Archive for February, 2012

I’ve read the Projo article, Bob Kerr’s wonderful editorial in the Projo yesterday, and much of the bloviation on the Projo blogs about Sam’s letter to the Witman’s.

Sam has apologized for writing the letter. We all agree that it came off as inappropriate, and was probably not a smart thing to have written.

The lynch-mob mentality that flows out of the Projo blogs has got to stop. Our lovely local Republican party leadership is not helping either with their Facebook site (shame on you Ms. Pinsky – how many years have you and your family known and even worked with Sam?). I was even distressed by the tact taken by this morning’s Political Roundtable speakers on RIPR, and was proud of Mayor Angel Tavares for not getting sucked in by their line of questioning.

Anyone who knows Sam (as I have for 20 years) knows that he is a man of utmost honesty and integrity.

Sam has devoted his entire “extra-curricular” life to public service.

He is a cerebral and academic politician (remind you of any Presidents we know?).  He’s not the type to show up at community pot-luck suppers and bingo games, and frankly doesn’t always say the right thing in a social situation.

But don’t impugn his integrity.

This is how I understand (but again, don’t condone) Sam’s letter. Sam is a man of his word. Truth is more meaningful to him than most everything else. Sam was asked to do something on behalf of his constituents, and was able to do so. They made a commitment to him, and didn’t keep their word. For Sam, that showed a lack of integrity. His letter was basically a way of telling them that he was disappointed that they didn’t keep their word, as he had. There was no quid-pro-quo. The service had already been provided by the city.  Should Sam have let the unkept promise of a campaign contribution go? Of course. But Sam is not a politician’s (politically correct) politician. And so he wrote the letter expressing his disappointment. The closing paragraph indicates that he was going to have to change his expectations about how people interact with one another, not that he was going to change the service he would provide his constituents.

Did the Witman’s have a right to be disturbed by the letter? I think everyone would agree that they did. I’m sure they have a lot to be angry about. But the creation of this tempest-in-a-teapot certainly makes me question their integrity. Also, who asks a City Contractor if they could also pave their driveway, while a city-contracted service is being performed?

Bob Kerr seems to indicate that Sam was doing “something that everyone does”. Bob: where are the legions of other constituents that Sam has shook down? Why aren’t they coming out of the woodwork? Perhaps because they don’t exist.

Please don’t impugn Sam’s honesty.

What about Sam’s role as a Councilman?

In the twenty-two years I have lived in this city, I have never before seen a member of the City Council take such an interest in the day-to-day workings of the Council, or make them transparent to his constituents. Every week or two Sam sends out and posts a letter describing in detail the issues facing the City, and the deliberations taken by the City Council to address them. Sam has held open community meetings to discuss issues of importance to his constituents. Sam helped dissect the Achievement First application, and came up with a middle-of-the-road compromise that showed a real understanding of the issues raised by two diametrically opposed camps. Sam has served as the Chair of the Council’s Revenue Subcommittee, and has helped explore numerous logical, intelligent ways of helping the City find the revenue to deal with its structural deficits. In his role as Education Subcommittee Chair, Sam helped dissect the PTU contract proposals so that we could all understand the many implications, including some of the problems we are now facing with a “no-layoff” clause. We are truly blessed to have someone of his intelligence participating in City Council affairs.

Please don’t impugn Sam’s forthrightness.

Someone on a Projo blog even claimed that the only reason Sam helped reopen Nathan Bishop was that he was too cheap to pay for schools for his children. First, Sam never sent his children to Nathan Bishop. Second, if the writer of that comment had any idea of how many unpaid, voluntary hours Sam (and several of us) put into the Nathan Bishop project, they would eat their words. I, and many other neighbors, have sent our children to Nathan Bishop, and are grateful for his involvement.

Sam, I am sure, has learned many lessons from this public tar and feathering. He has apologized. The letter was wrong. But now this needs to stop. Let him get back to the business of representing Ward 2, honorably, in the City Council.

Note that this piece was not vetted by the entire ESPEC Steering Committee, but I am sure that most members would stand behind many if not all of these comments.


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Read an article last week about hiring of teachers this coming year in Providence. The details can be found at the link below:

Existing teachers to get first shot under hiring plan on Page A6 of Thursday, February 02, 2012 issue of The Providence Journal

Because our PTU contract contains a no lay-off clause, interim Supt. Lusi and PTU President Steve Smith devised a plan “to give inside candidates the first shot at job openings”. We had raised some concerns about this last October:


An interview process is in place. “The most senior candidate will be afforded an interview”.

Teachers who haven’t  been hired will be assigned to an existing job using a computer match algorithm. We had heard last year that Principals HAD to rank teachers, even if they did not want them.

The article goes on to state that ONCE interior candidates are hired, any remaining jobs will be opened to applicants from outside the district. That is when the “Criterion-based hiring process” begins. So what happens during the interior candidate interview process? What criteria are used for making hiring decisions involving those teachers??

The CBH process was heavily scripted and regulated.  As originally envisioned, it was to be used for all hiring decisions in Providence schools.  The elements of the revised, and now severely curtailed, CBH process have not yet been released.

This raises some serious concerns about the process used for hiring internal candidates, and more importantly, suggests that it will be nearly impossible for “fresh blood” to come into the system. The article quotes Lusi as saying “Why not look first to our best Providence teachers?”

While there will certainly be some excellent teachers looking for new positions this coming year, why do we suspect that the majority of the teachers who are looking will not be among “the best”?

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I was pleased to hear that Lt. Col. Raoul Archambault, one of the teacher-leaders of the JROTC program at Hope High School, received a “Golden Apple” award this week from RIDE, NBC10, and Hasbro.

Information about the award can be found at the following links:




I met Lt. Col. Archambault and some of his students a few weeks ago at the Hope High open house.

I was so impressed with these kids, their achievements, their investment in their school and the JROTC program, as well as the overall school environment. These students took me on a tour of the school, and proudly showed me not only their listings on the school academic honor rolls and the JROTC trophies, but many of the other positive features of Hope High, including the newly renovated (and beautiful) science classrooms. I also met several very engaging teachers.

Overall, I came away very impressed, and hopeful that East Siders could and should consider looking at Hope High School for their high school age children.

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