Pretty shrewd. In a state that suffered through a horrific nightclub fire in 2003 that killed 100 people, the General Assembly pushed through legislation that some thought would permit people to buy the type of fireworks (called “gerbs,” which means they must resemble disgraced former Governor Ed “Gerber Baby” DiPrete) that led to the disaster inside the Station.
It was the fourth worst nightclub fire in US history, but memories (and brains) are in short supply at the State House, so that didn’t stop our elected politicians from ramming the bill through in the final hours of the session. Fortunately, after more than a week of total confusion, State Fire Marshall John Chartier explained that gerbs could only be used with a permit. Boy, that’s reassuring.
As P+J pointed out last week, the General Assembly leaders’ mad dash to close out the session results in bills getting passed that no one has read, which is an affront to the citizens of the state. Maybe at least a few of our naïve and brow-beaten pols might have asked the executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association what she thought, which the Urinal did: “This is the most poorly written piece of legislation I’ve ever seen,” the APA’s Julie Heckman told the Other Paper. This legislative catastrophe was celebrated by a guest at a Comfort Inn in Warwick who set off fireworks in his room only days after the new law was passed.
This reminds P+J of another brilliant piece of legislation that passed through the General Assembly many years ago. In the hand-flapping hysteria of the “Just say no!” anti-drug push, the geniuses at the State House who couldn’t be bothered to read an entire bill passed legislation that made it a crime to sell or possess cocoa. Yes, the chocolate beans-style cocoa. What they meant to write was “coca,” the basis of cocaine, but actually doing any research or proofreading was obviously too much trouble, and the legislation passed nonetheless. It was quickly and sheepishly rescinded once the error was realized and before elementary school children were strip-searched for Hershey’s Kisses.
But now we have this piece of fireworks legislation out in public, where vendors, local police and fire chiefs, the state police, and even the attorney general’s office had to admit they weren’t quite sure what was newly legal or illegal. Nice work, gang, we can’t wait to see the traffic in the state’s ERs on the Fourth of July.
Why were P+J not surprised to see unctuous developer Richard Baccari in the middle of yet another furor over plans to put up a Stop & Shop — this time on Cranston land not zoned for a supermarket?
Baccari, who is obviously a self-loathing Italian, insists on giving names to his development companies that sound vaguely British, such as the Downing Corporation, or the latest incarnation, Churchill & Banks, rather than paying homage to his ancestry.
He first made a splash as a bully-boy back in the ’80s, when he attempted to put up condos at Black Point in Narragansett, one of the most scenic spots in the state, twisting every political arm he could. Fortunately, then-Governor Ed “Gerber Baby” DiPrete was forced to let sanity prevail, and Baccari was bought out, thus preserving the property for the public to enjoy. Baccari was also involved with the Stop & Shop project which just recently led to the arrests of three Nawt Prov councilmen, accused of taking a $25,000 bribe to let the project proceed. What a co-inky-dink, eh, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung?