The Ocean State Current Launches its “Election Waves” Interview and Debate Series

Launch of “Election Waves” Interview and Debate Series
Candidates for Coventry School Committee Special Election Featured

Ron St. Pierre and Ken Block headline debate moderators

Cranston, RI – Which candidates are making waves in the Ocean State? The nonpartisan Ocean State Current announced today that it will broadcast the first of its series of Election Waves interviews and debates tonight at 7:00 PM EST at OceanStateCurrent.com/CoventryD1.

Featured this evening will be the Coventry District-1 School Committee May 3 Special Election. Candidates Ana Isabel dos Reis-Couto and Bethany Chatterley join Mike Stenhouse for back-to-back 1-on-1 interviews on a special election-year version of his popular In The Dugout podcast.

The goal of Election Waves is to encourage more informed participation by citizens in the upcoming election process.

Former radio personality and station executive Ron St. Pierre will anchor the debate moderator team and will be regularly joined by:

  • Moderate Party founder and former gubernatorial candidate Ken Block
  • Former Democratic State Representative Thomas Palangio
  • Former Republican State Representative Anthony Giarrusso

Mike Stenhouse will conduct 1-on-1 interviews on his In The Dugout video podcast.

The Current believes candidates for public office deserve an opportunity to inform voters of their policy positions. An open invitation is extended to all federal, state, General Assembly, and school committee candidates; interested candidates can request an interview by sending an email to OceanStateCurrent@RIFreedom.org from the email address listed on their official Board of Elections filing.

In order to comply with IRS tax-exempt nonprofit guidelines, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity (operator of The Ocean State Current) will remain impartial and nonpartisan when it comes to candidates and elections. The Center and The Current never support or oppose any political candidate.

For more information on The Current’s Election Waves policies, go to OceanStateCurrent.com/ElectionWaves.

Only on The Current. The Ocean State Current is rapidly becoming the trusted source for issues that are important to Rhode Island families at OceanStateCurrent.com 

With one of the most technologically advanced websites in the industry, The Current offers text-to-audio translation for posts for easy mobile listening, automatically pulls posts from select content partners, features an advanced and easy search capacity, and displays a unique Watch, Read, and Listen layout.

Center Signs-On to Coalition Letter to Decouple RI from California’s Oppressive Emissions Policies

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has signed-on to a regional coalition letter to protest California’s extreme and influential carbon emissions policies, along with 28 other organizations. On March 10, the Center’s CEO participated in a press conference with other coalition partners from New England.

READ THE REGIOINAL COALITION LETTER – Click Here

Most Rhode Islanders do not realize, in addition to the costly and non-productive ‘green’ policies imposed upon them by state and federal lawmakers, that the Ocean State, along with 15 other states, is also beholden to enact emissions policies enacted by California.

At specific issue, is a California ban of the sale of vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE), which Rhode Island must statutorily also adopt, which would dramatically drive up the cost of personal automobiles. As such, given the soaring energy costs across America, the regional coalition is recommending that member states work to “decouple” themselves from California’s increasingly oppressive and irrational policies.

The Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse, published an opinion piece representing many of the arguments put forth in the coalition letter, along with a link to the letter.

Have Teacher Unions in Rhode Island Been Unlawfully Collecting Dues for Years?

 

Government officials take an oath of office to preserve the constitutional rights of their constituents. However, in Rhode Island, school board officials who approved agreements with special-interest public employee unions have effectively hidden those rights from their employees via unconstitutional collective bargaining provisions that are in direct defiance of the Supreme Court Of the United States (SCOTUS).

In 2018, the highest court in America ruled that public employees must retain power over their own paychecks. Yet, since then, many government unions in Rhode Island may have unlawfully collected dues from employees by propagating misleading language that overtly shields them from knowledge of their rights.

The landmark June 2018 US Supreme Court decision in the Janus v AFSCME case opened the door to worker freedom in America. But some of the old political machines were taken aback, especially government employee unions at the state and local level. SCOTUS ruled that no longer could a public employee be mandated to pay union “dues”, “Association fees”, “agency fees”, or “shop fees” as a condition of their employment.

Under the weight of this ruling, most public employee unions across the country, reluctantly realizing the great financial and legal risk of non-compliance, immediately amended their policies and subsequent contract agreements to comply with the new law … such that any dues payments could only be collected once the employee affirmatively provided clear authorization … but not so for many unions in Rhode Island.

According to the Mackinac Center in Michigan, one of nation’s top legal and public policy experts when it comes to government unions, Rhode Island’s rate of non-compliance with the Janus ruling looks to be among the highest in the country. The extent to which blatantly anti-Janus-constitutional provisions still exist in many teacher union Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) is alarming.

An initial review of about three dozen collective bargaining agreements with local school districts in Rhode Island reveals an alarming number – eleven (more than 1 in 4) – that were signed or put into effect after the Janus ruling, contained dues or fees mandate provisions that clearly defy the Supreme Court’s ruling … provisions that are legally unenforceable.

