As Mayor of the City of Pawtucket, I intend to create and promote social policies that are beneficial to low-income and middle-income families and residents. The best way to foster social togetherness and create a sense of unity in these difficult times is to introduce policy changes and pursue strategies that favor inclusion and mutual respect for one another, including a recognition of the importance of language and cultural identity in our multi-cultural, multilingual community.
The role of the State in our community
State social policy often has a destructive effect on our city. This is clear to most residents in the city. From the UHIP fiasco to the Closure of Memorial to Bus Passes for the elderly and disabled we have failed our seniors and our lower-income residents the most. Much of the economic damage we endure in Pawtucket is due to the failed policies and initiatives of the State of Rhode Island. Unfortunately, Rhode Island's priorities to cut Medicaid, unfairly underfund our school system and promote development projects that adversely affect our residents are not in accordance with what our city priorities ought to be. In this time of COVID-19, it is important that we not cut Medicaid to find savings on our state budget, we must persuade the state to increase funding for our failing schools, and we must not pursue building a taxpayer-funded stadium that will displace residents and anchor us to a debt for the next 30 years.
State education policy often leaves us underfunded and struggling to educate our students. The State's school funding formula is so destructive that it leaves our students and teachers fending for themselves and especially for ELL and Special Needs Programs. Our school system is in such an awful mess that families flee to other cities to keep their children from attending Pawtucket Public Schools. Many Pawtucket families find the state of our Pawtucket public schools so bad that they enter lotteries for Charter Schools in the hopes that their child will get in. The State of Rhode Island's failures in education policy related to the school funding formula have a profound effect on our community. Pawtucket lost out on $13,000,000 in state funding for our schools because the City of Pawtucket was not able to kick in its share of funding to release the state's funding.
Other State policies and actions often leave us in very real danger of losing lives and falling into bankruptcy. The loss of Memorial Hospital, for example, was both an economic disaster and a health care disaster. The State approved the closure of Memorial hospital to the detriment of us all but most especially to babies being born and elderly folks having strokes, heart attacks or other injuries that need hospital services. The State treated Memorial Hospital as if it were a private business similar to a pizza shop or jeweler when in fact for many of us this is an issue of life and death. The State of Rhode Island's failures in health and social policy related to the loss of Memorial Hospital has had a profoundly negative effect on our community. Our community has suffered far more with the closure of Memorial because of COVID-19.
Policy prescriptions to help change the role of the State in our community
State social policies that have a destructive effect on the City of Pawtucket must be understood and opposed strongly by the Mayor of Pawtucket and the State Delegation. Pawtucket residents literally suffered from the UHIP fiasco and the loss of free Bus Passes but our Mayor did little to raise awareness and fight for our residents. While a Mayor can't force the State to initiate or stop a policy they can certainly affect policymaking at the state level. As Mayor of Pawtucket, I will advocate for Pawtucket residents unfairly impacted by bad state social policies.
State social policies that negatively impact residents of the City of Pawtucket need to be addressed head-on by both the Mayor and the State Delegation. The idea that the current mayor was mostly silent on an unprecedented public health crisis but very vocal about promoting a taxpayer-funded stadium is reason for pause.
State education policies that cause teachers and students to suffer need to be addressed in a manner that is public and informs residents of the city and the state as well. Both the Mayor and the State Delegation need to tackle the enormous language and culture issues facing teachers, parents, students, the lack of translation in Pawtucket's 5 major languages, and a severe lack of diversity in school department hiring.
Other State policies and actions that cause things such as hospital closures ought to be met with fierce resistance and an insistence that Pawtucket residents deserve better. The fact that the current Mayor and most of the State Delegation allowed Memorial Hospital to slip away is alarming.
The role of the City in our community
City social policy is extremely lacking in terms of employment opportunities for minorities and immigrant residents and heavily in favor of one demographic. The actions of the city with regard to prioritizing the hiring of friends and family or hiring from just one demographic group is unfair and socially destructive. According to the city's most recent Affirmative Action Report, or city employed workforce is 94% white and mostly English-only speaker which is not practical or appropriate for a city the is only 50.3% white and with many limited-English speakers. IN this time of crisis we need everyone to work together. We need to assist residents in applying for help with food assistance, unemployment, veterans benefits, and other state and federal programs that we are not using to the fullest extent.