What is it about public office holders in Vo Dilun? This has always been a problem (as evidenced by a front-page story in The Providence Journal a few weeks back, reciting the roll call of the fallen). Whether “jammed up,” arrested or indicted, there appears to be a recent spate of public officials who have kept law enforcement and journalists busy with their low crimes and misdemeanors.
Up at the state house, the head of the House Finance Committee, Raymond Gallison, took a fall when it was announced that he was the subject of a federal investigation. He promptly relinquished his committee chairmanship and house seat and, while the allegations and evidence of financial wrongdoings (such as using General Assembly grant money to pay his salary for a job that doesn’t seem to exist) are bad enough, inquiring minds want to know what this has to do with “prostitution,” a word that popped up regularly in the original allegations. I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.
Then, just last week, longest serving Providence city councilman, Kevin Jackson, was hauled in front of a court for allegedly embezzling funds from a youth sports program he had been running for years, and using campaign funds for personal use. When he appeared in court, he was wearing a t-shirt from Mixed Magic Theater in Pawtucket, a really great program that, obviously, has nothing to do with any of this. But it did remind P&J of an incident many years ago when someone accused of murder (and later found guilty) was arrested and brought in front of a judge wearing a WHJY t-shirt. Jorge, who worked at WHJY at the time, recalls that for a couple of years, employees at the station had been fearing the day when just this would happen — someone accused of a serious crime appears in public in a station t-shirt. So, dear readers, if you’re planning a murder, please give away your Motif t-shirt first.
Dishonorable mention also goes to former state legislator, “Bad Bob” Watson, who was charged with going to a bank in North Kingstown, causing a scene and smashing a glass door on his way out of the building. Bank employees claim that as he was driving away (on a suspended license) he yelled out, “Send me the bill,” to stunned onlookers.
Back at the State House
There was an anti-Governor Raimondo rally under the dome of the state house last week. People seemed to have all sorts of grievances, from her pledge to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants to her highway tolls program to the not-quite-so compelling fact that she got a $70 haircut before a recent trip to California where she said she was trying to drum up business for the state and (coincidentally) holding a fundraiser for her campaign coffers. Her polling figures have been dropping precipitously and callers on talk radio have been saying that they long for the days when Linc Chafee was governor.
It seems that the governorship is one thankless job. While your superior correspondents have been critical of just about everybody over the decades, we think that the people should, at the same time, understand that there are no quick solutions to our problems. It is going to take a long time to get out of the hole we’re in and there are no miracles.
This, of course, is what demagogues like Trump depend on — that he can promise miracles and the people are so dumbed down that they will go for this empty pledge backed up by no specific policy plans whatsoever. It is a sad and dispiriting time.
Kudos and Congrats
… to Duke Robillard, long known as one of the finest guitarists in the world and one of the truly vital musical figures in Vo Dilun, who has inspired generations of blues musicians. Duke recently received a BMA (Blues Music Award) from the Blues Foundation (based in Memphis, Tennessee) for best acoustic blues album of the year for The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard. And a couple of months ago, Duke had a highly praised showing of his photographs at the Van Vessem Gallery in Tiverton. This guy is a Rhode Island (and national) treasure.
… to Al Gomes, another longtime RI musical figure, the man behind Big Noise Records and organizer of Bandwagon, an initiative for hunger relief in the Biggest Little back in 1986 that raised much-needed money and awareness of problems associated with poverty within our own borders. Al was recently honored by his alma mater, Rhode Island College, by being inducted into that school’s Honor Roll/Hall of Fame. Al is still quite busy, handling promotional responsibilities for the Beach Boys and other major musical acts. Congratulations, Al.
Michael Harper was a renowned poet and professor at Brown University. He passed away in early May, his death was announced in a New York Times obituary on May 10. Harper was Rhode Island’s first poet laureate and his poetry, largely influenced by his love of jazz, was moving and dazzling. He was one of those people who can be called “the best of Rhode Island” and will be sorely missed.