Month: February 2011

Will RI get Marriage Equality in 2011?

I’m beginning to think it isn’t going to happen. Why?

First we have Senate President M. Theresa Paiva-Weed saying she doe NOT support marriage equality. This one stinks to heaven because I’ve also read that Bishop Tobin is summoning legislators to his office. Something must be done about this woman. I cannot for the life of me understand the obstinacy of her regarding marriage equality. It is why I said before and I truly believe this, that Marriage Equality Rhode Island must become a political force.

One thing though gives me great joy. I’m hoping he summoned House Judiciary Chairwoman Edith Ajello. You see, Ajello is an atheist, she admitted it in a marriage equality hearing a couple of years ago when I mentioned that I was one too. I’m hoping she told the Bishop where he can stick his shepherd’s staff.

I’ll say it right here: Bishop Tobin, the Catholic Church had ample time, the better part of two millennium to get it right and right up to the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, you still fail to see that we know what you and your church are all about.

Not to mention that with the evidence that the Church hierarchy actively covered up allegations of child sexual abuse we can pretty much come to the conclusion that the Church has now lost all credibility.

It’s odd, you rarely see Tobin out in public. Maybe it’s because he knows he’s a great big target in the state for his 13th century views on women and the LGBT community.

I doubt he’d ever speak to me. I’ve been openly derisive of both the Church and the local hierarchy for some time now. When your only product is fear, it only comes to pass that some day your arguments will fall on deaf ears. And that is happening to the Church now.

But stay the hell out of my rights Bishop. As I said to the bigot at the last marriage equality rally, keep your God out of my Government and I’ll keep my government our of your God.

But violate that pact and I’ll use every legislative weapon I can come up with to try to destroy you.

But to sum it up, I don’t think Rhode Island is going to get marriage equality this year. In fact I still stand by this, I don’t think Rhode Island will see marriage equality until we file suit for it. Because our legislature seems to be too craven to the Catholic Church to ever be able to do the right thing and grant us marriage equality.

Movie Trivia Meme

Spies Like Us (1985) – The Russian phrase spoken by Dan Aykroyd to the Russian agents is: “Chem men’she znaesh’, tem lushche.” This translates as: “The less you know, the better.”

Stripes (1981) – John Winger’s use of the phrase “We are the wretched refuse” to describe how the platoon was made up of men from around the world is a reference to a poem, “The New Colossus”, by the nineteenth-century American poet Emma Lazarus. “The New Colossus”, describing the Statue of Liberty, appears on a plaque at the base of the statue.

The Fifth Element (1997) – This is one of two science-fiction movies featuring Ian Holm in which there is a character by the name of Dallas. The other one is Alien (1979), which stars Tom Skerritt as Captain Dallas.

Moonstruck (1987) – Olympia Dukakis is only 15 years older than her on-screen daughter Cher.

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) – Ok, this one is hard for me to pick just one because I’m such a computer geek but here goes:

Producer Stanley Chase said that while it’s frightening to suppose a computer could take over the world, it was indeed possible. His technical advisor said that a machine like Colossus actually existed at that time. The model for Colossus was supposedly the NORAD system that controlled our national defense systems, and that’s why the computer programming center in the film was located in the Rocky Mountains, which is also the home of NORAD. The government wouldn’t allow a film crew on the NORAD grounds, so the exteriors were filmed at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California. The missile sites were photographed in the California desert near Palmdale.

WarGames (1983) – Are you sensing a theme here? Self aware computers. It’s coming faster than you think.

When David comes home the day after the NORAD computer break-in, the newscaster on the television is talking about a prophylactic recycling center.

The Terminator (1984) – Shots through the Terminator’s vision shows a dump of the ROM assembler code for the Apple II operation system. If you own an Apple II, enter at the basic prompt: ] call -151 * p This will give you the terminator view. Other code visible is written in COBOL.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) – George Lucas planned to score the film with existing classical music like Stanley Kubrick had done on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) before Steven Spielberg introduced him to composer John Williams. Lucas and Williams agreed on a classical 19th-century Romantic music style with liberal use of leitmotif for the score. Since the movie would show worlds never seen before, the music had to serve as an “emotional anchor” for the audience to relate. – Uh huh, I can still hear that theme echoing in my head.

