When good people do bad things

When good people do bad things


With such outrageous events occurring across the globe lately, we are left pondering what it is about human nature that could explain the evil we all witness. From our youth, we probably were left debating whether people were basically good or bad. Perhaps people are worse than we think when we witness the somewhat minor evil acts that so-called good hearted people do to advance their own jobs or finances. Recent stories in Rhode Island show a certain level of malevolence perpetrated by people who should know better.

John Leidecker
This top NEA (National Education Association) union official was cleared of a charge that he stalked a former state lawmaker over the internet during the 2012 elections, his defense based on his First Amendment right to speak. This assistant executive director of this teacher’s union mimicked the legislator by using an email simulating the representative’s name with a mere change of a vowel, and by falsifying the actual positions of that legislator, drawing ire from prospective voters. The legislator’s “crime” was that he had opposed some of the union’s policies, so this was rank retaliation. Mr. Leidecker continues to see nothing wrong with his impersonation. The silence of the NEA teachers is a remarkable acquiescence to gutter tactics.

NEA teacher in Clay Pell’s ad
One of Mr. Pell’s  television ads features an NEA high school teacher who complains about the fact that some political leaders are oppositional to teachers. She bemoans the fact that she feels she has to teach to a test rather than the good old days when she really enjoyed teaching. The ad, of course, is a slam against Gina Raimondo, who is actually saving the pension system, and leaders like Deborah Gist, Commissioner of Education, who is implementing standards. Just to what “happy days” the teacher is alluding remains a mystery. The program for International Students released a study (as reported in Popular Science, September 2014) on the state of math, science and reading skills in 65 countries including in the United States. This country’s score was basically the same as 2003 — which shows, as Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, puts it, an “educational stagnation”. So, before Commissioner Gist ever stepped foot into R.I. and demanded an objective measurement for accountability, education was hitting a brick wall for over a decade. The teacher’s complaint is way off base.

Representative Peter Palumbo
Apparently, the Democratic legislator from Cranston has a problem with ethics. He has been ignoring a rule, going back to 2002, that bars lawmakers from seeking state contracts. He has been running the food concessions at several state beaches and, apparently, Mr. Clean he is not, with over 70 recent violations issued by the department of health. He developed a new repertoire with former legislator David Caprio who “bid” on the contract recently. Mr. Caprio got it and promptly hired Mr. Palumbo. Mr. Caprio didn’t serve his family name very well in this bait and switch.

Department of Environmental Management
Since the 70’s this agency and it predecessors have had gutsy people working for them. Now, apparently, they have sycophants who rubber-stamp beach concession deals. What a fall from grace for an agency that used to be above politics.