Tag: corruption

RI Division of Taxation must be a mess

So a while back I had gotten a notice that I owed $1,700 in tax to the state of Rhode Island. I figured fine, I’ll just let them yank a couple years returns of $700 to $800 and pay the remainder.

Now I filed my 2010 taxes and was owed close to $900. But get this they didn’t apply it against my owed tax. And they didn’t refund it either. Plus, one other tactic the state uses is to snatch your federal return. But I got a full federal return.

Based on this I begin to smell something extremely rotten. Because you see if even the IRS isn’t collecting back tax for RI now, it means RI’s system has some very serious problems.

Today I get a letter in the mail about RI’s Tax Amnesty and how I can pay $438 less and settle the matter.

I have some words for Division of Taxation. Two words to be precise, FUCK YOU. You don’t what you are doing.

My license is valid for four years – and as far as registrations go I don’t own a car. There is also a high probability that I will leave this crooked little state within that four years.

Perhaps I’ll just hire an attorney and sue the state. That would be fun.

But better yet – if I leave the state entirely. I’ll build my little real estate empire here and then I can live ANYWHERE I want. At the 24 unit mark I don’t have to work a full time job anymore. And we start moving into the lower levels of “fuck you” money at approximately twice that. And my goal – when this is all done at a minimum 100 units, maybe 150. I really want to build this.

Franken throws down regarding Net Neutrality!

If you’ve been reading for some time you know I’m a supporter of net neutrality and the FCC’s move to put the ISP’s into the common carrier column. It makes sense since in addition to data, video and telecom services run over the net. That makes them common carriers.

If you don’t understand net neutrality I’ll do a what-if for you.

What if Cox decided tomorrow to seriously degrade port 5060 TCP and UDP traffic. That’s the port used by SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) to setup VoIP calls? To me that would be a big no-no but Cox has a vested interest because they too offer phone service, overpriced phone service at that.

Or it could be Comcast blocking BitTorrent traffic, or any number of egregious behaviors by ISP’s who sold us UNLIMITED connections and are now trying to renege on the deal.

Franken really rips em’ though.

He begins with his usual deadpan:

“I believe that net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time, unless it’s freedom of religion, which, until last week, I thought we had kind of worked out.”

That last part in reference to the mosque they want to build NEAR the WTC disaster site.

But my absolute favorite part, which you must read even if you don’t read the source article:

“The FCC would publish an annual report on the effect of these additional services,” the proposal recommends, “and immediately report if it finds at any time that these services threaten the meaningful availability of broadband Internet access services.”

Franken had choice words for this plan, none of them good.

Google and Verizon’s scheme empowers the FCC to, “get this—’publish a report’,” he dryly commented, while his audience laughed again.

“But there’s an even bigger issue here. It’s that when government will not act, corporations will. And unlike government agencies, which have a legal responsibility to protect American consumers, the only thing corporations care about, the only thing that they have a legal duty to promote, is their bottom line.”

“We can’t let companies write the rules that they’re supposed to follow,” Franken added, “because if that happens those rules are going to be written only to protect corporations.”

So true. We cannot trust a corporation to police its own activities. It’s sort of like the two foxes and the chicken discussing what to have for dinner tonight.

Look at the past abuses of corporations. I was speaking with a co-worker today and she and I both expressed the same level of outrage about the dominant energy distributor/provider here in RI, National Grid.

For natural gas they use a ‘therm’ factor which is cubic feet times something. In other words this translates to a “Because we can” fee.

Once you de-regulate, be it energy, net services, phone services, etc. you can see what happens.

So regulate the net. It’s about damned time that we got a regulation for net neutrality.

Political Corruption: Never a good thing

Apparently three mayors in New Jersey, from Hoboken, Secaucus, and Jersey City were arrested as well as two state legislators, and a bunch of rabbis.

The rabbis are the big surprise there but I guess when you follow the money there is no telling where the investigation will end.

Here in RI former North Providence state Senator John Celona got out of prison yesterday.

