Hats off to JARhead Jim Taricani and URI associate professor and labor maven Scott Molloy for exposing an incredible political situation that reeks to high heaven.
Taricani reported, and Molloy cited his investigation in a letter to the editor of the BeloJo, that Cranston Mayor Stephen "Laugh At Me" Laffey had tried to bargain with Governor Carcieri for a payback if were to drop out of a potential primary battle with Senator Linc Chafee. The price? Being named president of URI!
For starters, The Don should have kicked Laffey down the State House stairs if he made the proposal. Otherwise, last we looked, thereís this guy named Bob Carothers who we understand is still alive and kicking in his presidentís office in Kingston. As Molloy wrote, "Never mind that an academic selection process determines such appointments, with the governor playing a minor secondary role. And forget that the only qualification that Mayor Laffey possesses is the audacity to seek a bribe to run one of the stateís chief economic and educational engines."
The story received very little play other than via Taricani and Molloy, but it is disturbing. And what is it about the presidency at URI? As P&J recall, Linc Almond did his own rumored little fast-footing in trying to get his former Department of Administration chief, "Dr." Bob Carl, into Carothersís seat a few years back. Trust P&J as URI employee and honored alum, respectively ó the job ainít all that much fun at times.
FIGHT FOR FRED
There are few people as near and dear to P&Jís hearts as the late Fred McKinnon of Pawtucket. His caring and charm were unrivaled, and he dedicated much of his life to promoting soccer in the city and the state via his Pawtucket Rangers team, with much money coming from his not-so-deep pockets. (And he was a hell of an Irish tenor, perennial winner of the "Danny Boy" singing competition accompanied by his equally beloved wife, Clare, and also made an appearance on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour.)
A soccer complex in Pawtucket was to be named in his honor, but after a bit of curious political legerdemain by Mayor James Doyle, it is going to be co-named for Fred and a local gent, Louis Alves. P&J donít know Mr. Alves, and Phillipe, who has been involved in local soccer since 1969, has never heard of him. In contrast, McKinnonís status in the sport in Rhode Island is legend, and anyone who played the game here will remember his contributions. It is absolutely unfair to Fredís legacy that he share the name of the center with Alves, and we would suggest that it is equally unfair to Alves if his efforts indeed warrant such a tribute. We hope the city council does something about this at their August 24 meeting prior to the August 27 dedication ceremonies for the complex. (And if they do the right thing, we hope that in the future, Mr. Alvesís name finds its way onto another project.) Fredís memory deserves much better treatment than this contrived political hummer.
DUBYA THE CHICKEN HAWK
Itís not enough that our tough-talking ("Bring íem on!") president is a chicken hawk who did everything possible to avoid serving in Vietnam. Now he has shown his true lack of courage by hiding under his bed at his Crawford, Texas ranch on a five-week vacation (while our soldiers are being killed in Iraq) and refusing to meet with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of one of our deceased troops, as she sits at a fork in the road just down the street, demanding an audience.
Boy George is getting his lunch eaten in public by Ms. Sheehan and her growing band of supporters. It is bad enough that our president feels the right to take more than a month off while we are at war so he can ride his bike and take naps all day. But by failing to meet with the distraught yet determined mother of a soldier who Dubya sent to die in an unjust and misrepresented fiasco, he shows his total lack of guts. He actually drove right past her on his way to a fundraiser without having his SUV with the tinted windows pull over. Put on the flight suit again, little man. Mission accomplished indeed.
It was with glee that Phillipe and Jorge noted a story in the August 9 New York Times Science section that featured a quote from our good pal, Amanda Wright, the Pogey Princess. Amanda is a longtime and much-liked fixture in the local fishing industry, whose involvement ranges from lobstering to creating some of the most popular raw bar layouts in Little Rhody social circles.
The article, focusing on the dwindling lobster population hereabouts, was written by another P&J crony, Corey Dean, a former Urinal reporter who is now the science editor at the Times. She is also involved with the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting at URIís Graduate School of Oceanography (to which Phillipe, in full disclosure, mode also has ties). It included interviews with some of P.ís other colleagues who are experts on homarus americanus.
The story made it quite clear why prices for lobster have skyrocketed, as they become less and less available. In some cases former full-time local lobster fishers have had to find different professions and sell their boats, certainly a tragedy. On a lighter note, we recall the famous response to hearing that a lobster cost an exorbitant amount at a restaurant: "I want to eat it, not put it through college." Ba-boom!
VO DILUN FILM WORLD
Youíve probably already heard or seen much about the August 11 world premiere of Cherry Arnoldís documentary Buddy at the 9th Annual Rhode Island International Film Festival. (Disclosure: Jorge was an unpaid consultant on the film.) While the Phoenix, Urinal, and the local television stations all gave it plenty of ink and coverage, believe P&J when we tell you that it was even more surreal than what youíve read.
We hate to be critical about something we love as much as the RIIFF, but festival director George Marshall seems to be overwhelmed sometimes and last week was a prime example. The people outside the Columbus Theater waiting to get into the screening stood in the broiling heat for more than an hour. When it became obvious that all those who wanted to see the film would not fit in the theater, the decision to inform the others in line should have been made, but there was a long delay before the announcement. Subsequently, the film started at 8 pm rather than the scheduled 7 pm.
We have been to many steamy screenings in past years, and that memory has kept us (and we suspect others) from trying to see as many films as we might like. Our point ó and we hate to seem ungrateful to Mr. Marshall, who does a great job at directing this huge undertaking each year ó is we believe he might need a bit of outside help in handling a few of these nuts-and bolts-issues. Itís too great a festival to have these inconveniences undermine viewer enjoyment.
That said, we were standing on line at the Columbus marveling at how even the phrase "the usual suspects" did not suffice. In front of us was noted criminal defense attorney (and father of Providenceís Mayor) Jack Cicilline. About six people in back was the legendary former Governor Bruce "Captain Blowhard" Sundlun. We noticed that one of the members of the Captainís party was Sheila, the former Mrs. Cianci. As we were checking them out, Tony Freitas, the Latka-like HVAC man who wore the FBI wire, strolled by. This was some line.
There was one high point before the screening of Buddy (which, in case you havenít heard, got a rousing reaction) that stands out. Marshall was making a few brief remarks before introducing director Arnold. He noted that the Columbus was a marvelous theater ("a little jewel") that continues to face serious economic challenges and that preserving it should be a high priority for the community. This provoked a young man in the back of the theater to scream out, "Thatís why we need Buddy back as mayor!"
At this point it should come as no surprise that one who is rabidly promoting a political comeback by the Bud-I might be a bit, shall we say, confused. Apparently this person was unaware that it was the Bud-I himself who tried to have the Columbus condemned so the city could do what it pleased with the site ó and you can bet that wouldnít be to polish the jewel.
BEATING THE HEAT ON A BUDGET
As a public service, P&J would like to suggest that if, like us (and the vast majority of people around here) youíre not exactly rolling in cash, the best cheap way to beat the heat is by riding RIPTA. Casa Diablo does not have air conditioning, so on Saturday, with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, P&J hoped on some RIPTA buses, where the temperatures are kept at meat locker level, and rode around to cool down. It was an ozone alert day and all rides were free. So if this sauna-like whether returns and you just canít get comfortable, we suggest you take the bus and leave the driving to us (well, not actually "us" but, you get the idea).
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The Phillipe & Jorge archives.
Issue Date: August 19 - 25, 2005
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