But the always reliable Charles P. Pierce of Esquire — who wrote after this verbal heist, "Tom Paine, who would have spat in Willard Romney's face if he'd ever met him" — took umbrage with the Mittmeister using Paine's advice against President Obama, suggesting he take a look at one of Paine's other observations:

But charters and corporations have a more extensive evil effect than what relates to mere elections. They are sources of endless contentions in the places they exist, and they lessen the common rights of national society . . . This species of feudality is kept up to aggrandize the corporations at the ruin of towns; and the effect is visible.


STRANGE DOINGS IN THE BIGGEST LITTLE

One of the reasons why your superior correspondents feel privileged to be writing the Cool, Cool World is that we believe the Biggest Little generates more weird news stories, pound for pound, than any other place in the country. A couple of prime examples cropped up this week.

First was the tale, reported by the Other Paper, of prosecutors from Attorney General Peter Kilmartin's office seizing criminal defense attorney Donna A. Uhlmann's phone while she was in a conference with a judge. Apparently, Superior Court Presiding Justice Alice Gibney authorized the confiscation. The problem is, Uhlmann can't see the affidavit in support of the search warrant and the whole thing is a big secret. (Disclosure: P&J have known Ms. Uhlmann for years.)

We're sure that this story will unfold further as time goes on, but the whole notion of "secret warrants" brought against officers of the court leaves P&J confused and concerned. Is this the way that the state generally does business in the criminal justice arena? It just seems a little scary to us.

The same day that the story about Uhlmann's Blackberry broke, there was another story on the front page of the Other Paper concerning a Providence city employee, Gary Sepe, who was observed delivering a bunch of traffic signs to a scrap metal company and walking out with $15. This seemed like a very unusual way to obtain a free lunch but we have learned over the years that Providence city workers are a creative bunch.

The person who observed this odd transaction was Providence City Councilman Michael J. Correia. Councilman Correia is a self-styled caped crusader who has a history of cruising about the city and investigating crimes as they are being committed. What makes this particular caper a subject for further investigation is the fact that Mr. Sepe is the brother of Alan Sepe, who is the city's acting director of public property. This could all be coincidental, but Vo Dilunduhs tend to suspect that there is no such thing as a coincidence when it comes to the workings of city government. What the hell do we know?

Of course, transporting traffic signs and turning them in for money is not exactly an unprecedented occurrence in the city that never sleeps (until all public property is nailed down). This is reminiscent of the famous manhole cover caper of a quarter century ago when a gang of local geniuses took it upon themselves to seize city manhole covers and exchange them for cash money.

We wait with bated breath for the follow ups to these strange tales.


STRONG WOMAN

P&J's sympathies to the family and friends of the Rev. Naomi Craig, after a wonderfully long run of which they can be justly proud. P&J worked with Rev. Craig — an activist-turned-minister — at one time, and the woman's drive and dignity was beautiful to behold. Rhode Island is the better for her having lived here. Thank you, Naomi.

Send shoelaces and Pulitzer-grade tips to  p&j@phx.com.

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