Bob Whitcomb’s Digital Diary: 6-10 Corridor, Trump and Clinton and Fall

Thursday, September 15, 2016

 

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Bob Whitcomb

The age issue; comparative corruption; Raimondo’s road reality; China’s bloody ally; dangerously nice weather

“Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.
“Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink.
“The years go by, as quickly as you wink.
“Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself,
“It's later than you think.’’

-- From the song “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)’’,  by Carl Sigman and Herb Magidson (1949)

 

How old is too old to run a government? That question comes up with the age of the major U.S. presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton is 68 and Donald Trump is 70. That Mrs. Clinton has been diagnosed with pneumonia and that Mr. Trump has so far refused to release a detailed and clinically objective report on his own health intensifies the questioning.

 

By one’s sixties, and no matter how much you try to take care of your health, bodily erosion accelerates at a good clip. And one can only imagine the terrific stress of running for president – the endless hours, on-the-road eating, shaking hands with infected voters, etc. Indeed, our campaign system and tradition is barbaric, and getting worse with social media. If only we had a more civilized pace that allowed for more thoughtful study and debate.

 

Given the work/torture involved, major-party presidential nominees should have iron constitutions.

 

Older presidents, such as Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, were successful, although both had serious age-related illnesses. And while Ike remained sharp through both of his two terms, Mr. Reagan’s clarity of thought and memory may have declined in his second term; he was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

 

Voters must consider whether the inevitable erosions of age more than offset the wisdom that can come with  living through many years. An inspiring example of wisdom and competence is the great post-war West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who didn’t become national leader until he was 73 and served until he was 87.

 

But that is very unusual in democracies. (African and Asian dictatorships are something else.)

 

Age is a valid issue, albeit one that must be considered case by case. All other things being roughly equal, I’d say the best age for a president is in the mid to late fifties, with health actuarially likely to be solid for a few more years, and, one would hope, with the wisdom and toughness from decades of experience as a leader.

 

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Clinton and Trump

Why is Hillary Clinton bashed for corruption so much when Donald Trump’s record of sleaze is so much worse?  I think that one reason is just the weight of the Clintons’ many (too many?) years in public life. Another is that the “mainstream media’’ are leaning overboard to show that they can be tough on the Clintons. A third is that Mr. Trump’s corruption has been mostly in business, which requires much more work to probe than does more public corruption. And many, many business journalists have been laid off. Finally, there’s the still strong bias against “strong women’’ in some circles.

 

Paul Waldman of The Washington Post compiled a partial list of Trumpian corruption. This doesn’t include payments from Russian or other foreign forces and/or other thrilling facts that might or might not be disclosed if and when Mr. Trump finally releases his tax returns.  Nor does it include Mr. Trump’s lies, whose number far, far exceeds Mrs. Clinton’s. Anyway, Mr. Waldman suggests we consider:

 

“Trump’s casino bankruptcies, which left investors holding the bag while he skedaddled with their money.’’
“Trump’s habit of refusing to pay contractors who had done work for him, many of whom are struggling small businesses.’’
The scam known as Trump University.
“The Trump Institute, another get-rich-quick scheme in which Trump allowed a couple of grifters to use his name to bilk people out of their money.’’
“The Trump Network, a multi-level marketing venture (a.k.a. pyramid scheme) that involved customers mailing in a urine sample which would be analyzed to produce for them a specially formulated package of multivitamins.’’
“Trump Model Management, which reportedly had foreign models lie to customs officials and work in the U.S. illegally, and kept them in squalid conditions while they earned almost nothing for the work they did.’’
“Trump’s employment of foreign guest workers at his resorts, which involves a claim that he can’t find Americans to do the work.’’
“Trump’s use of hundreds of undocumented workers from Poland in the 1980s, who were paid a pittance for their illegal work.’’
“Trump’s history of being charged with housing discrimination.’’
“Trump’s connections to Mafia figures involved in New York construction.’’

For very entertaining information on how Mr. Trump has conducted his business, see: wwwtrumpthemovie.com.