Only two more? Damn!

The Incredibles (2004) – Syndrome’s zero-point energy beam is based on an actual physics concept, the zero-point field, demonstrated in 1948 via the Casimir Effect and essential to Stephen Hawking’s theory that black holes eventually evaporate. Harnessing the zero-point field would be quite a feat, as it would yield a truly infinite source of energy.

Beautiful Thing (1996) – When Sandra recalls that Cass Elliot died by choking on a sandwich she is repeating an urban legend. “Mama” Cass actually died of heart failure. Reports immediately after her death (before the autopsy) apparently quoted her doctor as saying she probably died by choking on a sandwich. Despite the results of the autopsy, the sandwich story has stuck.

To All Providence Teachers

I know what a tough job you have. I spent a few months going out and doing program reviews. Some of the biggest items I saw were lack of resources which I think is part of the REAL problem in schools. Another is the crushing poverty that a lot of those kids live under. That has an effect on test scores too!

My advice to all Providence teachers who have just received their termination notice, sick out, stay out, do NOT go back. If you’re fired you’re fired. Stand with solidarity and walk out.

I support your rights to organize and bargain collectively. What the city of Providence is doing here is trying to eliminate the union. I completely disagree with what the school committee did and what the Mayor is doing.

Someone I work with has a wife who is a public school teacher in Providence. He was telling me that of the $50 Million only roughly 40% goes to teachers. Lets be generous and say 50%. So that leaves another 50% and where did THAT money go?

More on RI Senator Maher

From his official bio on his legislature site:

Senator Francis (Frank) T. Maher Jr. has lived in Exeter since 1995 with his wife of 15 years and their son, Patrick. He has been committed to community and public service that has resulted in extensive experience with both public and private organizations. His wide range of interests serves his constituents well. Sen. Maher considers it an honor to represent the towns of Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond and West Greenwich in the Rhode Island Senate.

My condolences to those in Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond and West Greenwich for having such an out of balance asshole as a state senator.

Senator Maher, a proud product of the public schools, is a vocal supporter of the school systems. He has studied a variety of topics, including environment and emergency medicine.

If we go by Maher’s definition of study, I’m a veritable Rhodes scholar compared to him. Emergency medicine? So is that what he did after 1998?

Prior to his election to the Assembly, Sen. Maher was very active in town government and served on the Exeter Public Safety Advisory Board and the Exeter/West Greenwich School Committee. His tenure on those boards gave him considerable insight into local and state government and the education system.

I’ll just bet he was. I can imagine the Exeter Public Safety Advisory board is a hotbed of law enforcement in the state. And as to his time on the school committee, I doubt he got a hell of a lot more insight into state government since all he interfaced with is probably the RI Dept. of Education.

Maher currently represents District 34 as the Senior Deputy Minority Leader. His background in the study of environment and health issues will be useful in his positions on the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture and Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. He has also been assigned to the Senate Committee on Government Oversight.

Senior Deputy Minority Leader? When there are only about a half dozen repugs in the entire legislature it doesn’t take much to attain such heights.

He’s on Environment and Agriculture, HHS, and Oversight? I’d love to see how he explains his major gaps in oversight to be honest.

More on Senator Maher

Profile for Francis T. Maher, Jr.
General: (political statement of goals, objectives, views, philosophies)
No Response
Personal: (Gender, age, marital status, spouse’s name and age, children’s name and ages, home town, current residence)
Gender: Male
Family: Wife: Kathleen
1 Child: Patrick
1 Foster Child: Matthew.
Birth Date: 02/28/1966

He’s a little under two years younger than me and looks like hell. Look at him:

Senator Frank Maher
Senator Frank Maher

What say you all?

Birthplace: Weymouth, MA
Home City: Exeter, RI
Education: (times and places of schools, colleges, major, degrees, activities, sports)
Associates Equivalent, Electronics, Technical College.

An associates equivalence? In Electronics? We have something in common though I have a full up B.Sc in Info sci, I do electronics work myself. Understand electronics pretty well too.