Types of language clearly violating the Janus Supreme Court ruling that were found in the eleven Rhode Island CBAs with local chapters of the NEA, AFT, AFL-CIO, and AFSCME … unlawful provisions that remained in effect for years after 2018 … can be summarized as including passages that:

  • Require automatic deduction of dues or fees from employee paychecks without their expressed consent
  • Require payment of dues or fees as a condition of employment
  • Limit the union opt-out time-window for employees

The table below summarizes the unlawful language of offending school districts (supporting details appear as an Appendix at the end of this report:)

As an example of what a properly worded CBA should look like, post-Janus, we look to provisions in the agreement between the Glocester K-5 school district and the Glocester Teachers’ Association for the time period July 2019 to June 2022:

The Glocester school district maintained the above Articles 20 and 21, post-Janus, but appropriately REMOVED the following provision that appeared in the district’s pre-Janus CBA:

As national examples of how post-Janus federal court cases compelled government unions to appropriately modify their dues/fees collection policies, what follows is language from two related US Third Circuit cases:

LaSpina v. SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, 985 F.3d 278, 282 (3rd Cir. 2021). After the Supreme Court decided Janus, the Union abandoned its agency-fee setup. The day the Court issued its decision, Steve Catanese, president of SEIU Local 668, wrote to Jack Finnerty of the Scranton Public Library “that the Supreme Court has ruled in Janus” and has “held public-sector employers may no longer deduct agency fees from non-consenting employees.” Supp. App. 69. Catanese’s letter instructed Finnerty to, “effective immediately, please discontinue fair-share fee deductions.” Id. (emphasis in original).

“Therefore, under Janus I, Pennsylvania’s public sector agency shop law was no longer constitutional.” Diamond v. Pennsylvania Educ. Ass’n, 972 F.3d 262, 268 (3rd Cir. 2020). Circuit law directly on point.

Other Supreme Court precedent illustrates what must be done to demonstrate employee consent. The Court has ruled that, to demonstrate consent to a waiver of constitutional rights, there must be evidence that the waiver is a “knowing, intelligent act … done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences.” Brady v United States, 397 U.S. 742, 748 (1970). “It must also be done with “a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it.” Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 421,421 (1986) …

Per the SCOTUS ruling, before employees can consent to financially supporting a public sector union, they must know both what their rights are and the consequences of waiving those rights.

Yet, not every school district in Rhode Island was as careful to follow the law as was Glocester, as many districts continued to allow overtly unconstitutional language to remain in their post-Janus CBAs, without providing employees with the required notification of their rights.

One of the most blatant examples of such an unconstitutional provision appears in the September 2018 Westerly Teachers’ Association CBA:

How did this happen? Elected school committee members were either complicit with teacher unions in allowing such “unlawful” language to remain, or they were unwitting victims of malfeasance or ill-advice by their school committee solicitors, who are highly paid to provide accurate legal guidance.

The fact is, that for over three years, many teachers and other school district staff in Rhode Island may have been fraudulently deceived into paying union dues or association fees because of the unconstitutional language in their respective CBAs. These employees likely had dues automatically deducted from their paychecks without ever understanding that their First Amendment rights – that they could not be forced to pay part of their paycheck to their union – had been restored in 2018.

Indeed, as compared with opt-out rates nationally, Rhode Island teachers and other public employees are choosing to “opt-out” of paying union dues at rates far lower than their counterparts in other states. While states like California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are seeing more than 15% of workers opt out of paying money to their unions, we estimate that less than 5% of Rhode Island union members have opted out. Now, we may know why.

In the majority Supreme Court decision in 2018, Justice Alito was noted that billions of dollars were likely collected by government unions nationwide in recent decades. Much of this money came from employees who never wanted to pay union dues in the first place but were forced to, because of prior legal precedent.

However, over the past three and a half years, Rhode Island unions may have similarly, yet unlawfully, collected millions of dollars in dues from employees who may have chosen to opt-out … had they not been deceived by clearly unconstitutional language.

Obvious questions must be asked, including:

  • How many teachers and school staff would not have paid union dues if they had been appropriately advised of their rights? How much money was fraudulently collected by unions?
  • Why do so man teacher union CBAs in Rhode Island contain such unconstitutional language? 
  • Why did Rhode Island school committees and teacher unions engage in such non-compliance so much more than any other state?
  • Did school committee members knowingly turn a blind eye towards this malfeasance, or were they completely ignorant of these obvious violations?
  • How can high-paid school committee solicitors allow such obviously unconstitutional language to be included in recent CBAs?
  • Is anything comparable to this level of unconstitutionality occurring in non-teacher public employee CBA contracts in Rhode Island?

Why in some cases, does the AFSCME CBA have proper language regarding dues and fees, while the teacher contract over the same period in the same school district has unconstitutional language?

The main question this report raises … is whether or not certain public teacher unions in Rhode Island conspired to illicitly collect union dues from unwitting teachers and staff?

