First Amendment battle in the Bucket

A Catholic controversy; Taibbi’s straight talk; dandy Don; wisdom from Warren
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  August 24, 2011

As regular readers of this column know, Jorge is a native of Pawtucket. It was with great pride that I attended the celebration at McCoy Stadium this past Tuesday evening, commemorating the 125th anniversary of the city's incorporation. But all is not well in the Bucket.

A couple of weeks ago, I met with Pawtucket attorney Mark McBurney, a member of the storied Pawtucket clan. He is suing Pawtucket in Federal District Court for alleged First Amendment violations. He wanted me to take a look at the case and, perhaps, let readers of the "Cool, Cool World" know what it's all about.

Mark, in an unpublished op-ed he showed me, says that for "44 years and counting, Pawtucket City Hall has violated the 1st Amendment by subsidizing and giving preferential treatment to Catholic school athletics."

He says that the "grandfather clause" that claims an unwritten policy by which "Catholic schools in Pawtucket are allowed to use the City's best athletic fields, for eternity, and for free," flies in the face of the First Amendment. He notes, "Compare feces- and glass-strewn Abeka Field (which Tolman has been forced to use in recent years) with plush O'Brien Field (which City Hall reserves exclusively for St. Raphael's Academy) for tangible proof of Pawtucket's apartheid."

Yes, McBurney compares what Pawtucket is doing to conditions in the segregated South of yore. He says that such policies flourish in an atmosphere of secrecy and that the city of Pawtucket is blatantly following this course. "City Hall knows secrecy is the key to continue diverting City assets to Catholic voters. With four violations of the Access to Public Records Act, the only recorded failure of a RI city to comply with an Attorney General ruling on the Public Records Act, and a long-standing refusal to create a written policy governing field allocation, Pawtucket stands apart — and not in a good way."

The ball is now in Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien's court. Jorge has great admiration and respect for Mayor Grebien and no reason to believe that he is not a man of honor and integrity. Everything he has done since his election indicates that. I hope that he'll be able to see this current imbroglio for what it is. Attorney McBurney is right about this matter.


For the very real and very ugly stories that are behind America's financial mess, we don't go turning to Rupert "The Dirty Digger" Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, or NBC, whose parent company is the non-taxpaying corporate giant and grotesque polluter, G.E.

Expecting one of Murdoch's paid stooges to give you the lowdown on the real cause of the country's financial woes is like thinking that your numbers are sure to come up in Powerball this week. And don't tiptoe in anticipation of the vacuous and prissy Brian Williams interrupting his valueless travels, to broadcast "live" from wherever the supposed action is, to offer some real investigative journalism.

Instead, Phillipe and Jorge rely on our new short duration personal savior, Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi. If you are not reading his pieces that explain the Wall Street blowout, famously calling the unspeakable Goldman Sachs a "giant vampire squid" preying upon Americans until we are sucked dry of all our money — not to mention Goldman's ownership of virtually every politician in D.C., starting with Barack Obama — you are not getting anything close to the truth.

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