Editorials from around New England:
In a not-so-shocking twist, Bernie Sanders just announced he will run for President (again) in 2020. Though he calls himself a socialist, he’s running as a Democrat. That brings the field of Democratic Presidential aspirants to . well . just too many to count.
Post-mortems from Sanders’ last run show that 1) his campaign was rife with the mistreatment, harassment and abuse of women; and 2) Sanders “success,” in large part, was owed to vast and calculated Russian attempts to weaken Hilary Clinton, thereby elevating Trump.
Vladimir Putin’s spot-on theory was that a Trump Presidency would divide and hurt the United States. His tool, which exploited a general American inability to tell fact from fiction in their news feeds, was Facebook.
At least that’s what our intelligence reports say.
“While the right-wing pages promoted Mr. Trump’s candidacy, the left-wing pages scorned Mrs. Clinton while promoting Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate,” federal indictments of the Russian Internet Research Agency explain. “The voter suppression effort was focused particularly on Sanders supporters and African-Americans, urging them to shun Mrs. Clinton in the general election and either vote for Ms. Stein or stay home.”
So why would a guy, who United States intelligence agencies say served as a useful idiot in a massive Russian subversion effort to undermine our elections, run again?
We’ve watched this con evolve over decades so we think we know why.
First of all, he doesn’t even have to pretend to work. In his last Presidential run he missed 104 out of 117 floor votes in the Senate while cashing his $3,365 weekly government checks. What’s more socialist than getting paid for not working?
Second, he gets to fly all over the country sipping champagne and nibbling caviar on his private airplanes. In his last Presidential run he racked up $5 million in private, luxury charter airfare. All between stops in which he scorned greedy rich people and blamed a pending apocalypse on climate change.
Third, and most important, he gets richer for doing nothing other than spewing the same tired lines he wrote in the early 1980s.
And there you have Sanders Democratic Socialism. From each according to ability, all according to Bernie Sanders’ material needs.
The Portsmouth Herald
Judging by the invasion of top-tier candidates visiting New Hampshire over long the Presidents Day weekend, the first-in-the-nation presidential primary has never been more robust.
In previous contests, the months of January and February the year ahead of the primary vote saw smatterings of candidates making appearances across the state at events drawing modest attendance.
In 2019, both well-known and lesser-known candidates are drawing capacity crowds at their events across the state. It would be hard to avoid running into candidates as they practice retail politics on the streets and in restaurants and diners across the state. House parties are in full swing.
While Secretary of State Bill Gardner has not yet set a date for the February 2020 primary, engaged New Hampshire voters are already helping to set candidates’ agendas by sharing their personal stories and asking excellent, probing questions on policy issues both foreign and domestic.
We’re certain these early encounters with New Hampshire voters give candidates a sense of what’s really on the minds of voters and can bring issues into the national spotlight. In the run-up to the 2016 primary, New Hampshire voters helped put the opioid crisis at the top of the national agenda and progress has been made as a result.
While former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld has announced an exploratory committee and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich continues to keep his supporters in suspense, with an incumbent Republican president, most of the action is on the Democratic side of the race.
And because our slice of New Hampshire in the Seacoast is among the bluest regions in the state, all the candidates are spending substantial time here, meeting voters and building relationships with party activists.
This past weekend New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker packed 3S Artspace in Portsmouth with a kickoff event that featured a warm and funny stump speech, a free-flowing question-and-answer session and then another hour just mingling with the crowd, shaking hands and taking selfies. He later packed them in at the Governor’s Inn in Rochester, too.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard returned to the Seacoast, talking with diners at the Green Elephant in Portsmouth and meeting with voters in Newington and North Hampton.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spent time at Dartmouth College, her alma mater, but also held an event at Water Street bookstore in Exeter, after having coffee with locals at Me and Ollie’s on Saturday. On Friday, she stopped at Teatotaller in Somersworth.
California Sen. Kamala Harris drew a standing-room-only crowd to a town hall-style event South Church in Portsmouth on Monday. Those who attended were so fired up they waited more than two hours outside in the cold and snow before the event to make sure they got a seat.
And Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota held a nationally televised CNN town hall event from St. Anselm College late Monday night.
One surprise is the buzz on social media for South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the youngest candidate at just 37, who drew a capacity crowd in Raymond on Saturday.
Other candidates and potential candidates making appearances on the Seacoast recently have included Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Congressmen John Delaney and Eric Swalwell, billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, businessman Andrew Yang, author Marianne Williamson and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. (We apologize if we have left anyone out.)
For those who are interested in presidential politics, we suggest you go and meet the candidates now, before the crowds swell even larger and access diminishes. Now is the time to meet the candidates who interest you and to let them know what is in your heart and on your mind. One of the great privileges of living in New Hampshire is the opportunity to meet face-to-face the men and women who would be president. We urge our readers to take advantage of the opportunity.