This is not the first time that a government entity in Rhode Island has exhibited such blatant defiance of the US Supreme Court’s Janus decision. In 2018, our Center’s MyPayMySayRI.com campaign triggered a public letter of warning from then Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, after our outreach initiative sought to educate government workers about their restored Janus rights. The letter from Rhode Island’s highest law enforcement official contained numerous unsubstantiated, unspecified, and false assertions of “misinformation” being put forth by our RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, such as the bogus claim that we were mis-informing public employees of their rights not to join or pay union dues or fees.

Then, as now, the pattern of government officials in Rhode Island conducting the bidding of public sector unions – at both the state and local level – even to the extent of seeking to obfuscate the constitutional rights of its members … runs directly contrary to the public oaths they took upon entering office.

A review of non-school district CBAs will soon be conducted by the Center.

The following Appendix lists images the actual passages from post-Janus teacher-union CBAs in Rhode Island that contain language that does not comply with the US Supreme Court’s Janus ruling.


APPENDIX

Rhode Island School Districts with Unconstitutional Collective Bargaining Provisions

 

Burrillville: NEA Contract Period: September 2021-2024

Page-40: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=YnNkLXJpLm5ldHxob21lfGd4Ojc1NTMwZjU2M2U5MDhiMQ

Page-5: https://core-docs.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/asset/uploaded_file/236104/CF_CBA_18-21_FINAL_FORM.pdf 

Foster-Glocester: NEA Contract Period 2020-2023

Page-29: http://www.fg.k12.ri.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=9841126

Johnston: AFL-CIO Local 808 Contract period 2017-2020, extended in 2020 by the school district

Pages 4-5: https://www.johnstonschools.org/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=20171014

June 2020 Johnston School District Minutes

 

Lincoln: AFSCME Contract Period September 2018-2021

Page-4: https://www.lincolnps.org/cms/lib/RI50000681/Centricity/Domain/44/L2671-contract-2018-2021-02-07-19-FINAL.pdf

New Shoreham: AFSCME Contract Period 2019-2022

Page-2: https://4.files.edl.io/4ef8/11/15/19/153226-ac2437cb-2ef2-43d3-8fb7-ab0bbf4cb0cf.pdf

North Smithfield: NEA Contract Period 2021-24

Page-6: NSTA Collective Bargaining Agreement

Portsmouth: AFSCME Contract Period September 2018-2021
Page-2:

https://core-docs.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/asset/uploaded_file/1355692/Council_94_Contract_7.1.18_-_7.30.21.pdf

Tiverton: NEA Contract Period; 2019 –

Page-9: http://www.tivertonschools.org/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=8558123

Westerly: NEA Contract Period September 2018-2021

Page-5: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1V6e4ChNvhLkp6-Y0zqPUdieauxOzAMvm/view

West Warwick: AFT Contract Period September 2018-2023

Page-21: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NdyhtJYJb0SibVVm0BXmthzTkehxDtjU/view

The Scientific Truth About Mask Mandates

Fourteen Randomized, Controlled Trials of Community Masking, Published 2008 to 2021, Are Uniformly Negative, and Underscore the Punitive, Anti-Scientific Futility of Public Mask Mandates

By Dr. Andrew Bostom

Background

In August of 2021, the State of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Department of Health implemented a school mask mandate which will extend at least into January of 2022. Subsequently, there has been much public debate and outcry about the wisdom and motives behind this heavy-handed policy, including a lawsuit brought by concerned parents.

In a November 2021 Superior Court ruling in the State of Rhode Island, presented with scientific evidence and after hearing testimony from parents, the trial judge found that the prolonged masking of children over the course of a school day caused “irreparable harm” for the children in the state who were forced to wear masks.1

Yet, despite overwhelming research against the , still, by early February of 2022, at the time of this post, Rhode Island’s school mask mandate was still in effect – even as, in recent weeks, Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and Oregon announced they would be ending their mandates.

Worse, on February 8, House and Senate committees in the Rhode Island General Assembly advanced legislation that would allow school mask mandates to be remain in place through the end of March by extending the Governor’s emergency executive powers.

Back in August, the State cited vague guidance by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the basis for imposing this mandate, yet history and the most credible studies do not support a policy of universal masking within designated communities.

Between 2008-2020, thirteen negative randomized controlled trials (the gold-standard for studies of medical interventions) on masking were published.2-5 These studies conducted among ~18,000 persons, worldwide, all indicated that masking does not reduce community respiratory virus transmission.

Conversely, the most prominent study that the CDC cited to support its call for the continued masking of children aged 2 and older in school, was not a randomized, controlled trial, had serious design flaws, and may have included factitious data.6

Gold Standard Studies

In our era, randomized, controlled trials have shown, uniformly that face masks are not effective against respiratory virus outbreaks, or epidemics. But with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and increasing political pressure, suddenly studies appeared claiming the opposite. In reality, none of these studies were of the gold standard caliber; instead a mixture of confounded observational data, unrealistic modelling and laboratory results, and possible fraud.

