I spoke with Herb early this week and he was quite emphatic in pointing out that the new mayor, Donald Grebien, is a major supporter of Pawtucket arts initiatives and is providing continued "strong support for the arts and creative sector companies." This is all good news and I wish continued success to Pawtucket, my hometown.


BLOCK THOSE SHUTOFFS

I was speaking recently with Maggi Burns Rogers of the George Wiley Center about the current state of affairs with the termination/shut-off rules for public utilities in Vo Dilun. The Division of Public Utilities and Carriers administers all of this and there have (for years) been complaints about its practices. While the termination of service rules are quite clear, it seems that many consumers have received deceptive or, quite frankly, wrong information from the division.

And, of course, that means that poor and struggling Vo Dilunduhs have their heat and/or electricity shut off when they have (but may not be aware of) other options. Maggi tells me that there is one thing that everyone should know: YOU HAVE DUE PROCESS RIGHTS! EVERY TIME you are threatened with or receive a termination of utility services letter, you have the right to a hearing. Don't let Division of Public Utilities bureaucrats tell you that because you had a hearing 18 months ago or three years ago you can't get another hearing. EVERY TIME! If anyone at the Division of Public Utilities tells you that you cannot have a hearing they are lying and violating your rights.

Maggi tells me there is pending legislation that would put in place comprehensive and sane utility policies — legislation that advocates also believe has a very good chance of passage this year, especially with a supportive governor. The bill number is S-412 in the Senate; in the House it is H-5437. "Something could be done this year," is how Maggi puts it.

If you'd like to move this legislation along — if you'd like to do something that will not cost taxpayers a dime and will mean that young children will not freeze in the winter or be without electricity — call your legislator and tell them you support this legislation. Yes, your utility bills will increase a little bit because the utilities will pass this cost on to you. But remember, you are going to pay one way or the other. If this legislation doesn't pass, you will pay post facto for the public safety costs when poor people without heat and electricity need to receive medical services because they have become ill.

If you have any other questions, call the George Wiley Center. The phone number there is 401.728.5555.

Send hula hoops and Pulitzer-grade tips to rudycheeks@live.com.

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