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Squid’s Ink: A few modest proposals

We sent most of our hackers off to fight Russian and Chinese hackers, so this month, we’re relying on a coffee cabinet of optimism and outrage. 

A Votive Candle for Democracy

You may have heard that democracy is in trouble (it is), that government is corrupt (sometimes) and that our nation is divided (it always has been). But…

Vote anyway. 

Both Trump and Biden grabbed office with nail-bitingly thin margins. In Rhode Island a few hundred voters can tip the balance. (Which is why, for years and years, thick necked guys have driven to senior citizens’ homes and rounded-up mail-in ballots.)

It would be nice to think that there’s a benevolent and enlightened dictator who will solve climate change, reduce crime, improve education, lower taxes and preserve your right to bear arms (or arm bears), but that fine upstanding non-gender-specific candidate has been in hiding for years. 

We squid have a saying: Didn’t vote? Don’t complain. 

So preserve your right to bitch and moan by taking the 15 minutes to cast your ballot. Even if it’s raining! They won’t dunk your thumb in purple ink, but you’ll get a cool sticker. 

Election day is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8. 

The Abortion Abortion

Roe V. Wade is dead. So millions of women and children are being forced by law to bring unwanted children into existence. We squid don’t have either birth control or abortion. If we did, there’s no way that RI would be able to harvest enough of us to keep calamari as its state appetizer. It’s hard enough to raise children when they are wanted.
Here’s our solution: Anyone who votes for a candidate who won’t support a woman’s right to choose will be required to adopt two children. What? You don’t want those kids either? 

Governor Groans

If she wasn’t a secretive unknown, we might consider voting for Ashley “The Louis Vuitton Carpetbagger” Kalus. Her jabs at Governor Dan “Dozing Dan” McKee have been devastating. Education scores delayed? Pow! Energy prices up? Bam! FBI Investigation? Biff!

BUT…

  • Kalus won’t clearly say whether she’s pro-choice or anti-abortion. This is code for, “I’m a politician looking out for myself.”
  • Kalus also won’t denounce Trump or the January 6 insurrection. (“Vote for me, I’m ok with tearing it all down…”)
  • Kalus “loaned” her campaign $3.7 million dollars, which is all the number-crunching media needed to dub her a “viable” candidate. If this isn’t buying an election, we don’t know what is.
  • And then there’s the lawsuit in Chicago against Kalus and her husband. Whether the suit has any merit, reading the account in the Journal, shows that Kalus screwed a friend in a business deal and then walked away. 

THAT SAID…

  • Dozing Dan McKee needs to wake up and actually lead, rather than sit in the passenger seat wondering, “Where’s Gina?” Fewer than a third of primary voters thought you were worth a damn. If you get reelected, prove us wrong. 

Public Education is Killing It!

Fuggetabout Rhode Island, how’s education in the US going? 

Well, the recent school shooting in St. Louis was number 40 for the year with a bullet. 

Simultaneously, the US Department of Education reports steep declines in test scores. Two-thirds of fourth grade students are not proficient in reading. We’re shocked! You mean that after a two-year pandemic, kids performed worse on standardized tests? Outrageous! But dig a tiny bit deeper and you’ll learn that in 2019, the percentage of fourth-graders who couldn’t read was 60%!

Public policy seems to be designed to punish children and teachers for not meeting learning objectives that they weren’t meeting before the pandemic. And to keep things spicy, we’ll make sure we keep assault rifles on the street and spend money turning schools into hardened locked down prisons.

Here’s our radical proposal: stop telling our children that they’re behind. They’re not. They are where they are. Stop doggedly teaching to tests that prove everyone is failing. Restore funding to the things that make school worth going to – art, music, creative play, sports, and reading for fun. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but reading can be fun. 

And stop making teachers responsible for everything. Parents, you need to get involved. You need to put down your phone and read with your kids. Or read to your kids on your phone. If you care about your kids, spend the time.

BUT… What do we do about the kids whose parents don’t care? (Remember when you voted to eliminate a woman’s right to choose?) Or the ones who do care, but don’t have the time because they’re working two or three jobs to survive? 

Put all children in schools that are bright and open and fun to attend. Extend the day and increase tutoring. Ban assault rifles and teach young people self-defense. 

Demonstrate the value of education by learning from the mistakes of the past and implementing change – even if it does mean that testing companies and curriculum publishers go bankrupt.

Satire?

Our editor just whacked us upside the head with a two-by-four and asked, “What happened to the satire?” First of all, that hurts. Picture a poor defenseless squid being pre-assaulted by a rampaging rhinoceros and… OW!

Bike Lane Bombs and RIPTA Retread

By now you’ve heard about the Great Hope Street Urban Trail Trial Debacle and RIPTA’s cancellation of Providence high school student bus runs. The Trail ran for its scheduled week, and then vanished in a flurry of online surveys and partisan posting on Instagram and NextDoor. For its part, RIPTA keeps trying to hire bus drivers, is rerouting some regular bus service, all while considering giving free fares to the homeless. And as of press time, First Student school bus drivers were contemplating a strike, complaining about poor wages, low hours, and the twin threats of COVID, and rabid parents.

