Inspired by the success story of Central High School’s valedictorian, congressional candidate Gordon Mulligan has called for continued federal funding for bilingual education.

Central’s 1996 valedictorian, Erika Paz, was born in Guatemala. She moved to Providence four years ago, unable to speak English. She has said that bilingual classes helped her achieve her academic success.

Mulligan, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat being vacated by Jack Reed in the 2nd Congressional District, criticized Congress for its efforts to cut funds for bilingual education.

“More than half the students in Providence are immigrant children from Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa and elsewhere, and that population is continuing to grow,” Mulligan said. “Neither Providence nor the State of Rhode Island can afford to pick up the enormous extra costs that will be incurred if Congress eliminates these crucial funds.”

The House of Representatives Budget Committee, in its report on the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, recommended eliminating funds for biligual education so that “English immersion or English as a second language instruction could be increased.”

Driver: Kennedy, Reed abusing free mailings

Congressional candidate Rodney Driver says incumbent Representatives Jack Reed and Patrick Kennedy are using their franking privileges to send out mailings that look too much like campaign literature.

He says the duo recently mailed announcements of two job forums – one for women and one for businesses interested in winning Navy contracts – in Providence. The mailings included photos of the incumbents.

“I don’t object to the two candidates sponsoring conferences and promoting them as Reed-Kennedy initiatives in an election season,” Driver said. “But I do object to the two announcements being printed and mailed at taxpayer expense . . . (They) look a lot like campaign literature.”

Driver has also asked legislative leaders to clarify the law on gambling questions so that cities and towns could no longer put them on the ballot independently. The state Constitution has been amended to require statewide votes on such measures, he notes, and earlier laws should be changed to reflect that.

Driver is seeking the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by Reed.

Warwick councilwoman endorses Paolino bid

Warwick City Council president Linda Sullivan, who recently dropped out of the race to represent Rhode Island’s 2nd District in Congress, has endorsed former Providence Mayor Joe Paolino for the seat.

At a short news conference on the steps of Warwick City Hall on Wednesday, Sullivan said that Paolino, seeking the Democratic nomination, is the only “credible candidate” with similar views on the two issues she feels most passionately about: abortion rights and job creation.

“The stakes in this election year are high,” she said. “There is a very clear difference between the candidates on the issue of whether or not a woman will continue to have the right to choose, a right now protected by the United States Constitution.

“Only one candidate, only one candidate with a real chance to win, supports a woman’s right to choose. That candidate is Joe Paolino.”

Paolino called the procedure a “fundamental right” and said that, if elected, he would do all he could to make sure it stays legal.

Bob Goodman, Paolino’s press secretary, said Paolino will push for government funding for sex-education and family-planning programs. He does not support 24-hour waiting periods, but supports parental consent when a minor is seeking an abortion.

On the issue of job-creation, Sullivan said that Paolino’s past work as head of the the state’s former Economic Development Department means that he “understands the need for a strong economy in our state,” and “knows what’s happening with local businesses.”

Paolino called Sullivan “one of Rhode Island’s most dedicated public servants,” and said that he is proud to have her support, especially in the populous city of Warwick.

By Elliot Krieger, Jody McPhillips and Peter Dujardin, staff writers

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