Sore Losers

I’m not shocked Doug Gablinske, the soon-to-be-former RI State Representative, is running a write-in campaign for the District 68 seat after losing the Democratic primary to Richard Morrison on Sept. 14. It’s his last chance to hold onto power — something he evidently craves so much that he’s willing to sacrifice his own town’s future for it. (More on that in a bit.)

But what’s suprising is how much positive attention Gablinske is drawing from the Bristol Phoenix for this petty, quixotic attempt at personal redemption, in contrast to the brief but overwhelmingly negative focus the paper has given to another ludicrous wannabe politician named Greg Raposa. Indeed, few rational minds would argue that a bitterly arrogant candidate who couldn’t even capture his own party’s nomination would fare better in a general election than a newcomer whose views on gender date back to the Stone Age. So, why the disparity in coverage?

Could it be that Gablinske is more apt to pay for advertising space? After all, with the thousands of dollars he receives from the likes of college-dropout-turned-millionaire-turned-education-reformer Angus Davis, he’s got more than enough money to buy himself some good press. Unfortunately, what improves Gablisnke’s image and the Phoenix’s bottom line hurts everyone else. Puff pieces and gotcha journalism keep us uninformed about the important issues that should be determining the outcomes of elections.

For example, if the fourth estate was really doing its job, Bristolians would know the education reform movement in RI is merely an attempt by wealthy individuals to privatize schools and make a quick buck off the backs of taxpayers, which is what’s already happened in post-Katrina New Orleans. But, instead of using a natural disaster to set things in motion, political hacks were brought in to create a man-made one. Gablinske and Education Commissioner Deborah Gist (who, not coincidentally, was hired by Davis and the Board of Regents) helped push through a state funding formula that cuts millions of dollars over the next ten years to several districts, including Bristol-Warren.

Thankfully, Gablinske won’t be around to do more damage to the community, but the problems he’s unleashed are bigger than anything we’ve ever faced. A group of concerened parents and teachers are now rallying together to fend off the powerful special interests seeking to destroy public schools because they know it’s a fight Bristol can’t afford to lose. But will these civic champions get as much media play as the villains and sore losers? Don’t bet on it, as long as the Phoenix is the only game in town. Of course, there is a Patch of hope on the horizon.

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14 Responses to “Sore Losers”

  1. dbcamp Says:

    Great blog! Hope this gets wide notice.

  2. bristolbullraker Says:

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    On slightly sillier notes:

    Does anyone else see the irony of a person who once proudly campaigned as a life-long Democrat now trying to undermine his party’s nomination in the same election cycle? That’s slimy even by RI political standards.

    Can you imagine all the interesting misspellings that the Board of Canvassers will read on election day?
    Gablinski
    Gablinskey
    Gablintzke
    Gibletski
    Jablinske
    Jabberwocky

    The possibilities are endless but will they count as Gablinske votes? Doh!

  3. dbcamp Says:

    >>The possibilities are endless but none will count as a Gablinske vote. Doh!

    I don’t think that you are correct. I think that if the intent is clear, then the vote counts. Look at the write-in law again. That’s why the Murkowski write-in campaign is so viable in Alaska.

  4. dbcamp Says:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2266740/

    • bristolbullraker Says:

      I went to ri.gov and found the following:

      You must do two things to cast a “write-in” vote.

      1. Print the name of the person on the blank line labeled “write-in,” and
      2. Complete the arrow pointing to the person’s name next to the write-in line.

      I also found that, for faulty mail-in ballots, votes can be recorded for a candidate based on intent. However, nothing is mentioned about handling other ballots.

      It will be interesting to see how misspellings are interpreted, but, regardless of the outcome of the election, I expect there to be a lot of uproar over the amount of subjectivity in what should be an objective process.

      If only we had TruVote: http://www.truvote.com/

      By the way, thanks for the input! Note the change in my earlier post from a statement to a question.

  5. dbcamp Says:

    Is there a reason why you don’t write a letter to the editor? It would seem that such a stand might sell newspapers.

  6. bristolbullraker Says:

    I’ve tried a few times (this is my 4th post on education reform) without any luck. Maybe I’ll give it another shot.

  7. Darcy Says:

    So Morrison… The union puppet… Is better?!?!?

    • bristolbullraker Says:

      Yes, because I think it’s almost impossible to be worse!

      Although Gablinske speaks of unions, who represent thousands of working families in RI, as “special interests”, he somehow fails to view people like Angus Davis in the same way. When, in truth, Davis represents the most specialized of interests: A wealthy individual who is exerting undue influence on politics (in this case so-called ed reform) so that he is put in position to profit off of taxpayer money (via privately run charter schools, which have proven to be no better than public schools in actually educating our children).

      I’m not sure if Gablisnke has been fooled into believing this neo-liberal brand of reform will improve student performance or whether he is blinded by his own arrogance that he doesn’t care… but, either way, we are royally screwed and he has to go.