[Editor: We’re still waiting for the satire…]

We’ve got a simple solution – hire the homeless to drive the buses and let them sleep in them at the end of the day. Yes, keeping the newly dubbed “Bus Bums” scent-free would require installing showers in bus parking lots, but that’s less expensive than either building affordable housing or giving the Superman building undeserved tax breaks.

[Editor: What about the bike lane?] 

And, since the Bus Bums don’t have either commercial licenses or training, those little white pylons won’t protect anybody in the bike lanes, so the whole thing is moot.

[Editor: Have you been inhaling from school bus tail pipes this month?]

Sophomoric and Graveyard Humor

  • You know those sponsorship ads on The Public’s Radio (NPR), the ones that aren’t commercials? We recently heard that Providence’s Swan Point is “a full service cemetery.” 

We hacked their computers and learned that not only will they burn or bury your dead, they’ll also wash your car while you’re at the funeral, and if nobody wants to take care of Grandma’s yappy dog, Kibble, they’ll euthanize the puppy and put him in the casket with Grandma.
[Editor’s note: no real dogs were killed to make this sick joke, but two grandmothers did expire in the testing phase.]

  • A bunch of students are suing Brown University for “pre-assault.” From what we understand, they’re accusing the Ivy League Institution of failing to make its campus safe from violent miscreants who want to – and did – rape students. 

Our hackers discovered that Brown is considering: banning burlesque, mini skirts, and theater with sexual content, arming its rent-a-cops with semi-automatic weapons, installing surveillance cameras with facial recognition on campus trees, and putting estrogen and saltpeter into the drinking water to put a damper on non-consensual encounters. 

  • We also learned of another lawsuit accusing Brown’s dining services of “failing to make its meal plans fitness safe.” Chubby plaintiffs blamed Brown for their “freshman fifteen” pounds of weight gain and claimed that the University should have told them that eating pizza and cheesecake without exercising was unhealthy.
    [Editor’s note: Sexual assault is no joke. Nor is obesity. For that matter, politics really isn’t funny either. Maybe we need to rethink this whole satire thing…]



Squid’s Ink: October Kerfuffles

Our hackers had an easy September. We floated under the waves at contaminated beaches, and lounged under the bridges as flood waters rushed past above. Yes, we dodged those lures and fishing hooks (oh, the sweet temptation of near-death), but we emerged into the hurricane-election season unscathed. While others may think that the State’s appetizer of calamari is a noble thing, we find it shameful and terrifying. But that is an issue for another month.

Political Asylum

Nobody in the Rhode Island Democrat establishment will say this, but they are terrified that Governor Dan (“You snooze you lose”) McKee will shank the election to newcomer Ashley (“Carpetbagger”) Kalus

Kalus, of course, is known for maintaining houses in Illinois, Florida, and now Newport. Her proposed education policy is to ‘Do what Massachusetts is doing… whatever that is, but better.’ Her stand on the abortion choice issue has been to dissemble and mumble platitudes on Twitter. Sounds like a true Rhode Island Pol to us!

Meanwhile, McKee has his fingers crossed that whatever the FBI is investigating will take so long it won’t land until after the election. McKee squeaked a win in September with fewer than one-third of the anemic primary vote, only after a flurry of early and absentee ballots were discovered at the Board of Elections in a plain brown paper bag. 

“Any other candidate would be taking a victory lap,” said political consultant Goe Getter, “but McKee’s got to be worried. Kalus has loaned her campaign millions – lots more than McKee has fundraised. And we all know that while money can’t buy happiness, it just might buy an election.” 

We woke several voters to ask their thoughts, but they just wanted to know if we’d brought coffee and donuts.

Migrant Migraines

In a brilliantly cynical move, Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis used taxpayers’ money to airlift Central American Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, where they were greeted with warm chowder, fried clams, and a one-way ferry ticket off the island. 

We had an imaginary conversation with Rhode Island’s own Survivor champion, Richard (“Don’t tax me”) Hatch, who told us, “Poor strategy. If they had been naked, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection would have classified them as a protected migratory species, and sent them to the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.”

Just before press time, our hackers also learned that in August, more than 2,000 migrants were dropped into Central Falls by parachute. They were greeted by distant relatives, taken home, and immediately put to work for Central Falls Restaurant Week. The parachute fabric is currently available at Lorraine Mills in Pawtucket for $14.95/yard.

Bussing and Biking Blunders

Blaming a COVID-related labor shortage, The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority has been reducing service and in September canceled bus runs for Providence high school students. RIPTA, which seems to think that buses are a benefit for poor people rather than a vital part of a vibrant city, promised to notify students at least 10 minutes in advance. East Side Classical High School Parents were outraged and demanded immediate action. Parents from other parts of town shrugged, “This is how RIPTA always behaves. It hates students.”  RIPTA Chairman, Scott “I drive a car” Avedisian explained that to solve the problem, RIPTA is holding job fairs…“Paging Ralph Kramden!”

Meanwhile, as we go to press, the East Side is also getting a taste of Environmental Road Rage. 

