Each side of gun debate after Buffalo, Uvalde shootings

Middletown Center proposal a monument to poor planning

 As a taxpayer and library goer, I have concerns regarding the proposed Middletown Center currently under consideration by the Planning Board and Town Council. The Middletown Center is being sold as an opportunity for Middletown. I think the developers saw it as an opportunity for themselves, sold the idea to their friends on the Board and Council, and in concert with them are trying to peddle it to the public. The developers’ arrogant refusal to consider any compromise with the public over the hotel and apartments suggests they are confident of support from the Board and Council, regardless of public opinion. I was shocked and offended to read the Board and Council were considering a plan that would bulldoze our fine, well run library and replace it with a smaller one hidden behind apartment buildings, with less parking. The plan would also have eliminated Pottsy Field and Kennedy School, with no firm plan for relocating the former. Public outcry has forced them to consider concessions regarding the library and field, but their vague wording on the subject has the tone of appeasement rather than a commitment to doing the right thing. The current plan has the 13,000 sq ft library replaced by a 10,000 sq ft building, which the board says might also serve as a community center. The Council said they will consider the size of the building, when they should have flagged the proposed size as shamefully inadequate.

Middletown Center: Planning board gives favorable review of Middletown Center, but does have some concerns

The bait they dangle is the promise of more revenue for the town, which will lead to lower taxes, which is an old ploy. In contrast, history shows development brings more traffic, costly road construction and taxes. As of 2021, the lowest property tax rates in the state were found in rural Little Compton (5.99) and Jamestown (8.07), far less than in more developed Middletown (13.76). The Board and Council could get better ideas for this property by visiting Westerly Library, with its beautiful flower gardens and adjoining Wilcox Park, a venue for many town activities. The ensemble of library and park provides a serene center to the downtown area. The Board and Council are not serving us well by promoting this project. The most prominent building in our town should be the public library, rather than a hotel which would be a monument to poor planning. 

Stephen P. Travis, Middletown

Fight against legalized marijuana comes to an end

While I am extremely disappointed that the governor signed the marijuana legalization legislation into law last week, I would like to take this opportunity to thank The Newport Daily News and the staff for providing me a platform to voice my concerns over the 10+ years in my fight against marijuana legalization.

I would particularly like to thank Gary Ruff and Matt Sheley for their courtesy and professionalism over the years.

The Newport Daily News, as well as its staff, continuously gave me a voice, unlike certain politicians who used their position and power to silence it. I will be forever grateful to all of you for the opportunity to share the research I have gleaned over the last 10+ years.

I am not a lobbyist, politician, nor a member of the media. This whole process, including my service on the state legislative study commission, was all new to me.

I advocated as a concerned citizen and as an educator, and I never hid the fact that I was opposed to marijuana legalization from the very start.

I have tried through my participation with the local prevention coalition, in community forums and workshops, and through several op-eds and letters to the editor, as well as local and state verbal testimonies, to inform and educate the public on the detrimental, societal impacts of marijuana legalization and commercialization.

Marijuana legalization: What you need to know about cannabis legalization in Rhode Island

I had hoped these efforts would have mobilized members of the Aquidneck Island community, particularly in the fields of education, medical, and health-care practices, to a “call to action” in preventing marijuana legalization.

All of my work and research have been done voluntarily, and my first and primary concern has always been the unintended consequences marijuana legalization would have on our children and our students.

While I am deeply disheartened that the bill was pushed through, I find comfort in knowing that I can look myself in the mirror and know I did everything I could to prevent this legislation from passing.

In keeping with a promise I had made to my husband, I am stepping away from this issue. While it has been a worthy cause and a “good fight,” it has also been an emotionally and physically exhausting one as well.

Once again, many thanks to The Newport Daily News for allowing me the opportunity to inform and educate the public on this issue.

Carol Formica, Middletown

Congress must act on meaningful gun legislation

Over the past decade I have become increasingly upset and downright angry at the refusal of Congress to enact reasonable gun legislation. The recent events in Texas repeat the ongoing horror that we experience by the unnecessary deaths of innocent children and adults. These horrific events are especially life-altering for the survivors who have lost a loved one in a shooting. I ask myself over and over again, what is the purpose of an assault weapon?  The answer is simple. There is no other purpose other than to kill groups of people. If we understand that this is the purpose of an assault weapon, then why would we continue to allow this type of weapon to be marketed and sold in America?  

Gun massacres fell by 37% during the assault weapons ban. Conversely, since that time mass killings have risen by 183%. It is an act of insanity to continue on the current path.  Our future is crystal clear, that until meaningful gun legislation is enacted, and there is a reinstatement of the assault weapon ban, we can expect more and more mass killings of innocent children and adults.

We have a history here in America after a mass shooting has occurred to send out thoughts and prayers, lower the flag to half-mast, talk about how horrified we are, send flowers to the kill site, and say we need more mental health services. Well, my friends, that is just not going to cut it anymore! While these sentiments are genuine, thoughtful, gracious and respectful they will have no impact on future shootings. Moreover, for many of us who are not impacted by such gun violence, the memory will become part of a distant past and will be long forgotten.

It is time now for Congress to act and pass meaningful gun legislation.

Anthony Simonelli Jr., CEO, Emeritus BAMSI, Portsmouth

Guns aren’t the problem

“Never let a good tragedy go to waste!” This has been the motto of anti-firearms extremists since the last century. In the wake of the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings we can, therefore, expect to be barraged with emotional but less than insightful tirades by their representatives crying: “We have to do something!” Of course, that “something” is to adopt their billionaire sponsor’s political agenda to negate the Second Amendment and eventually the First, an agenda also supported by a government that that seems to want ever more control of our lives.

But, more gun-control laws don’t work, as proven by the fact that New York State has nearly every gun-control scheme ever devised, all with empty promises that by giving up some rights we’ll be safer.

What does work? Making our schools more like prisons and putting our faith in NO FIREARMS signs? The criminally insane will always be hidden among us. They laugh at the signs and will find a way in. When they do, law enforcement studies indicate that a life is lost every 14 seconds. Waiting for police to arrive, given even the best response time, is a poor solution. Faced with news of such a horrific event, the first question you should ask is: How many teachers and school staff were armed and could respond immediately to neutralize the assassin? None? Why?

Voluntary, legal, concealed carry by responsible, well trained parents, teachers and staff has proven the best protection possible, contrary to the anti-firearms extremist’s list of fears and accidents, both real and imagined. In fact, the state of Rhode Island allowed legal concealed carry in schools for decades with no problems. Understandably, not all parents, teachers or staff wished to take on this responsibility. Those who did were known only to a few so that a would-be mass murderer would never know where they were or when they were on site. Teachers who did, generally adopted the intention to barricade their doors and stay put to defend those in the classroom rather than searching for the intruder. It’s interesting that, when word leaked out of their intended tactic, how many parents quietly demanded their children be assigned to these teachers.

If you want this final layer of protection to be reinstated, contact your local state representatives. And if they voted to have it removed, tell them your child’s life is at stake, just like your vote at the next election. Guns aren’t the problem.

Scott McCarthy, Tiverton