Taking a look at more credible ‘gold standard’ designs, ten negative studies, focusing primarily on influenza, 2008 to 2016, were “meta-analyzed” [their data “pooled”], confirming the individual negative results.3 Independently validating these pooled findings are the results from a single large randomized controlled trial of masking among another cohort of Hajj pilgrims whose enrollment [n=6338] equaled the sum enrollment of all the 10 studies in the May, 2020 “meta-analysis.” Published online in mid-October, 2020, this “cluster randomized” (i.e., by tent) controlled trial confirmed mask usage did not reduce the incidence of clinically defined, or laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infections, primarily influenza and/or rhinovirus. Indeed, there was a suggestion masking increased laboratory-confirmed infections by 40%, although this trend was not “statistically significant.”4

Subsequently, Danish investigators published the results during mid-November, 2020 of a randomized, controlled study conducted in 4862 persons which found that masking did not reduce SARS-CoV-2 (covid-19) infection rates to a statistically significant, or clinically relevant extent.  Covid-19 infections (detected by laboratory testing or hospital diagnosis) occurred among 1.8% of those assigned masks, versus 2.1% in control participants. Moreover, a secondary analysis including only participants who reported wearing face masks “exactly as instructed,” revealed a further narrowing of this non-significant, clinically meaningless infection rate “difference” to 0.1%, i.e., 2.0% in mask wearers versus 2.1% in controls.5

Finally, a vast (n=342,000) Bangladesh randomized trial of community masking, reported 8/31/21 as preprint, found cloth masks did not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections. Odd, contradictory findings were described regarding surgical masks: they conferred a minimal, clinically irrelevant overall absolute risk reduction of 0.09%, which was somehow selectively limited only to those over 50 years old.7 However, a re-analysis of the raw data using appropriate statistical methods, found no evidence of benefit of paper masks either, in any subgroup.8

In aggregate from 2008 through August 2021, these fourteen negative randomized controlled trials of community masking for the prevention of respiratory viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2,2-5,7,8 underscore the punitive, anti-scientific fecklessness of public mask mandates

Dr. Andrew Bostom, an adjunct scholar to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is an academic internist, clinical trialist, and epidemiologist. Dr, Bostom was academic faculty for 24-years at Brown University Medical School, and remains affiliated with the Brown University Center For Primary Care and Prevention of Kent-Memorial Hospital.

References

1) https://www.abc6.com/content/uploads/2021/11/h/b/PC-2021-5915-decision-mask-mandate.pdf

2) “Surgical Mask to Prevent Influenza Transmission in Households: A Cluster Randomized Trial.”

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0013998

3) “Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures” https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article

4) “Facemask against viral respiratory infections among Hajj pilgrims: A challenging cluster randomized trial” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7553311/pdf/pone.0240287.pdf

5) “Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers”

https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/full/10.7326/M20-6817

6) ““The CDC’s Flawed Case for Wearing Masks in School” https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/12/mask-guidelines-cdc-walensky/621035/

7) “The Impact of Community Masking on COVID-19: A Cluster-Randomized Trial in Bangladesh”

https://www.poverty-action.org/sites/default/files/publications/Mask_RCT____Symptomatic_Seropositivity_083121.pdf

8) “A note on sampling biases in the Bangladesh mask trial.” https://arxiv.org/abs/2112.01296

 

 

 

 

 

 

Center’s Chairman Files Federal Lawsuit to Overturn State of RI Ban on Caring for His Patients

Dr. Skoly Files Federal Lawsuit
Complaint alleges that the State’s actions barring him from caring for his patients are unconstitutional, irrational, arbitrary, and vindictive

Cranston, RI – Dr. Stephen Skoly and his legal team today filed a lawsuit in federal court against defendants Governor Daniel McKee and Nicole Alexander-Scott, the outgoing Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), seeking an order to enjoin the State from barring him from caring for his patients as well as a restraining order that would immediately restore his right to continue his practice.

Dr. Skoly, Chairman of the RI Center for Freedom of Prosperity and a highly respected oral and maxillofacial surgeon who regularly provided service to those institutionalized by the State, was ordered by RIDOH on October 1, 2021 to cease providing his critical surgical care to patients, after his request for a medical exemption for the Covid-19 vaccine was denied.

The official complaint was prepared by attorney Brian Rosner, Senior Litigation Counsel for the nationally renowned and Washington, DC based New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) and was filed today in the United States District Court for Rhode Island by local attorney Gregory Piccirilli.

“After four months of being forced out of work, I still held out some hope that all mandates might come to an end in mid February. But now, with Rhode Island’s Speaker of the House and Senate President openly planning with Governor McKee to extend his executive orders and unilateral powers for at least another two months … I am left with no choice but to file this lawsuit,” exclaimed Skoly, who for 18 months of the pandemic safely cared for his patients.

At a special breaking news event, Rosner and Skoly will address the public and the media live today at 4:00 PM virtually on The Ocean State Current in a hybrid press-conference/interview format, hosted by the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse.

The 34-page complaint puts forth two primary arguments for the Court to consider:

First, the complaint claims that Dr. Skoly’s “equal protection” and “due process” rights were violated, under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which states that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In Dr. Skoly’s case, the State of Rhode Island has awarded hundreds of related exemptions to various healthcare professionals, while simultaneously denying Dr. Skoly equal consideration and failing to provide the legal due process that he is entitled to.

