The year of impending doom

A softening economy and the $450 million state deficit point to a painful 2008
By IAN DONNIS  |  December 19, 2007
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With Rhode Island facing a $450 million state deficit, a softening national and regional economy, and a far-flung foreclosure crisis with widespread effects, this hardy old New England state should be able to cope with a little snow, right?
 
Not so much.
 
As 2007 made its final approach for the record books, the gridlock that choked the Ocean State on December 13, thanks to the first significant snowfall of the season, perfectly symbolized our collective inability to get out of our own way.
 
No matter that the storm had been forecast days in advance, the burst of winter weather was enough to roil traffic and temperaments, leading to an ongoing blame game on the talk-radio airwaves. That no serious injuries resulted, and that Massachusetts endured similar woes, got mostly overlooked in the mix.
 
Still, if this is what results when we experience a fairly routine seasonal occurrence, it sure doesn’t bode well for the looming storm represented by the more serious stuff described in the first sentence of this story.
 
To echo the forecast offered by Clubber Lang, the Rocky Balboa opponent played by Mr. T in Rocky III, Rhode Island’s outlook for 2008 is best summed up by one word: pain. And since past is prologue, 2007 will justly be remembered as the year of impending doom.
 
On a more personal level, it was there when Ralph Papitto’s name was wiped off the law school he helped create at Roger Williams University in Bristol. While Papitto — the 80-year-old founder of a Fortune 500 company — set this in motion by uttering the word “nigger” during an RWU board meeting, his attempt to paper over the controversy made his fall from grace from inevitable.
 
In a wholly different way, the precipitous force of unexpected change burst forward when Alexandra Svoboda, a 22-year-old transplant from Nebraska, marched with like-minded members of the Industrial Workers of the World in North Providence. One of Svoboda’s legs was broken during an ensuing clash with police; the details remain disputed. Yet the grotesque nature of the injury points to the tensions sometimes unearthed when opposing ideas come into conflict.

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  Topics: News Features , U.S. Government, U.S. State Government, George W. Bush,  More more >
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