They like the odds
When Secretary of State Jim Langevin and Brown University's "Access Denied"
report came out two years ago, no one enjoyed the sputtering, red-faced outrage
displayed by the leadership reptiles at Halitosis Hall more than P&J. The
survey was a righteous and verifiable indictment of legislative violations of
the state's Open Meetings Law. That the report was right on the money didn't
stop the committee chairmen who were most at fault from nearly storming Brown
president Gordon "Get Out" Gee's house with torches, and pulling a Richard
Widmark on Langevin on the State House rotunda steps.
A follow-up study of the 1999 legislative session now shows conditions much
improved, according to Langevin. Only 10 percent violated the law in 1999,
versus 52 percent in those glory days of 1997. While it's nice to crow about
improvements, even a 10 percent violation rate is still horrific.
Any committee chairman worth his $450 per-year, per-lobbyist bribe knows that
when the big-money kickbacks come down, all he needs is that one-in-10 window
of opportunity to squeeze that crucial bill through with inadequate public
notice. Being "kinda" in compliance doesn't cut the Grey Poupon, boys and
If the politicians on Smith Hill ever want to be publicly regarded with
anything other than deserved contempt, they should be enforcing the law on
themselves. There are enough good people in the General Assembly -- and on
those committees that continue to be in violation -- who should know that their
images also suffer when the fix is in and they fail to blow the whistle. Hey,
gang, this is not the time for the three wise monkeys position.
We would urge Langevin, if his information is as good as we think it is, to
go the full nine yards and bring charges against the guilty parties. Like most
things involving ethics in Vo Dilun, everyone knows there are no consequences,
even with the truth lying out there.
Sleep tight, "Milkshake Matty" Smith and Joe "Prince of Darkness" DeAngelis --
gone but not forgotten.
It looks like our very own Richard Hatch has become the flavor of the month for
TV pundits as Survivor races to the top of the summer TV ratings. If you
don't know what the show is all about, we're not about to tell you at this
point, other than to say it's essentially Swiss Family Loud, for those of you
who recall the family who offered the first fishbowl trick for television
audiences with no lives of their own. Lance, we hardly knew ye.
Hatch, a Middletown resident, would certainly have made Lance Loud proud, as
he came out to his fellow castaways during the second episode. Thanks to the
expert casting director who choose who would be marooned in the South China
Sea, there was a crusty old-timer on hand who had always looked down on
superior behaviorists, but who thought Hatch was a pretty sharp,
straight-shooting dude, even if was a nancy-boy. Made you almost want to see
Richard put on a white Gilligan cap and get swatted by the geezer with the
Skipper's old yacht club commodore model.
Of course, the local media overkill on Hatch was, and will be, absolutely
predictable, especially on our own CBS affiliate -- "Tonight after
Survivor at 11 on Channel 12! Is WPRI anchorwoman Karen Adams carrying
Richard Hatch's love child? Tune in and find out!"
Hatch, however, is lying low for the most part, due to the fact that, after
his return, he was arrested and charged for allegedly overexerting his adopted
son during an exercise routine. He's also been taking barbs because of his
corporate consultant background, evinced when the first thing he did upon
arrival at the island was to call a middle management meeting in the rough.
Slate opined, "If a consultant has any skill at all, it's in cleverly
positioning himself as invaluable without contributing anything of value." That
jibes with our long-standing position that a consultant is someone who takes
everyone's watches and then tells you what time it is. Voila! And
that'll be $3000, please.
Yes, P&J admit we did get drawn into watching the other night. There have
been worse shows on the premises -- Friends comes to mind -- but to know
that Richard Hatch is out there, letting the Bud-I's rainbow flag fly high, is
nice to see. Keep eating those grubs until the last man or woman pukes, Richie.
You're our boy.
Do you want to be a clothes horse?
Speaking of Survivor, it's the first show to claim hands-down victory in
a head-to-head match-up with Regis Philbin's Who Wants To Be a
Millionaire. This, of course, is the show where Regis asks contestants
questions like, "What's a three-letter word for feline?" whereupon the
competitor thinks out loud until the entire viewing audience is practically
asleep, then gives his answer -- "rat" -- and Regis proceeds to grad him by the
collar and jump up and down on his chest for three minutes shrieking, "Is that
your final answer? Is that your final answer?"
Unless they get Siamese lesbian twins on the show who win the million bucks,
Regis is correct in assuming this is the star turn he's waited nearly 40 years
for. And America is so transfixed by this waxhead, who has had more facelifts
than Kathy Lee and Frank combined, that Van Heusen will be putting out a
line of the matched monochromatic shirts and ties that the Big Reege sports to
evidently devastating effect.