Second, the complaint cites that it was an “irrational and arbitrary move” for RIDOH to deny Dr. Skoly’s valid request for a medical exemption. The complaint not only documents Dr. Skoly’s naturally acquired immunity and antibody testing, but also his personal medical history of suffering from Bell’s Palsy facial paralysis, a condition that has scientifically been demonstrated to be associated with the Covid-19 vaccine … and where at least fifteen such cases have been reported in Rhode Island. Risking re-activation of such paralysis in order to continue his medical practice is repeatedly cited in the complaint as an irrational demand by the State of Rhode Island, which has caused “hardship and suffering to hundreds of Rhode Islanders” who are denied care by Dr. Skoly.

In advancing its “equal protection” argument, the complaint discusses how N95 masking has essentially been designated by the State as an acceptable alternative to vaccination. Dr. Skoly, who has agreed to comply with required testing and masking protocols, presents no more risk to patients than the hundreds and thousands of other healthcare workers, vaccinated or not, infected or not, who are currently allowed to care for patients under those same protocols. The complaint continues that the State, in allowing masked and “infected” workers to retain their livelihoods, while barring (infection-free) Dr. Skoly from practicing his profession, is guilty of an “arbitrary and capricious distinction” that “denies Dr. Skoly the equal protection of the law” .. an “action that has the appearance of being vindictive.”

Sources have informed the Center that RIDOH staff have privately admitted that Dr. Skoly was being made an example of, in part, because of his association with “that conservative organization” … as Chairman of our RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

Supporting Dr. Skoly’s position, and included in the filing, are over a dozen affidavits from local medical professionals, including statements from multiple national experts on Bell’s Palsy and Covid-19, as well as citation of recent findings from the CDC and updated policies from other countries.

Also, to date, about 4000 emails have been delivered to state officials via an online petition whereby concerned citizens and can #StandWithDocSkoly . The petition, plus related documentation and links can be found on the Center’s website at RIFreedom.org/DocSkoly.

RIDOH

McKee Must Remake RI DOH in a New Image

Why Governor McKee Must Completely Remake RI DOH
With Someone Like Dr. Andrew Bostom, Who Got It Right All Along?

Cranston, RI – The departure of two top executives from the RI Department of Health (RI DOH), and with more resignations expected to follow, Governor Dan McKee should not seek to rebuild the failed health organization in the same image, according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

In a detailed opinion piece (Remake RI DOH) published over the weekend on The Ocean State Current, the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse, chronicled the many failures and shortcomings of the RI DOH strategy from the very start of Covid-19; a politically-driven strategy that failed to take a comprehensive approach to managing the pandemic in the Ocean State.

As opposed to the status quo replacements that will likely be put forth, health professionals who continually got it wrong by denying the science, who instead succumbed to political and public pressure from the left, and who arbitrarily pushed for un-necessary lockdown measures, the Center recommends, conversely, that medical experts with a successful track record be newly installed at RI DOH.

Indeed, there have been few medical professionals who have dared to publicly challenge the government’s false narrative, who conducted their own independent thorough and open-minded research of the available Covid-19 studies and trials, and who demonstrated a proven track record of accurately interpreting the data and advocating for a more effective public policy strategy. It is this kind of health expert that should provide the foundation for the re-building of the new RI DOH.

Rhode Islanders would benefit greatly from someone like Dr. Andrew Bostom, a Brown University credentialed epidemiologist and adjunct scholar to the Center, who should be a central part of Rhode Island’s new health administration. Bostom, who gained statewide public trust and a large following from his weekly appearances on the popular internet show, In The Dugout with Mike Stenhouse; and who repeatedly and accurately foretold of issues related to various pandemic-related treatments and policies.

“Someone like Dr. Bostom, who often was many months ahead of the curve in boldly speaking out about what was allowed to be stated publicly and that we now know as fact; someone who continually and correctly analyzed emerging research data from across the globe; someone who was un-deterred by the cancel-culture that tried to silence him; someone with an appropriately open-minded and academic approach; and someone who ultimately was proven to be correct in virtually everything that he discussed on my show … that is the exact kind of someone who would bring a successful approach that is so obviously needed at the RI DOH,” advised Stenhouse.

The Center recognizes the enormous challenge that Covid-19 presented public health officials worldwide. This is why the RI DOH requires a new culture that will consider a comprehensive range of science-driven counter-measures for this and future public health challenges, as opposed to the narrow one-size-fits all approach that has dominated our state’s health department. Ocean Staters can enjoy far greater health and economic protections if the next administration at the RI DOH adopts a strategy that is on-mark, effective, and appropriate for a free society.

Analysis of research data performed by Dr. Andrew Bostom Natural Immunity Should be Included as a Vaccine Exemption.

Ashish Jha’s Improper Comparison of Pediatric Polio and Covid-19 Vaccinations

by Andrew Bostom, M.D., M.S., and Michelle Cretella, M.D.

