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Arthur Schaper: Rhode Islanders Behaving Badly

Friday, April 04, 2014


Will the latest spate of Rhode Islanders behaving badly finally force voters to force out their bad representatives? We will soon see, believes Arthur Schaper.

Rhode Island lawmakers (and some public workers) have been behaving badly over the past few weeks. Is there a reason why? Is there any way to stop this uncivilized behavior without resorting to law enforcement?

Let’s start with the less obvious yet brazenly salacious.

Drug addicted nurse

On March 13 Lynn A. Magnusen, school nurse at Narragansett High School, was caught addled on heroin, passed out in her car outside of a liquor store in Charlestown. The Providence Journal reported that police” “found a crack cocaine pipe and two syringes, one containing a clear liquid, in the car.”

Did she get fried, er. . .fired? Nope. The school placed her on her paid administrative leave. She will continue to draw a salary, and the school will pay for a substitute nurse, until she is found guilty. Magnusen gets her pay, the district pays more, and Rhode Islander taxpayers get played once again. Someone call a doctor!

To be fair, Magnusen was not caught at the high school getting high, but heroin addiction (plus the extra gram or found ever so privately tucked away in her body) suggests that her dependency does not wait until the last school bell rings every day. A nurse doing drugs is not all that unusual (so many to choose from), but questions about the viability of removing a public school employee resurface. What does it take to remove a unionized education employee?

At least she should have been suspended without pay!

He said what?

Then there’s state senator Joshua Miller (D-Cranston). Besides voting the liberal-progressive line driving the state deeper into debt toward bankruptcy, Miller’s latest crimes against the residents of Rhode Island: cursing at constituents and supporting gun control, in spite of the historical trends, the legal arguments, the moral obligations, and the statistical evidence which debunk gun control as effectively controlling gun violence.

Instead of targeting law-abiding gun owners, Miller should stop shooting off his mouth. However, instead of holding his tongue, he accosted a Second Amendment supporter after a gun violence hearing with “Go F--- yourself!” His security entourage repeated the same epithet.

Firing blanks, are we?

Miller’s vulgar exhortation to self-involved coitus (is he connected with Ms. Magnusen?) put him in a negative range. He later apologized (well, not really):

[T]he individual in question was physically removed from a committee room by the Capitol Police later that evening. Regardless of the emotions and atmosphere of the moment, it does not justify the language I used that day.

Respect in the statehouse? Miler should not only apologize for his outrageous conduct, completely unbecoming of a state senator (even in Rhode Island), but repent for considering the following legislation “common sense”: an assault weapons ban and gun-free zones at public schools. How about apologizing (along with the rest of the General Assembly) for the state’s pension crises, 38 Studios, extravagant tax increases, sanctuary state status for illegal immigrants, etc.?

Speaker Fox resignation

And now to the piece de resistance of Rhode Islander lawmakers behaving badly this month.

On March 22, FBI and state police (and IRS) forces stormed the Providence State House , the first time ever that federal law enforcement raided the legislature for incriminating evidence against legislators. Boxes of documents left the building, implicating the former Speaker in something, serious enough for him to step down and not seek reelection. Speaker Gordon Fox resigned (not retired) abruptly from the rostrum. The Fox in the Hen House has finally been forced out.

What took them so long? I had already written about Fox’s brazen connections with 38 Studios, coupled with his stunning refusal to recuse himself. WBUR reported that the reasons for the criminal investigation remain unclear, but the reaction of Rhode Island residents has been “So what else is new?” followed by a recognition that the political crooks of yesterday become the radio hosts, celebrated authors, and busy entrepreneurs of today.

One-party corruption

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung called for Fox to step down (he should have demanded that Josh “F--- You!” Miller do the same), but I have a better question: how come so many politicians do get away with behaving so badly in Rhode Island? Libertarian radio host Tammy Bruce argues that liberalism (and progressive politics) go hand in hand with corruption. Absolute pursuit of government corrupts, and has thoroughly corrupted the Democratic Party in Rhode Island, with its decades long one-party dominance. With no viable opposition to push back, Democrats have run amok.

Still, why the dominance? While Thomas Del Becarro of Forbes Magazine identified two deeper reasons for one-party corruption in my native California, his arguments apply to Rhode Island: a complaisant media and a complacent electorate.

As long as media covers for (instead of uncovers) political chicanery, and voters stay uninformed or uninterested in their government’s malfeasance, endemic corruption remains inevitable. Since politics is the major business in Rhode Island, government is involved in so much (a liberal-Democratic trademark), government waste, graft, and fraud, complete with unaccountable union employees like Nurse Magnusen (and Democrats like Senator Miller) are guaranteed.

Will the latest spate of Rhode Islanders behaving badly finally force voters to force out their bad representatives? We will soon see.


Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.


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