As part of a one week Urban Trail Test. Part of Mayor Jorge (“Kinda Cute in Bike Shorts”) Elorza’s Great Streets Initiative, more than 130 parking spaces were removed from Hope Street to make way for a two-way bike lane, which was sponsored by Spin Bikes, the 3M corporation and the AARP. 

Some residents and businesses dubbed the experiment “non-democratic,” “anti-senior” and “anti-business.” 

Cycling advocates pointed to sea level rise, the price of oil, and how much nicer the world would be without cars. 

Will fistfights erupt? Will businesses go bankrupt? Will double-wide strollers be mowed down by rogue scooterists? Only time will tell.

Several Munchkin Bites

So… now the Dunk is the Meek. It feels like we’ve traded coffee and donuts for the mouse in the hole or the roadrunner sticking out its tongue… What’s next, vendors selling life and property insurance at Monster Truck Rallies? “Popcorn, beer, get your red hot auto liability…”
Anyway, like many of you, we’ve been wondering whether liberating its brand from the donut was a smart choice for the Dunkin’ corporation. The ubiquitous New England chain has been dashing across the pond, where it partnered with E.l.f Cosmetics to produce a makeup collection. (Really!) You can get Boston Creme Eyeshadow, a Dunkin’ Strawberry Frosted with Sprinkles Face Sponge, or the fabulous E.l.f. Dunkin Donut Forget Putty Primer, which has a “slight, sweet donut-inspired scent.” What’s next Pumpkin Latte Rouge? Or maybe Lobster Roll Croissant Lipstick? 

Speaking of waffles… If you haven’t read Steve Ahlquist’s interview of Elorza on the Buff Chace 8% TSA, it’s a lovely look at how the sausage gets made. Here’s our excerpt: Steve: “$30 million tax break for what??” Elorza: “Legal department… Risk… We might lose… I’m not afraid of Nick Hemond… Just give them the money and hope nobody else sues.”

Even though it has nothing to do with Rhode Island, our hackers learned that  Queen Elizabeth II of England is still dead. Despite attempts by Mark Zukerberg to reanimate her in the Metaverse, the longest ruling monarch in British history remains interred at Windsor Castle. Rumors that she was buried with several of her favorite corgi dogs are considered both fatuous and in poor taste. When asked for a comment, her son, King (“Prince”) Charles III shook his head and waggled his ears.

Finally, The Price of Gas at the Pump continues to decline as the November elections approach. “This is just business as usual,” explained Dr. Rill B’aby D’rill, spokesperson for the Oil International Cartel (OIK). “We like to give consumers a scare in the summer, and then make it easier for our puppets… er bought-and-paid-for… er politicians to win in the fall.”




Squid’s Ink: Learn’n an Stuff

The Rhode Island school “system” is a lot like Rhode Island’s famous New York System – a lot of mystery-meat hot wieners on a griddle with a whole bunch of condiments and a “secret meat sauce” that somehow makes it desirable. 

So many choices!

According to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), “There are 66 public Local Education Agencies (LEAs) or districts in Rhode Island.” There are so many school superintendents that every year they give out a “Rhode Island Superintendent of the Year” award.

Montgomery County Maryland, which has about the same population as Rhode Island and more students has exactly one school district. Montgomery County has great schools and they’ve got shitty schools, but they don’t have more than 30 different bus contracts, school unions and school supply ordering departments.

Roller Coaster RIDE

Meanwhile, our solution to a “failing school system” (Providence) was to take away local power and give it to an ill-equipped RIDE, which has spent the last several years touting improvements, while producing close to zero in the way of actual results.

“Our strategy is to blame the city for what went wrong,” said RIDE spokesperson, Dr. Ima Freud, “And we take credit for everything else. So far nothing’s actually changed, so it’s a win-win. Oh, and we can also blame COVID.”

[Editor: Isn’t this supposed to be a satire column? Squid: Don’t you think this is funny?]

Ballot Ballet

Meanwhile, some bright bulb on the Providence City Council decided that turning the paper tiger school board into a “partially elected” paper tiger school board would be a good idea. 

Under the City Charter change proposal, half the school board would suck up to the mayor and the other half would depend on sucking up to the voters.

Soon-to-be-former Mayor Jorge Elorza vetoed the measure, but in a last minute vote, the City Council overrode it.

After voting “Yes,” Councilman John Goncalves said that, “injecting more politics into the school board is not a great idea.”

WAIT WAIT WAIT. This guy voted to make voters vote on a resolution to make voters vote for an elected school board while thinking that voting on this is not something he should vote for?

Yes, good readers, Goncalves did go to school in Providence. He must have missed the day they taught that voting “No” on a bad idea is a good idea.

We at the Squid’s Ink offer a different proposal…

Create a “Satan-Approved School Board.”

That’s right. According to the Bible, Lucifer “The Snake” Morningstar was the first regional school superintendent, and he knew how to get students interested in learning. 

Rather than reading books, the Slithering One tempted Eve with the fruit of the tree of good and evil. Forget books, just eat an apple! 

Then, the snake let Eve tempt Adam and the rest was history. 

Literally that was the beginning of history, because in Eden nothing happened until they got kicked out and Cain formed the world’s first city… Which had a mayoral-appointed school board.