Within 10 days of the 11/2/21 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) interim recommendation for use of Pfizer’s covid-19 mRNA vaccine in children aged 5-11 years old, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, Dr. Ashish Jha claimed in an 11/11/21 Washington Post oped.

  • “If today’s misinformation, politicization and anti-vaccine sentiment existed in the United States in the 1950s, would the polio vaccine have received the same level of uptake?”

Hard data on childhood polio versus covid-19 disease severity, and direct juxtaposition of the polio and covid-19 vaccine trials, reveals a very different reality.

A 1957 JAMA publication analyzed polio mortality between 1915 and 1954 in U.S. children aged up to 14 years old, prior to mass polio vaccination efforts. Despite a steady decline due to the expanding development of natural immunity, the average polio death rate among these children, including the major outbreaks, was an alarming 5.7%. Rhode Island, through October 31st in 1953, alone, recorded 289 clinical pediatric polio cases, with 15 deaths, a 5.2% fatality rate.

These data stand in stark contrast to the near zero childhood covid-19 mortality, overall, and perhaps literally zero, among children free of chronic comorbidity. Rhode Island has had zero primary cause pediatric covid-19 deaths, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, per its recording system, maintains, “In states reporting, 0.00%-0.03% of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in death.” An elegant study from a national database in Germany reported concordant findings, noting,

  • “The lowest risk was observed in children aged 5-11 without comorbidities. In this group, the ICU admission rate was 0.2 per 10,000 (2 per 100,000) and case fatality could not be calculated, due to an absence of cases”

Dr. Vinay Prasad’s pellucid commentary on the German analysis, referenced these additional salient data:

  • For healthy kids, the risk of death is 3 per 1,000,000 with no deaths reported in kids older than 5.
  • Kids 5 to 11 have a risk of going to the ICU of 2 in 100,000; 0 died.
  • Among kids who died of COVID-19, 38% were already on palliative/ hospice care.

Juxtaposing the polio and covid-19 pediatric vaccine trials highlights consistent, equally glaring discordances.

The controlled (both placebo and observational controls) 1954 polio vaccine field trial recruited ~1.83 million total children, with ~1.35 million in the paralytic polio analysis. Pfizer’s Covid-19 mRNA vaccine randomized, controlled trial in 5 to 11 year-olds enrolled ~2300.

516 total cases of paralytic polio accumulated in the 1954 polio field trial, and vaccination reduced its incidence by 71.1% and 62.4%, relative to the placebo and observational-control groups, respectively. The Pfizer covid-19 vaccine randomized, placebo-controlled trial in 5 to 11 year-olds recorded zero cases of severe covid-19, despite recruiting ~20% with comorbidities. Covid-19 vaccination did reduce mildly symptomatic, covid-19 by “90.7%,” based on “3 cases in the BNT162b2 group and 16 cases in the placebo group (noting the 2:1 randomization of vaccine: placebo)”. Additionally, “No cases of COVID-19 were observed in either the vaccine group or the placebo group in participants with evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

 In summary, the 1954 polio vaccine trial for an order of magnitude more lethal, and crippling childhood disease than covid-19, assessed ~650-fold the number of children evaluated in Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine trial. Polio vaccination in the 1954 trial prevented 374 cases of paralytic polio. Covid-19 vaccination in Pfizer’s trial prevented 13 cases equivalent to self-limited colds. Moreover, notwithstanding overwrought concerns about pediatric “long covid,” a December, 2021 Pediatric Infectious Diseases Journal review of 14 studies of this ostensible syndrome, concluded,

  • Evidence for long COVID in children and adolescents is limited, and all studies to date have substantial limitations or do not show a difference between children who had been infected by SARS-CoV-2 and those who were not.

 Dr. Jha’s comparison equating pediatric polio and covid-19 vaccination does not pass muster. Informed, dissenting medical opinions leery of mass, indiscriminate childhood covid-19 vaccination campaigns, should not be vilified.

Andrew Bostom, M.D. MS, is an adjunct scholar to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. He is an academic clinical trialist and epidemiologist, who is currently a Research Physician at the Brown University Center For Primary Care and Prevention of Kent-Memorial Hospital in Rhode Island.

Michelle Cretella, M.D., is Executive Director of the American College of Pediatricians. She is a Rhode Islander who practiced pediatrics with a special interest in behavioral health for 15 years. 

RI Must Throw In The Towel after MA Governor Baker Rejects the TCI Gas Tax

Time for RI Governor & Speaker to Admit Defeat
Governor Baker’s Departure from TCI Dooms the Regional Compact

Providence, RI – On Thursday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker followed the surrender to reality by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont earlier this week by publicly divorcing themselves from the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) gas tax. The rejection of TCI by the powerful two New England Governors leaves Rhode Island as the only state among the original 14 states that is still considering imposing a crushing fuel tax on motorists.

Despite the rejection by Baker, a founding member and primary driver of this plan to systematically restrict the supply of gasoline, Ocean State Governor Dan McKee and Speaker of the House Joseph Shekarchi are still on record as supporting the TCI gasoline cap-and-trade scheme.

