TOM WARD - 2 great R.I. events on tap, but sadly, both on April 26

TOM WARD - 2 great R.I. events on tap, but sadly, both on April 26

* For those interested in government and politics, a couple of important events are on the horizon. Sadly, they are both on the same day: Saturday, April 26.

The first is Operation Clean Government's Candidate School. It's all non-partisan, and is in place to help those who might be considering a run for local or state political office. The event will be held all day at Rhode Island College, and I will be there to help possible candidates navigate their way to getting their campaign messages into local newspapers. Other topics include how to file and when, campaign finance reporting, and other campaign details that go well past shaking hands and kissing babies.

Early registration is $75 and valid until Tuesday, when the cost rises to $95. Those interested may visit at www.ocgri.org .

On the same day, The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity will conduct a public policy debate at the University of Rhode Island. The debate, "What's Really In Our Best Interest?" will feature Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, Rich Benjamin, senior fellow at Demos, and frequent analyst on MSNBC and NPR, Don Watkins, fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, and Tom Sgouros, local public policy expert and writer for RI Future. The debate will be at Swan Hall beginning at 9:30 a.m., and is free. With prominent progressives, conservatives and libertarians on hand, it certainly promises to be an interesting event. Visit www.rifreedom.org for more information.

* Finally, another test for the new House Speaker, Nick Mattiello. This week, the state's "master lever" for voting is discussed again. The master lever, now merely a checked box, is confusing to many. Its only purpose in Rhode Island is to keep Democrats in power. That's all. Fair-minded political leaders would abolish it. We'll see in the days ahead if we have enough honorable men and woman in the House, or just the usual party shills loaded up with lame rationalizations - again.

* We just don't count husbands and wives the way we used to. No, today in Hollywood, the stars just shack up, make babies (or not), and drone on in vacuous tweets. There is no price to pay for your lifestyle in Tinsel Town anymore unless you are politically conservative or rabidly anti-Semitic when drunk or otherwise. Beyond that, nobody passes judgment.

It was thinking about this with the death Sunday of Mickey Rooney, the child star who maintained his acting career throughout his life and lived to be 93. All of the obits Monday mentioned his eight marriages. Many also noted that he "tied" in trips to the altar with Elizabeth Taylor, who had eight husbands. Back in the old days, that was frowned upon. Sure, they kept their careers, but still, we all had doubts about Rooney and Taylor. Rooney's fourth wife, Elaine Devry, years after her divorce, said of Rooney: "Six wives can't all be wrong." No doubt Devry was right.

So, 50 years later, are we better people, a better society, for not paying any attention to marriage - even a Hollywood marriage - and the commitment of a couple to one another and their children? I don't think so, but folks like me remain pretty quiet because here in "Brangelina-world," we're judged on our more conservative values by those intolerant folks who fancy themselves as non-judgmental. It's all rather odd.

* OK, this is a little bit of my "science geek" youth showing, but if you're the type to enjoy a good show overhead, next Monday night (officially Tuesday morning), there will be a total lunar eclipse. Of course, we'll need clear skies. Our friend and local astronomer David Huestis informs us: "A total lunar eclipse occurs at full moon when the Sun, Earth and Moon are in a straight line. With the Earth positioned in the middle of this celestial configuration, its shadow is projected onto the lunar surface."

The show begins late, with a partial eclipse noted around 2 a.m. Totality begins at 3:06 a.m. and ends at 4:24, with the moon slowly becoming more visible as sunrise approaches. Set your alarms!

Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze newspapers.