RIPTA drones thrown under the bus

It’s high time for a better mass transit system
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  April 23, 2008

Your superior correspondents don’t know if Robert D. Batting, the newly elected chairman of the board of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, has original notions about mass transit, but he certainly can’t be any worse than the political insiders and relatives of the connected who have been running the bus system into the ground for decades.

Casa Diablo was highly amused by the description in Tuesday’s BeloJo of how Batting was elected board chairman: “[The vote] followed a sometimes-bitter wrangle as [Thomas] Deller, who was ousted from the chairmanship, accused Batting and his allies of ignoring the agency’s by-laws to ram through the vote. Batting and his supporters had put off a vote from April 7, when one of Batting’s supporters, Edward J. Field, couldn’t attend, until yesterday, when Field was present but one of Deller’s supporters, William Kennedy, couldn’t attend.

“That dispute saw Batting’s supporters arguing that the meeting the board held on April 7 was actually its March meeting, because it was postponed from then, and that yesterday’s meeting was the April meet-ing when the board is supposed to elect its officers because it was on the board’s annual meeting schedule.”

Beautiful! The people responsible for the longstanding mishandling of RIPTA have earned their brownie points (as in “You’re doin’ a heck of a job, Brownie”), but little else.

We encourage Mr. Batting and the other Carcieri supporters on the RIPTA board to try a bold move that few, if any, RIPTA board members or top officials have ever done — actually riding the bus more than a few times. Jorge, a dedicated rider who’s been on most of the bus lines in the state, thinks this would be valuable in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of mass transit in the Biggest Little.

P&J have always believed that the Biggest Little, because of its unique geography and scale, could have unparalleled mass transit. One of the key obstacles is the lack of the political/economic will. (The other is our brain-dead American culture, with everybody in their own car, and their own little world of consumerism, but that’s a more intractable problem.) Perhaps the new face of the RIPTA board is one small step toward progress.

A man who was not there
Captain Queeg. General Jack D. Ripper. Colonel Bat Guano. Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon. How many goofy control freaks can you name?

Add RI National Guard Adjutant General Robert Bray to the list. When the Urinal’s “Political Scene” column found that all record of the controversial secrecy-and-“security”-conscious Bray had been dropped from the Guard’s Web site, they were told, “His personal information was removed from the Web site in order to guard his privacy.” Oh, sure. That will keep those pesky paparazzi from bothering him when he ventures out his front door.

But as we discover, Bray’s photo and biography are still posted on the National Guard Bureau’s Web site, as are all the country’s adjutant generals. Oh my God, General Bray, wait until the National Enquirer and the Drudge Report learn this! What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

Nimbys gone wild
Keep your eyes out for a fast one at the State House, where Senator James Sheehan of North Kingstown is attempting to revoke legislation from the 1980s that created a fishing and public access pier at a wonderful spot at Plum Point in NK, next to the new Jamestown Bridge.

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