The story of Dan Doyle, the founder and former head honcho of the Institute for International Sport (IIS), who is now facing many years in prison after being convicted of embezzlement and forgery in connection with his work for the IIS, and cost Rhode Island taxpayers as much as $5 million, is a very sad one, the financial loss to citizens notwithstanding. Phillipe, who once worked for Doyle at the IIS, offers his take.
P. first met up with Doyle, who he knew peripherally through mutual friends in the Little Rhody sports world, in the mid-1990s. P. walked into one of the finest hotels in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, and saw a huge banner draped across the lobby that read, “University of Rhode Island World Scholar-Athlete Games.” It was more of a shock than if he had encountered a friend from his local bar back home enjoying a Lion Stout beer on the verandah in khaki linen pukka sahib attire.
P. took a photo of the banner and gave it to Doyle upon his return to the states and his job at URI’s Grad School of Oceanography, and expressed his interest in the Scholar-Athlete Games, which obviously had a demonstrable international reach. One thing led to another, and soon P. was doing freelance PR work for Doyle and the IIS.
The man Phillipe saw at that time was driven to a degree one rarely sees. And his accomplishments to that point were as startling as they were admirable: bringing together hundreds of young athletes from around the world with an emphasis on academic and cultural achievement; uniting kids from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds in Northern Ireland to play basketball together; bringing in speakers such as Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu to further inspire the youth; and becoming well-known within American sports circles for going where no man had gone before in this arena of marrying academics and athletics. Doyle seemed to be on the road half the time working on his projects and delivering speeches, the other laboring (and sleeping at night) in the Institute’s huge building on the URI campus. He took only rare visits home to his family in Connecticut.
P. left after a couple years of helping out at IIS, and he never saw or even thought about the idea of the Institute being misused by Doyle, and was as shocked as anyone when the charges were brought against him. Being neither a psychiatrist nor a philosopher, Phillipe can only imagine that from Doyle’s intense nature, his many successes, and his dedication to young athletes, that his efforts became an almost messianic quest to him, wherein the glorious ends justified any means used to achieve them.
Sadly, that became far from true. Phillipe feels very sorry for Dan, as well as the people he has hurt along the way, but his day of final reckoning in the legal system has come due. It will be hard to forget stepping out of the 100+ degree heat into that enormous Colombo hotel lobby and seeing a sign touting URI and the Scholar-Athlete Games, and feeling not just stunned, but extremely proud of Little Rhody.
And then one day you grow up.
Life on the Used Car Lot
Well, you have to hand it to New Yawk City developer Jason Fane for thinking he is dealing with a bunch of backwater rubes here in Little Rhody when it comes to his ambitious plans for the I-195 land in downtown La Prov.
Fane got all the big headlines when he recently said he would like to erect three enormous phallic symbols of 33, 43 and 55 stories along the Providence River. This preposterous proposal that would dwarf the existing skyline was generally seen as an over-the-top suggestion for Our Little Towne, but hey, wouldn’t we all look big time now, Gomer?
Fane also displayed his deep understanding (honk!) of the Vo Dilun way of life by saying that the new condos and apartments in the three buildings would be gobbled up by folks who would want to move back into the city from the ‘burbs to enjoy such luxurious accommodations. (We’ll pause for you to say, “Are you shitting me?” at this point.) Yes, who wants to live down by the coast and its excellent beaches and open spaces when you could be holed up in an ostentatious, ugly behemoth of a building where you need to be escorted to your car at night by a security guard in a city where they roll up the sidewalks at 10pm (but provide valuable sleeping space for off-duty panhandlers)? People work years to finally afford that little bungalow at Bonnet Shores or near Misquamicut and retire as far away as possible from Kennedy Plaza, nevermind Olneyville or The Bucket.
Now that Fane jarred most citizens awake with his metropolitan monoliths, he is now moving with the oiliness of a veteran used car salesman and switching his pitch to a mere 43-story building, tiny in comparison to the original project, which would still be taller than the iconic Superman building downtown. (Oh, and never mind the current seven-story height limit now in effect, we can take care of that for you, Mr. Fane, nudge-nudge, wink-wink.) And with his arm wrapped around the city fathers’ shoulders, he’s saying the new deal is because we look like real savvy customers who know their buildings and were sharp enough to know his initial pitch was for too much. But he’s sure we will appreciate this new scaled-back “special opportunity” for “re-imagining downtown Providence.” And just think about the gleam of admiration in your little lady’s eyes when you roll up in this new model.
The speed with which Fane has shifted gears, and the pressure he appears to be putting on the city and the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, combined with his obvious lack of knowledge of the character or concerns of the Biggest Little public, make P&J think we are being hustled big-time. But with a governor hungry for the slightest success for any project in her economic achievement portfolio, perhaps it is best we take time to kick the tires and at least look under the hood and make sure there isn’t just a hamster wheel there before we buy this gleam machine we are being peddled.
And then there’s Ben Carson for HUD and Rhody’s own Michael Flynn (a leading perpetrator of fake news) for National Security advisor. Yes, sleep tight, America.