June 20, 2007

Lincoln Versus the Courthouse?

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to Jon Baker in today’s Pawtucket Times, many Lincoln residents are not happy about the new courthouse planned for their town. The Lincoln Town Council has even taken steps to prevent it from being built at the currently proposed site...

"I'd like to see officials who are supporting this to face the public that's against (the courthouse)," [Lincoln Resident Ed O’Neil] said. "I'd like to see them defend their arguments. They're claiming they have the money to make a courthouse, but they're not putting any cash back into the school systems. They're not helping the cities and towns put more aid into education.

"This is a total disgrace to the state's budget," he continued. "They want to spend all that money on a courthouse we don't need and that nobody wants. The people of Lincoln will fight this."

Said former council member Dean Lees before the gathering at town hall: "It just wouldn't be prudent to build it in an educational zone. The town council has drawn a line in the sand, and the General Assembly still approved the funding for the Lincoln site ...Essentially, the council passed an ordinance prohibiting courthouses from being built near a residential and schools area. Then they passed a resolution to the General Assembly not to go forward with the funding, but it did it anyway."

During a break in the meeting, council member James R. Jahnz, a Democrat representing District 4, also made his feelings known.

"During our last council meeting (May 17), we added an amendment to the zoning ordinance not allowing courthouses in that particular area ... I really think that, especially with a state budget as tight as it is, schools are going to be given limited funding. That's something the town must be aware of. The scales of justice are being weighed upon the backs of Lincoln's residents."

However, given the current Rhode Island legislature's view that the job of local officials is to carry out legislative mandates and court orders rather than govern in the best local interests of citizens, it’s not clear that local objections will have any impact.

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So let me get this straight.

We're building a $71 million courthouse to make it more convenient for residents in the northern part of the state to travel to court, but residents in the northern part of the state don't want it there?

This is Rhode Island's version of "The Bridge to Nowhere". Call it the "The Courthouse for No One".

Let's see if the GOP is smart enough to pick up on it.

Posted by: Anthony at June 20, 2007 10:17 AM

>>to make it more convenient for residents in the northern part of the state to travel to court

How many norther RI residents commute to work in Providence ... every day?

This is about further feeding the ego of Frank Williams and/or placating him so that he won't make the Polaroids public.

And no doubt the construction union bosses have weighed in as well - being a state project it'll be 100% union (prevailing wage / project labor agreements are "corporate welfare" for unions).

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at June 20, 2007 10:39 AM

This was a GOP backed proposal. The only person on the Lincoln Town Council who was originaly in favor of it was the "independent" Keith Macksoud. The Town administrator, a republican, has said he is opposed to the location, not necessarily the idea.

McManus - R - sent a letter of support

Chief Justice Williams is a republican.

It was the Dems in Town that organized the opposition.

sooooo, put the talking points down, righties, and get the story straight.

Posted by: Pat Crowley at June 20, 2007 10:46 AM

Okay, Pat. Even if everything you say is true, why can't the money for that courthouse go into funding education and the northern residents can continue to drive the 20 minutes to Providence?

Posted by: Greg at June 20, 2007 10:50 AM

Greg, I think that is a great idea. Now, it won't necessarily work because the money for the courthouse is bonds, not revenue, but the overall point, that we need to fund education not court houses in right.

Posted by: Pat Crowley at June 20, 2007 11:14 AM


According to the House Journal, McManus voted against the courthouse.

2 of the just 4 Republicans (out of 13) who voted vote for the courthouse, Savage and Singleton, also voted for the Mumford amendment to hold a popular referendum on whether it should be built. (Amaral and Trillo mysteriously disappeared during the let-the-people-vote amendment).

So although 4 of 13 Republican legislators may be on board with the new courthouse, it's the Democratic majority that owns the "what we want for the people is more important than what the people want themselves" position in RI.

Posted by: Andrew at June 20, 2007 11:16 AM

Does the host town welcome it?

Can the state afford it?

Is it needed?

These are not matters that have any bearing on the siting and construction of my monument.

Frank J. Williams

Posted by: SusanD at June 20, 2007 11:42 AM

Pat, I responded to your similar comment on my "Pushaw" post already, but to repeat....

This issue is about fiscal sanity. I could care less whether Republicans or Democrats supported it and put it forward. It's simply irresponsible government to set aside $71 million for a courthouse that isn't needed in the current fiscal climate. So I commend anyone who opposes it, though it's kinda the common sense thing to do.

One more thing: believe it or not, we AR guys don't get, much less parrot, state GOP talking points. Sure, sometimes our views align, but not always. (Ask former Sen. Chafee). We compliment Democrats when we agree with 'em, too.

Nice try at a "hypocrisy" charge, though. ;)

Posted by: Marc Comtois at June 20, 2007 1:43 PM

Marc, come on, who are you trying to kid?

Posted by: Pat Crowley at June 21, 2007 8:35 AM

Oh, I forgot, you were utilizing Saul Alinsky power tactic #4, right...just be careful about #7...

Posted by: Marc Comtois at June 21, 2007 9:23 AM

Pat's association with Lincoln Democrats and the NEA makes him blind to anything but partisan politics. In is mind, Republicans are bad, regardless of how they vote. Rep. McManus and the teachers' unions are on the same page when it comes to the school funding portion of the budget debate, but Pat won't dare acknowledge that.

Pat, has anything in the current budget passed without Democrat support? Then explain again how Republicans are to blame?

Posted by: mikeinRI at June 21, 2007 10:20 AM

Saul Alinsky - one of the gurus of 1960's radical (many of whom went on to become labor leaders, e.g., Andy Stern of SEIU), and the guy about whom Hillary wrote her college thesis.

Oh, wait, but he said he was concerned with "social justice" so we dare not question or criticize.

Posted by: Tom W at June 21, 2007 1:36 PM
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