The Bangor Daily News
Title IX is a well intentioned federal law that aims to protect Americans from sexual discrimination in schools, universities and colleges.
Yet, more than 40 years after the law was enacted, it remains confusing and unevenly applied when it comes to sexual assaults and harassment on university and college campuses.
The Trump administration is rewriting the law. Some of its proposed changes, such as ensuring all parties have access to all the evidence gathered, are appropriate. Others, such as restricting the definitions of sexual assault and harassment and minimizing the instances in which schools need to respond, are not.
Rather than new rules, schools, particularly small campuses, need more help following the guidelines that are already in place. Further, any rules need to be clear and not conflict with other federal and state laws, as the University of Maine System noted in its comments on the proposed changes.
Two incidents at the University of Maine at Farmington, which were extensively covered by the Bangor Daily News, highlight shortcomings of the law, and its implementation. Two female students reported being raped at the small campus in western Maine. Both women spoke before committees that determined they had been sexually assaulted. But then both students experienced errors in the handling of their cases and saw their findings overturned.
In one case, the university allowed her alleged attacker to remain on campus even after a committee found him responsible for sexual assaulting her and issued a two-year suspension. Worse the then-campus president overturned the committee’s finding and she “strongly urge(d)” the female student to seek alcohol counseling.
Clearly UMF made mistakes in these two cases. The university’s interim president, Eric Brown, acknowledged this in an email to students after the BDN story. He also pledged to hire a new vice president for student affairs with “extensive experience in Title IX issues,” whose responsibilities will include maintaining a safe campus environment and to use a recent donation to pay for a new mental health counselor with experience dealing with sexual health and sexual assault, among other steps.
At a campus meeting earlier this month, many students expressed frustration with how UMF handles allegations of sexual assault and harassment. While such criticism is appropriate, this situation also highlights some pitfalls with Title IX.
One frequent question is why perpetrators, like those in the two Farmington cases, who are not found guilty by a court can still be punished by a school. The simple answer is that the campus Title IX process is about discrimination, not criminal activity. The campus process is about whether students have broken school rules and should remain on campus. It is also meant to have an education component, not just be about punishment.
For this reason, the standards for determining if a violation occurred are different. Universities use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard in deciding sexual assault cases under Title IX. The standard asks if the complainant’s version of events is more likely than not. It’s a lesser bar than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required for criminal cases.
To this end, the Trump administration has proposed to tighten the definition of sexual harassment and assault. It goes too far by allowing schools to require that sexual harassment and assault be proven by “clear and convincing evidence.”
Adding a third standard adds further confusion.
The proposed rules would also limit what constitutes harassment to “unwelcome conduct that is severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive,” and they would forbid schools from investigating complaints that do not meet that exceedingly high standard.
These are steps in the wrong direction.
To be helpful, the Department of Education would do better to ensure that schools, especially small campuses like UMF, are equipped to handle these cases. As it is, professors, counselors and administrators are being asked to handle complex cases that our criminal justice system often fails to handle properly.
The New Britain Herald
Cities and towns, school districts and employers in all fields need to do a better job of attracting and hiring women and minorities.
It is especially important that we have more women and minority teachers and professors. It is imperative that our police departments have officers from many ethnic backgrounds and who are bilingual. Fire departments need to do a better job of welcoming women into their ranks. And those elected officials who represent Connecticut at the local, state and federal level should hail from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds.
Because America is a multi-cultural, multi-generational society that brings together people of all races, religions and sexual orientations.
Those who live and work in the public eye, should be a reflection of our state and the nation’s population.
Easier said than done? Yes.
Look at New Britain schools for example. A story in last week’s Herald found that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 43 percent of the city’s 72,000-plus residents are white, 40 percent are Latino or Hispanic and 11 percent are black or African American. Other races make up the remaining percentage.
According to information from the school district, about 83 percent of teachers in the district are white, almost 9 percent are Hispanic and more than 3 percent are black or African American.
Not an equal comparison by any means.
The New Britain School District wants to increase minority hiring, but Dr. Shuana Tucker, chief talent officer for the school district says the number of minorities enrolled as education majors in college programs is quite low.
Perhaps that is due in part to the relatively low wages for entry-level teachers. Or, perhaps it is because the cost of college is simply out of reach for many people.
But if we want to reverse the trend of mostly white educators teaching a predominantly multi-racial community of students, then we need to work harder to draw minority teachers to our schools.
Today’s students could be tomorrow’s teachers, but first we must lead by example.
The Sun Chronicle
Millennials look with envy at baby boomers who have worked at the same job for 30 or even 40 years.
But ask those boomers about work and they may tell you fondly about the jobs they held BEFORE they landed their lifetime job: the sweaty summers spent as a roofer, the patience required in dealing with customers at the clothing store, the challenge of waiting tables.
And those boomers may, if they’re being honest, will tell you that they stayed at that long-term job because it was comfortable, not because it was stimulating.
