Squid's Ink

Squid’s Ink

We’re back from our semiannual molting (don’t ask), and looking forward to scraping the barnacles off the seamy underbelly of RI’s darkest corners. According to ChatGPTChecker. com, that sentence had an 80% probability of being written by AI, but we assure you the mixed metaphors and dangling logic are all squid-generated.


In a quickie press conference, Gov. Dan (“What me worry?”) McKee shared concerns that The Independent Man might be toppled from his perch by high winds. He showed photos of a huge gap in the marble beneath the gold-plated buff icon’s feet. McKee assured us the state would fix everything!

It turns out that’s going to be harder, take longer, and cost more than anticipated. (Sort of the definition of government.) We’re just glad he managed to schedule the press conference in time to cover his ass just in case Hurricane Lee hadn’t turned out to be a dud.


Didn’t redlining, the secret practice that prevented low-income communities from buying houses, go out of fashion years ago? Evidently not.

Washington Trust Bank just agreed to a $9 million, five-year settlement to alleviate accusations of discrimination against RI’s Black and Hispanic population. (Providence Journal, Sept 28, 2023)

The Westerly-based “community bank” has 24 branches around RI, but none in any predominantly Black or Hispanic communities (let’s make up a new acronym: “BoHC”). Under the terms of the agreement, they’re going to donate $7 million to help “would be” homeowners in BoHC with loans, homeowners insurance, and closing costs. They’re going to donate $1 million to nonprofits to help with financial education, and another $1 million to advertise their generosity. They’re even going to build two branches in BoHC neighborhoods, and staff them with people who speak languages other than English.

What they didn’t do was take responsibility. Buried at the back of the ProJo article was an observation that the bank “‘vehemently’ denies the allegations.”

“Washington Trust is a suburban bank,” said Ima Freud, banking consultant. “When they said in 2016 that they wanted to go statewide, they didn’t mean impoverished inner-city. The whole point of a bank is to get money from people onto its ledgers and make a profit. If the people don’t have money, what’s the point?’

“This is actually a great deal for the bank,” Freud continued. “At a time when mortgage rates are rising, they avoid litigation, get new customers, write $7 million off their taxes, and use the rest to fund advertising targeting BoHC. Furthermore, the deal doesn’t actually specify targeting money for Black or Hispanic people, because that would be racism. It’s definitely a win for Washington Trust.”

Whether BoHC residents will ever “trust” a bank named after the owner of enslaved people is another question.


You probably know that internet providers make money renting you your router.

But did you hear about the new “smart meters” from RI Energy (Formerly National Grid, formerly Narragansett Electric) that are going to “save” somewhere between $220 million to $729 million over the next 20 years? Wow! That’s great.

But wait, there’s more. The monopoly won’t even have to pay the $153 million (or more) for the hardware and installation. The power company’s 770k customers are going to see upcharges on their bills starting at 7¢ a month, but rising to $4 a month.

Let’s do the math. 770,000 customers x $4/month x 12 months a year = $36.9 million a year! If RI Energy front-loads their “savings” as a tax write-off, without lowering costs to consumers, and then continues to collect rent from the boxes, over a 10-year period, they’re going to make about… $1 billion dollars.

Dr. Evil is laughing all the way to the (Washington Trust) bank.


Did you know that the Philip Morris Company wants to reduce smoking-related deaths?

Motif readers might have missed the recent full-page ads the tobacco giant took out in the Wall Street Journal. The company cited “public health estimates” for the one billion people worldwide who still smoke, and the 8 million annual deaths from smoking-related disease.

Is the colossal cigarette conglomerate going to stop selling death sticks any time soon? Hell no! Their goal is to transition by 2025 to 50% of their revenues from nonflammable (but still cancer-producing) “innovative products – including heated tobacco, e-cigarettes, nicotine pouches and snus…”

“The whole point of a tobacco company is to squeeze money from addicts,” said Ima Freud, a fellow at the Bill Clinton I Didn’t Inhale Foundation for Smoke & Mirrors. “This ‘Unsmoke the Future’ publicity campaign makes PM look good, while rolling out their new product lines. It’s brilliant.”

Motif followed up with the question, “What’s ‘snu’?”

“Not much,” Freud said. “What’s snu with you?”

After Freud stopped laughing, they continued, “Sorry, that’s actually part of the planned ad campaign. Snu is a Swedish tobacco pouch that’s inserted in the upper lip. They used to call it snuff, but that evokes images of spitting and mouth cancer.”