The Three Stooges
Phillipe and Jorge recently had a chat with a nationally acclaimed author who happens to be a Brown graduate and now lives in Washington, DC. One of the first questions out of his mouth was, “Does Rhode Island still have all those sleazy politics in government?” Our response was, “How does three former House members being indicted in the last two weeks work for you?” Which, of course, brought the predictable head-shaking chuckle from our distinguished visitor.
Phillipe and Jorge are inured to this sort of exchange by now, but the novelty and public acceptance of the fact that Little Rhody’s politics are slimier than a bucket of eels has worn incredibly thin.
One of the most encouraging signs we have seen lately is that as former state representatives appeared before the bench, U.S. attorney Peter Neronha publicly reared up on his hind legs and said, “This says something about our political culture here, which I think should get our attention.” Hey, Pete, the Pats are going to the Super Bowl and “Keeping up with the Kardashians” is on tonight. We can’t follow everything, you know. But at least Neronha is trying to point out the state’s citizens should be tried for aiding and abetting.
The three stars of this most recent political malfeasance reality show (take that, “Crimetown”) are former Reps. Ray Gallison of Bristol, John Carnevale of Providence (honk!) and Peter Palumbo of Cranston, the Three Stooges of Smith Hill. All the soulless Gallison did was rip off dead people and charities, milk a state grant for a bogus education organization, and maintain alleged ties to prostitution, the latter of which is almost a redundancy given the way he whored out for leadership at the State House. John Carnevale, the Homer Simpson look-alike, merely tried to convince people he lived in a one-room annex with a shared bathroom at a cheesy Providence house, while his family resided at a real home in Johnston, and added the comical touch of trying to avoid the diligent and laudable exposure of his falsified residence by Channel 12 investigative reporters by pulling a t-shirt over his head in a move that would have ashamed even a smash-and-grab burglar of a 7-11. Doh! And Palumbo, who is a weapons-grade moron, just embezzled money for his gambling jones, but hey, who doesn’t want to up the ante on drawing to an inside straight at the poker table at Mohegan Sun?
Perhaps the most encouraging sign of having some accountability in our elected officials was nailing Carnevale. In past years, lying about where you lived to get elected in that district (and getting caught), would have been brushed aside after losing your seat with the timid admonishment of, “See what happens when you get sloppy?” The authorities who nailed him for blatant perjury post facto have at least shown they have the balls to make sure this little slip isn’t forgotten, and there are dues to pay. Oh, and if the judges in charge of sentencing in these cases don’t mind some advice, since these sleazeballs relished (and illegally profited from) representing “the people,” howzabout making sure they end up in general population at their new residences?
Finding the Worst in People
Speaking of the Three Stooges, a big shout-out to House Speaker “Thick Nick” Mattiello for displaying his excellent judge of character in regard to the minions of his domain.
Mattiello appointed both Gallison and Carnevale to the mighty House Finance Committee, with Gallison named as the chair. As a legislative primer for those new to Vo Dilun, the House Finance Committee makes the most important decisions handed down during a legislative session, and is a rubber stamp of what His Excellency Thick Nick desires. That these decisions often come on budget issues that remain unseen until the 11th hour of the session (or even post-midnight), you end up with subterfuges like the 38 Studios loan (under the tainted rule of then-Speaker and currently imprisoned Gordon Fox and finance chair Steve Costantino), and any other greased-to-go moves the Speaker has plotted.
That Mattiello doesn’t bother vetting the fact that reps on the committee may have illegal side games going in addition to his own agenda seems a very slipshod way of doing business. But perhaps we can use Thick Nick’s talents of identifying the worst among us. Mattiello should be available to local police forces and the Staties when they have a police lineup to identify crooks, and use his keenly honed skills of being able to spot the guilty party out of a lineup of possible perps, standing alongside a witness behind a one-way mirror. Given his track record for picking the bad apples out of an overflowing basket of them, we can help justice be served.
Oh, warning to Thick Nick: That Ethics Commission is finally for real, despite your obstruction (and that of Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed). Game on.
Right Man for the Job
Times are bleak in all areas, but a there is a bright note on the environmental front in The Biggest Little. John Torgan will be taking over as Rhode Island state director of The Nature Conservancy, succeeding Terry Sullivan, a shining light in his own right.
Phillipe and Jorge have a special fondness for John, having been both a friend and working with him on countless projects through the years. He rose to stardom as Save The Bay’s Narragansett Baykeeper, where he constantly drew together factions that were at times at odds, including the corporate world — no easy task. His love of the Bay is reflected in his devotion to fishing, and once, while working with Phillipe on a climate change video, managed to land a striped bass from shore while the cameras were rolling (cue the striper, please). He then brought his skills to TNC, where he has been their RI Chapter Director of Ocean & Coastal Conservation since 2011, where he has done some serious heavy lifting on a variety of fronts, invariably successful, and with countless accruing benefits to all Rhode Islanders.
But more importantly to P and J, he has been a loyal and true friend for years and has bailed us out many times at both the personal and professional level, for which he will always have our undying respect and gratitude. He is also one charming mofo, and we anticipate that as head of one of the state’s premiere environmental organizations, we will all reap rewards even as our natural resources are coming under attack from the scorched earth policies and pollution-loving braindeads of the Trump administration. TNC and everyone in the state have landed a real keeper in Mr. Torgan, which we should all celebrate.
(Full disclosure: John is a member of the board of directors of ecoRI News, of which Phillipe is president, and P. couldn’t be happier or prouder about that fact.)
Phillipe and Jorge no longer have the time or energy to lead major activist projects, but perhaps there is a gung-ho Millenial who is up to taking on our Mensa-level proposition, conceived with the inspiration of several Pernod and grapefruit frozen cocktails (yes, with the tiny umbrella!).
We suggest a movement to encourage all Americans not to pay their taxes in 2017. If our billionaire President Big Baby doesn’t pay any, why should anyone else?
If a modern day, practical and applied application of a hybrid class action suit and act of civil disobedience could be bought into by millions of Americans to show their displeasure with the Orange Orangutan’s tax-dodging and failure to disclose his ties (and staggering debts) to foreign interests, while skirting his obligation to contribute to the common weal, we might have a milestone in real populism. If millions of citizens simply said, quite patriotically and in doubtless admiration of Twitterman, “Nope, what’s good enough for President Trump is good enough for us, so don’t go looking for this 1040 to be coming in by April 18,” the Internal Revenue Service would be sorely tasked to do anything. The IRS can’t even handle its existing cases of voter ID fraud, so the odds of them being able to track down and prosecute millions of cases of failure to file would be slim.
Just a thought, energetic young readers. Time to step up and be counted. (Or not, as we propose.)