“Genesis is a textbook example of student-centered learning,” Educational Consultant De’mon S. Pawn told the Squid’s Ink. “You need to meet students where they are. Instead of fruit, we’ll substitute educational Dunkin Frozen Chocolates or Coolatas. And guys will still do anything to get laid.”

We wondered why the Lord of Hell was taking an interest in Providence, and the devil’s detailer had an answer.

“These days, so few people believe in good or evil, that it behooves the devil to improve public education. We know that old Nick* can get things done. We’ve got a five-thousand year marketing campaign. If we can’t get students to learn, no one can.”

Under the Satan’s proposal, candidates for school board will raise money to get themselves elected, offer empty promises, and be stymied by intricate contracts with unions and endemic under-funding. 

[Editor: What’s the difference between that and the current proposal? Squid: Nothing. See… It is satire!]

Providence citizens will be able to vote on the proposed City Charter measure this month. 

*Old Nick is not affiliated with former School Board President and known lobbyist Nick Hemond. Probably.

Sad to Say, Chip Chip Chipping Away

Chip Young passed away? Noooooo!

How do you say farewell to an institution? Chip was half of Motif’s… er The Providence Phoenix’s… er The Phoenix’s NewPaper… er The NewPaper’s, er The Eagle’s Phillipe and Jorge. Back when this squid was just a microbe, Chip gave us our first journalism job. Honestly, we were never quite sure whether he was Phillipe or Jorge. Perhaps that’s because P&J were the first transitional humans in New England. Long before wokeness awoke and political satire bowed to political correctness, these two wild and crazy guys were talking smack and taking hard and pelting highly accurate potshots from their thrones at Casa Diablo down on Rhode Island’s highest and mightiest. No politician, celebrity or media source was immune.

Chip was kind, generous, gregarious and quick with the nickname. (Yes, we’ve stolen the idea. One of our favorites has always been David “Little Chi Chi” Cicilline.)

Today, when you look out to the State Capital, and see the Independent Man standing high and proud, know that under that strategically draped loincloth, his staff is not fully erect. Its huge golden member is flying at half mast for Chip Young.




Squid’s Ink: Top 10 Whines and Breaking News…

Before we get to our Top 10 Whines, this just in…

Our hackers uncovered  three subversive plots! One comes from a cowardly corporation, and another by what we call the “shallow state” government…

  • RI’s own CVS is renaming itself “Craven Venal Sellout” and has decided to follow the lead of WalMart, by allowing pharmacists to decide who gets birth control and abortion medication. We’ve learned that CVS is going several steps further, allowing checkout clerks to prevent fat people from buying candy and junk food, and anyone named Britney from purchasing hair blonding or bleaching products. “Some people can’t control themselves,” said CVS’s inquisitor-in-chief Youwanna Crossme. “We want our righteous employees to both have a clean conscience and save your soul.” Look for a forthcoming software upgrade allowing automated tellers to void controversial sales then blare the tune, “Shame shame shame!” 
  • The PawKicks Stadium is a Go-ooaaaaal! RI Commerce, the quasi governmental agency that helped to spawn the 38 Studios debacle, has approved plans to build a soccer stadium in Pawtucket. Gov. Dan McKee cast the tie-breaking vote, claiming that he’s not “walking away” from Pawtucket. Never mind that the project was initially proposed with a housing component. Never mind that the Bucket already has an empty stadium. This is new! This is bold! Shovels are ready and they’re hoping to have fans in the stands by next season! Right… Once again, a business has convinced the powers-that-spend that RI is ready to kick balls! 
  • In a bold move to outsource a health care nightmare, the Rhode Island Department of Health put out a call for North Korean hackers to take over the computers at Eleanor Slater Hospital and hold the beleaguered mental health institution hostage. “Nobody here understands patient care,” said Dr. Ima Freud, interim interim director of interims. “We don’t understand North Korean, and they seem crazy too, so it’s a win win.” So far, there have been no takers.

Winning Whines 

Rhode Islanders love to complain. And when we complain, we whine. Think Janice from friends, or a pro wrestler with an upcoming grudge match.

Let us hear from you about what your complaints are. Send an email to admin@motifri.com and they’ll forward it to the Squid!

