Basic Government Functions

Construction workers reviewing a site

Expensive Statistical Analysis Doesn’t Justify the Systemic Discrimination of the State

By Justin Katz | July 30, 2021 |

Introducing discrimination into state contracting based on “equity” demands will create dreams deferred.

Map of best and worst run U.S. cities

Where Providence is run poorly is where it matters (and Warwick, too).

By Justin Katz | June 25, 2021 |

On first look, Rhode Islanders might not be inclined to despair that our capital city ranks 89 among 150 cities reviewed for on the WalletHub list of “2021’s Best- & Worst-Run Cities in America.”  Our state has been run so poorly for so long that being (roughly) middle-of-the-pack on a list is something of a…

A streetlight

The state is finally going to start paying for streetlights on its own roads.

By Justin Katz | June 17, 2021 |

One long-time wish list item from Rhode Island cities and towns has been for the state to start taking ownership of the fixtures that illuminate roads the state owns, and it is now doing so.  Of course, with new lighting technology, the savings to municipalities won’t be huge by local-budget standards (averaging a little more…


Lincoln’s lowering standards for police officers is a trend worth watching.

By Justin Katz | May 20, 2021 |

If the development on which Nicole Dotzenrod reports for the Valley Breeze begins appearing in other communities, it could be a sign of a worrying trend.  In the town’s most-recent hiring effort, five applicants met the minimum standards, one chose a different career path, another didn’t pass the interview and background check, and one rejected policing…

Mark Zaccaria on Rhody Reporter

Rhode Island municipalities probably aren’t prepared for escalating cyber crime.

By Justin Katz | May 19, 2021 |

Mark Zaccaria argues, for Rhody Reporter, that local officials should start getting used to having a line item for cyber-security as more and more of their activities move online. Of course, it would be nice if the costs of new technology could be offset (and then some) by the savings in labor and productivity that high-tech…

Mike Stenhouse and Ken Block

There’s a direct connection between unreasonable costs for government and unreasonable taxation.

By Justin Katz | May 13, 2021 |

On his In the Dugout show, yesterday, Mike Stenhouse implicitly made that connection.  On the one hand, Ken Block was on the show to talk about firefighter overtime abuse in Warwick, while on the other hand, pollster Jim Eltringham addressed public opinion on a proposed Transportation & Climate Initiative gas tax.  Stenhouse also leveraged his baseball connections…

A mailbox

Why is Rhode Island so often on “ten worst” lists?

By Justin Katz | May 3, 2021 |

The Foundation for Government Accountability has published a short report titled, “Top 10 Examples of Outrageous Unemployment Fraud in 2020 — And How to Fix It.”  Most of the blurbs concern specific fraud rings or techniques, but Rhode Island’s entry is more general: Ocean State Drowns in Fraud As recently as October 2020, Rhode Island…

A room with pealing paint

Watch out for attempts to resell you, for more money, what you’ve already paid for.

By Justin Katz | April 29, 2021 |

A line from Joe Biden’s speech yesterday should be a discussion point about how we look at public policy and at education.  Eric Quintanar highlighted it for the Daily Wire: “Twelve years is no longer enough today to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century. That’s why my American Families Plan guarantees…

Tax Foundation infrastructure user fees map

The problem with user fees (for RI) is that direct and comprehensible spending thwarts grift.

By Justin Katz | April 26, 2021 |

How about a fun, wonky post?  The featured image that you see is a Tax Foundation map ranking states by the percentage of their infrastructure spending that is funded by user fees.  In the Tax Foundation’s views, higher user fees are preferable: Both the federal government and the states raise revenue for infrastructure spending through…

Monkey hear no, see no, speak no evil statues

Politics This Week with John DePetro: Many Ways to Ignore Core Problems

By Justin Katz | April 19, 2021 |

For their weekly conversation, John DePetro and Justin Katz discuss Governor Daniel McKee avoiding the underlying problems at Zambarano, the media ignoring the underlying violence of BLM rallies, Providence ignoring the underlying issues with public safety, and the implications of fundraising results from Congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline.

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