January 28, 2010

A Rhode Island Frame of Mind

Justin Katz

Was on my way to dinner in North Attleboro, MA, when that burst of winter weather hit, this evening. I took the wrong Rt. 1 exit off of 95 north and ended up in Pawtucket.

I have never been timid about driving in any weather whatsoever, but I have never driven on roads so poorly prepared for adverse conditions. Four-wheel-drive trucks were skidding and spinning out on even slight inclines. It's as if the local department of public works had prepared for the cold snap by saturating the streets.

But here's the part that's truly becoming indicative of Rhode Island: The thought that immediately came to mind was: "Just make it to the border. The roads will be better at the border."

In case you're wondering: They were. Ready for change, yet, Rhode Island?

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--"Ready for change, yet, Rhode Island?"

Should be, but I'm not optimistic.

You're probably too young to remember, but days after the notorious "Blizzard of 78" there was an aerial photo of (if I remember correctly) Rt. 195 at the MA / RI border.

The MA side was clear and black as coal. The RI side was untouched.

In other words, 32 years later little has changed, and Rhode Islanders have remained content with pi**-poor government services provided at loan-shark tax rates.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at January 28, 2010 11:02 PM

It must be because they are understaffed and underpaid. Surely if we raise taxes, pay the union-members more, and hire more public employees then quality will improve.

[Insert a lot of doctored numbers from Crowley or Sgouros here]

Posted by: Dan at January 28, 2010 11:52 PM

From Pawtucket: Yes Please!

Last night I was at the pub and folks were saying how Pawtucket in particular really needs to clean-out the 'old guard'... When I started asking about particular politicians though, people kept saying things like, "No, I know him! He's a great guy!"

Which, interestingly, was the same response I got from the police when I called them on some suspected animal abuse. The officer explained how he grew up with the owner of the place I was suspicious of, and that I shouldn't worry. At least four angry-sounding dogs in a concrete bunker, dog cages strewn about, and I've never seen one of them on a walk? That smells fishy, 'old friend' or not.

Posted by: mangeek at January 29, 2010 12:16 AM

I went to the Walmart in Seekonk tonight about 8:00pm (I'm still trying to figure out why). Same observation. I had to drive at 10 mph til I hit the border (almost literally), I actually ran down someone's trash can in the middle of the street, then it was smooth sailing once I entered Seekonk. I don't know why we always settle for perpetual mediocrity.

Posted by: Will at January 29, 2010 12:31 AM

"Ready for change, yet, Rhode Island?"

Heh, I get the reference. Some local, former politician tells people a while ago that they're not ready for change. Then he's completely shocked when about 400 people turn out to hear him give a presentation on what the state needs to do.

This is going to be an interesting election cycle. All hell's gonna break loose and it's going to be great to watch.

Posted by: Patrick at January 29, 2010 8:02 AM

Will, Matt Allen attributes it to the "putrid Rhode Island gene" which he describes as "the expectation and acceptance of mediocrity."

Matt is a native East Bayer and I respect his knowledge. I am working in politics in the hope that he is wrong, but he might be right. We'll know in November.

Fortunately, if Matt is right, there is no Berlin Wall here yet.

Posted by: BobN at January 29, 2010 10:13 AM

Ragin' Rhode Islander said ... "Rhode Islanders have remained content with pi**-poor government services provided at loan-shark tax rates."

I live on a State owned backroad and every storm we've had this year this road was well taken care of ... even when it was down to bare pavement and then storm had passed, it was plowed a few more times! Ohhh! ... that shouldn't be, should it ... never mind!

Posted by: Johno at January 29, 2010 10:41 AM


Still waiting......

Posted by: Phil at January 29, 2010 11:01 AM

What is it you are waiting for? I don't see you asking a question previously in this thread.

Aren't you the "ones [you] have been waiting for", as your President said in a campaign speech?

Posted by: BobN at January 29, 2010 11:48 AM

I swear I'm not imagining this to stir things up, but everywhere I go, and I'm always out, the roads have been well taken care of. Perhaps instead of focusing on what isn't being done people could try to see what is and build from that.

If I wanted to focus on negativity, Boston roads come to mind. We're not without problems, but I'll take RI any day over that.

Posted by: michael at January 29, 2010 12:57 PM

Coming to a city/town near you; This is the change we've waiting for:

Some younger retirees will lose up to 70 percent of their pensions and the PBGC will be saddled with a $6.7 billion debt.

PBGC spokesman Jeffrey Speicher said the benefits of at least 3,481 Delphi retirees will be cut, but 4,100 will see no reduction.

PBGC is still reviewing the status of 700 complicated cases.

On Feb. 1, reductions ranging from $6.72 to $3,700 a month will be imposed on 581 retirees above age 62, Speicher said. Another 2,900 will begin seeing cuts from $10.25 to $2,200 on March 1.

The average retiree losing pension benefits will see a monthly cut of about $850, he said.

Delphi said it couldn't exit bankruptcy without cutting benefits to salaried retirees, including their life and health insurance.

The PBGC insures pensions on a sliding scale -- with the lowest benefits guaranteed to the youngest retirees.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100129/AUTO01/1290356/1148/Delphi-salaried-workers--pensions-to-be-cut#ixzz0e2GOeNfL

Who says you can't cut pensions? Yes we can!!

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at January 29, 2010 3:41 PM


PGBC only covers defined benefit payments up to a maximum amount. Cutting higher pension payments is standard in a Chapter 11 process when the liabilities are put to the PBGC. So too, we've cut Social Security payments more than once -- e.g., by raising the retirement age and changing the COLA formula.

Frankly, public sector defined benefit pensions are unique only because the unions think they can't be cut.

Posted by: John at January 29, 2010 3:54 PM


I am waiting for an answer to the question that I asked you before....

One more despicable aspect of this unAmerican President. BobN

Why do you write that this President is unAmerican?

Posted by Phil at January 28, 2010 4:48 PM

Does that refresh your memory?

Posted by: Phil at January 29, 2010 8:29 PM


No need to answer as you have provided us with an answer on another post.

Posted by: Phil at January 30, 2010 6:45 AM
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