Or maybe they just weren’t motivated to find something. They may also let you know that a job for life can get a little boring.
The truth is, job hopping - the topic for today’s front-page feature by Sun Chronicle reporter Emma Picard - can be rewarding for both employer and employee.
For the worker, a variety of job experiences can help you become a better worker.
Those testy times dealing with demanding customers in retail or in a restaurant can teach you to handle the difficult conversations that sometimes occur in the office.
Job hopping can also enhance work-life balance.
Many employers find it beneficial to hire contract workers for certain tasks. Even if the salary is comparable to a full-time worker, the employer doesn’t have to provide benefits or overhead. For the worker, that could mean a part-time job from home with much more flexibility in hours - at a good pay.
For years, employers have looked down on job hopping, believing it showed a lack of commitment - or skills - by the worker. But that’s not necessarily the case. Every boss appreciates an employee who gets along with co-workers, creates little disruption and adapts easily to new challenges - skills that become a necessity during frequent job changes.
Employers in the past may have avoided a skilled worker they knew was going to leave after a short stay. But that should no longer be the case, according to an article in Entrepreneur magazine.
For instance, should an employee find a better way to perform a task, that process should be documented and shared.
If the employee has a particular skill, he or she should be encouraged to teach co-workers.
“When that person leaves, it hurts for a bit, but by then the other members of the team possess enough of those skills that we come back stronger,” Joe McCann, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based tech company NodeSource, told the magazine.
In addition, employees who have worked at multiple companies in a short span of time have likely seen a range of ideas and processes. They know what’s working for other organizations and what has led them down the road to failure.
“Capitalize on employees who are job-hoppers by using their new ideas,” Idalia Dillard, director of human relations and operations at Orlando-based public relations firm Uproar PR, told Entrepreneur. “Because they’ve worked at a variety of companies, they may bring fresh ideas and perspectives your company hasn’t thought of before.”
In short, job hopping can be a win-win - when done right.
“Without even realizing it, each job has had a benefit to my life,” said Elizabeth Phillips of Mansfield, a frequent job hopper, said in today’s front-page feature. “And the skills have carried over to teaching, the job I’ve always wanted to do.”
The Providence Journal
Sunday’s blockbuster Journal Investigation (“The Lady and the Mob”) contained all of the elements of a classic Rhode Island newspaper story: politicians, strippers, lobbyists, family connections, mobsters and the courts.
But it was more than a vehicle for entertainment. It raised some serious questions about how Rhode Island does things. Matters that in other states would be a cause for great alarm seem to be greeted here, all too often, with a complacent shrug.
For example, Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg is married to State House lobbyist Robert Goldberg. Until a short time ago, 2015, Mr. Goldberg was the lobbyist for the Rhode Island Entertainment Association, made up of leaders of various strip clubs around the state.
Since then, an odd connection has persisted. People who own or work at strip clubs have made thousands of dollars in campaign contributions - including to such leading figures as Gov. Gina Raimondo, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and former lieutenant governor candidate Aaron Regunberg - while falsely listing Mr. Goldberg’s law offices address as their place of employment.
This raises an obvious question: Why did Justice Goldberg participate in a recent ruling involving the Foxy Lady strip club, in Providence? Quite obviously, she should recuse herself from any future such matters, given her husband’s connections, if only for the sake of appearances.
Such connections lead many Rhode Islanders to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the fix is always in when it comes to money and power in this little state.
Another obvious question: Why did the appearance of Mr. Goldberg’s address on all of these contributions fail to raise any red flags? Did politicians, who tend to be intensely interested in contributions, merely pretend not to notice? Was this all a scam to prevent the public from knowing exactly who was funneling money into the political system?
The Board of Elections is supposed to be policing these matters. Was it asleep at the switch? Does it have any plans to open an investigation into this matter?
Then there is the matter of Providence’s licensing procedures. The Journal reported that members of the family that runs the Foxy Lady strip club have connections to organized crime and convictions for organized criminal gambling - and that this fact was not revealed in liquor-license applications. One of them, Gaythorne “Poochie” Angell, also had a previously undisclosed financial interest in the club.
Why is Providence rubber-stamping these licenses? Why are they not doing the work required to protect the public, by looking into the claims made in license applications, especially from strip clubs, which often have shady connections?
As City Council President Sabina Matos observed: “The Board of Licenses has a duty to ensure that a licensee is providing accurate information on their applications, and do so through testimony, and public hearings. If they later learn that false information was provided, I believe it imperative that they address those concerns immediately.”
Then there is Brett Smiley, who wields significant power as the governor’s chief of staff. He is married to the son of one of the founders of the Foxy Lady, and received a fat $1,000 contribution from that founder’s widow, who is one of the owners of the club, for his mayoral campaign in 2014.
Confronting this teeming mass of political, legal and criminal connections, one has to wonder: Is anyone out there representing the public interest?
Isn’t it time to start?
We’ll be watching.
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