 

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Governor Gina Raimondo

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is (sadly) quite right to drop the very expensive ($595 million) plan to create an attractive boulevard to replace the ugly Route 6-10 Connector and knit some neighborhoods back together. She rightly says that the priority must be on fixing the dangerously decrepit bridges there as soon as possible. This is, after all, one of the region’s busiest stretches of highway.

 

It is, of course, too bad that this decades-old highway project split apart neighborhoods when it was built. This was typical of the highway mania of the time, before pedestrians, bicyclists and public-transportation started to gain more respect for environmental and socio-economic reasons.

 

The late Massachusetts Gov. Frank Sargent deserves much credit for his refusal back in the ‘70s to let Route 95 be plowed straight through Boston,  which would have ripped many neighborhoods. At the time, many said that his action would hurt Boston by making it less highway efficient. But in fact by saving well-functioning neighborhoods and encouraging mass-transit use, it made the city more attractive and prosperous.

 

The 6-10 Connector crisis reflects our slob culture: While public officials like to ribbon-cut new bridges and other public projects, they don’t want to take the heat for the taxes needed to pay to maintain them.

 

Similar things happen in the private sector, especially at colleges, universities, museums and hospitals. Rich people want their names on buildings whose construction they help finance but they tend not to be interested in giving money for the boring and mostly anonymous work of repair. So institutions often find themselves in a fiscal bind within a few years of a building a “naming opportunity’’ that is starting to fall apart.

 

And, of course, the politicians are loathe to take the heat for imposing or increasing tolls, even though tolls, as user fees, are the fairest way to pay for transportation-infrastructure upkeep. And many in the public are just as myopic. Recall the uproar when Governor Raimondo mostly successfully proposed a system of truck tolls to help pay for repairs, and yet trucks do 80-90 percent of the damage to Rhode Island’s highways and bridges.

 

As for the 6-10 Connector, one can hope that as the bridges are repaired that some new roadside landscape can make the stretch less depressing.

 

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The idea, frequently repeated as a wishful-thinking mantra in the Free World, that China  can be persuaded to seriously restrain the lethal threats of its ally North Korean dictator/murderer Kim Jong-Un against the United States, South Korea and Japan is ridiculous. China strongly supports the depraved police state (more depraved than the police state run in Beijing) as an extension of expansionist Chinese power, and to prevent another democracy (Mongolia is one) from being established next to China -- wouldn’t want to give the Chinese people any ideas!

 

South Korea must be fast-tracked to install a U.S. missile-defense system. Dictatorships only respect power.

 

As for the Russian-U.S. deal for a cease-fire in Syria, there is little in historical experience to lead a reasonable person to believe that Vladimir Putin will not continue to do everything in his power to help the Assad regime regain full power and continue as a Russian proxy in the Mideast. Dictatorships lie, lie and lie. Assad will continue with his barrel bombs and poison gas and Secretary of State John Kerry will continue to look as hapless as ever with his attempted deals with Putin.

 

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“The leaves of brown came tumbling down
“Remember in September in the rain.
“The sun went out just like a dying amber
“That September in the rain.’’

 

-- From the 1937 popular song “September in the Rain,’’ by Harry Warren and Al Dubin

 

If only it would rain for a few days! New England is in a bad drought, and that will play a part in the fact that the fall foliage for which the region is world-famous will not be as vivid this year. The Associated Press noted:  “In particularly dry areas {in New England}…leaves on some trees could turn brown and crispy and fall off. Modest stress – such as drought conditions – can also trigger a display of vibrant red in particular trees, boosting the range of color. But that splash won’t last long in drought-stricken areas.’’

This year’s gypsy-moth attack, mostly in southern New England, didn’t help either!

 

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

 

-- (Golf cheater) Jordan Baker, in “The Great Gatsby,’’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

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Fall

In old, pre-Internet days, it used to be said that fall brings more purpose and mental clarity to most people. That’s one reason that essayist Russell Baker liked to call autumn “the American season.’’ But our new electronic-device empire may be making that an anachronism. We will remain equally distracted year round.

