While it is difficult to be very jolly during February, P+J are in a generous mood and are willing to salute a few people, rather than dissect them. Yes, we are just wonderful.
We lead off with former House Speaker Bill Murphy, who recently stepped down to clear the way for his lieutenant, Gordon Fox, to assume the post of most powerful politician in the state. Sure, we have nipped away at Bill through the years, as befits him being the Big Dog at the State House and your superior correspondents being wiseass propagandists. But he has always been very gracious in chatting with P+J when we encounter him, and has also done some things that we admire that got no attention. For that we offer our thanks.
Back again to the political front, where independent gubernatorial candidate Linc Chafee is (finally) starting to get it in gear. He had a very good op-ed piece published in the February 20 edition of the New York Times, commenting on Senator Evan Bayh's decision not to run for re-election this year and predicting the rise of a third party.
In Linc's most telling lines, and quite true to his habit of speaking his mind — whether you like it or not — he wrote: "Barack Obama stood in as a kind of third-party candidate in 2008, with an attractive message of hope, change and a post-partisan approach. He captured that popular, centrist energy for the Democrats. So far, I'm sorry to say, he's proving my assertion that Republicans lead in the wrong direction and Democrats are unable to lead in any direction at all. His difficult first year in office can be traced, I believe, to his appointment of the hyperpartisan Rahm Emanuel as the White House chief of staff, and his failure to devise a stimulus bill that could win a single Republican vote in the House."
And before the Central Falls school board fired the high school's entire teaching staff, Linc jumped into the controversy, calling for a mediator to be appointed. Normally any politician would avoid that kind of intervention because it could be an electoral death wish, but we respect his willingness enter an ugly dispute that does no one any favors, especially the students.
Incidentally, as we search for reasons for the low test scores in Central Falls, we might consider what one district teacher once told Phillipe when he was working in education: due to the large numbers of Central American immigrants in the district, who often returned home during the winter to work, the teacher said, he once started the school year in September with 30 students and ended in June with 30 — all different from the original class.
Finally, we could not be more delighted to see Curt Spalding being sworn in as the US Environmental Protection Agency's Region I administrator. P+J go back decades with Curt from the time he joined Save the Bay through his ascension to executive director.
He is bound to be a fierce champion for environmental issues at a critical time: the battle between legitimate scientists and bought-and-paid-for global-climate-change-deniers must not be ignored. Big Oil and Big Coal can't win. Curt has the brains and the balls to take them on, and will have many friends in support. (Besides, how can you not like a guy who was brought up in a town called Skaneateles?)