“It’s time for the Governor and Speaker to throw in the towel and admit defeat. In no reality-based scenario could any politician support a unilateral major gas tax hike in the coming election year, especially given the historically high gas prices that we are already seeing due to misguided energy policies advanced by climate alarmists,” suggested Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. “The defeat of TCI is a tremendous victory for the 14-state #NoTCItax coalition we are part of, which has been fighting against this job-killing initiative for many years.”

Motorists are encourage to take action and to say no the the TCI Gas Tax here.

Such a highly highly regressive gas tax, and the projected $1200 per family cost, according to research and a poll conducted by the Center, are highly unpopular among the public. A petition opposing TCI has already generated over 14,500 emails to state lawmakers.

This past March, the Center unilaterally called on McKee to withdraw from TCI. The state Senate passed enabling legislation last spring, but the House did not take up the measure. A May open letter to the Governor by the Center, listing 12 coalition signatories and a range of reasons not to join the TCI compact, can be found on the Center’s website, here.

General Assembly to Blame for Children Suffering Irreparable Harm?

Southwell v. McKee Court Ruling Puts Onus on Lawmakers

While Children Suffer, General Assembly Does Nothing

Parents Demand House Speaker & Senate President Engage

Cranston, RI – “The court finds children are suffering … irreparable harm … physical and emotional … with potential long-term medical problems … with the mask mandate.”

These were just some of the chilling findings by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Lanphear in his ruling this past Friday, even though he denied the parent-plaintiffs the temporary restraining order they sought to end school mask mandates in their Southwell v. McKee lawsuit.

Yet for the entirety of the pandemic, General Assembly leaders have been AWOL, allowing this harm to children, as well as considerable other economic and constitutional harms, to continue unchecked and in the shadows.

In speaking for the 34 plaintiff parents, and for all concerned parents, lead plaintiff, Richard Southwell, said, “As does every parent in this state, we are concerned with the well-being of our children. We strongly disagree with the judge’s opinion that the State’s claimed risks associated with spread among unmasked children in any way outweigh the problems our children are actually suffering. The public needs to hear what we heard in court,” continued Southwell, who, along with other parents, will be guests of Mike Stenhouse on his popular In The Dugout show at 4:00 pm today at OceanStateCurrent.com/LIVE .

In ruling against the plaintiffs, the judge essentially ruled that it is not within the purview of the court to over-rule a “political” policy that does not clearly violate a constitutional right. Such a decision, the judge wrote, is a “question left to the legislative and executive branches of government.”

“In light of these deeply troubling findings, the General Assembly no longer has the luxury of watching from the sidelines. Your direct and immediate action on this issue is required. There can be no delays. There can be no more excuses,” pleaded Southwell.

For 18 months, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has called on the General Assembly to come out from hiding and restore more balanced governance and transparent debate during the pandemic.

In August, 32 legislators, likewise concerned, signed a letter to the Governor calling for an end to the mask mandate, while threatening legislative action if he did not, a power statutorily granted to the General Assembly. However, legislative leaders quickly shut down any follow-up mutiny and continued to refuse to show any leadership on behalf of the public they serve.

With these stunning findings of pediatric harm confirmed by the court, the suffering of Ocean State students must be addressed forthright: The Center calls upon General Assembly leaders to immediately convene hearings to determine if school mask mandates and other ’emergency executive orders’ should be contravened by concurrent resolution.

“Who is really running this state? Elected officials – the Governor, Senators, and Representatives … or unelected ideologues at the RI Department of Health,” cynically asked Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Through their inaction, Speaker of the House Shekarchi and Senate President Ruggerio obviously do not want the responsibility of governing over pandemic related policies … but the judge was right, this is their job … and it’s high time they show some courage and get to work for the people. It is their duty to hold public hearings whereby all of the facts and issues can be openly debated. For too long, the Governor and RIDOH have ruled unchecked and without necessary public scrutiny.”

Earlier this morning in an email, Southwell invited Shekarchi and Ruggerio to meet with his parent group Wednesday evening, however, thus far, there has been no response.

Decisive evidence presented during the October trial, as well as the overwhelming body of national and international research, clearly show that there is no medical justification for masking children over prolonged periods of time. The Center maintains that this important information must be presented, debated, and assessed transparently in a public hearing that only the General Assembly can credibly hold.

Doc Skoly’s Patient Ban Indefinitely Continued after Sham Hearing

Doc Skoly Ban on Seeing Patients Indefinitely Continued

Unchecked RIDOH Power over Governor McKee Reaches Crisis Level

Dr. Skoly will conduct an exclusive interview on In The Dugout at 3:00 PM

Cranston, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has once again exerted its power over Governor McKee when it pressured a Department of Administration (DOA) hearing officer into ruling late yesterday that the original RIDOH compliance order – that banned Dr. Stephen Skoly from providing critical care to patients – should be continued indefinitely.

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity publicly decries the hearing officer’s ruling as more evidence of the unconstitutional, unchecked, and non-science based ‘police state’ that has seized control in the Ocean State.