The thing is, he’s the only one who did time. Former Senate President Bill Irons managed to get his charges dropped. But I recall a news article a couple years back where the federal prosecutor said that there were seven companies and seven legislators who would be under the microscope. I theorized that our House Speaker might be one of the gentleman and that our former Senate President may also be a subject of investigation and possible indictment.

But there has been absolutely no more mention of it. It just quietly dropped off the RADAR. I think if you really dug into the politicians in RI you’d find just as much corruption.

Take Providence Mayor David Cicilline. Yes, the states first openly gay mayor. But there has already been some interesting news. For example, his brother is an attorney who was supposed to pay a clients taxes. But the check bounced. Yet nothing ever came of that, no fraud charges, et al. The Mayor quashed that one from on high, I’m sure of that.

Then of course there’s the obstinacy of the mayor regarding the contract for the city firefighters. And the rank and file of the police department held a no confidence vote in Chief Dean Esserman, who former mayor Buddy Cianci calls “Chief Shiny Badge”.

Shall we talk about the Providence Fire Marshal? Nah, we don’t need to do that. How about the building inspector? That was always a hotbed of corruption.

How do we solved this? We let the sunshine in, let it expose every little act they’re doing. To that end at least government entities in RI now have to post meeting notices 48 hours in advance. I do wish they were required to post the meeting minutes but alas that was too much for the politicians. The one agency exempted from these requirements? The legislature. Their idea of open meeting notices is to post them on a roving bulletin board in the State House. Seriously, when I worked in the building I was always agog at that fact.

So if it’s not sunshine, I say get active in politics. Attend hearings, attend sessions, let them know we’re watching them.

Oil Prices

This is a very interesting analysis of the rising cost of a barrel of oil.

In essence several things come out of it:

  • Approximately 60% of oil prices are pure speculation.
  • That Enron sponsored the legislation to take away enforcement action from the board that was to regulate oil trading
  • The the Bush Administration holds a key position in this. Both Bush and Cheney come from the oil industry. Is it any wonder they managed to further erode the regulatory environment on oil trading?
  • There’s an interesting shell game going on in oil trading.
  • Almost all oil trading is controlled by U.S. and British concerns.
  • That the instabilities so famously reported have little to do with prices of crude oil.
  • The big investment banks are motivating much of the price increases.
  • This makes the push to war in Iran much more clear. There’s oil there.
  • This is going to come as a major slam on the Bush administration. Let us not forget that Kenny Boy Lay was a major donor to the Bush campaign. While I’m at it, lets not forget Cheney’s ties to the military industrial complex.

    The interference in our government by corporations has now reached astounding levels. We’ve let ourselves be lead down the primrose path. It’s time to rise up and fight back.

    Corporations and Politics

    There’s an interesting operation and trial going on in Rhode Island right now. The operation is titled “Dollar Bill” and is being lead by the Federal Prosecutors office. Thus far they’ve gotten a conviction against Senator John Celona of North Providence and are actively investigating other politicians including the Senate President among others.

    At the moment there is a trial going on against two CVS Vice Presidents who approved the payments for Celona who in turn shepherded CVS sponsored legislation through the chamber. Such legislation included opposition to pharmacy choice bills then in the chamber.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, all you need to do is go to the Lobbytracker page on the Secretary of State’s office web site and browse lobbying entities. For a good example, check out last years activity of one Bernard Healey aka Rev. Bernard Healey of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.

    Note that bill 5368, that was the Marriage Equality bill last year. Unfortunately the reports for this year haven’t been posted yet but I just know that they’ll oppose all things to do with gay marriage.

    Anyhow the point I’m going after is summed up nicely in this paragraph from the Providence Journal article on the trial of the CVS employees:

    Records from 2001 showed that Celona’s monthly “consultation fee” was paid from the same account as contributions to national political groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council, the House Senate Republican dinner, the House Majority Leader’s Fund (in connection with a dinner with then majority leader, U.S. Rep. Dick Armey of Texas), and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a contribution that was made through Rhode Island U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.

