TOM WARD – And now, some good news

TOM WARD – And now, some good news

My hat is off to Erica Sanzi, a Cumberland mom, former educator, and ex-member of the town’s School Committee, whose blog, “Good School Hunting,” found a national audience last week. Sanzi is upset that current state law, in her words, “allows for teachers and other school employees to have sex with students once (students) have turned 16.” It’s that simple, in her view, and she and others hope to stop that. State teachers’ unions, though, think they’re being singled out, and don’t want the bill – HB 5817 – to pass.

I won’t get deeply into this because, well, do I really have to? Of course the bill should pass! On Sunday, the conservative news aggregator Drudge Report linked to her blog, and readership rocketed. While it might give another black eye to Rhode Island, frankly, it’s deserved. Legislators should protect teenagers above any adults who might prey on them. It’s “all about the kids,” right? Or isn’t it?

In better news:

• It’s nice to see young women from local schools working hard to find a way for their classmates to attend prom, even if they are short on money. It’s worth noting.

In North Providence, seniors Olivia Kooloian and Breanah Gobin have finished their “gently used prom dress” drive, and now teacher Allison Ambrose gets to school early – and stays late – to help girls – confidentially – with their choices.

In Lincoln, junior Jade Ruiz is doing the same, and dresses from the public may still be dropped off at Lincoln High School’s main office until April 26. Formal and semi-formal attire is needed.

If your daughters are off to college, you might empty their closets to help other students who could use a hand. And thanks to these young women for simply being so nice.

• In case you missed it, if your child has a driving learner’s permit, you don’t have to go to Providence for his or her road test anymore. With the opening of the new DMV office in East Woonsocket, at 2000 Diamond Hill Road, you can now take a road test there, by appointment. That’s a blessing.

• In Woonsocket, on Main Street, in a long-empty bank building, a woman named Beth Mancini is rehabbing the offices there and growing her business, Bella Mente Counseling. While this seems small by itself, her growing business is exactly the injection of energy and new life that brings more foot traffic to a challenged downtown area long past its heyday. We wish her well.

Kudos, too, to Garrett Mancieri, a city Realtor who works hard to find suitable tenants and new owners for Main Street’s aging, but in some cases beautiful, buildings.

• Finally, there were about 250 people out and about across Cumberland and north Lincoln for last Saturday’s Yellow Bag Day. While I organize teams across Cumberland, I have to thank Lincoln Town Councilman Ken Pichette for his work in Manville, where a record 100+ turned out to help. He gets a big boost from Navigant Credit Union helpers, too.

In Cumberland, we also had a record turnout, and town roadways were cleaned pretty much top to bottom. A special thanks goes to Troop 1 Diamond Hill Boy Scouts who, along with a team from Mayor Jeff Mutter’s office and friends, cleaned for the first time the nastiest areas of Mendon Road, from Angell Road to Broad Street. It was a huge accomplishment, and long overdue.

The biggest headache? Liquor bottle “nips” of Fireball Whisky. Kids (I assume ...) are drinking those like crazy. My brother suggests a $2 deposit on each. Extreme? Yes. But if you were out there picking them up by the dozen, you might be inclined to agree.

Finally, this: C’mon people! If you have a Dunkin’ coffee cup or McDonald’s bag or soda cup ... whatever ... please keep it in your car until you get home, and then dispose of it. Is that so difficult? Don’t be a slob and throw things out your car window! The rest of us will appreciate your consideration next spring.

Thank you to all the volunteers!

Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze newspaper


First, thank you to Tom and the rest of the Valley Breeze staff for doing the yellow trash bag drive. That is great to see the piles of trash that get picked up every year, making the towns much cleaner. So thank you.

Second, I have a question about the bill that Tom cites that Erika Sanzi was supporting. My understanding is that the bill bans any kind of sex between an educator and a student under 18 years old. This is because the age of consent in the state is 16, so currently, a 16 year old (ie. Sophomore, Junior, Senior) could legally have consensual sex with any adult, including teachers. I guess my question is this, why set the age to "under 18"? Why not make the law to prohibit these types of relations between anyone in the student-teacher/staff relationship? This is not about being an adult and being able to make adult decisions, this is about a power dynamic. For this reason, there really should not be an age marker, it should be set by the individual's status. If they are a student, there can be no consensual relations with a teacher or staff, in my opinion.