  1. It’s too fah… What do you mean I have to walk a block from my car? All the way to Cranston? And back? That’ll take at least half an hour. 
  2. Those Providence Speed Humps seem to have a problem with birth control and weight gain. They multiply like rabbits and eat nothing but junk food and high fructose corn sodas. Who do I call to get the underbody of my car replaced?
  3. “Caution. Bus. Is. Turning.” Really? Every time you turn the wheel? You know what happens when somebody tells you over and over and over and over… you stop listening. I live in front of a bus stop. I have dreams of busses turning cautiously. Please make it stop!
  4. It’s not that you gotta know a guy to get it done. It’s that I don’t know which guy can get it done. And can we still call them guys anymore? Shouldn’t they be non-gender specific… what, drones? Potential bribees? (By the way, have you ever noticed how inexpensive it is to buy a Rhode Island politician? We’re the Ocean State Job Lot of political influencers. Except we at Squid’s Ink like Ocean State Job Lot. Really!)
  5. Not enough tentacles in my fried calamari. And what’s with the skimping on hot peppers?
  6. You want me to pay to go to the beach? Between parking fees and entry fees, it’s often challenging to get to the legal right of way between the mean high tide and the drowning mark. And the state beach passes are only for beaches on one side of the state. 
  7. Seaweed and jellyfish and seagulls infest the beaches. Get all that wildlife off the sand and out of the water so we can party and listen to our phones real loud. Oh, and the wifi sucks, so live streaming is really a pain…
  8. Everybody hates Providence, including much of Providence. This is a real shame, because Providence is a great city. Yeah, it’s got problems. Who doesn’t? But Providence isn’t out to screw the rest of the state. It wants you to love it. 
  9. RI public schools all suck – except where the property taxes are high. But raising property taxes won’t make a sucky school better. Fewer students per classroom might. But lower property values means less money for teachers…
  10. The DMV. How difficult is it to have a computer system that runs faster than they did in 1974? Do I need to make an appointment? If I do make an appointment, will they be on time? How long does it take to renew a driver’s license? And do you notice that they always take the people who are there after closing… does that mean the workers are getting overtime?



Squid’s Ink: Chum chum chum chum

Even as daylight lingers, here in the Ocean State, the ink is thick and dark with swirling chum and hidden agendas. Our hackers didn’t have to look far to find the usual manipulations and idiocies. In this column, we’re just kicking a few rocks and seeing what scuttles.

  • In a profitable effort to keep pandemic numbers down, the State of Rhode Island has begun charging sales tax on COVID-19 test kits. That’s right. They used to be free, but now we’re making bank! 
  • Speaking of bank… The proposed Apex… er, Tidewater Soccer Stadium was given a delay of game penalty card when RI Commerce sent their request for more taxpayer funding back to committee. Former RI Money Store Chief Stephan Pryor denied it had anything to do with his run for State Treasurer. “I like giving businesses multimillion-dollar bribes,” Pryor explained. “I was just in the restroom washing my hands.” He resigned from RI Commerce about ten minutes later to run for state treasurer.
  • Speaking of multimillion-dollar bribes… the off-season Pension Obligation Bond referendum passed! Providence is Saved! The citizens of Providence approved… wait, let’s be real. Four percent (4%) of the voters participated in the farce, er, referendum, and a little more than 3% actually voted to approve it. Imagine two half-empty RIPTA buses searching for a new bus terminal, and the guy who filled the tank of another bus with gas voted “Yes.” Now we’re in a quandary, hoping that interest rates never go down, so the bond will never be issued.
  • Ten minutes after PVD hid… er, deferred… er, gambled… on paying off Cianci-era retirees with a Union-backed Ponzi scheme… Okay, so that whole sentence got away from us, let’s start again.
  • Ten minutes after PVD pretended to solve the pension crisis, the City Council gave taxpayers a break, lowering the real estate tax in order to gather votes for the upcoming election. “We had to do something,” said mayoral candidate Nirva La Fortune. The Council celebrated by taking bong hits then holding hands and singing “Kumbaya!”
  • Speaking of bong hits… Marijuana is finally legal in RI, a fact which New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins publicly celebrated again and again during his stellar performance at PVDFest. That he spoke from the “City Stage Sponsored by Waste Management” was not considered an ironic reflection on the state of the city.
  • Speaking of solid waste… A “privately owned” sewage treatment plant in Woonsocket has been caught dumping effluent (that’s piss and poop for us non-scientists) into the Blackstone River since July of 2021. This June, the RI DEM woke up and realized that the Blackstone River is contaminated and advised staying away from the water. When asked if the festering sludge affects the Seekonk River, DEM said, “No. It’s got a different name, which protects boaters, fisherfolk and clammers downstream.”
  • Speaking of guns… (Ok, we weren’t speaking of guns, but we’ve got a rhythm going.) After a spate of mass shootings, RI did the bare minimum by making large capacity magazines illegal. In a Providence Journal interview, Senate President Dominic Ruggerio was quoted as saying, “I will never vote to take anyone’s gun away from them. Never. Never. I mean, that’s a constitutional right … unless it’s a domestic abuser.” 
  • Speaking of domestic abusers, Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen restaurant is for sale. Numerous articles have cited the allure of the popular dead mayor and wife batterer Vincent A Cianci’s “Table Number Five.” A historical marker cites this as the exact spot where the phrase “under the table” was coined.
  • Speaking of lip service, the State of RI and the Federal Government made Junteenth a holiday, celebrating the fact that many enslaved non-white people have been denied freedom, education and economic opportunities for longer than legally permitted. Can we feel good about America yet? Speaking for the long-oppressed Native and formerly interned Japanese and railroad-building Chinese American communities Tonto, Kato, and Mr. Wang the drycleaner all shook their heads, but because they’re still sidekicks, didn’t have any speaking lines.
  • Speaking of packing the United States Supreme Court by increasing the number of justices… No, the Democrats have been too cowardly to even put forth the option.

Well, I’m going to go grab my assault rifle, and prevent an abortion, because in 2022, women don’t get to choose who to bring in to the world and little children don’t get a say on getting shot. 

