Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 02-17-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | FEBRUARY 17-23, 2021 OPINION 13 In the space of one week, changes in the Rhode Island political landscape have been breathtaking. Regrettably, far too often what made the public gasp was the sheer audacity of the actions taken by a politician. Here are some examples:Brett Smiley – Gov. Gina Raimondo's chief of staff finally announced his resignation following a spate of campaign contributions from state vendors to his upcoming mayoral race in Providence. The mining of money from companies with whom the state does busi- ness for his campaign was unconscionable. It might be viewed as inadvertent but for the fact that Mr. Smiley has been ethically challenged in other past matters. While dealing with the city of Providence in his official state role, Mr. Smiley's campaign consult- ing business simultane- ously vacuumed in cash as a "consultant" to Mayor Jorge Elorza. Mr. Smiley and his husband owned a home in Providence assessed at $843,000 and sold it to Brown University for $1.1 million during the time that Mr. Smiley was involved with Brown University in its effort to lease the state-sup- ported Wexford Complex. His splicing and dicing of ethical situations is remi- niscent of the era of Mayor Buddy Cianci who was simi- larly ethically challenged. Gov. Gina Raimondo – The governor has been pil- loried for not resigning her post as she awaits appoint- ment as U.S. Commerce secretary. In politics, as the saying goes, "expect the unexpected." Since her resignation would be irrevocable her caution is understandable. What isn't understandable is her lame duck appointments, in one case for a post that won't be vacant until March and the appointments of two CRMC board members. These appointments smacked of political favoritism and should not have happened. Gov. Raimondo looked like a political huckster as she exits the state.CRMC directors and former Supreme Court Justice Frank Williams – Thanks to an investigative story by Jim Hummel, the public learned that, after 17 years of losing, the Champlin marina and its attorney, Robert Goldberg, arrived at a favorable settlement using lame duck commis- sioners on CRMC and the services of former Chief Justice Frank Williams, while the case was pending before the Rhode Island Supreme Court. A major problem was the exclusion of parties who had intervened in the case and the exclusion of the attorney general. In other words, it smacked of a back- room deal. The former chief justice should stay away from "mediating" a settle- ment requiring acceptance by his former confreres. Further, Robert Goldberg is married to Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg. She should recuse herself on the case but query why the taxpayer dishes out $225,000 per year for her services on the court when her husband's avaricious- ness disqualifies her from the discharge of her duties. Does the state get a salary rebate when he undertakes cases that eliminate her par- ticipation? No!Lieutenant governor candidates – Daniel McKee finally relent- ed and provided the list of folks looking to take over his job if he becomes governor. What was missing was the one candidate who would do the job for $1 because it is a nominal appointment. Apparently, the candidates all seem to want to build their own dynasty in the position. The late Robert Healey was correct. The job is a stand-by and not a posi- tion to reinvent the wheel. Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. Rhode Island politics doesn't change much There was a moment last Saturday morning when viewers in 49 states were glued to the television watch- ing the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump take a possible wild and long turn. High drama for America, but here in Rhode Island, poten- tial catastrophe. The Democratic House managers had seized on the Friday night public statement of Washington Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. She had published her account of her minority leader's report to her of his profanity-laced phone con- versation with the president during the attack on the capitol. As the storyline goes, Kevin McCarthy was urging Donald Trump to call off the siege, that it was his MAGA people and not Antifa that had stormed the building. Trump reportedly quipped that maybe the rioters were more upset about the out- come of the election than McCarthy was. The House managers saw this late trial revelation as a new chance to showcase Trump's mindset continuum supporting the attack and consequently more evidence that he truly intended to incite the rally crowd. After the lawyers argued, the Senate, akin to previous votes, passed a rule calling for witnesses. Then it was two long hours of reported behind the scenes strategiz- ing, deliberation and negotia- tion that eventually resulted in a significantly watered- down plan. Democrats would enter into the record and the defense team would stipulate to the published statement, making it evidence. The trial was back on track. And most Americans prob- ably found it no more than interesting. But here in Rhode Island, there was another potential huge problem that came with the dust-up. Our governor. Had the trial moved to include any number of wit- nesses, the length of it and the politics of the Senate could have pushed President Biden's cabinet confirmations into no man's land. Gina Raimondo has stub- bornly hung on to her official job saying she'll only resign with full Senate confirmation of her nomination to secre- tary of commerce. Amid the pandemic, she has selfishly and irresponsibly delayed a good-faith transition to Lt. Gov. Dan McKee. Had the impeachment trial kicked the confirmation time- table down the road, heaven only knows how much Rhode Island would be hang- ing in the wind, the torch indefinitely unpassed. Bottom line: a bullet was charging at us here in the Ocean State Saturday morn- ing and by early afternoon we had dodged it. Whew. Meanwhile, the incoming governor made a wise move on Monday in issuing a state- ment that included this: "Like most Rhode Islanders, I am not satisfied with the current administration's progress on vaccine distribution, espe- cially as we see our neighbors in Connecticut rated among the top in the nation." McKee further promised to investigate this week with his new COVID advisers, Gov. Ned Lamont and lead- ers at Harvard who gave that state an "A" and us an "F" (Massachusetts too) for get- ting needles in arms. Raimondo's team is seem- ingly behind on vaccination pace, with reportedly near 80,000 vials on the shelf. It's a strategy that they say right- ly focuses more on categories of recipients than pure speed of delivery. Yikes. Until now, McKee has been self-saddled by engaging too quickly in discourse with no authority and bending over backward with diplomacy for Gina. It looks like that's over. It appears that he gets two things: One, it's the vaccina- tion, stupid. And two, it's time for him to lead no mat- ter when Gina gets out of the way or whether she likes it or not. Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weekends on MyRITV/Fox Providence and owns communications/crisis con- sulting firm DYCOMM LLC On COVID limbo in R.I., it could have been worse DAN YORKE Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally operated group of free weekly newspapers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Volume XII, Number 26 February 17, 2021 valleybreeze.com @ Breeze THE VALLEY James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Jack Birolini, Director of Sales jack@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com

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