 

Related Slideshow: 2016 Primaries—Winners and Losers

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Speaker Solid Night

Holding Serve for Mattiello

In a year with controversies swarming around Gallison and Carnevale, the Speaker held off challengers to more than ten of his supporters, but lost three races. 

House Majority Leader John DeSimone, Jan Malik and Eileen Naughton all were long-time House members and all were knocked off. Overall, the night was a solid night for Mattiello.

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Progressives

Score Some Upsets

Sam Bell's efforts to restructure the legislature with a slate of Progressive candidates scored some, repeat some high profile upset wins, but overall did not add big numbers. The Progressive can score four high profile challenger wins, but lost in eight other races.

The big wins were Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, Moira Walsh, Jason Knight, and Jeannie Calkin.

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Morgan Takes a Hit

Morgan's Lawton Gets Beat Badly

Shawna Lawton was Rep. Patricia Morgan's candidate and was suppose to give Steve Frias a battle in the 15th District. But, in the end Frias beat Lawton 80% to 20% -- a proverbial beat down.

For Morgan who seeks to be the House Minority Leader succeeding Brian Newberry the Lawton performance is a significant setback.

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Williams Beats Developer

Controversial Williams Wins

In maybe the most toxic race was the battle between long-time and embattled State Rep. Anastasia Williams and controversial developer Michael Gazdacko. Williams is tied to a number of ethical issues and the demise of the John Hope Settlement House.

Rhode Island State Representative challenger Michael Gazdacko has been working with Lance Robbins for more than a decade starting in California, where Robbins garnered the reputation as one of the most infamous "slumlords" in the country.

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Serpa Wins

House Oversight Chair Wins

In House District 27, Pat Serpa, the new chair of the House Oversight Committee fought off a solid challenge and gave a solid win for the leadership.  

Patricia A. Serpa  454    55.1%
Nicholas E. Delmenico 370    44.9%
 

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Pichardo is Out

Pichardo Beat

Juan Pichardo, the controversial state senator who came under fire for his dual as chair of the Board of Licenses is out. 

Senate District 2 turned into an upset. Pichardo was heavily criticized for making political decisions as Chair of Licensing, Ana Quezada was focused going door-to-door in the district. 

Ana B. Quezada 1,157 52.2%
Juan M. Pichardo 1,060 47.8%

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Warwick Senate Upset

Calkin Winner - Bernie Legacy

One of the biggest upsets of the night -- la ong-time Warwick Senator went down in Senate District 30 in the Democratic primary

Jeanine Calkin  1,090  51.8%

William A. Walaska* 1,015  48.2%

Calkin said, "For a first time candidate like me, who is motivated to keep the political revolution alive, it is so important to have the support of a Working Families Party." 

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Frias Beats Lawton

Frias Winner - Sets Up Race With Speaker

Steve Frias crushed Shawna Lawton which sets up a battle between Frias and Speaker Nick Mattiello in November.

This was a win for GOP Chair Brandon Bell, who was all in on Frias, and passed on recruiting significant challengers for Congress to focus on District 15. 

This could be a mega-battle in November.

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Ciccone Holds Serve

Ciccone Winner - Holds Off Progressive

Senate District 7 was a battle between the old guard and the progressives and Ciccone held off DeLos Santos in the Democratic primary.

Frank A. Ciccone, III*     1,109    54.6%
Doris Mayleni De Los Santos  922    45.4%

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DeSimone Goes Down

Ranglin Winner - Biggest Upset of the Night

House Majority Leader John DeSimone appears to have been defeated. DeSimone's opponent Marcia Ranglin is claiming victory -- an epic win for the Providence School teacher. The vote in House District 5 was a surpise.

Marcia Ranglin-Vassell   611    51.1%
John J. DeSimone  584    48.9%

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Tanzi Beats Two Back

Tanzi Fights Off Two

District 34 Representative and sometimes lightning rod Teresa Tanzi has beaten two challengers - Tanzi captured nearly 63% of the vote. 

Representative in General Assembly District 34 (View votes statewide)

Teresa Tanzi*  977    51.3%

Ewa M. Dzwierzynski 469    24.6%

Rachel Clough 458    24.1%

 
 

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