Tag Archives: policy

Steve parked in Rose’s space … TRUMP DEFICITS WILL BANKRUPT AMERICA

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Cece, you can’t hide from the fact Trump is President – at least until his treasonous ties to Russia are fleshed out.   pic: R.T.

By Steven R. Maher

President Donald J. Trump has received plaudits from conservative pundits for his February 28 address to Congress. Polling the day after shows the speech was well received by an extremely wary American public.

Why? Because Trump got through one speech without it deteriorating into a public relationships disaster. He didn’t ask the Republican Congressmen to sucker punch the Democrats sitting in the Capitol, as he asked supporters to do to dissenters at his campaign rallies. Trump controlled his emotions, and didn’t descend into a manic diatribe of rantings and ravings about his opponents. He spent the last several months launching personal attacks on Congressional Democrats, especially Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. But Trump had the nerve to ask the Democrats and Schumer to work with him, and compromise their deeply held beliefs.

Trump, of course, did not offer to compromise his beliefs. He didn’t offer not to build the wall on the Mexican border, if the Democrats agreed to other Trump border security proposals. He didn’t offer to not bankrupt the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in exchange for a military build-up. The only people Trump sees as having to compromise are the fools who don’t agree with him.

What he didn’t say

What Trump didn’t say was more important than what he did talk about. The biggest problem facing America isn’t Obamacare, which obviously needs to be reformed. America right now spends more on its military than the next seven top military spenders in the world combined. A military buildup isn’t necessary when NATO dependents are kicking in more money, as Trump claimed to Congress.

The biggest problem facing America right now is balancing the budget and saving Social Security and Medicare for the next generation.

During the campaign, Trump talked of America’s $22 trillion national debt in apocalyptic terms. He said another $2 trillion in deficits will put America beyond the point of no return. Trump is willing to rack up more debt for his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan alone. And how does Trump intend to pay for the trillions of dollars in tax cuts for wealthy Americans who don’t need the money?

What Trump is proposing has already been tried by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. One can excuse Reagan on the grounds that the country was mired in dire straits, the Soviet Union was winning the Cold War, and Americans had lost faith in their country. Reagan also agreed to raise taxes to reduce the deficits in his first term, a magnanimous flexibility Trump is totally unprepared to replicate.

George W. Bush in 2001 inherited an America at peace with a balanced budget. In a tremendous act of stupidity, Bush destroyed the budget surpluses with idiotic tax cuts and the invasion of Iraq.

And where was the Tea Party while this was going on? Totally silent. They didn’t care about the trillions of dollars in deficits Bush ran up. Only when Obama ran up deficits to save the country from going into a depression, did they suddenly discover deficits would hurt the country. Where is the Tea Party now? Noticeably silent as Trump prepares to add trillions to the national debt. These people were phonies all along.

Trump, having been elected without being the hostage of special interests, was in a unique position to take the politically unpopular steps to return America to budgetary surpluses: raising taxes and cutting spending. This writer was impressed by Trump’s saving the taxpayers $700 million on an airplane contract. This is where Trump could have done his best work, saving taxpayers’ money on inflated contracts and corrupt vendors.

Instead, Trump is taking America down the same sorry road of W. Bush. When countries like China and Japan stop buying American bonds, the bondholders will eventually cut off the money flow, and then this country will be facing problems we can only imagine.

This writer is not taking a scintilla of comfort from the fact that Trump finally got through a speech without making a total fool of himself.

Body Cameras for the Worcester Police

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Walking the beat

By Gordon Davis

Several years ago, Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme, now retired, announced that the Worcester Police Department was investigating the policy of the use of body cameras for on-duty patrol officers. Like with most “policy” issues in the City of Worcester, the investigation was conducted in secret.

Advocates of the policy of using body cameras pointed out that body cameras protect both the public and the police officers. The information provided by the video is considered indisputable, unlike oral testimony.

With body cameras the actions of a member of the public is clearly shown, and this protects police officers from false or unsubstantial complaints. Also, the actions of the police are clearly recorded, protecting the public from poorly trained police officers or officers who are abusive.

Body cameras are used in at least 42 large police departments nation-wide and many more smaller police departments. Boston is initiating the use of body cameras on a trial basis this year. Leicester (MA) and Brookfield already use them.

The overall results have been that the number of complaints made by the public are down and the number of arrests is also down. Both statistics point to a reduction of frivolous activity by the public and police. Such interactions over what many of us would call “frivolous” often lead to escalations.

The Worcester City Council has essentially abrogated it duty and responsibility to set policy for the Worcester Police Department. The City Manager and City Council are just rubber stamps for whatever the Police Chief and his cronies tell them.

There is no transparency in terms of complaints by the public.

