Phillipe & Jorge’s Cool, Cool World: I-195 and an Ugly American Lurches Overseas

An Eye on I-195

Phillipe and Jorge were astounded last week by a call for political transparency by none other than Senate President Rubbers Ruggerio. Based on his past behavior at Halitosis Hall, we figured Rubbers would need the equivalent of an ethics NarCan shot if he ever stumbled across good government practices.

The senate president announced his virtuous stand in regard to the machinations of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, which controls one of the most valuable parcels of land in Our Little Towne, and the state as a whole. Not that Rubbers wasn’t part of the problem of the public not fully knowing what was going on with the I-195 parcel, as he had already privately met with Jason Fane, the big-time New York developer who famously proposed the ostentatious and overwhelming three-gargantuan-tower design for the site, which was cashiered after it failed to pass the shock and awe and laugh test.

Phillipe and Jorge have always thought the commission’s work has been a bit dodgy, and could use a little sunlight shone on its wheeling and dealing with this multi-million dollar developer’s wet dream. This goes back to the abrupt and unexpected resignation of its first executive director, Jan Brodie, back in 2015. While Brodie was said to want to “return to the private sector” — the state employee euphemism equivalent to a pol’s “want to spend more time with my family” — it was viewed a bit suspiciously, with some, like P&J, thinking it might have something to do with Brodie not rolling over for the PawSox’s proposal for a new stadium on the I-195 land, which was being strongly backed by Governor Gigi.

Adding to raised eyebrows was the hiring of her successor, Peter McNally, to this job that would seem to be coveted by any eager, hard-charging corporate suit. Not only was the job search restricted to a mere posting on the I-195 commission’s website, but McNally ended up being the sole candidate for the job. Oh, OK. Guess P&J were indeed born yesterday.

While Rubbers’ legislation calls for such bold steps as demanding that the commission follow the Open Meetings Act (why this would be anything but de rigeur for so heavy-duty a body playing with millions in taxpayer money is beyond P&J), we certainly like the idea of mandatory ethics training for new members within six months of them coming on board, ethics being a bit thin on the ground at the commission to-date. It also eliminates hiding behind a “real estate discussion” exemption that the commission has been using to go into closed-door executive sessions, where the real horse trading has evidently been done.

So while we never thought we would be saying this, hats off to Senate President Rubbers Ruggerio for his bold initiative, and hope he can keep it up when the meds wear off. (P&J of course say this facetiously, as Rubbers is obviously a gimlet-eyed, clear-thinking, above-reproach champion of the highly ethical and open government practices that are a hallmark of all the work done through the ages on Smith Hill.)

The Prince of Dumbness

What a surprise to see that the Orange Orangutan’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is a target in the FBI probe of Russian ties to The Donald’s campaign and administration. We are shocked — shocked! — to see that he may have colluded with Putin & Co.

Kushner, Mr. Ivanka Trump, is the jumped-up, clueless little git and glorified landlord who is a “senior advisor” to the president. That he knows even less about global politics than his insane and Twitter-obsessed father-in-law boggles the imagination. Then again, he is good at keeping his mouth shut, made much easier by having his lips permanently attached to his wife’s father’s buttocks.

Young Jared has been able to sit in on high-level meetings as Trump’s envoy with folks such as Iraqi government and military officials, which doubtless shows them very clearly how much The Donald respects them or leaves them wondering how quickly he’d shop them to the Russians given half a chance if there were plenty of rubles involved.

Jared is the son of a convicted criminal developer father, who, like Fred Dumpf, put his son on third base sans hitting a triple — good training for a national security advisor who puts money before politics. And if we ever get to view either daddy-in-law’s or Kushner’s tax returns, it will be interesting to see just how financially beholden to Russian investors both families are.

To know that greed in this administration and its extended family has the driver’s seat, one need only look at Ivanka’s conflicted peddling of her hideous clothing and jewelry. But possibly topping that in sheer gall and a “fuck you” to appearances (or the basic laws of ethics and conflict of interest) was Jared’s sister, Nicole Meyer, being discovered practically selling US visas for immigration to Chinese investors in an attempt to raise $150 million for luxury apartments in the US. Oh, no problem with that at all.

The Trump family, in all its manifestations, have made it quite clear that they are in it for the money, be it his sons, Beavis and Butthead, Ivanka the Terrible and unspeakable and gormless Jared, Ms. Meyer, or anyone else looking to hop on the Trump gravy train before the head of the extended family is either driven from office or impeached.

Sleep tight, America (and don’t forget to check out Ivanka’s newest fashions online).

Bull in a Europe Shop

Not a bad week for our deranged leader as he made his way across Europe and the Mideast, at least by his jaw-dropping and shameless standards.

First he continued the tradition of sucking up to the Saudis, those wonderful folks who gave us the 9/11 terrorists, continue to fund madrassas for youths that train future mass murderers, and still treat women like chattel in the year 2017. Glad to see the tradition continues with the Bush family’s favorite foreigners.

Then off to the NATO conference, where he gave a tongue-lashing to our bewildered allies, who seem to view President Piggy as the rich drunk uncle who has to be invited to every reunion so they don’t get cut out of his will, no matter how crass he acts before throwing up into the salad bowl. Nice to see him push away other leaders so he could get in the front row for the photo op, as well. Don’t want to miss a chance for another magazine or newspaper cover, do we?

And just to make sure Mr. Immaturity isn’t accused of playing favorites in compromising other countries’ intelligence sources, say like Britain and Israel, he had to brag about the location of our submarines to the truly psychopathic, even by Trumpian comparison, president of the Philippines. The bright side here is that if he’s as good at locating our subs as he was with the USS Carl Vinson, nobody will know where to look.

Ever the Pollyannas who look through rose-colored glasses, as is P&J’s wont, we can delight in no nuclear war … yet. Mission accomplished!

Friends in Chicago

How comforting to know that Vo Dilun’s Governor GIgi has such good friends in that “toddlin’ town.” She headed out there on Tuesday, May 23, to visit one of those friends and attend a fundraiser being held for that friend. The friend was Christie Hefner, the former CEO of  Playboy and daughter of the legendary pajama boy.

No word on whether Gigi stopped by to see her other Chicago pal, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who hosted a fundraiser for her back in 2013 before her first run for governor.
For those looking for some sort of scandal, there’s nothing here. This is the way the world works in 2017.
New Book Reeks of Rhody (and a Lot More)

Kudos and congrats to Casa Diablo regular and Vo Dilun native Jim Berkin  (nee, Berkowitz) whose recently published second book in his Professor Wagstaff mystery series is now available via Amazon. Its title is Wagstaff & Meatballs and is loaded with pop culture and Vo Dilun references (from Brown and RISD to OC — that’s organized crime, aka, LCN, for the uninitiated). The book is a detective/mystery/comedy that would make two of its inspirations (Groucho and Providence’s own SJ Perelman) proud.
Jim has been teaching college courses in history, film and television in the southern California area for many years now. We highly recommend this book as a light and fun summer read.
Your superior correspondents do not wish to provide any spoilers so we hope this brief description will suffice. The first Wagstaff mystery, Cut to Wagstaff, is also available on Amazon and, to find out more about the author (one of the few people P&J know who was a contestant on “Jeopardy”), go to jimberkin.com.

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