Thanks for nothing!

By PROVIDENCE PHOENIX STAFF  |  November 22, 2011

Hell, there was even a case to be made for a professional, full-time General Assembly better equipped to handle economic crisis than the part-time charade that currently prevails on Smith Hill.

But even the prospect of a pay hike, it seems, couldn't get the wings flapping.

The Assembly's idea of economic stewardship? Fill a few holes with stimulus cash this summer and waddle on down to the beach.


Former Congressman Tom Tancredo, who has made a career of railing against illegal immigration, practices an ugly brand of politics.

But Providence College virtually guaranteed the squawker a spot on the 6 o'clock news when it refused to let him speak this spring at the invitation of a student group with a name right out of fascist Europe, Youth for Western Civilization.

Rev. Brian J. Shanley, president of the Catholic college, offered a lame bureaucratic excuse — the little Mussolinis who extended the invite were not officially recognized by the school.

But Shanley also suggested the church's more enlightened views on immigration played a role, arguing that "on controversial issues where the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and our own Bishop (Thomas J. Tobin) have taken a clear position, the College has a responsibility to ensure, to the best of our ability, that the Church's position is represented."

Shanley suggested a forum, at some vague, indeterminate point in the future, where both sides would be represented. But surely, the school could have found a forceful advocate for immigrant rights on relatively short order — perhaps Bishop Tobin himself.

Even if it could not, there was a larger principle at play: no institution of higher learning should be in the business of stifling speech. Even the fowl kind.


We may never know the extent of retired state Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams' seemingly bizarre relationship with his driver, Pamela DosReis, and her family.

Pamela's estranged husband Frank says Williams, godfather to the couple's little girl, was a near-constant presence at the home in recent years, lavishing the family with gifts and watching over his goddaughter as she bathed.

Williams defended his honor in a recent media blitz; he said he watched over the bathing girl, who called him "Chiefy," at the parents' request.

But even if Chiefy was a classy bird, through and through, there was clearly something inappropriate about this relationship between boss and subordinate. A Christmas card? OK. A $6500 private school education for the little one and a $1000 television for mom and dad? That's a bit much, your Honor.

And, oh yeah, Williams got Pamela's mom a cleaning job at the courthouse. On the merits, no doubt.


With the US Conference of Mayors coming to town this summer, Providence had a chance to strut — to show off the river, the arts, the restaurants, and that big orange "P." All the stuff the city built up to blot out its reputation for labor strife, sharp-edged politics and other nasty predilections.

But then, along came the Providence firefighters.

The union, in a protracted labor dispute with Mayor David N. Cicilline, decided to picket the event and — in the process — scared off Vice President Joe Biden and a flock of White House officials.

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