Occupy Providence opposes the PawSox corporate welfare deal

Providence, April 21, 2015—Occupy Providence opposes the efforts to give millions in “public assistance” (corporate welfare) to the proposed PawSox stadium in Providence. Specifically, we oppose state funding, funding by the city of Providence, and state and city tax breaks for the project.

20081201-socialismThe proposals for taxpayer aid are economically senseless. Anyone concerned about Providence’s economy knows that the last thing Providence needs is more tax-exempt land. The PawSox’s current home, McCoy Stadium, is being abandoned after being built with expensive taxpayer funding, and if another new stadium is built with taxpayer assistance, there is no guarantee that the PawSox won’t leave that one again in 5 or 15 years, maybe to move out of state. These kinds of concerns exemplify why even major-league stadiums , when funded by taxpayer money, are commonly regarded as bad deals. Claims have been made that the stadium will contribute to the economy in the nearby area. But if there were to be such economic benefits, they would flow mainly to those favored insiders who are well-connected enough to be awarded favorable terms on the nearby I-195 land, which is now being dispensed in a highly corruptible process. Ordinary Rhode Islanders will be largely left out, though left to bear the burden of the stadium’s taxpayer funding and the resulting budget cuts.

Still, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation continues to discuss funding this boondoggle. That’s no surprise: the same Commerce Corporation was responsible for awarding other insider-favored deals such as 38 Studios, and also the imprudent state tax breaks offered to Hasbro a couple of years ago merely to shift its headquarters from Pawtucket to Providence. The current proposal is all too reminiscent of these bad deals, and again ordinary Rhode Islanders get no say in the process. The RI Commerce Corporation, like the rest of our political elite, is skilled only in favoring those with clout and not in helping the economy.

If our political elite really had our interest at heart, they would make clear from the beginning that any major taxpayer funding for this project is unacceptable. The fact that they haven’t done this shows that we’re on the road to another bad deal t
hat favors the well-connected.

There is an alternative. Instead of an expensive deal like the PawSox stadium, whose large-scale benefits are hypothetical and whose profits are destined in large part to out-of-state interests, we can do better by ordinary Rhode Islanders. We can reject the propose Medicaid cuts, which hurt wages of ordinary Rhode Islanders by “eradicating the safety net” (as Speaker Mattiello put it). We can cut property taxes for real, ordinary Rhode Islanders instead of a small, favored group of partly out-of-state interests. And we can stop the foolish path of funding those who compete by showing their lack of loyalty to Rhode Island.

If we’re going to compete with other states, let’s compete in turning down these foolish insider deals, just as Massachusetts competed with us by turning down the 38 Studios deal. We can’t afford to devote more and more of our state budget to an ever-increasing variety of foolish corporate welfare schemes, which are poorly targeted in helping the economy. Occupy Providence joins other groups such as the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats in rejecting this deal.

Local Activists Continue Resistance to Fracked-Gas Pipeline

Press Conference: Local Activists Continue Resistance to Fracked-Gas Pipeline Expansion

  • When: Thursday, February 19, 2015 @ 11am
  • Where: Sixth Division District Court, One Dorrance Plaza, Providence, RI, 02903
  • What:
    • The latest on the court case against Peter Nightingale, a URI physics professor who was arrested at a sit-in organized by Rhode Island activists at Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s Providence office on December 16 of last year.
    • Exposing the real reason that Spectra is proposing three expansions to their Northeast pipeline system, and the legal fight to stop these projects.
    • Announcing next steps in the fight against the Spectra Pipeline expansion project including upcoming actions and events in Rhode Island and beyond.
  • Who: Members of FANG (Fighting Against Natural Gas) and Fossil Free RI


GA minutes, September 13, 2014

  • The New York climate march on Sunday the 21st: somebody please bring the Occupy banner
  • Police brutality: for lack of time and this important topic will be revisited
  • FERC hearing about the natural gas pipeline expansion: please attend the hearing to testify.  There is no specific OP position, other than the consensus that this is a terrible idea.  Put an announcement with specifics on the various listservs and Facebook

Post GA follow up:
On September 14, Peter sent out this message containing possible inspiration for testimonials:

What: FERC public hearing on the AIM pipeline expansion project
Crystal Lake Golf Club
100 Bronco Highway
Mapleville, RI 02839
When: September 16 @ 6:30pm
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1528057384094940

This Tuesday there will be a hearing on the proposed pipeline expansion to bring more fracked natural gas to Rhode Island.  This is a terrible idea!
Instead of growing sustainable, distributed energy, as Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, formulated it, our policy is ” let’s just keep being predators and watch the planet cast us off, because the planet is going to cast a soft, or at least a sizable majority of us.”

