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Two weeks ago under the rubric â€śReinvent Rhode Islandâ€ť the lead story in the Sunday edition of the stateâ€™s largest daily newspaper dealt with the plight of single mothers. This piece, which featured 36-year-old, mother of two, Crystal M. Tetreault covered most of the front page and two full pages in the first section.
We learn that Miss Tetreault was herself the child of a 17-year old mother who never went to high school. She was raised in foster care, a group home and by an aunt. (Thank you, taxpayers.) Her father was absent until she was an adult.
Crystal went to Cranston West High School and became pregnant right around the time she graduated in 1994. She gave birth to a son, Bobby, whose father has â€śshared the costsâ€ť of raising him. (Iâ€™m sure taxpayers had a hand in it as well.)
She moved in with her aunt and got a degree as a dental assistant from CCRI (courtesy of the taxpayers). Crystal worked in that field for 15 years until her knees bothered her so much from standing that a doctor wrote her a two-month pass so she could qualify for TDI. After that, the dentist she worked for said he couldnâ€™t give her a job sitting down so Crystal now collects $308 a week unemployment compensation.
She also receives food stamps (thank you taxpayers), assistance from a Cranston non-profit organization, â€śand other private and state agencies.â€ť â€śThe familyâ€™s health needs are covered by RITE care, a state Medicaid program.â€ť Again, thank you taxpayers. (And Obama would have us believe the needy canâ€™t get heath coverage.)
In 2003, Crystal met a guy in a bar and a few months later was pregnant again, this time with a girl, Jada, who has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. This, of course, means Jada will likely be on an IEP in school which, in turn, means she will qualify for Social Security Disability Income payments.
In â€śthe communityâ€ť these payments are sometimes known as â€ścrazy moneyâ€ť (thank you taxpayers). Special education teachers and school psychologists will tell you how vigorously parents of students on IEPs will fight to keep them there.
Crystal, who bought a used Jeep with her earned income tax credit of $2,500 (thank you taxpayers), says â€śthe multiple visits to the doctor, family and individual therapists, school officials and others have created a time-consuming scheduling debacle.â€ť I guess we are supposed to wonder how a person who doesnâ€™t have a job can handle all that.
Jadaâ€™s dad, who turns out is married and living out of state, wanted Crystal to have an abortion. Needless to say he hasnâ€™t been very forthcoming with his child support payments and is currently $3,000 in arrears.
In 2010 Crystal took up with another man and she and Jada followed him to a motel in Orlando with money she got from an accident settlement. Bobby went to live with his father. After six months she moved back to Rhode Island because she couldnâ€™t afford to take the courses to qualify as a dental assistant in Florida. At least she didnâ€™t get pregnant this time.
For her seventh birthday, Jada wants a $200 iPod Touch and a pony to ride on. Unfortunately, her father balked on a promised $300 payment on his back child support so mom is going to rely on food stamps to provide a traditional birthday party.
Good thing 17-year old Bobby (who, along with Crystal look, shall we say, well fed) has a job at a Dunkinâ€™ Donuts. He was able to come up with $120 with which to pay a traffic fine for his mother.
Crystal would like to take a one-week vacation this year, perhaps to a nearby campground. Oh yes, she would also like a three-bedroom apartment, although she has to negotiate partial payments with her landlord on the one she has now which she rents for $675.
Donâ€™t think Crystal lacks ambition. She says she has applied for a job as a school bus monitor and will apply for a crossing guard when school reopens. Just how she will handle those part-time jobs with her gimpy knees is unclear. Perhaps she can do them sitting down.
Crystal has thought about going back to CCRI (courtesy of the taxpayers again) to become a medical or pharmacy technician â€śalthough a counselor at the college told her that job opportunities in those fields are limited, too.â€ť Apparently, she thinks she can do those jobs sitting down, as well. (Ever watch a pharmacy tech at CVS?)
I am willing to bet a dinner at the restaurant of your choosing that, when her 99 weeks of unemployment comp runs out, Crystal will be at the Social Security Office with letters from her doctor and a lawyer applying for SSDI. (Thank you, taxpayers.)
Want know what is really shocking? There are 31,658 single mothers like Crystal living in Rhode Island right now. Six thousand two hundred and thirty-eight of them have more than three kids.
In fact, about 4 out of every 10 households in the state are headed up by a single parent.
n Strangely enough, Governor Chafee and I agree on something.
I am generally opposed to the death penalty except in certain circumstances which include someone serving a â€ślife without paroleâ€ť sentence who kills a guard or another prisoner; someone previously convicted of homicide, manslaughter or assault with intent to kill who kills again; someone on parole or probation who kills; or killing a first responder in the line of duty.
But if anyone deserves a death sentence it is Christopher Jimenez, 26, who tortured his baby for the first five weeks of her life causing her to be placed on life support for three weeks until her mother ordered it removed. This dirtbag, who previously served time for savagely attacking his motherâ€™s boyfriend in 2006, does not deserve to walk the face of the earth. Neither, for that matter, does her 18-year old mother, Mayra Gonzalez, who allowed it to happen.
Oh, did I mention that this wonderful, unmarried couple also has a one-year old son for whom we taxpayers are now responsible?
But hey, what do I know? According to reader Philip R. Morin, I am simply a right wing nut.
Note to Mr. Morin: Obamacare doesnâ€™t go into full effect until 2014. Then weâ€™ll see how health care gets rationed as it surely must be.
Richard August is a North Kingstown resident and a regular contributor to the Standard Times. He served for six years on North Kingstownâ€™s Audit Committee and was its chairman for the last two. His opinions are his own.