I enjoyed serving in the Rhode Island House of Representatives from District 75 - Newport from January 2009 until January 2014. It was a great experience. I have happily moved onto other interesting activities including a book and a movie, which are both based on my accomplishments as a State Representative.
For all of those who might think that being a State Representative is a "thankless job," I want to share some of the recognition and citations that I received for the work that I accomplished.
May 2010 - The issue of Street Sights published an article about me: helping a homeless friend. [Click on the link and go to page 17]. The June issue contained a follow-up article regarding the success that we had in getting legislation through the House of Representatives to help the homeless.
March 15, 2011 - The Newport Daily News ran a feature article about my harmonica 'career'. It has been over twenty years of great fun!
May of 2011 - I was informed that I have been selected as the 2011 Rhode Island Legislator of the Year by the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Click here for a copy of the invitation. See award.
September 14, 2011 - I was informed that I have been chosen to receive Riverwood Mental Health Services' legislator of the year award for my support of their Housing First Initiative, particularly their foray into the Newport Area. click here for the details [HFRI is now housing approximately 175 formerly chronically homeless persons.]
April 20, 2013 - I was recognized by the Disabled American Veterans as "Legislator of the Year" at their 78th Annual Disabled American Veterans Department Convention in Warwick for my work on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, and in particular for my introduction and the passage of the Veteran Designated licenses. Click here for a photo of the award. [As of the end of November 2014, over 9,041 veterans had taken advantage of this opportunity]. See press release -- See award.
October 26, 2013 - As a result of obtaining the posthumous honors for 2nd Lt. Robert Thorpe, I was invited to be the speaker at the 39th Fighter Squadron Reunion
November 17, 2013 - I was recognized by the Newport Democratic City Committee as one of two "Democrats of the Year" at their Annual Award ceremony. [I was pleased to share the honors with Dr. Sandra Flowers, a member of the Newport School committee].December 2014 - My proudest accomplishment was to be recognized for the work that I quietly did in support of the Rhode Island State Police. Upon retirement I received a label pin showing the shield of the RISP, a citation, and a letter of appreciation for my work with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
John Gordon was hanged in 1845 for a murder that many historians, and legal professionals, think he did not commit. I was asked by one of my constituents to introduce a House Resolution that would request the Governor Chafee to pardon John Gordon. Based on formal hearings that were held in the House Committee on the Judiciary, were successful in getting this done. For more information click here: Pardon for John Gordon.
A book "The Hanging and Redemption of John Gordon " has been written and published about the life of John Gordon and the success that we had in getting him pardoned.
Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny, during a visit to the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial in Providence in September 2014, publicly thanked Governor Lincoln Chafee and me for our work on this effort. Click here for a photo taken at that event.
Robert Thorpe, a Cranston native, served in the 39th Fighter Squadron as a pilot in World War II. He was shot down, captured, tortured and beheaded by his Japanese captors. His sacrifice had never been recognized by the United States government. I was asked to get posthumous recognition for him. Through the efforts of the House Veterans Advisory Committee, a ceremonies were held in his honor in the State House, and at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, 69 years after his sacrifice . For more information click here: Honors for Robert Thorpe
As a result of obtaining the posthumous honors for 2nd Lt. Robert Thorpe, I was invited to be the speaker on October 26, 2013 at the 39th Fighter Squadron Reunion in San Antonio, Tx. Click here and go to page 4 of their newsletter to see their report on this meeting.
Following that reunion, actual WWII veterans of the 39th Fighter Squadron, author Ken Dooley, and I started the effort to create a book memorializing the Thorpe's sacrifice and the sacrifices of other members of the squadron.
Through my work with the House Veterans Advisory Council, I was asked to submit legislation that would enable Rhode Island veterans to have their operator licenses and state ids marked so as to identify them as veterans.
Working with the Department of Motor Vehicles, we were able to accomplish our goal. As of November 2014, over 9,040 veterans had obtained their designation.
Though my work with AARP and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, I was able to get a Complete Streets bill passed into law. This law sets a standard advisory for those who are designing roads to take into consideration other forms of transportation such as pedestrians and cyclists.
As a direct result of my involvement on this project, three additional crosswalks have been added to the Americas Cup / Bellevue Avenue reconstruction project.
Served as the House of Representative appointee to the Rhode Island Civil War Sesquincentennial [150th] Commemoration Commission which, through my legislative efforts, was able to fund the publication of a book "The Rhode Island Home Front in the Civil War Era." See the book. I have been asked to continue on as a member of the RICWSC's Advisory Council.
Click here: for information on the Tribute to the Civil War & Abraham Lincoln that will be held at the Jane Pickens Theatre on April 17, 2015.
"The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick and the needy, and the handicapped." - Hubert Humphrey