The Full Rhodey

I’ve been absent from publicly Organizing for RICLAPP and I want to share the reasons for that absence.  As you know, I’ve been trying to develop support for the legislation currently in both chambers of the General Assembly that would contribute funding in support for RICLAPP.  This legislation is so benign that I can’t understand why the legislature wouldn’t support it, let alone why someone might oppose it.

Evidently there is an opponent.  I shouldn’t be surprised because for the past six years I’ve had to combat assaults on the integrity of RICLAPP and, indirectly, its people.  Most of these assaults have been so laughable and ludicrous that I’ve barely had to do anything. My two all-time favorites are:

1. To the Roger Williams University School of Law, came the assertion that RICLAPP provided “no legal services.”  This assertion was delivered in a telephone conversation and came to me, indirectly, from the recipient of that conversation;

2. And this one, my absolute favorite, asserted that RICLAPP is a “for-profit organization disguised as a non-profit organization.”  I’m not even sure how to do that, but it seems that there’s a criminal implication here.  But instead of dropping the a to report the crime, this allegation was circulated to some of our community partners. Our partners rightfully inquired about this and it was easy enough, annoying but easy, to disprove the deliberate lie.

Over the years there have been others, but the above two are “classic.”  They bring to mind what Forrest Gump often said: stupid is as stupid does.

And now this week came another unsupported allegation.  After six years plus, during the midst of our organizing campaign, comes a letter last Monday from the RI Department of Business Regulation (DBR).  When a letter from a regulatory agency starts off with “ has come to our attention” you know two things right away; the first is that whatever follows is not going to be good news, and the second is that some “anonymous” source filed a complaint.  The allegation here is that we were not in compliance with a portion of the Charitable Solicitations Act.

This allegation was easy enough to disprove as currently RICLAPP is exempt from the provisions we were alleged to have violated.  But this is how it goes – secretly raise a specious complaint in order to divert the target of the complaint from advancing its mission.

To be honest, at first I was more upset having lost in my Fantasy Baseball league last week than I was about this lame attempt to divert us from advancing our mission, and particularly from our “organizing” efforts. Even as I spent parts of two days responding to DBR I wasn’t upset. The response has been filed and I hope that’s the end of it, but I did state in my response that if DBR had any additional questions I’d be happy to respond.

And then, the more I thought about it, I finally did get angry.  You see, some people resist change because it might threaten the status quo, or someone’s “turf,” or it might interrupt cash flow.  I sort of get that but what particularly galls me is that these guys hide in the shadows delivering cheap shot after cheap shot.  They’re kind of like the faceless assassin or the thief in the night, cloaked in darkness making it difficult to see them.

Thus “The Full Rhodey.”

I’ve kept quiet about this knucklehead stuff but no more. I don’t live in the shadows, I’m out in the open, basking in the sunlight, for all to see.  And I’m no longer inclined to take these cheap shots because when these guys attack RICLAPP, they attack its people, its board, its partners, and most importantly its clients.

So let me be clear. For over six years, RICLAPP has endeavored to serve the ever-growing population of Rhode Islanders in need.  We have adopted a community based approach to providing legal services. And we have created an ever-increasing number of partnerships. Over all of that time, I have refrained from mixing it up with those who would eagerly tear down what people of good will built and continue to build.

But I am silent no more. I know that the content of the RICLAPP website is trolled by persons trying to tear us down. So let me state my position to those who wish us ill-will: if these cowardly baseless assaults on RICLAPP and its people and clients continues, I will vigorously defend against those attacks and drag the perpetrators into the sunlight.

As Justice Louis Brandies once famously said, sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.




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