STEELERS' SONGWRITERS Olga Watkins Band.
Look who's swinging in on a vine with a long and loud Tarzan yell to take over as chairman of the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education: it's our old pal "George of the Jungle" Caruolo.
George of the Jungle is the former House Majority Leader who served as enforcer for Speaker Pucky Harwood when the two ruled Halitosis Hall for six years in the 1990s. P&J will always remember running into the deadly duo coming out of the Willy Loman Room at the Orms Street Marriott prior to their takeover, no doubt busy plotting their strategy over a few cold ones in a lounge known for the friendliness of its female clientele, if you get the drift. At least it set the tone.
George of the Jungle's best-known legislation from his time in the House is the notorious "Caruolo Act," which allows school committees to sue their communities for more money to operate. Today's Kwik Kwiz: Guess what Caruolo's profession is? Anyone in this overly-litigious society who didn't immediately say "lawyer" only gets a "Rhode Island" diploma.
It remains to be seen how the perky education commissioner, Deborah Gist, works with the demanding and gruff jungle boy. But in a perfect world, Caruolo could function as a no-nonsense, accountability-first hardass and let the commish continue with the bubbly and full o' ideas public persona she has crafted at the top of the too-often maligned Department of Ed. And we can't wait to see these two in action when the pot starts to boil again in Central Falls because . . .
. . . Linc Chafee has tapped former Board of Regents chair Bob Flanders, the domineering ex-Supreme, to take over as receiver in Rhode Island's one mile-square municipality. Flanders and George of Jungle, Ivy leaguers both (Flanders at Brown, Caruolo at Harvard), consider themselves quite intellectual, and given their control freak, irascible mentalities, this battle of wits and wills should result in a good deal of broken furniture when it gets down to money issues in CF.
All that said, Phillipe and Jorge respect both men's considerable abilities. If he plays at the top of his game, Flanders will make Central Falls officials pray for the return of outgoing receiver Mark Pfeiffer. And he'll put the city back on its financial feet with a streamlined, honest (hear that, Mr. Moreau?), fiscally responsible administration in place.
Mr. Jungle, meanwhile, is capable of cracking together the heads of schools superintendent Francis Gallo and union leader Jane Sessums with a noise that will sound like two frying pans colliding — finally ending the Central Falls High School travesty.
It's P&J's opinion that both Gallo and Sessums deserve to be fired at this point, with successors hand-picked by Gist/Caruolo and NEA head honcho Larry Purtill. Marching orders for the new leadership: get their duplex in order pronto, no ifs, ands, or buts.
And if Gallo and Sessums are to leave office with their pensions intact, they should be required to issue a joint apology to every school kid and parent of a child in CF.
STEELERS SINGING THE BLUES