As Rhode Island imports natural gas, it will export death and destruction to the people near the drilling sites.  Most of these are now located in Pennsylvania, but extreme-extraction wells are short-lived and they are spreading like wildfire across the US.

Maps of the RI Department of Health of asthma show a higher prevalence of asthma insurance claims in the section of Burrillville near the gas compressor station.  Is it causing this?  That is not clear, but is ignorance a solid basis for the planned expansion?

Our governors and congressional delegations, in their unwavering support of the 1%, have lined up behind this proposed “‘Green’ Bridge to Hell.”   They have also tried to make these vital decisions behind closed doors.  They claim that pipeline expansion will lower the price of fuel, but the gas may end up going to world market where its price is much higher than in the US.

Please come and testify.  We have to stop this crime against the People and Life on Earth!

1. “Green” Bridge to Hell: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175873/tomgram%3A_naomi_oreskes,_a_%22green%22_bridge_to_hell/
2. The myth that gas is clean energy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIAFRzaHnb4#t=27m0s
3. Larry Wilkerson on Predators ‘R US: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=11844
4. Health effects of fracking: http://concernedhealthny.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CHPNY-Fracking-Compendium.pdf
5. Wall Street’s role in blowing the subprime gas bubble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIAFRzaHnb4#t=27m0s
6. RI politicians in bed with corporate America:6. http://www.rifuture.org/sunshine-and-methane-pipeline-expansion.html

Antiwar activists plan protest to coincide with President Obama’s visit to Rhode Island

Antiwar activists plan protest to coincide with President Obama’s visit to Rhode Island

When: August 29, 2014 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Where: Burnside Park, Providence, RI
Who: Rhode Island Antiwar Committee; RI Coalition to Defend Human and Civil Rights; Occupy Providence

Rhode Islanders who are not millionaires will have a chance to “speak to” President Obama this Friday, August 29 between 5:00 and 6:30 PM at Burnside Park in downtown Providence. The open-mike rally will draw parallels between U.S. foreign policy and the recent killing of the unarmed African-American, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. Also included will be calls to: stop police brutality in communities of color from Palestine to Ferguson; end the militarization of our cities; end the war on Gaza and all aid to Israel; end the U.S. military presence in the Middle East; and stop NSA spying on private citizens.

“One reason for our choice of locale,” said Paul Hubbard, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Antiwar Committee (RIAC), “is that President Obama will be fund-raising among the 1% at a secluded ocean-front mansion in Newport. The other 99% of his constituents will probably be unable to catch even a glimpse of him, due to the blocked roads and high security surrounding his brief visit. This situation strikingly symbolizes the truth about which groups the U.S. government is really serving.”

The rally is also calling on Obama to keep his campaign promises and hold out against war hawks trying to escalate the Iraq war and spread it to Syria. “The public – and the media – seem to have forgotten that after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, the military disarmed the Sunnis first, (debathification) and created a civil war between Sunnis and Shia with the surge of 2007. The years following the U.S. partial withdrawal have been a reaction to that bloodbath, and they show that continued U.S. military action will only bring further resentment, brutal killings, and terrorist attacks,” noted Christopher Murphy, another RIAC member. Instead, RIAC demands that more resources be devoted to solving our many domestic problems. The bombings, invasions, and occupations of countries around the world are an exercise in unchecked U.S. imperialism that primarily benefits privilege-seeking corporations and the military-industrial complex.

However, RIAC notes that Obama recognized overwhelming public opposition to war with Syria last summer and cooperated with Russian President Putin in removing Syrian poison gas stockpiles.

Other sponsoring groups include the RI Coalition to Defend Human and Civil Rights and Occupy Providence.