in Cranston…