Shocker: RI GOP in disarray

A real two-party system requires an effective minority party
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  March 19, 2008

An internecine battle has broken out between the couple dozen or so people who claim to be members of the Rhode Island Republican Party. As reported on the front-page of Monday’s BeloJo, Dave Cote, a GOP activist from South Kingstown, made a very Republican suggestion: since the party doesn’t have any money, maybe it should go with an all-volunteer staff.
 
State party chairman Giovanni Cicione rejected Cote’s hint, calling it a “half-assed attempt to analyze the party budget [that] is both unproductive and grossly misleading.” Cicione sees the legal troubles of the former House Majority Leader Gerard Martineau as a “great opportunity” for the GOP to make hay in gaining legislative seats.
 
This could be the case, but the first step is the hardest and the one where Republicans regularly stumble. That is, an actual human with a pulse is required to run against the perfidious Democrats on Smith Hill. This pulse should belong to someone who has a track record in their community.
 
Come on, Republicans, you can do it (even if the party appears to have all the vitality of Rip Van Winkle). First, however, you must disavow Republicans who dwell south of the Mason-Dixon line, whose typical segregation-forever posture doesn’t play in our fair state.

Quote of the week
“The kids are never going to want to leave the Training School!” Patricia Martinez, director of the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, said in celebrating the unveiling of the new $61 million Training School complex, the one that may already be maxed-out prior to its opening. Book a room now, kids. Just like heaven, they’re dying to get in.

No good deed goes unpunished
Phillipe + Jorge were astounded and appalled to learn that the state Economic Policy Council, a nonprofit privately supported entity that has provided analysis, once-removed advice, and expert counsel, and informed many major Biggest Little projects, has been given the chop. Staff was released, effective immediately, and the office closed, thank you very much. Yes, the EPC board will gather in a quarterly meeting capacity, but the gelding is essentially done.
 
Part of the thinking on the street is that Economic Development Corporation honcho Saul Kaplan was getting tired of looking over his shoulder at Kip Bergstrom, EPC’s now-former director, as economic policy was being shaped. That probably was because Bergstrom and his staff — who P&J have had the good fortune to know and work with on numerous occasions — happen to be very talented, effective, and not shy about voicing their opinions on how to succeed in business (by really trying). If government had one shop where the environmental community felt very much at home working with the business sector, it was at EPC.
 
The savings from consolidating the EPC is estimated at $300K. Wow! Bow-wow. The EPC folks brought some serious drive to any number of key future economic development issues, and the loss of this is hard to calculate. We fear that what remains will become a rubber stamp for Kaplan and the EDC.

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