    In essence this tells you everything you need to know. Corporations are party blind in a sense. THey’ll give money to Democrats and Republicans alike. Their only criterion is will that politician do their bidding. You and I allegedly have no access to these people. But in a sense we do.

    With just a small amount of effort we could make our elected representatives very uncomfortable about taking money from Political Action Committees, which are nothing but ways for corporations to influence the political sphere. Don’t get me wrong, there are some PAC’s that aren’t corporate puppets but they are few and far between.

    I’ve once read that in European states the like Germany and France, the government is afraid of the people whereas here in the U.S. we are afraid of the government. We should turn that around, make our voice heard even if it means taking an hour a week to phone, email or write our representatives at the local, state and federal levels in order to make OUR will heard.

    Of course the down side to that is something the fundamentalists have seized upon. There is power in numbers. But their numbers include those who only think about gay marriage and abortion. Some of them don’t realize that there are bigger problems facing us.

    What we need is organizations of enlightened people. There is some activity on that front what with Moveon.org, ActBlue, People for the American Way, etc. They make it really easy to be politically active. But a large portion of the population has allowed their anger to be deflected and distorted. Instead they cling to sports competitions, guns, cars, etc. when the world around them is crumbling down.

    A new topic, The Effects of Eight Years of Bush

    Well, I’m only going to say a little bit on this. You can read it here for yourself.

    You’ve probably seen the graph I posted showing the surpluses and deficits under the various presidents and their parties. In every single case the Republican deficits are FAR and ABOVE any a Democratic administration has ever had.

    In essence the motive of the Bush administration was not only to loot the federal coffers, but to pick the pockets of every U.S. citizen for many years to come. This was a massive fuck you from the neo-cons. The 28% who still support Bush are the enemy, they always will be unless the remaining 72% of us put our collective foot down and stop this nonsense once and for all.

    It’s not to say that Democrats are any less corrupted than the Republicans. After all every good businessman knows you butter BOTH sides of your bread.

    And you’ve heard me rattle on about stripping corporations of their notion that they derive the same rights from the Constitution as we flesh and blood people.

    We’ve seen the power of grassroots movements time and again. It’s time for another one to start up, one that tells corporations that they’ve been very bad citizens and for that very reason their charters should be revoked. Did you know that the legislature in may states still has the power to revoke a corporate charter? I say we lean on the legislators in states like Delaware, etc. to yank the charters of companies like Hailburton and all the other war profiteers, right down the the oil companies.

    All about connections – a–>b–>c

    It appears that Operation Dollar Bill is proceeding along nicely in Rhode Island. Prosecutor Robert Clark Corrente is untangling the web of political corruption in the state. Thus far the only one prosecuted and sentenced as been former Senator John Celona (D) North Providence.

    But here’s a list of targets and today that list grew by a few names I’ll add on.

  • Rhode Island Senate president Joseph A. Montalbano
  • Senate Finance chairman Stephen D. Alves
  • Senator and New England Laborers’ administrator Dominick J. Ruggerio
  • Former Rhode Island Senate President William V. Irons
  • Former State Senator and Rhode Island Blue Cross & Blue Shield vice president Thomas Lynch
  • State House banking lobbyist William Farrell
  • West Warwick, Rhode Island
  • Lincoln, Rhode Island
  • CVS Corporation
  • Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
  • Roger Williams Hospital
  • The Laborers’ Union
  • And now it gets more interesting. Seems that Rep. Stephen Ucci brought his concerns about the tax break for A. Duie Pyle to Speaker William J. Murphy. So that means Murphy’s assertion that he knew nothing is false.

    The other two are Sen. Stephen Alves (D) W. Warwick, chair of the Senate Finance Committee and Rep. Steven Costantino (D) Providence, Chair of the House Finance Committee.

    It just goes on and on and on. I think Corrente’s early statement that 7 pols and 7 companies is starting to look like a conservative estimate.