Profession: (profession and work experience outside politics)
Field Service Technician, Central Scale Company, 1994-1998.

Wait, wait, wait a minute! You’re telling me this guy hasn’t held a steady job since 1998? So here’s the question, how has he supported his family for the past thirteen years?

Military: (branch, years of service, active duty experience, highest rank, medals, honors, discharge date and type)
No Response
Civic: (past and present organizations, charities involvement)
Member, Warwick Sportsman Club, 2008
Coach, Exeter/West Greenwich Little League, 2004-2008
Associate Member, Marine Corp League, 2004-2008
Den Leader/Cub Master, Roundtable Committee, Boy Scouts of America, 2003-2008
Volunteer, University of Rhode Island Master Gardener Association, 2002-2008
Board Member, Exeter/West Greenwich School Committee, 2004-2008
Member, Exeter Republican Town Committee, 2000-2008
Coach, EWG Soccer Association, 2003-2005.

Second from the last, I think I know how he derived his income now.

Political: (dates and titles of previously held political offices)
No Response
Religion: (current and past religious affiliations, beliefs)

Episcopal and he’s such an asshole? How the hell did that happen?

Accomplishments: (significant accomplishments, awards, achievements)
No Response

No significant accomplishments? Sounds like we have a classic under-performer here.

A letter to a Rep. Trillo written by my friend supporting marriage equality

The following was sent to Representative Trillo but I will be sharing this with all the legislators. I think it lays out the case quite well. Hopefully Trillo will read through all of it. As has been demonstrated by legislator response thus far legislators do not appear to be the most erudite of the bunch.

I also this does a good job of debunking the claims of the religious bigots.

Dear Representative Trillo,

My name is {redacted} and I have been a registered Democrat that has voted in each state that I have resided in over the last twenty five years. For the last nine years I have called Rhode Island home. For all intents and purposes I plan to retire here. Before the House is one of the more important pieces of legislation for the past several years. It is a rare opportunity when a civil servant is given the opportunity to have an effect on history. In many ways civil rights have made advances for people of color, for the handicapped and in some minor ways for gays and lesbians. In this regard we have progressed as a people. My wife and I have enjoyed the opportunity to live in a state that in so many ways has shown an open view to various minorities and has taken for the most part a live and let live approach.

Presently Rhode Island once again has the opportunity to be in a position of leadership. Roger Williams one of the founders of this state formed what would eventually become Rhode Island on the basis of true religious freedom and tolerance. In many ways he was able to accomplish his goals. It is ironic that these same groups including Catholics are now at the forefront of trying to bar basic civil rights from another minority. Mr. Trillo I was raised Catholic and I know a little of American History. At one point Catholics were being considered as a group that should not be given voting rights very early in our nation’s history. At the time it was not popular to grant them the vote or to allow them to run for public office. A basic review of anti-papist literature in the early nineteenth century would attest to this fact. Our founding fathers did not have the vote or the good will of the people. However, they did have the strength of their convictions. In fact as we all know Catholics were given the right to vote, to hold property and to hold public office. Our country went to war rather than eventually wait for the votes to grant African Americans the full rights of citizenship. People that hold a bigoted or intolerant position never willingly surrender their views. It is often the act of brave legislators that move our society forward. If we consider how the world stands with full civil rights granted to African Americans and those who are handicapped do we not feel that these were positive outcomes?

It is often difficult to hold our religious beliefs and participate in a secular government. However, we do in fact live in just such an environment. We do this so that those of Muslim, Hindu or of the Ba’hai faith may worship in peace and security. Roger Williams would be proud of this development. So how do we answer the religious claims of our day that marriage is only between a man and a woman? How indeed do we answer the religious claim that abortion is a sin. The answer to these moral questions is individual responsibility. Although I was raised Catholic, my daughter has followed her mother and pursues the Jewish faith. No one tells her to stop using all electronic devices, or to walk instead of taking public transportation. No one tells her nor is their legislation on the books that bans all products using leavening during Passover. However, she does these things from her own personal conviction. The government neither sanctions nor prohibits her actions. In all things the civil government allows for civil unions and the ability of grown adults to govern their lives free from government intervention. To the person who is a good Catholic I say feed the poor, tend to the sick and raise your children as you see fit to serve God. No one will stop you from these pursuits. Mr. Trillo I say to you let adult men and women have the same choice to choose and celebrate the lives that they wish to live free from government prohibition. In this regard you will work in the true spirit of Roger Williams and will once again put Rhode Island where she belongs, in the position of leadership.