Termination Destination

Within days of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe V Wade, our hackers uncovered a new addition to the Innovation Economy: Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island is collaborating with the Providence Tourism Council to turn Rhode Island into your “Abortion Vacation Resort!”

The $5,000 (reimbursable) package includes:

  • Round trip airfare from Orlando to TF Green 
  • Luxury office accommodations in the Superman Building
  • Fried calamari (rings only) on Federal Hill
  • All you can eat hot wieners at the New York System
  • Armed escort to and from Planned Parenthood
  • An expedited medical marijuana card to brighten the mood
  • A RIPTA shuttle to Scarborough Beach
  • And all the Del’s Lemonade you can drink

“We are aware that for many, an abortion is a serious and often depressing procedure,” said Dr. Ima Freud, the interim head of interims. “With Disney offering to cover the costs, we think this is a great opportunity to bring that DNC to PVD!”

Several slogans are under consideration:

  • Fuck the Supreme Court, Visit Rhode Island
  • Warmer, Cooler, Abortioner!
  • We’re your termination destination!



Squid’s Ink: Sleight of handouts: a primer

The waters around Providence are particularly murky this month as the city government pushes to pass a $500 million “Pension Obligation Bond” in order to “Save Providence”  while simultaneously handing out tax deals to the Superman Building, Fane Tower, and a bunch of downtown residential buildings.

While crawling along the sludge at the top of the Bay, we overheard this conversation between Citizen Crab and one of our Over-Educated Squid Friends…

Like a Penguin in Bondage

OES: Bonds, in case you don’t know, are a form of deferred taxation. Instead of raising taxes to fund a particular project, we pretend it’s free, and then pay extra in interest to maintain the fiction. Politicians love bonds, because they don’t have to tell voters, “I’m going to raise your taxes.” And voters? Well, we just don’t pay attention to the real costs. 

CC: Hmm. That doesn’t sound like a bad deal. How many of these bonds does the city have? 

OES: The 2021 budget “Debt Service” reports almost 50! 

CC: Is that a lot?

OES: Well, we paid just over $20 million in interest in 2021 and just under $40 million in principal. It seems like a lot to me, but I’m just a squid.

CC: Understanding numbers isn’t hard, but eyes glaze over when you start to explain…

OES: A $500 million dollar bond will cost $500 million plus more than $500 million in interest (over 30 years). Oh, and the House Finance Committee just ignored one of the Treasurer’s recommendations that the bond should be limited to $150 million issues at a time…

CC: Wait? A BILLION DOLLARS? Where does the other $500 million go?

OES: To Wall Street Investors. 

CC: But I heard that the Pension Obligation Bond was going to be self-funding!

OES: This is what is called “Magical Thinking.” The theory is that the city borrows the money at 5% interest, but invests the money and gets a 7% return. That 2% should cover the cost of the loan.

CC: So, that’s good, right?

OES: It relies on two things: 1) Wall Street paying 7% or more and 2) None of the money actually gets used to pay pensions.

CC: Huh?

OES: That’s right. The Bond is meant to cover the pensions, but we really can’t use it if we want to pay it off without taxation. The only way to get the investment return is to keep the money “in the bank.” And if we spend it on pensions, then we won’t get the interest.

CC: But we’ll still owe the money? What happens if we go bankrupt?

OES: That’s the kicker. Pension Obligation Bonds are bankruptcy-exempt. In other words, Providence can go bankrupt and would still owe the money. Isn’t late-stage capitalism great? And it is. As long as you’re a Wall Street investor.

CC: Why don’t we just raise taxes? 

OES: Remember, no politician will get elected saying, “I’m going to raise your taxes.” Also, here are laws that prohibit Providence from raising property taxes more than 4%.

Real Estate Rules

CC: Then why are we giving deals to major real estate players?

OES: Exactly! Major landowners, many of whom give maximum campaign contributions, argue that construction= jobs and real estate growth = tax base growth, but then they claw back as many tax breaks as possible. And then they complain that the public schools suck.

  • UpriseRI revealed that one of our favorite downtown moguls, Buff Chase will be saving $30 million in taxes over the next 30 years through a Tax Stabilization Agreement. That’s $1 million dollars a year into his pocket. 
  • According to the Providence Journal, The Superman Building will get $26 million from the state and another $15 million from the city to help it make a profit… er, be less empty.
  • Fane Tower, though still stalled, is in line for $25 million in state tax credits and a $54 million city tax treaty 

The insanity of this behavior is mind-numbing. On the one hand, Providence says that it doesn’t have enough money to cover the Cianci-era pension giveaways. On the other, it’s going to allow profit-making developers to dodge their obligations to the city.

CC: Wait, how should I vote on #1?

OES: Good thing I’m a squid. I’m going to eat a crustacean and then crawl under a rock. 

CC: Hey! Get away from me!




Squid’s Ink: April Fuels Edition

Has there ever been such a month? Our hackers unearthed a trove of so much chaos, we scarcely know where to begin.