As Paul Fussell observed about the Mercedes when it was seen as a status
symbol by many yuppies in the '80s -- "A Mercedes is an obscene car, driven by
Beverly Hills dentists and African cabinet ministers" -- what kind of person is
going to walk into a men's clothing store and say, "I'd like to look like Regis
Philbin"? A few candidates come to mind -- and House Majority Leader Gerry
Martineau and JARheads Bill Gile and Mario Hilario will know who we're talking
about. But wouldn't you rather just stand in Kennedy Plaza at rush hour and
scream, "I had Rosie O'Donnell when she was good!"
Well, if you have stock in Van Heusen, we'd suggest you keep it until three
weeks after the Regis line debuts, and then dump it faster than a high school
prom date. And if you actually think the "mono" look is happening, but don't
want to have an entire haberdashery's staff laughing at you, wait two months
and do some self-service work at Wal-Mart.
Piling on the poor
How about that new zoning ordinance proposal from Providence Councilwoman
Patricia Nolan, trying to limit the number of social service agencies, soup
kitchens and other groups that work to alleviate the grinding effects of
poverty in our city? Does this suck or what? Nolan thinks that there are too
many of these groups in the poorer city neighborhoods (where, surprisingly,
most of the folks in need of these services happen to be) and wants them spread
out to other areas of the city. Hey, that'll really be helpful to poor folks,
an opportunity to travel more to cop a meal, receive medical services or meet
their clothing needs.
This is a bad, bad idea and one that the council should deep-six immediately.
We are ashamed and embarrassed that a public official would even come up with
such a proposal. In essence, this suggests that we continue to avert our eyes
to the needy in our midst and those who don't seem to be benefiting from the
booming economy. The new agenda appears to be pushing Traveler's Aid out of
downtown, and, in general, just making believe that pain and suffering doesn't
exist. C'mon, let's get real.
Because of last week's byline strike at the BeloJo, your superior
correspondents are unable to properly credit the reporter who filed the
front-page story on the Warwick Mall food court debate between the Democratic
primary contenders for the 2nd Congressional District seat. About halfway into
the article, this exciting exchange: "Given the chance to pose a question,
[Secretary of State Jim] Langevin asked [the other candidates] to state their
position on `non-point source water pollution' -- not exactly an incendiary
topic, although it did prompt [Cranston Councilman Kevin] McAllister to
declare, "You're playing into one of my strongest suits here.' "
P&J would surmise that the suit is of a definite gray hue. Jimmy tossed
down the old tedium gauntlet and Kev was more than happy to pick it up and run
with it. Apparently, another one of McAllister's "strong suits" is a notable
lack of boldness. When Kate Coyne-McCoy, the Casa Diablo fave rave and only
woman in the race, stated her intention to call for an immediate
government-imposed freeze on prescription drug prices, McAllister characterized
the idea as "extreme and irresponsible." Sorry, Kev, but we think it's the
giant pharmaceutical companies who have been extreme and irresponsible and
deserve a good spanking. Go get 'em, Kate.
Open government, Vo Dilun-style
We're sure you were as thrilled as P&J to learn that the "Health-care work
group," a group comprised of Almond administration staffers, General Assembly
leaders, assorted bureaucrats, business leaders, lobbyists, consultants,
insurance executives and health-care activists, is meeting to carve out public
health policy behind closed doors. The press and public have been barred from
these deliberations, a move that the government officials involved find
absolutely fine. After all, in Vo Dilun, open meetings laws were meant to be
It's great to see that our public officials have such long memories. Wasn't
this very thing that Hillary, Ira and company were slam-dunked for back in '93?
An extra special pair of blinders go out to House Majority Leader Gerard
Martineau, who explained to the Other Paper that, "When you say `not allow
public participation,' I don't think that's true . . . We went to exhaustive
means to allow all interested parties and stakeholders."
Well, almost all "interested parties" with the minor exception of the public
and the press. Your superior correspondents have to mention how much we love
the designation currently popular in government circles -- "stakeholders."
We've got a stakeholder for you, Gerry. His name is Vlad and he's looking for
Kudos and congrats . . .
. . . to our old friend, that inveterate entertainer, O.J. Simpson, who
despite his status as Pariah Numero Uno and his seemingly endless surveillance
of golf courses around the world in search of "the real killers," still finds
the time to call up TV shows and proclaim his innocence. Most recently he
called a live Fox Network gab show where his former sister-in-law, Denise
Brown, was one of the guests, to mix it up with the gang and engage in a little
name-calling. You'd think the guy might slink off into a hole in the ground or
under a rock, but show business is in his blood and he just can't stop