At the trough

Good money after bad; letter from London; road woes
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  August 17, 2011

In another example of the wonderful money management skills of government everywhere in Rhode Island, it appears that when it comes to getting rid of a budget deficit, you do it by throwing money at lawyers.

Central Falls, "America's Bankruptcy Capital," has a deficit of $5.6 million. Yet in little more than a year since the city filed for bankruptcy, the state has spent $1.4 million on legal fees and salaries for the receivers who are "helping" solve the budget crisis. Current receiver Bob Flanders, the ostentatiously Porsche-accessorized ex-Supreme, has pulled down more than $150,000 in a half a year — lining up nicely with the average wage of $300,000 per year for a Central Falls resident.

And when you add more than $700,000 paid to a couple of white shoe law firms, you're talking a lot of empanadas. Not included is the cost of state employees loaned out for the proceedings, or contract workers such as Flanders' chief of staff, who most likely is getting the same hourly wage as many of the piece workers in our favorite little square mile.

You think the estimated $1.4 million from the state might have put a dent in the deficit, rather than pay for membership fees at Kirkbrae? Say, reduce it by 25 percent?

Granted, if we did that, we would probably have to provide canned hams for the out-at-the-elbows legal eagles to tide them over at the holidays due to their lost income.

It is always worth looking at where the money goes when calamities strike, be they manmade or natural. The Mafia and drug cartels have always set the standard: the people controlling the action take the lion's share of the cut right off the top.

Hey, Bob, let's take that baby out on the highway and see what she can do. Sleep tight, F. Lee Bailey.


London calling at Casa Diablo.

Phillipe's lovely sister, Sally, she of indie avant-garde rock fame, has observed the rioting in Britain up-close-and-personal from her home in the north end of London. Here's her report from the front lines last week:

Just having our own version of the LA riots. Still, it's been a bit of a shock. After two nights of arson, looting and pillaging, people in London are now finally in a state of total alarm. A bit of a delayed reaction, as the worst has probably already happened. This is not a protest or even a proper riot. It is purely criminal and opportunistic activity, and I am embarrassed and appalled at their behavior.

It's certainly interfering with people going about their business. I met my one singing student and he was too scared to proceed with the lesson and wanted to just pay me and go home. About 3/4 of the shops, bars, restaurants etc. in all of London were boarded up and closed for the evening! Even in my extremely civilized neighborhood of Belsize Park, only one restaurant and the supermarket had the balls to stay open. Absolutely everything else was closed. And the security presence at the local supermarket was extraordinary. It's just all totally bizarre.

I predicted the riots in Manchester tonight, as it was the only major English city that hadn't "rioted up" until now and I knew they wouldn't accept being left out of the loop. I just hate it when things are so predictable. And unforgiveable.

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