Should a public official resign his or her post after being charged with a
crime? With the weekend arrest of Jonathan Oster, the former state senator and
Lincoln town administrator, this question is once again being asked throughout
the Biggest Little. Last time, the subject was the Bud-I, but the debate on
this matter seems to have died down (except in Charlie Bakst's column and --
probably -- Governor Almond's gut).
The answer is not the slam dunk that some would have you believe. There's that
pesky little "presumption of innocence" which is still bandied about as a
primary bulwark of the United States judicial system. It's too bad that no one,
with the exception of criminal-defense lawyers and a handful of civil
libertarians, actually pays this any mind. This is one of the problems; by
resigning, the accused public official only strengthens the public perception
of guilt. And with the presumption of innocence already a virtual joke to the
public, is this any good?
But our governor, a Lincoln resident and veteran prosecutor, makes an
irrefutable point when he notes that a person's ability to serve in government
is seriously impeded if he or she is the subject of criminal charges. This is
especially so when that person is in an administrative position and (as the
governor pointed out in M. Chuckie's column of Tuesday, February 19) even more
so in a small town.
So, what do you do? Is there a hard and fast rule? One can further erode the
presumption of innocence by resigning or cause damage to the work of government
by staying on. Your superior correspondents propose that state and municipal
bodies should craft statutes requiring officials to take leave of office, with
pay, when charges are brought. It may not be a perfect answer, but the official
in question wouldn't have to back off on claims of innocence, and the workings
of government could continue relatively unimpeded.
If one wants to be honest, it must be acknowledged that the Oster/Lincoln and
Bud-I/Providence situations are quite different. The people of Providence
accept the Bud-I as a dubious rogue, and consequently, the cloud hanging over
his head hasn't completely hamstrung the mayor. (It has had some impact,
however. Just ask people in the arts community how their lives have gotten more
difficult since the Plunder Dome indictments). Force of personality is a huge
part of the extraordinary Bud-I, the act we've known for all these years, and
Jonathan Oster, you're no Bud-I. He's the guy, we believe, who could definitely
bullshit his way through the whole "sweeping the office for listening devices"
imbroglio without looking guilty as sin.
No way to treat a lady
A little bird (well, actually, she's about the size of a condor) comes to
Phillipe and Jorge to whisper about the recent arrest of Jamestown Town
Solicitor Douglas DeSimone, who was pinched at the upscale Spain restaurant in
Narragansett and charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct, after a
run-in with another customer.
According to our fine, feathered friend, an obviously tired and emotional
DeSimone was engaged in a macho arm-wrestling match at his table with the
gregarious Mike Kent, he of the Plum Point painted stumps and manure-dumping
escapades in North Kingstown. Boys will be boys, but DeSimone's exertions
evidently disturbed the couple at the next table, which up and moved into the
lounge to escape the antics. At this point we can only go by the Other Paper's
report on the episode, which noted the allegations that DeSimone elbowed the
woman and that verbal abuse -- which we understand included the use of the "f"
word, as well as that charming four-letter expletive, beginning with the letter
"c," that women find so endearing -- was directed at the complaining couple.
Lofty language from such a distinguished barrister.
People with long memories in Narragansett seem to recall at least one other
instance of boyish exuberance from DeSimone in the past. Various parties
suggest that a local police officer once suffered a broken arm while exchanging
pleasantries with the lad during an arrest. (Perhaps someone might ask a former
Charlestown police chief, who once suffered a broken arm in the line of duty
while working in Narragansett, if these rumors are indeed true.)
At any rate, what a wonderful guy to have looking after Jamestown's legal
affairs. DeSimone, who pleaded not guilty during his arraignment, is scheduled
to return to court for a pre-trial conference on February 26. We hope Mr.
DeSimone (a son of Herbert F. DeSimone, a Republican who served as the state's
attorney general from 1967-71) will treat town manager Maryanne Crawford in a
much more enlightened way, although she should now be familiar with his high
regard for women. (Note to our pal Herb, his brother, and a scholar and
gentleman -- time to rein the boy in.)
What can Brown do for you? Well, what Brown University can do for Phillipe and
Jorge is sue the shorts off United Parcel Service for using that line as the
new advertising slogan of UPS.
Actually, P&J have gotten quite a chuckle out of the new UPS TV and print
campaign, which sounds like it should be luring students to College Hill.