I thank you for hearing my concerns.


Response from Legislators to my daily(somewhat) emails on Marriage Equality

So every time I find a blog post or media piece that supports marriage equality I copy the link, sometimes post a short summary and shotgun them out to ever legislator in the Rhode Island House.

I’ve also begun contacting certain Senators in the state. Overall the responses have taken the form of emails and one telephone call. 80% of them have been very polite and sometimes very enlightening.

For example, here are some messages from Karen MacBeth who overall seems to be supportive.

The first message:

I am elected by my district to represent them.
While I take the interest of the state into account I represent District 52.
Apparentely you have not done your research to determine where I stand on this issue or you would not feel the need to email me.
I find your emails to be on the cutting side it appears that you are carrying a major chip on your shoulder and attempt to put ones on the defense.

It is time that we all work together!

MacBeth’s next message to me is interesting.

I stand for equality for all and am disappointed that both “sides” have those that are unwilling to work together.
I support legislation for equality. There are portions of the current proposed legislation that may discriminate against certain cultural beliefs.
For example in some cultures if a husband passes away the woman has to marry the younger brother if he is not married…this legislation
does not allow this. Whether I agree with the cultural requirements is not the point…I see it as discrimination against a group…exactly what I
stand against! I have asked the sponsor to address this for the last couple years but it is has not been addressed.

Are you aware that MERI had a candidate run for the seat I currently hold… Even though Kim Bright of MERI was well aware of where I stand on this issue.
I met with her in person. When I spoke with my former opponent this week she was shocked to see that we are on the same page. She asked me, “Then why did I (meaning she
run and just finish paying off $4000 in campaign debt? My question is, “Why was she misled and not told where I stand?”

I am strong in my conviction for equality for all and will continue to look past the negativity from both sides.
I look forward to working with anyone that is willing to work together.

Thank you for your correspondence. If you come to the state house I look forward to meeting you.


Another from MacBeth:

The speaker is doing the hurry up and wait because at this moment he does/may not have the votes on the house floor to pass this.
There are reps that have changed their mind and their are those that have not made up their minds.
Though I have not been a Fox supporter in this instance I have to respect him for what he is doing. Why put this to a vote now when
you may not have the votes….but may have the votes as the session goes on? Also why have people take a vote that may not pass
and then have it possibly cost them the election and then be replaced by someone that is not of the same mindset?
While I understand your frustration I do understand Fox’s choice.
I can not speak for Jabour but if he is willing to vote it out of committee I give him credit…what it appears he is saying is that he does not
support it but agrees that is should come to a vote and allow all to vote…again this is just my guess on this.

Next up is Tea Party Representative Doreen Costa:

Hi Tony,
Thanks so much for contating me on this issue.

The response email was from an aol account that I won’t list here. I queried if she was in fact Doreen Costa and got the following:

Yes sir I am.

Now for the best one, Senator Maher. The only reason I contacted Maher was because a friend of mine on Facebook had forwarded me his exchange with Maher.

So I emailed Maher and told him his conduct was unbecoming of a state Senator and that I would help to hold him accountable for his words.

Here is what he wrote back to me:

Mr. Truthspew,

I have never taken a position to support or oppose or challenge NOM. Nor have I ever attended any their rallies or events despite numerous invitations. I have a opinion and all I ask is what others expect. Simple respect. However, if I do not receive it, I don’t give it. Ad the email I received from Mr. Siegal was inappropriate. I am done with communication on this issue. I tried to keep a open mind, but advocates such as yourself have gone far over the line with your own way of dealing with this.

To which I replied that I’d hold him accountable. Here is how I am holding him accountable, by posting it on my blog:

I did say I was done with communication on this issue. But now YOU have gone over the line. I will be forwarding our communications to the Rhode Island State Police for review. You words can be perceived as a threat.

