Important note: Phillipe and Jorge deeply mourn the passing of our longtime friend Buddy Cianci. See our special reminiscences and tribute to him.
Phillipe and Jorge hope the members of the House Oversight Committee (the “Out, Damn Spot!” Committee), looking into the 38 Studios scandal have compost piles at home so they can enrich them with the tons of horse manure shoveled at them by former House Finance Committee Chairman Steve Costantino when he testified before them recently.
As anyone with an inkling of how Little Rhody government works is well aware, the house finance chair is one of the most powerful people in state politics — in ways having more clout than the governor. Which is why Costantino’s claims to the committee that he acted at someone else’s behest when he suddenly upped the ante on his bill to provide guaranteed loans to businesses by $75 million prior to a vote on the bill — supposedly without knowing the $75M was targeted for 38 Studios — doesn’t pass the laugh test. Costantino, an oily, arrogant little weasel if you ever saw one, also told the Out, Damn Spot Committee he was pressured by the then Economic Development Corporation (now RI Commerce Corporation) to increase the bill’s total, laying the blame on the EDC for the resultant public rip-off. Pul-eeze. Costantino would no more have felt pressure from the EDC than he would a homeless person walking in off Smith Street to make demands of His Highness.
As P and J have pointed out before, Costantino first claimed publicly he was being a good little boy and following the orders of his “superiors.” His “superiors” do not include the EDC. Rather, his direct superiors — note the plural, folks, it’s important — were the unspeakable little punk House Speaker Gordon Fox (now in prison for unrelated crimes), and then House Majority Leader Nick Mattiello (now house speaker and not in prison). Fox took the fifth about a gazillion times when questioned about the 38 Studios deal, which of course always points to a defendant’s innocence. Costantino’s other “superior,” Mattiello, has done his best Sgt. Schultz “I know noss-sink!” impression to date, in essence saying Fox and Costantino regarded him as either too stupid or incompetent to be let in on the subterfuge. Or he’s lying and willing to look like an out-of-the-loop dope who was played by his colleagues. Either way, fine credentials for the now most powerful man in Biggest Little’s political universe.
But since Mattiello re-convened the House Oversight Committee and handpicked its chair, Lady Macbeth (Rep. Karen MacBeth), we shouldn’t expect her own “superior” to be called before the Out, Damned Spot Committee any time soon. This, despite Costantino’s accusing his “superiors” in assertions before he got to the stage where you could expect that anytime his lips were moving he was lying. Ignorance is bliss, eh, Nick?
We all know about the current problems in Flint, Michigan, but there must also be something in the water in North Smithfield that damages the brain.
A town council meeting in North Smithfield is not normally something that attracts much attention. Phillipe and Jorge are not saying the town is out in the sticks municipality-wise, but the only thing they are missing is a blind kid on the front porch of town hall quick-picking a banjo.
For proof of its off-every-beaten-path sense of reality, a recent council meeting looked to have been directed by Jerry Springer, with members having a go at each other with various charges of wrongdoing that ranged from sleeping on the job to accepting large boxes of chocolate-covered strawberries as “bribes.” (Listen, darlings, if you ever want to bribe P&J, you better bring something more than a cheap version of a Whitman’s Sampler to the table, and it damn well has to pack a bigger punch than a bunch of marinated fruits.)
The fuse was lit by the comments Councilor Roseanne Nadeau left on the webpage of the local rag, The Valley Breeze, which included calling the chocolate treats a “bribe” for a previous vote. She was summarily asked to resign from the council. To cut a long story short about this asylum scene from Marat/Sade, while charges of sleeping on the job by the town planner remained moot as the inmates squabbled, perhaps the most laughable confrontation came from councilors Paul Zwolenski and Nadeau over who left the meeting with the biggest box of chocolates.
“Paul took the biggest box and said, ‘I deserve this,’ and left,’” claimed Nadeau. “Roseanne Nadeau took the largest box of chocolates that night,” countered Zwolenski, in brilliant riposte worthy of Oscar Wilde or Winston Churchill.
Both councilors are believed to be over the age of 9.
RIP, Malcolm Grear
James Malcolm Grear (known to all as Malcolm) passed away on January 24. He was a major figure in the Rhode Island arts community, having been a faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design since 1960. He also founded and ran an award-winning design studio, Malcolm Grear Designers, Inc., in Providence. He was a teacher and mentor to numerous young designers. Jorge remembers performing with his band, The Young Adults, at a party back in the 1970s at Grear studios on Eddy Street. Unfortunately, the thing he remembers most was a Brown University professor (who will remain nameless) yelling because the grad student he was trying to seduce had a crush on J. This, of course, had nothing to do with Malcolm, but it’s the kind of thing you remember.