Certainly (well, hopefully), the folks at Bruno Uno can offer a bit more than
what UPS espouses to provide -- like being able to print shipping labels,
making sure packages get sent on time and actually arrive, and giving a CEO
"better visibility into your supply chain." Or perhaps the best idea would be
for Brown to piggyback on UPS's marketing exposure by offering courses like
Mailroom 101, The Philosophy of Making Excuses for Lost Shipments, or The Art
of Truck Washing.
Such offerings would certainly be harder than some of the courses the
university's athletes have found shelter in over the years, like "Rocks for
Jocks" in the Geology Department. And if those courses were available years
ago, perhaps Brown wouldn't have become a supply line for the CIA, graduating
spooks like E. Howard Hunt and Charles Colson.
Let's go, Brown prez Ruth Simmons. Get out there and fight for your ivied
institution's honor. Either that or change the school's motto to something
appropriate, like, "Brown -- we deliver." Just a little bit more expensively
Gold diggers and friends
Phillipe and Jorge have been glued to the TV in the Boom Boom Room at Casa
Diablo, steadily gazing at one of the more interesting Olympics in years. But
you can never escape the asshole factor in dealing with an event that makes
boxing look like an upstanding athletic endeavor.
Although the U.S. jingoism has been kept to a minimum, our national Olympic
organizers did their best to try to offend the world during the opening
ceremonies. This occurred via their insistence to display the tattered flag
from the World Trade Center as an American icon, contrary to the international
nature of the entire event. While our spokespeople tried to justify the
display, the contretemps could have been avoided had they pointed out that
people from more than 80 countries died in this enormous tragedy and that this
Stars and Stripes represented all of those lost in this despicable terrorist
act. Stretch your vision past your navels, gang.
The skating controversy was just what that sport needed for reform. We can't
wait until International Skating Union heavy hitter Claire Ferguson gets back
to Jamestown to get the lowdown on just what went on behind closed doors.
Suffice it to say that the problems all came down to the French judge, yet
another typical non-bathing, Gauloise-smoking, garlic-chewing,
Beaujolais-swilling, beret-wearing, thrush-murdering putain, who would have
been cheating on behalf of the Germans if we hadn't pulled France's chestnuts
out of the fire in World War II. High marks to the usually undependable IOC,
which put the pressure on the IUS to award dual gold medals to the Russians and
Canadians, and the fans who feted them equally and emotionally at the special
One person who got screwed with no hope of relief was Apolo Anton Ohno, who
was dragged down on the home stretch by a falling South Korean skater in the
1000-meter short-track speed skating, as he was about to win the gold. Ohno
settled, with grace beyond his years, for a silver medal. Meanwhile, the gold
went to some drunken Aussie, found on Bondi Beach, who walked around the course
in shorts and flip-flops with a Foster's in his hand, while everyone else in
his races obliterated each other. It was a case of proving that, as in politics
and business, the mediocre do indeed rise to the top.
P&J hear from our fellow media eye and ears in Salt Lake City that the
"big" pro-abstinence, anti-abortion Generation Life protest spurred by the free
distribution of condoms to Olympic athletes (noted in this space a few weeks
ago) consisted of "two uptight college students from Boise." Way to put the
rubber to the road, kids.
Finally, too-precious-by-half Bobby Costas is unbearable in his TV host role
and P&J thought we were going to need the Jaws of Life to pry him out of
Dubya Bush's fundament during the opening ceremonies. Costas's constant
description of Simon Amman, the 20-year-old Swiss ski jumper and dual gold
medallist, as a "Harry Potter lookalike," is not only wrong, but was beaten to
death within a day because Costas thought it was so clever.
Hey, Bobby, take Jim McKay out to the car and go get a dish of applesauce with
him somewhere before you ride back to the retirement home, OK?
Kudos & congrats . . .
. . . to RISD grad/Providence-based designer Liz Collins. The Boston
Globe, in a February 7 feature, was all over Ms. Collins, making a strong
argument that she's right on the verge of big-time world-wide success. Already
Hollywood notables like Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Emma Thompson, and
Kate (Mrs. Steven Spielberg) Capshaw are wearing her designs. New York's
Barneys and fashionable boutiques in LA carry her stuff and, who knows? It's
only a matter of time before stylish Vo Dilunduhs won't be caught dead outside
the window at Haven Brothers without sporting something from the Collins line.
Wishing you continued success, Liz.
Send well-designed fluff and Pulitzer-grade tips to email@example.com.
Issue Date: February 22 - 28, 2002