Earlier this month, the RIDOH openly defied Governor McKee … after he granted extensions to workers at two hospitals regarding their compliance with Rhode Island’s healthcare worker vaccine mandate … when it slapped violation notices on the Landmark Medical Center and the state-operated Eleanor Slater Hospital as a precursor to eventual fines and patient care restrictions.

“Keeping in mind that I would never put my patients at risk, that I am as immune as any vaccinated healthcare provider, and that I have been providing emergency surgical care to patients of state-run facilities … I am highly disappointed that the Department Of Health can be so unfair in singling me out for punishment,” exclaimed Skoly, the Center’s Chairman who for decades was the sole contractor to the RIDOH to provide his specialty care. Dr. Skoly has not seen patients for six weeks and was forced to lay-off his 12 person staff, who are now collecting unemployment payments at taxpayer expense. “I am left with no option but to engage attorneys and to explore legal remedies so that I can return to providing care to my patients.”

Shortly after DOH health director Alexander-Scott issued her October 1 compliance order against him, and with it becoming increasingly obvious that wards of the state were suffering because they could not receive his care, Dr. Skoly received word that Governor McKee might consider offering him a special-circumstance extension. However, in subsequent negotiations, Alexander-Scott’s staff refused to acknowledge the Governor’s offer, which was immediately pulled from the table.

“I have learned through my sources that RIDOH officials admitted that Dr. Skoly is being made an example of because of his affiliation with our Center, which has been a frequent critic of RIDOH policies,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO. “It should be of concern to every citizen of our state that Nicole Alexander-Scott can wield such vengeful and unjust power … and that Governor McKee appears so powerless to intercede. We have reached crisis levels of unchecked bureaucratic tyranny.”

Dr. Skoly will conduct an exclusive interview with Mike Stenhouse today at 3:00 PM EST on the popular In The Dugout show at OceanStateCurrent.com/LIVE .

After issuing its compliance order against Dr. Skoly, the RIDOH also refused to comply with the prescribed regulatory process or provide any formal hearing to consider Skoly’s unique medical exemption claim, which includes high levels of naturally acquired immunity against the Covid-19 virus.

As an oral and maxillo-facial surgeon, Dr. Skoly’s practice should be regulated by the state’s Board of Examiners in Dentistry, a legitimate and long-standing regulatory review process. However, RIDOH … recognizing the great respect Dr. Skoly has rightfully earned from this board’s members after decades of stellar service as a contractor to the State and as service provider to private patients … instead sought to bypass that process and arrange for a sham hearing that would uphold its unlawful compliance order.

In early November, there appeared to a glimmer of hope to the process when McKee’s DOA appointed a hearing officer to conduct a pre-trial conference with representatives of Dr. Skoly and the RIDOH. Meetings were held last Friday and this past Monday, where over-whelming scientific evidence supporting Skoly’s position was presented … and where the RIDOH failed to cite any statutory power it had to unilaterally shut down Dr. Skoly’s practice without proper due process.

Yet all hopes for a rational accommodation were dashed, when the hearing officer, Catherine Warren, under enormous pressure from the RIDOH, ruled late Wednesday that the compliance order against Dr. Skoly be continued, essentially arguing that in seeking to protect “public heath”, the RIDOH has the “authority” to promulgate and enforce virtually any regulation it sees fit; this is a crisis in constitutional governance.

Dr. Skoly, an oral and maxillo-facial surgeon, questions why the RIDOH refuses to recognize that his, and other healthcare workers’, naturally acquired immunity to Covid19 as a legitimate medical exemption. In late September, he made public his decision to not comply the state’s October 1 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, a decision he based on his personal medical history as well as his principled belief in individual liberty.

Since September, the Center has publicly called for the Department of Health to include natural immunity as an allowed exemption for any Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

While the Center opposes government-imposed mask and vaccine mandates, the data clearly demonstrates that “natural immunity” is an important policy consideration; and that the existing RI DOH healthcare worker vaccine mandate, for as long as it is allowed to legally stand, must be immediately modified (as the science overwhelmingly suggests) to include “natural immunity” as an approved case for exemption.

Earlier this fall, based on analysis of state and international research data, as performed by Dr. Andrew Bostom, in support of a conclusion that has been publicly advanced by a growing host of nationally prominent immunologists, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity (Center) called on the Rhode Island Department of Health to include “natural immunity” as an allowed “contraindication to vaccination” on the official RI DOH medical exemption form.

In the Center’s policy brief published by Dr. Bostom, an adjunct medical scholar to the Center and a Brown University credentialed epidemiologist, when assessing the benefits and risks of natural immunity to Covid-19 as compared with immunity from the vaccine, Bostom joins an increasing number of medical professionals and institutions in concluding that the body’s natural immune system provides a more robust and longer lasting protection against Covid-19 than do the currently offered vaccines.

Citizens can view this week’s full compliance order and can #StandWithDocSkoly by signing a petition on the Center’s website at RIFreedom.org/DocSkoly.