  8. bristolbullraker Says:

    I again wrote the Bristol Phoenix about Gablinske’s brand of education reform and this time they finally printed it:

    ‘Special interests’ depends on who defines it

    If unions, which represent hundreds of Bristol’s working families, are labeled “special interests” by Representative Doug Gablinske, just imagine what he calls a wealthy individual who exerts undue influence on the political process to potentially profit off taxpayer money. One would think he’d reserve a nasty epithet for this most specialized of interests. Perhaps “pig at the trough”? Not quite. In fact, in the case of Angus Davis, try “major campaign contributor.”

    Nationally, some very large corporations (e.g. Goldman Sachs, Walmart) and very rich people (e.g. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg) are suddenly education reformers. It’s no coincidence. There’s a lot of easy money to be made in the charter school movement, which is essentially a privatization of the education system that rarely does better, and is often worse, than its public school counterpart.

    A native Bristolian and dot-com millionaire, Davis leads a similar charge in Rhode Island. As a member of the Board of Regents, he was instrumental in hiring Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, who promptly removed a cap on charters and created a funding formula that cuts state aid to Bristol-Warren and other districts nearly in half. Davis has also given thousands to candidates like Gablinske (who voted for the formula) and even paid for a Gist speech, all to ensure investments in charter management companies ultimately pay off.

    However, Davis apparently underestimated the resistance his corporate puppets would face in the primaries. Now reduced to a write-in campaign, Gablinske doesn’t stand a chance in the general election. Citizens of Bristol care too much to see the future of their town destroyed. And no special interest will ever trump that.

  9. dbcamp Says:

    Read the letter — very proud of you. It even came up over dinner tonight, so you’ve gotten people thinking. Thanks!

  10. Michael Byrnes Says:

    Kevin,

    Here is a letter I sent to the Phoenix

    Effective education is our “special; interest”
    In last week’s Phoenix, Mr. Kevin Faria wrote a letter entitled “Special interests’ depends on who defines it”. Mr Faria’s takes a number of people to task either for their position on teachers unions or their position on supporting education reform. Mr Faria seems to be viscerally offended by anyone who would challenge the teachers unions or by anyone with wealth. These people, he intimates, are the real special interests.
    Mr. Faria’s argument is hard to follow so I would suggest that we simplify this issue and declare that the only “special interest” we have is the future of our children’s education. Everyone should be working for this goal. Our future as a viable community and as a healthy nation depends on a solid, affordable education that prepares our youth for the real world. Jobs for our youth depend greatly on an education that not only provides functional skills but also a strong sense of responsibility.
    Mr. Faria impugns the motives of some “very large corporations” and some “very rich people” in a manner that suggests that corporate size and individual wealth were offenses in themselves. I prefer to think that these successful companies and people are deeply concerned about the future of America and the fundamental role that education plays in determining that future.
    Mr. Faria bashes charter schools and those that support the concept. The support for charter schools, given the impressive record such institutions have achieved, is much in accord our “special interest” of improving education for our children. The end of any education system is the child. Energy that is not focused on giving that child the best education possible is wasted. We can only hope that Mr. Faria will turn his considerable talent to this “special interest”.

    • bristolbullraker Says:

      Hi Mike. Thanks for the input. I’m sorry if my argument was hard to follow. Letters to the editor can be difficult to write using only around 250 words. So, per your suggestion, I will base my reply only on the future of our children’s education.

      Here’s a recent article that does a good job of explaining the findings of the most comprehensive studies on charter schools to date: http://www.miller-mccune.com/education/a-s-and-f-s-for-charter-schools-24640/

      So, with some exceptions, charters do not perform better than public schools. In fact, a large number actually perform worse. What’s more, since charter schools suck up a large portion of educational funding (e.g. Race To the Top money), even those few that are performing better are likely doing so at the expense of the traditional public schools in their districts. Another problem, which the above article mentions and we’ve discussed in the past, is that under-performing charters are difficult to close. We saw this in RI when Commisioner Gist attempted to place the Highlander school on a 1-year probation and threatened to shut it down unless drastic improvements were made. After being confronted by (you guessed it) Angus Davis, Gist not only backed down but she gave Highlander a 3-year extension.

      Being a curious person, I asked myself why there is such a big push for charters in the current education reform movement when, as a whole, they are not effective. After some more digging, I’m pretty sure I found the answer. It appears you don’t agree with my answer and I can live with that. But I hope you’ll agree there’s at least enough evidence to convince a reasonable person that, despite the hype, charter schools are not the solution to our nation’s education ills.

  11. bristolbullraker Says:

    Let the errors begin… At the debate held at Franklin Court this week, the placard in front of Gablinske read “Gablinski”. Classic!

    Maybe he should change his name to Mickey Mouse. Not only would it be easier to spell and result in many more write-in votes, it would be very apt for such a fake politician. After all, the Morrison campaign has already compared Gablinske to another Disney character, a fellow puppet named Pinocchio.

    That’s it, I’m sold. On November 2, vote Mickey Mouse! 😉

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