CLUELESS HERO Nielsen.
Sure, governor-elect Lincoln Chafee used to shoe racehorses up in Canada, but it appears he could also have been a good greenskeeper. His environmental record speaks for itself on the national stage, but now he has put a feather in his "green" cap in Vo Dilun by selecting Janet Coit as his new director of the Department of Environmental Management.
The lovely and fragrant Ms. Coit, since 2001 the Rhode Island state director for the Nature Conservancy, is a longtime friend and respected colleague of Phillipe and Jorge, and is one of the Biggest Little's greatest champions and defenders of its abundant natural resources. She also has the necessary political background, having served on the senatorial staffs of both Linc and his father John, to fight the battles with the General Assembly and the builder-developer lobby that make the job of DEM director hardly a walk in the state park. With a J.D. from Stanford Law School, she has her legal arena props, she "gets" the inextricable link between a clean environment and a healthy economy, and she is smart, savvy, and tough. Her record of conserving tens of thousands of acres of valuable land in Little Rhody during her tenure at TNC merits the backing of all Rhode Islanders in her new post. She certainly will have staunch and vocal allies in this space, provided she admits to knowing us now that she's a big shot.
And P+J would be remiss not to offer some words of praise for departing DEM head ramrod Michael Sullivan. Mike did a hell of a job under very trying circumstances. He saw huge staff cuts imposed upon him by the General Assembly and then had to endure criticism for being unable to handle all of DEM's regulatory and enforcement work with a gutted staff. On many fronts Sullivan came through when needed the most. He had the respect of the state's environmental community, and that is a high tribute.
Mike is also an unconscionable, brash wiseass, and it was always a treat to sit in meetings with him waiting for some howler or totally inappropriate (but generally hilarious) remark to issue forth at the most inopportune time. P+J hopes his return to URI (from where he was plucked by the Don) to teach plant science will be a good one, and that he takes pride in a job well done at DEM.
TWEEDLEDEE AND TWEEDLEDUMB
As if the sight of unctuous, orange-tanned US House Speaker-to-be John "QT" Boner isn't enough to make you take your skin for a crawl, Virginia Representative Eric Cantor is in line to become House Majority Leader.
Cantor, who bears a passing resemblance to Vo Dilun state senator Josh Miller — if our boy from Edgewood ever spruced himself up a bit — is yet another greedy, grinning suit-for-sale in the Republican ranks who has kissed more corporate asses than you have had hot dinners. His main talent is moving his lips while saying absolutely nothing. He has also co-authored a book along with two other ladder-climbing GOP chancers, Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders, a self-serving piece of vanity publishing that reeks of Dubya's over-inflated claim to achievement manifested in the now-notorious "Mission Accomplished" banner.