Category Archives: RICLAPP Info

“Wait until next year!”

Every Sox fan knows this all too familiar refrain – “wait until next year.” That’s what the fans of those lovable (formerly) losers always said.  Through long, cold and dark winters, we would wait with painful anticipation for our boys of spring to take to the field, once again trying to deliver on their promise of success, championships and glory.

After months of our on-going and intense efforts to procure funding through modest increases in court fees, which would have provided stability and sustainability to RICLAPP, I find myself in the all too familiar position of saying, “wait until next year.”

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a great many virtues – however, patience isn’t one of them. So I don’t think I will wait until next year. Now is the time to begin building on what we did last legislative session.  And we did a lot. We found out who our friends are, who may not be so friendly, who we can count on and who we can’t, and – always gratifying to me – the size of our “footprint” and the great reputation that RICLAPP has in all the branches of the state government and throughout the community as a whole.

This last part is especially gratifying to me because I’m too busy trying position RICLAPP to service as many clients as effectively as we can to look up and worry about our reputation.  I assumed that doing a good job was its own reward and our reputation would take care of itself. I’m glad it has.

We’ve learned a lot in these past months and we intend to put those lessons to good use. And after a brief breather we will be back at it. One of the lessons learned is that while those who know us like us, not as many people as we hoped – particularly in the legislature – know us at all.  That is one of my tasks going forward – to increase awareness of poverty in Rhode Island, the need of small start-up entrepreneurs for legal services, and the benefits of collaboration with community partners.  I will use these pages, along with other outlets, to raise awareness of these and other issues, and how RICLAPP can assist in helping those most in need.  I hope you’ll visit and participate in the on-going discussions on these pages.

But that’s for another day. For today, let me thank all those who submitted letters, emails, made phone calls and visits to our state legislators on RIClAPP’s behalf.  Whatever success we had this year is due to your efforts.  To my RICLAPP colleagues I cannot say how much I appreciate what they did while still working to serve those in need. It was truly a spectacular effort on their parts.

Securing RICLAPP’s future is vital but only as it addresses the needs of the underserved and contributes to making Rhode Island a better place for all of us to live in. Without that linkage between RICLAPP and a community benefit, any effort to secure funds for RICLAPP becomes nothing more than a desperate attempt at bureaucratic survival, where the sole purpose is the enrichment of the organization for its own sake. I will not do that – if we ever become that kind of agency, I’ll shut the thing down myself. I have never been a fan of the Iron Law of Oligarchy.

But for now, let me again thank you all for all your friendship, your efforts on our behalf, and my hope that you’ll join us in the next phase of our efforts to serve more Rhode Islanders.

Geoff Schoos

Day Eighteen – Organizing for RICLAPP – The Five Week campaign

I am stunned by the expressions of support and good will over the past week that I’ve received from every segment of the Rhode Island community.  And these aren’t from people who have already sent emails and made phone calls to members of the legislators, but are those who had just found out and were eager to help.

Just this week alone, people from the small business, legal, and the non-profit communities have stepped up to help out. Students, retirees, and our partners have reached out to legislators on our behalf.

However, while gratifying, there is still much to do.  For the past three weeks, we’ve managed to form a small “army” of supporters who have pitched in to help our efforts to inform the legislature of the wisdom of passing our bills in the General Assembly.

Put another way: as Uncle Sam (Uncle Geoff?) might say, I need YOU!

If you haven’t joined our merry band of brothers and sisters, please go to http://riclapp.org/, click the Home tab,  which will cause a drop down list, click Organizing, and all that you’ll need should be found on that page.  However, if you need additional information/resources, please email us at info@riclapp.org.

Income inequality – Organizing for Rhode Island?

It was bound to happen – The Providence Journal finally dug out the scoop that’s been long known to many, if not most of us.  There is a widening gap between Rhode Island’s rich and poor, with the middle-class imploding and joining those at the bottom.

If you missed the article, you can access it at the link below:http://www.providencejournal.com/topics/special-reports/middle-class-squeeze/20140503-rhode-islands-middle-class-loses-ground-as-rich-get-richer-poor-get-poorer-graphics-video.ece

I don’t want to appear to be snarky, but anyone who works in the human services sector knows that not only is this the case, but that it’s been the case for nearly a decade. We know that studies conducted over the past 20 years on the national economy have alerted us – if only we heeded them – as to the economic Armageddon steadily unfolding and ready to consume all of us.

Since the mid-2000s, I and many others have raised this issue only to be consistently ignored. I am not saying “I told you so.” I merely want to point out that the condition of our nation’s and state’s economies should not come as a surprise, no more than that the Rhode Island economy is significantly worse off than the nation’s.

I am not going to take the time to posit several recommendations (please know that I have more than several), but only want to point out that RICLAPP’s numbers in 2014 are significantly up over the same time period in 2013, a direct result of the conditions detailed on the front page of the projo today.

As some of you know, I’m in the midst of our Organizing for RICLAPP effort and that keeps me busy.  But that will end and when it does, I’d like to take a shot at Organizing for Rhode Island, an effort where we can leave our egos, our preconceived interests, and our ideologies at the door and start offering approaches to fixing the state that we live in and love.

More about that soon.

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 “..it 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.