Best regards,

Senator Frank Maher
Senior Deputy Minority Leader

So let me get this right, Maher first says I threatened him and then threatens me with the State Police. And then has the stones to close with “Best regards,”.

I got one phone call from Rep. Spencer Dickinson. Rep. Dickinson and I spoke for about 40 minutes and he is an nteresting guy to talk with. But he supports putting this to a public referendum in order to legitimize it.

There are a couple of interesting things about Dickinson. The first is that this is the second time that Dickinson had been a state representative prior to this pass. It was during the 1980’s when RI had an anti-abortion referendum on the ballot that failed. He also brought up the failed Indian casino bill.

I countered with legislation in the 1990’s that enacted Employment, Housing and Credit non-discrimination for LGB people in 1996, and for transgender people in 2001. I also mentioned that the current legislature gave us the funeral rights bill. So there is progress and he countered that incremental change was happening. I countered that incremental was fine but we wouldn’t need to slog through the incremental approach if we had full marriage equality.

This is when he brings up on Victor Profughi who I’ve written about prior to this, thoroughly debunking his NOM 80% of RI’ers want to vote civil rights for LGBT people on a referendum.

Dickinson had paid Profughi to do some political polling and he swears by him. He was surprised to hear of my debunking of the 80% NOM number.

As to Speaker Fox, he’s setup filters in his email program to respond with a canned response that isn’t worth posting. In essence he says he’s a co-sponsor of the bill and thank you for emailing.

Senators Reed and Whitehouse try to obtain $2.5 Billion of the money FL refused.

Florida refused several tens of billions of dollars for commuter rail projects. But our beloved Senators for Rhode Island are battling to get $2.5 billion of that.

With $2.5 Billion we could build a streetcar SYSTEM again. Here’s what I commented on the Projo 7/7 news blog:

I’ve been a constant critic of the routes chosen for the Providence Core Connector aka Streetcar line.

The proposed route pretty much benefits Brown University and RI Hospital.

Now RIPTA let slip a few years ago that the busiest routs on RIPTA are:

11, 99, 27, 28.

The 11 route runs from nearly the Cranston line to Kennedy plaza then changes to the 99 which runs North Main to either Main St. or Pawtucket Ave. into Pawtucket.

27 and 28 both serve all of Broadway in Providence and separate into Manton Ave and Hartford Ave in Olneyville. Both ultimately run near or into Johnston.

This tells me that a line should be built up through Pawtucket, up North Main and through downtown to ultimately head back our Broad St. and into Cranston.

Why? Diesel buses, even if they’re hybrid are now extremely expensive to operate. Fuel costs alone are killing RIPTA slowly.

Streetcars run on electricity and per mile they’re more efficient than buses.

And the ridiculous assertion by RIPTA that light rail wouldn’t work in RI is ludicrous!

Providence to Warwick is about 10 miles. Providence to Woonsocket through Lincoln and Cumberland and even Central Falls if you really wanted to be inclusive.

The one problem with streetcars is that they don’t know how to budget for them. But if you built the lines on existing bus lines, you could at least get a good ridership estimate. And in fact every car driver I’ve spoken to abhors buses. But they said if we had a decent rail system they’d probably use it.

So get this… UPS calls

UPS called me this evening. They apologized profusely for the shipping screw up. They tried saying that because it’s ground service it can be delivered at any time of day.

I countered with “If that’s so, how can you offer signature required?” And more to the point I related the “End of Day” story. I told the person who called that UPS would be better off saying “At any time between 7AM and 7PM on date.”

She said they will take that under consideration. She also said my blog post on this is being shared all around UPS in order to improve service.

So, when a business does you wrong, write a blog post, send it to their PR folks and let it happen.

Legislator Responses so far

I’ve been emailing every RI house member every day with links and stories I find regarding marriage equality from the many blogs I read, and the occasional link to my blog.

Thus far I’ve heard from three legislators, two by email, one by phone.

Doreen Costa, the newest Tea Party darling in RI emailed me thanking me for the info.

Karen MacBeth emailed and she supports marriage equality.

Spencer Dickinson called, he doesn’t support marriage equality.