There is no significant external oversight over use of funds.

Several Worcester City Councilors have passed resolutions in effect saying “support the cops – right or wrong.”

A group of residents are petitioning the Worcester City Council to have public hearings on changes to Worcester Police Department policies.

The petition will be given to the Worcester City Council at the August 16, 2016, Worcester City Council meeting.

Hopefully, if approved by City Council, the public hearings will be real and honest.

The public hearings should not be like City Manager Ed Augustus’ Department of Justice hearings in 2015 during which the police chief did not appear and the notes were lost!

The ACLU has come up with a set of rules, a policy for the use of body cameras by the police. The Boston Police Department has adopted 80 percent of the ACLU’s proposals.
These proposals include when the cameras should be turned on or off, who gets access to the videos, verification of the cameras’ operation, etc.

These proposals certainly could be used as a basis for the Worcester City Council establishing a body camera policy for the Worcester Police Department. The City Council should also conduct an audit about any money received via grants for a pilot program for body camera use.

I have been to a lot of City Council meetings and seen a lot of citizen petitions describing good policies for the City of Worcester. I have seen most of these petitions “filed” or thrown away. The petition regarding changes to Worcester Police Department policy is too important to be ignored.

Given the tensions between the public – especially people of color and the poor – and the police, there is a real need for the protection of our rights.

Confusion re: City of Worcester policy of arresting students/kids at school

NAACP Forum 10-24-15
The NAACP education forum

By Gordon Davis

The NAACP hosted a forum on education, October 24, at the AME Zion Church on Illinois Street. One of the topics for discussion was called Public Safety which was led by two police officers and the Public Safety Liaison Officer for the Worcester Public Schools. 

Groups opposing the police arresting kids at schools were told that they could not collect signatures for their petition to
City Council nor address the forum.

At one point the organizer of the event came out to the sidewalk and told these groups to stop talking to people. The minister of the Church also told the groups to stop their petition collection while they were on the sidewalk in front of the Church.  After some dialog the NAACP and AME Zion Church allowed the group to come into the event’s workshop.

The workshop on Public Safety was run by Public Safety Liaison Officer Rob Pezzella, Sergeant Lopez, and Officer Diaz.  Sergeant Lopez and Officer Diaz are full time police assigned to Worcester Public High Schools.

Each of Worcester’s five public high schools has a full time police officer assigned to it. There is a single police officer assigned to all of the middle schools. For elementary school Mr. Perzella explained they are covered by route cases. 

Mr. Pezzella stated there is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Worcester Public Schools and the Worcester Police that was outdated and needed revision. He said that he had no timetable for its revision and it was not entirely clear what would go into the revised MOU.  When asked whether the public could have input in the writing of the revised MOU, Mr. Pezzella said that would have to defer to Superintendant of Schools, the Manager, and the Mayor.  Sergeant Lopez said that the Chapter 222 of the Act of 2012 required that there some sort of public hearings.

The two police officers told the workshop attendees what they did at school. They said that they did a myriad of duties, including directing traffic, visiting parents, and counseling. Officer Diaz said that she would conduct random drug searches with a drug dog.  However, she said that she does not as a rule intervene in a discipline issues unless she is asked to do so by the school administration.  Officer Lopez and Diaz both said once she is involved, the principal could not tell them to stand down. Sergeant Lopez asserted that only the District Attorney could order him to stand down.

The assertions and opinions of the police officers are not found in the MOU or in Chapter 222. It is not clear what is the City of Worcester’s policy on the interaction of the police and the school administration and the students. 

It would make sense for the City to clarify this policy as soon as possible in order for the parents and students to understand what is expected.

A counselor from the Worcester School Department spoke of how she interacts with the students and parents when there are issues including children requiring assistance (CRA). This counselor is familiar with the regulations and guides the parents and children through the procedures. However when asked, she said that she was not an advocate, but a neutral officer of the court. She had no privilege and the parent and child should not have an expectation of confidentiality. 

It was not clear from her presentation whether the parents and children were informed of this before speaking with her.  

The groups collecting the petition signatures outside the Church said that the arrest of children at school was traumatizing to all concerned and harmful to the child. The groups went on to say that arresting kids at school has a racist element and was a part of the school to jail pipeline.

PLP and the Massachusetts Human Rights Committee are hosting a discussion on the interaction of the police and school and City Policy. The discussion is planned for November 18, 6 PM, at CENTRO, 11 Sycamore St. 01608.

The City policy on arrests of children at school should be clarified by the School Department, the police, the Manager, and the Mayor. There should at least some minimum age that the police would not arrest a child, but seek instead a CRA. Right now there is no official policy; policy is set by the individual police officers without official guidance. This creation of an official policy should be transparent with the input of the public.