The Providence Journal has an epic fail this week as it made what was clearly meant to be a filler article go live this week. An article entitled, “Mother cooks son, puts TV dinner to bed,” written by the all too clever, Al Zymers (a pun on Alzheimer’s) was live on the ProJo's website and spotted WBOB director, Kevin Aherne.
The article was clearly meant as a sample, or template article for the digital team over at the Providence Journal as they built out the new website but then it went live this week. It’s not clear if anyone over at the journal is facing discipline for the article but it is truly ironic. The journal FORGOT to remove an article making fun of Alzheimer’s disease and instead it went live -- and stayed there for quite a while.
Dotting T's and Crossing I's
DOT director, Michael Lewis resigned on February 17th, but will continue to serve until the end of the month. I guess Gina Raimondo just wanted to keep him around long enough to weather the major winter storms since he has experience before bringing aboard her own folks. Raimondo tapped Peter Alviti, Jr. to take the helm at the state DOT. Alviti formerly served as the Department of Public Works Director in Cranston and as the director of programs for the Laborers International Union of North America- New England Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund. The Laborer’s were big supporters of Raimondo’s campaign and she has confirmed that she did in fact consult with the union before making the appointment.
Raimondo also went out of state and tapped another Peter, Peter Garino, to be the Deputy Director of the DOT. Garino, from New Jersey, has experience with the New Jersey Transit. He has already entered his new role. As for Lewis, Raimondo complemented him on all his “invaluable leadership” during the recent blizzard. I guess we could say in this case Raimondo is a “fair weather friend ,” waiting till after the snow is over to bring in a new director.
Broke and Broker
Rhode Island is not doing much to fix it’s troubled economy. Raimondo gave a presentation this week warning that the state is on track to a $500 million budget deficit next fiscal year if it doesn’t take swift action. She also emphasized the need to create between 6,000 and 10,000 new jobs. That seems like a no-brainer considering the state still has one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation. Raimondo said that the state needs to attract employers in order to jump-start the economy and discussed investing more state money into economic development. She also talked about the state’s Medicaid system which she said is breaking the budget. This is the girl who went after pensions, maybe her next reform is the state Medicaid system. Either way the presentation was a warning to Rhode Island and a chance for Raimondo to present herself as a woman with a plan. Now let’s just see if she can cut through the bureaucracy and get that plan into place.
Dirty politics, per usual
Meanwhile, it seems all is back to normal at the General Assembly after Rep. Joseph Almeida was accused of embezzling campaign funds. Last week, he resigned from leadership but kept his seat in the assembly. Why not? He is just joining the ranks of the several assembly members to have been accused of a crime. There isn’t even that much shame associated with it anymore. No body in the state even seems surprised when a lawmakers gets arrested. So much for new leadership.
Connecting the "connected" dots
Last week Rhode Island Public Radio had a column defending Almeida saying the accusations don’t quite add up or fit the bill of the typical corrupt RI lawmaker. The fact that there is a “bill to fit” or a “pattern” to these things should be alarming. But it’s okay, Rhode Island is not ready for change in the General Assembly and until it is we will continue to elect the same people to the jobs. Many of whom have lost site of the citizens they represent and are more concerned with the Old Boys club up at the State House. Seriously, someone could get rich writing a soap opera about the Rhode Island State House. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t phase Rhode Islanders. They have learned to look at it like a juicy TV drama and not as the state’s governing body.
I'll see you next week in the latest episode of "as Rhode Island turns.."
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