Ethics Reform

RI Government needs to become more transparent and accountable to its Citizens.

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Education

Create Equality in Funding and Opportunity for all Rhode Island Students.

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Support Small Business and Working and Middle Class Families

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News:

Jonathan Hernandez: Kaepernick wants a better America

Posted Sep. 6, 2016 (via Providence Journal) Alyssa Nota states in her Sept. 1 letter, “Kaepernick should be thankful for America,” that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was able to achieve the American dream by “throwing a football,” and therefore should not refuse to honor the flag of the country that gave him those opportunities.

But just because Kaepernick went to good schools, has white parents and is a National Football League quarterback making millions of dollars does not erase the fact that he is black and has faced discrimination in this country. And he understands that many people who look like him, many of them playing alongside him, feel that throwing and catching a football, or shooting a basketball, is the only way for them to succeed in America, and that is a problem.

Study after study gives credence to this belief, showing that white job applicants with a criminal record are ranked higher by hiring managers than black applicants with no criminal record, that minority applicants with more education and skills are passed over for white applicants with less education and skills because of the very dubious criteria of “culture fit,” which really means you white enough.

In order for people of color to succeed at the level of their white peers, they have to work twice — sometimes three times — as hard. So even after they do everything the “right” way, they are stuck, no better than they were before. People need to get their heads out of the sand and understand that these things aren’t made up. They are not just perceptions. This is the real world people of color have to navigate every day, and it can get trying.

Kaepernick calling this out does not mean he hates America; he wants America to be better.

Jonathan Hernandez
Providence
The writer is a Democrat running for state senator in District 6.

Ethics Reform Bill Is Just Putting Lipstick On A Pig, Rhode Islanders Deserve Real Reform

Candidate Jonathan Hernandez calls for more substantial Ethics Reform

Providence, RI (August 20, 2016) – Once again there are headlines about General Assembly members not disclosing relationships they have with businesses and non-profits. This week it’s Rep. Anastasia Williams, and my opponent Sen. Harold Metts, even after both submitted amended reports earlier this summer. Senator Metts is boasting on his campaign literature that he helped pass Ethics Reform, but he himself has not followed the simple rules about disclosures. He said he was surprised he was listed in the non-profit Black and Latino Caucus’s board and thought it was inactive.  How does this happen?  How does one not know what is going on with an organization where you are listed as a board member?

This just brings up recent scandals with nonprofits like former Rep. Ray Gallison and Providence City Councilman Kevin Jackson. No wonder RI voters have so little trust in their government. I think Rhode Islanders have had enough.  Ethics Reform is just putting lipstick on a pig; it changes nothing except to make the general public think the GA has actually done something, when all they have done is the bare minimum. Disclosure is that bare minimum which the ethics bill heavily relies on; nothing in it would have prevented any of the recent scandals, including Gordon Fox. The GA needs real reform on its members. First and foremost, GA members must be barred from serving on city and town boards, as Gordon Fox did on the Providence’s Board of Licenses. We should not have to rely on members to recuse themselves when a conflict of interests arises, and the situation it creates is too easily prone to quid pro quo transactions. In addition, GA members and their immediate families should not be able to serve on boards or be on the payroll in any way of non-profits that are funded by state grants or programs. As the Center of Public Integrity states in a 2012 report, “Separating favoritism from efficient use of funds has proven to be a daunting task for state governments. Some ethics experts say states should draw a clear line: that lawmakers cannot be involved in sending funds to any group with which they have a direct link, even as an unpaid board member.”

So I call on the GA to make that clear line and implement an Ethics Reform Bill that will create real change.