As contract negotiations between the Providence Newspaper Guild and the Belo
Corporation of Dallas, owners of the Urinal, continue to drag on, it seems that
a number of Guild hard-liners are clamoring for a real strike. Talking to a few
of them last week, P&J were struck by how strongly they believe that
management is intent on breaking the union. This sentiment seems to run
strongest among those in the newsroom who were there during the bitter 1973
work stoppage. A number of these veterans feel that the most recent byline
strike was a gesture of little value, and that the longer the company drags its
feet, the greater the chance that they can create fissures among Guild
In related news that you also won't find in the Urinal, US Representative
Patrick Kennedy sent a June 16 letter to Guild President Bob Jagolinzer,
offering his support and willingness to meet with both the Guild leadership
and/or Belo Chairman Robert Decherd to plead the Guild's case. Kennedy notes,
"The financial success that the Providence Journal Company has reaped over the
years is due in large part to the hard work, dedication and excellence of the
Guild Members. That is why I believe so strongly that the A.H. Belo Corporation
of Dallas, Texas, must treat you with the respect that you so richly
No word on whether the Guild will take up Patrick on his offer.
Phillipe and Jorge are delighted to learn that Common Cause is not going gently
into that good night. We refer to the state Ethics Commission's recent passage
of the disgusting legalized bribery "Baloney Bill," which enables lobbyists to
buy off legislators to the tune of $450-per-lobbyist, per year, in gifts and
other considerations designed to influence votes at Halitosis Hall.
Phil West, head ramrod of Common Cause, will rage, rage at the dying of the
light, joined by the independent public interest lawyer who will look into CC's
charge that Ethics Commission member Thomas Goldberg had an obvious conflict of
interest in voting on the Baloney Bill, since his brother, Big Bob, is a State
Abetted by fellow trough-feeders Richard Kirby, Frank Flanagan, and the
equally compromised lawyer Robin Main of McGovern, Noel & Benik, and Jim
Murray of Amica -- whose company colleagues are registered lobbyists -- the
Baloney Bill passed 5-4, in one of the more disgraceful and retrogressive
actions seen since Matty Smith and Tom Fay were slithering around Smith Hill.
Without Goldberg's obviously tainted participation, the Baloney Bill would now
be in the dumper.
Big Bob and Tainted Tommy's arguments are that, under the relevant RI General
Law, Big Bob gains no more advantage than any other lobbyist by being able to
buy off a politico. But as Common Cause points out, there are a great variety
of lobbyists among the 500 or so in Vo Dilun, many of whom are affiliated with
non-profits that lack the resources to lavish gifts upon legislators. Big Bob,
however, is one of only a few dozen among the corporate lobbyist community with
more than three-to-four clients (Goldberg has eight), and financial rewards
increase exponentially at that level -- both for Big Bob and his clients. Much
to your credit, Bobby, you have created quite a special niche for yourself.
P&J hope it becomes your downfall.
In the mind of West and Common Causers, hindleggers Kirby and Flanagan
prejudiced themselves months prior to the notorious vote, when they supported
Goldberg's preposterous claim that he had no conflict and therefore need not
recuse himself. Put succinctly, bullshit.
While these Ethics Commission clowns will now have to start facing the music
for their backroom tactics, let us not forget they were appointed by House and
Senate leaders and Governor Bigfoot, who bear the true blame in the long run.
Birds of a feather, as the saying goes. Go get 'em, Phil and Marty.
Your superior correspondents got a kick out of a June 13 front-page story in
the Urinal, about the highly-desirable Capital Center site where former
Providence Mayor Boy Joe Paolino is itching to put up a high-rise luxury Hyatt
Boy Joe looking for a sweet property deal is hardly novel or wildly amusing.
But the same article noted that that infamous local developer/world-class
spaccone, Richard Baccari -- he of the unpaid Providence city taxes and
strong-arm attempts to build condos at one of the state's most aesthetically
pleasing natural sites, Black Point in Narragansett -- also has his eye on the
Capital Center property for a new set of condos. (Because Richie is real condo
kinda guy, a man who thinks gold chains are the height of good taste and high
However, it appears that Baccari has yet to conquer his acute embarrassment
over his Italian heritage. That obvious feeling led him to name his former
development company -- now defunct -- the Downing Corporation, and to tag his
developments with names that rang of posh English country locales.
