The State vs. the People, Pt. 1

A variety of cesspools; the right to know; taking aim
By RUDY CHEEKS  |  April 6, 2011

On Monday, the most prominent headline on the front page of our daily paper or, as the Bud-I calls it with a unique mixture of glee and sadness, "The Pamphlet," was "Cesspools given notice."

The reaction here in the "Cool, Cool World" was, hey, I thought the paper already gave the cesspool notice with the Saturday story, out of the State House, by Katherine "Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill" Gregg: "Double-digit raises in time of austerity." Ahhh, Halitosis Hall — now that's a real cesspool, Cesspool Numero Uno.

A short piece by reporter Randal Edgar earlier in the week, focused on pay raises for a couple of House Speaker Gordon Fox's top aides, was also quite nauseating. Yes, we need to reward good work and have the ability to attract and retain the best people. But bumps of $30,000 for Fox's chief of staff, Frank Anzeveno, and $8000 for spokesman Larry Berman (and I know and like Larry and believe that he does an excellent job) were too much.

Both raises clearly illustrate a tin ear on the part of Speaker Fox, apparently a congenital condition in that office.

And that's not the only troubling happening on Smith Hill. If the description of the "hero's welcome" given to former Senate President Joe Montalbano by the State Senate upon his ascension to a District Court seat last week, as described in Monday's "Political Scene" column, doesn't go up your wazoo about a half-mile, you ought to check to see if you have a pulse, fellow citizens.


Last week's Other Paper story by Gregory Smith, detailing a proposed change to the state's Access to Public Records Act, further exposed the legislature's contempt for the people and our democratic desires. The provision dictates that state employees "will make every reasonable effort to honor" requests for public records as long as that effort does not "in any way interfere with the ordinary course of business."

Carolyn Mannis, volunteer attorney for the Rhode Island affiliate of the ACLU, was right to ask, in a written critique of the proposed regulation, why the provision of public information shouldn't be considered part of "the ordinary course of business."

When it comes to something as essential as the public's access to the public's records, we don't need vague language.

Does this not remind you of the recently quashed (thank you, Angel), equally hazy phrase in Providence city statute requiring "honorable service" before one can get a municipal pension? What the hell did that mean? Answer: nobody knew.

Purposefully confusing language is yet another example of the giant cesspool elements that more and more seem to be dominating our political system.


It is not lost on the "Cool, Cool World" that some of the more popular columns are the "bullet point" columns, where the writers get to blurt out piquant thoughts rather than indulging in this writers bête noire, the (as Mr. Perelman would have it) "fumbled bogs of metaphor."

So, while I'll not be switching entirely to the "bullet point" form, I shall now do a bullet point ballet to see who sucks for it.

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