  • In response to the war in Ukraine, famed Cranston restaurant Twin Oaks has removed Russian dressing from the menu. “We want to do everything we can to help,” said Chef Ima Freud. “Besides, most people prefer our creamy Italian.”
  • Within days of the Russian invasion, the price of gas at the pump shot up. Although politicians and economists tried to explain it as a clear case of supply and demand, one gas station owner admitted, “People actually are driving less, and I already had all this fuel on hand. Raking it in is what capitalism is all about. Now I’m going to Twin Oaks for the surf and turf.”
  • “Never mind the rising cost of oil and its effect on the climate, we just can’t afford to build a wind farm,” claimed National Grid, in an attempt to extort more money from ratepayers, even as it plans to sell its RI operation. “More windmills would mess with our credit rating.” As of press time, National Grid was waiting for the state to increase the 2% profit it is already guaranteed.
  • Neighbors were less than shocked when Burrillville resident Ronald Armand Andruchuk was arrested for the possession of a cache of more than 200 firearms. “Some folk are addicted to shooting heroin,” said Jacob “Swamp Yankee” Smith. “Ron’s just into the shooting.” While prosecutors are still desperately trying to prove that there’s something wrong with the alleged crypto-currency investor, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence tweeted a suggestion, “Confiscate the guns and ship them to Ukraine.”
  • Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is pushing hard for a $500 million pension obligation bond. “We promised money to our pensioners, including myself and a bunch of State Reps,” Elorza said. “But we don’t want to lose votes by raising taxes in an election year. Or ever. So, we’re going to borrow the money to make it look like we’re doing something. Hopefully nothing will go wrong.” Former 38 Studios deal broker Michael Corso was seen rubbing his hands together in glee.
  • According to The Providence Journal, at least 60 RI judges with lifetime appointments received $3,000 “retention bonuses” for no particular reason. “Some of them were wearing body cameras,” explained  Governor Dan McKee. “Besides, we heard they were dying to get out, and that seemed a bit extreme.”
  • Speaking of The Providence Journal, the newspaper recently announced cuts to coverage and listings of local events to make more room for obituaries. When asked about the switch, Executive Editor David Ng shrugged, “Most of our readers are already dead, so…”
  • And Uprise RI recently revealed that The Providence Journal has committed to paying former House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello $30,000. We tried to find something funny to say about this, but couldn’t.
  • To a chorus of yawns, the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles revealed the six finalists in the redesign of the state’s license plate. Following in the footsteps of Gina “I’m Secretary of Commerce Now” Raimondo’s “Cooler and Warmer” debacle, these plates have been described as “Dull, duller and dullest.” The big winner is the 3M corporation, which will be paid $5.7 million for the plates which will last “at least five years.” “Why should prisoners make metal license plates that last forever?” said one unnamed state senator. “3M pays about $50,000 a year for lobbyists. They earned this, not the guys in the ACI.”



Squid’s Ink: Merger Mania

Whether it’s the approved sale of Narragansett Electric/National Grid to PPL or the disallowed merger of Lifespan/Care New England (Spanker), corporate acquisition is in the news. Our research-bots found a few other changes on the horizon…

·  The Rhode Island General Assembly was for sale, but was taken off the market. The asking price per politician was so low that prospective buyers wondered if something was wrong.

·  Careful Health of Indiana Associated (CHIA) has put in a bid for both Lifespan and Care New England. “Outsourcing is the future,” said Dr. Ima Freud, who recently relocated to the Hoosier state. “Teladoc technology gives physicians in Gary and Terre Haute access to patients in Warwick and Hope.”

·  Narragansett Bay continues to expand, and is shortly expected to acquire both the town of Warren and The Ocean Mist Bar.

·  With the slogan, “Coke on tap!” Providence Water has been sold to the Coca-Cola Company, which will move its northeast bottling operation to Scituate. The sale price of $500 million was expected to pay down Providence’s pension fund, but the money mysteriously vanished into a pothole.

·  Crossroads Rhode Island is considering merging with the Adult Correctional Institutions and building a new facility in South Providence. “Housing is housing,” said spokesperson, Huarta Coal. Central Falls has filed a lawsuit demanding that local homeless move into the Wyatt Center in place of the current practice of detaining people accused of being “illegal.”

·  The Rhode Island State Police has been purchased by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “We’ve always admired the uniforms, and of course the hats,” explained Colonel Dudley Doright. “The only change you’ll see is that officers will be even more polite.”

·  Rhode Island’s State Appetizer calamari has been acquired by Famous Food Brands, the company that already owns Autocrat Coffee Syrup, Kenyon’s Grist Mill, Little Debbie, and Marshmallow Fluff. “We like to get our tentacles into everything!” said VP of marketing Ronald Squidward.

·  As a result of redistricting, the town of Barrington has officially merged with the village of Barrington in Cambridgeshire, England. Also, the Johnston Sunrise newspaper acquired three new subscribers from The Valley Breeze, which got four subscribers from the Woonsocket Call. No one really noticed.

·  And this just in… The Rhode Island Department of Education has purchased the defunct Trump University brand name for $15, a package of Saugy wieners and a barrel of Russian sauerkraut. “We can only say so much and do so little,” said RIDE spokesperson Fulla Hotayer. “We want to prove that a good education trumps everything.”




The Squid’s Ink: Huger Health Care?