So guess what his new firm is called? If you said Churchill & Banks, you
could be a millionaire! Yes, our former auto body repair shop owner figures
that all you have to do is slap a famed English name -- and an allusion to
money -- on to your company and the next thing you know you are squiring the
Queen Mum to dinner at Buckingham Palace and exchanging chit-chat about polo
with Prince Chuck and Camilla Parker-Bowles. And we betcha youse could nevuh
tell Richard Baccari wasn't no royalty! (From The House of Pizza?)
Thanks for everything
The flags at Casa Diablo went to half-mast last week upon the death of Peter
Merritt of Portsmouth, a friend and admired colleague. Peter was a native of
England and first came to the US as a Royal Navy exchange officer at Naval
Station Newport. Completing his military service, he came to the United States
in 1982 and began his second career as a real estate appraiser. In that
conjunction with that, he served as head of the Aquidneck Island Land Trust,
and was responsible for helping to preserve hundreds of acres of open space and
farm land on Aquidneck. He also donated much of his time and energy to Child
& Family Services, where he worked as everything from a volunteer to valued
board member. He was an eloquent spokesman for both causes, and his class,
compassion and contributions will be sorely missed.
P&J had the opportunity to delve into former NewPaper (precursor of
the Phoenix) scribe Bill Flanagan's first novel, A&R,
published by Random House, over the weekend and it's a fine read. While funny
and touching, this tale of hypocrisy, delusion and mortgaged values in the
recording industry serves as an indictment of our twisted values in this era of
Like Ridley Pearson, the one-time Rhody-based musician who's been churning out
police procedural books for the past decade, who has a character named for John
LaMoia, the veteran Biggest Little percussionist and recording engineer, Bill
has peppered the book with characters who sound suspiciously like folks we
know. For instance, a musician named "Emerson Tory" appears in the text. Gee,
sounds a lot like Emerson Torrey, the former Schemers guitarist.
Likewise, there's a record producer named "Macnie," and a Nashville record
company executive named "Cronin." There couldn't possibly be any connection
between these two characters and real-life Flanagan pals Jim (of 8 Days a Week
fame in the Phoenix) Macnie, and Peter (just happened to work for a
record company in Nashville) Cronin, could there? Then there's a divorce lawyer
named "Kelleher," who sounds a lot like a Vo Dilun attorney and boyhood
Flanagan chum, Jim Kelleher.
Anyway, it's a swell book with a little extra added for Providence scenemakers
of a certain age. Your superior correspondents give it our highest
recommendation for summer beach reading.
More local color
In this case, Green, to be exact. Local Green Party ramrod Greg Gerritt writes
that the Vo Dilun Greens are gearing up for a big petition drive, starting July
5, to place the party's presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, on the local
ballot. "We have signed up many new and enthusiastic volunteers and will be
getting them out on the streets very soon," Greg tells us. "We also just got
back from the printer the first run of the brochure we have produced for
petitioning. We expect to produce another brochure for the fall campaign, [we]
have a committee designing lawn signs, and would like to open an office for
the fall as well as canvass the entire state." If you're interested in helping
out, you can call Greg at 331-0529.
Smokey, the ex-Vo Dilundah
Joe Vileno, that community activist, Phoenix contributor, and well-known
man-about-town, tells us that Roy Weaver, the US Parks official who approved
the planned burn last month that went out of control in Los Alamos, New Mexico,
causing the largest wildfire in that state's history, once served right here in
La Prov. From 1978-80, Parks officials confirm it was the same Roy Weaver who
was the forest ranger at Roger Williams Memorial Spring Park, that little green
strip of land between North Main and Canal Streets heading into downtown.
Hizzoner, the Bud-I, used to say that Providence was the only city with a
Smokey the Bear Forest Ranger. Looks like Roy should have stuck with the
smaller urban turf.