January 1, 2009

Losing That Old-Time New England Feel

Justin Katz

Damien Baldino worries that Obama "stimulus" largesse may spell disaster for Providence's character:

Once Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the United States, his first priority will be a stimulus package to help the economy. I've seen amounts ranging from $600 billion to $1.3 trillion, but the most common estimate seems to be around $800 billion. The money would be used to finance transportation projects, green energy projects, and rennovation/rebuilding schools. Massive amounts of money will be funneled to cities and states to complete infrastructure projects that are in the planning stages. ...

I fear that the money would be used by the city to implement the ideas published in the DeJong study.

If you're not familiar with the DeJong study, it is essentially a study championed by David Cicilline and Donnie Evans which addressed the condition of Providence's educational facilities and how the system could be reconfigured and improved (link below). To summarize, the study had a strong bias toward rennovating historic schools and favored demolishing historic buildings and replacing them with new buildings that will probably be as awful as some of the City's other new schools. Many of Providence's schools are a mess, and they do need major rennovations, which I strongly support. What I oppose is demolishing historic buildings that could become functional and beautiful at a cost that is likely equal to, or below the cost of new construction.

I'm not very familiar with the personalities involved in Providence, but Rhode Islanders in general are a conservationist lot. Although, we also have a talent for extracting losses from win-win circumstances. (By which I most certainly do not mean to suggest that pouring taxpayer money into misguided "stimulus" packages — or politician-and-public-sector wish lists — is a win by any stretch.)

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First, I think the quotation doesn't make any sense:

"the study had a strong bias toward rennovating historic schools and favored demolishing historic buildings and replacing them with new buildings "

Is the study in favor of renovation of existing buildings or in favor of demolishing them?

Second, FWIW, one of the first projects in Providence is the renovation of Nathan Bishop Middle School. There was much discussion about whether renovation or demolition/new construction was the best option, but the renovation idea won out.

As someone who has worked for close to three years toward re-opening Bishop, I am happy with the outcome.

Bishop is a stately example of 1930s architecture. It is solid as a rock, and contains some beautiful appointments, such as lots of marble. Also, one cannot discount the "green" value of not putting an entire old building into landfill.

The architects (Architectural Involutions) are very forward-thinking and have produced some outstanding schools here in RI and elsewhere. Despite the old shell, Bishop will be a state-of-the-art school, the most advanced in R.I.

All of this with the support of the Mayor and the School Department. The choices that have been made here have been thoughtful and smart, and should be recognized by all.

Posted by: Thomas Schmeling at January 1, 2009 6:41 PM


Fear not, Mayor David Cicilline already sent the City of Providence infrastructure request to Washington, DC looking for total of $584,963,080.00 of which the mayor claims will create 7,463.50 jobs.

Of course in true RI fashion Mayor Cicilline had to do something to grab attention to the infrastructure request. He requested $4,800.000.00 for a polar bear exhibit!

Full listing of all cities infrastructure requests can be found at the following article “Mayor’s infrastructure request full of pork critics says”:


Posted by: Ken at January 1, 2009 7:28 PM

I am so, so against any type of bailout regarding AIG, Lehman Bros., auto industry and the list plays on but I'd agree a low cost loan with binding benchmarks would have been okay. If those services couldn't make those benchmarks or show progress in that direction, then the low cost loan spigot should be turned off.

Now, onto that damsel in distress, Cicilline and the Howdy Doodie city council. Dear ole Cicilline is seriously misguided if he believes that LEGAL city dwellers, like myself, are going to stand by quietly let him follow his plan regarding the education system in Providence.

Didn't this dough boy hire a very expensive (out-of-state no less!) school super, Tom Brady, to whip the school department back into shape? Didn't this expensive super then change the job title of Pichardos wife and increase her pay?

Can't we identify fiscal malfeasance first before we throw stimulus money at the misguided lot supported by Cicilline and the Howdy Doody city council?

I'm against this country, this state, this horrible capital city, spending a single dime of taxpayer money on a school system riddled with illegal aliens that cost our country, our state, our city millions and millions of dollars.

There is NO need to tear down existing buildings only to replace them with shiny new edifices that will never address the issues of why Johnny cannot read or why Mary is pregnant at 14 and the city insists on supplying daycare centers. If Johnny would rather gang bang with his peeps and bringing guns into school and Mary learns the ropes of how to live on the public dole, then why should I have to pay for their indiscretions? Throw them out of school and I could care less how they manage through life on their own. Not on my dollar!

I went to a wooden building school in Central Falls that gave me a great education and prepared me for the future. I don't see how a shiny new edifice would have made me a better student.

Sorry for the lengthy post but I amd sick and tired of the 'throw enough money at it' approach to fixing social and education problems.

Want a better school system? Send better kids to school and teachers who are conservative in views to properly teach those kids. Liberals think that helping a pregnant 14 stay in school by providing school daycare are only rewarding miscreant behavior and I don't see how any new shiny building is going to fix that.

Posted by: Roland at January 1, 2009 7:29 PM

FWIW Se.Pichardo's wife is actually a highly qualified professional in her field,and isn't being given a "plum"job.
Initailly,I too thought the worst of the appointment but was set straight by someone who knew what they were talking about.And keep in mind that I really can't stand Sen.Pichardo's political positions,so I have zero reason to ehnance his image in any way.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 1, 2009 10:15 PM
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