Yes, it seems like the Lifespan/Care New England merger deal was rejected by both Attorney General Peter Neronha and the Federal Trade Commission. But our hackers found documents indicating that plans remain in place… This story and analysis came up through back channels and was written with repressed bile and intestinal fortitude…

“There is always a path forward, and we will explore all options to find the best possible…”

–Dr. James E. Fanale, Care New England President and CEO, as quoted in The Providence Journal

Big may have died because of his Peloton, but for Rhode Island, big healthcare will  still be better.

Ignoring warnings from the Rhode Island Attorney General, Federal Trade Commission, physicians and small medical providers, it looks like the smallest state may someday only have one health care company. 

“With our proposed merger of Lifespan and Care New England, we expect all other competition to wither and die,” said Dr. Ima Freud, the new Chief Splicer for Corporate Copulation. “Our research shows no need for small medical businesses to exist.

“When people go to ‘their doctor’ they take their time explaining their problems. They expect listening, and even empathy. This slows the healing process down. We’ve added keystroke counting software to examining room laptops. We call it ‘Docking Docs for Dallying.’”

Warehousing Medical Records 

One of the biggest complaints about the medical industrial complex—er, medical providers—is the lack of communication between different offices. The merger will solve that with a new system called All Records Gathered Here, or ARGH.

“Your randomized doctor will be able to know at a glance what venereal diseases you had as a youth,” Dr. Freud explained. “We’re even syncing it with your Stop and Shop and Whole Foods customer care numbers so we can tell whether you’re lying about soda and potato chips.”

When questioned about software glitches and data security breaches, Dr. Freud waved away concerns and told us that the problems faced by UHIP and RIPTA are “Just psychosomatic.” 

Other proposed merger benefits:

  • Larger buildings in fewer locations with smaller offices and starker lighting.
  • More employees focused on maintaining a “quality customer experience.”
  • Data Driven Digital Doctoring with mandatory linkage between cell phones, watches and fit-bit-type tech. “If you walk fewer than 10,000 steps a day, your risk of a heart attack doubles, so we’ll charge you more.”
  • A reduction in the number of physicians and an increase in nurse practitioners, physician assistants and traditional alternative medicine providers (TAMPs). “Folk medicine and quack cures might not work,” Dr. Freud said, “but they make people happy, and it costs less! President Trump proved it.”
  • Single-payer pricing for prescriptions combined with targeted billing. “Essentially, we’ll be able to charge whatever we want for aspirin and ibu!”
  • And of course, the latest Assessment Robots Scanning Everything (Project ARSE).
    “We’ve learned a lot from the recent releases of Alien Technology by the US Government,” said Dr. Freud, “about combining CAT scans with automatic rectal probes. We call it ‘Bend over and smile!’”

So, what’s the new company called?

According to the Internet, “LifeCare.org” has already been claimed by an end-of-life hospice in Lower Cape Fear, and the association was deemed too negative. “NewLife.org” is a Christian Church in Concord, MA.

Fortunately, following focus groups, where Rhode Island natives had trouble spelling any proposed name after only hearing it, the huge MediCorp settled on the perfect name of “Spanker,” pronounced, “Spanka.” 

“You come into the world with a spank,” Dr. Freud explained. “It works. You yell and scream, but you’ll live. We just want to keep up the practice. It’s not abuse if we legislate profits ahead of patients. Our new motto? Spanker: It’s for your own good.”

Note: this is a work of satire and not necessarily completely factual. It does not necessarily represent the opinions or views of Motif.




Squid’s Ink: Our Funny Valentines

St. Valentine was beaten to death and decapitated on February 14, so it’s no surprise that our hackers found some interesting gifts when we hacked the Hallmark Delivery Database…

  • Despite hiring her replacement, Governor Dan McKee sent former RI Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott a “Baby Come Back” strip-o-gram! The order specified that a “non-gender-specific terpsichorean” wear a K-95 mask while crooning:
    All day long, wearing a mask of false bravado (false bravado)
    Tryna keep up a smile that hides a tear (hides a tear)
    But as the sun goes down, I get that empty feeling again
    How I wish to God that you were here
  • The Rhode Island Squid Shuckers Association sent Dan McKee a jar of marinara and a jar of hot peppers to encourage the “Calamari Comeback.”
  • Former President Donald Trump and the Right Wing Wackjob… er Republican Party sent soon-to-be-former Representative Jim Langevin a dozen red roses as a thank you for declaring his un-candidacy. 
  • Now that he’s running for Congress, Seth Magaziner sent bouquets of forget-me-nots to the remaining Democratic candidates for governor. These were  accompanied by an audio message from Nelson of The Simpsons saying, “Ha ha!”
  • Nellie Gorbea replied by sending Seth a box of Sweenor’s chocolates with bites taken out of each.
  • The Rhode Island Auto Body Industry thanked Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi for overriding the veto of legislation opposed by auto insurers by sending wreaths of roses in the shape of a dented fender with the note, “Thanks for bumping up our profits!”
  • The COVID-19 Virus sent Antivaxxers little candy valentine hearts with the words, “Be Mine”

Baby Come Back lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management, Bluewater Music Corp., Crowleyhouse Music