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Dan Lawlor: The Political 1% Need to be Held Accountable for 38 Studios

Monday, May 28, 2012


Carcieri is out of office, Keith Stokes has resigned, while Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed and House Speaker Gordon Fox still roam the halls of political power.

The Assembly leaders, the political 1% of Rhode Island, thus far appear unaccountable for their actions in the ongoing 38 Studios fiasco. This needs to stop.

Clearly, in the short term, the goal should be to work toward a solution. I'm sure for everyone involved, honestly, hoped for this company to succeed, to contribute and to grow. However, now, in light of recent events, holding the legislative leaders who manufactured this crisis accountable - either in the ballot box or in the chamber - would appear wise.

There is a possibility that the state will owe 112 million dollars to creditors (slightly less than the entire budget for the National Endowment for the Humanities). This is astonishing, depressing, and enraging. Carcieri, Fox, Costantino and Paiva Weed, with likely the best of intentions, helped concoct and approve this taxpayer-funded bet. We all lost.

There are children in Providence and South County in physically run down schools because "there's no money."

Property taxes are higher because "there's no money."

There are homeless people dying on the street because "there's no money."

There are homes being foreclosed on because "there's no money."

There are college students paying more tuition at RIC and URI because "there's no money."

Interest rates are higher for student loans because "there's no money."

There are roads crumbling because "there's no money."

Well, apparently, there was money. There was money for out of state investors looking to open up a video game company, there was money for big-deal property tax exemptions for large businesses, there was money for the people who donate, who wine and dine, who go to Capital Grille, who have a good laugh over drinks.

This Chicago-style handshaking has not worked out well for working people in this state. This insider handshaking creates special deals, excludes those outside the networks, undermines trust in government, and has not exactly produced an economic powerhouse these last few years.

Someone once told me, referring to the shadow world in the marble statehouse, "There's a whole politics behind the politics, and that's where things really happen." Politics behind the politics.

In her 1988 book, Convictions, former Attorney General Arlene Violet wrote, "Big polluters are also big contributors. Through the tactics of the jobs issue, they keep alive their influence and hold on politicians. The public never really does have a chance." While talking about polluting companies, the world of insider deals seems to hold true all over the place.

From a certain angle, Carcieri, Fox, Costantino and Paiva Weed took a risk. If it had worked, we'd be having champagne in the Biltmore celebrating the beginning of Providence Renaissance 2.0. Instead a key business of our new economy just closed its doors. I don't doubt the intention of our elected leaders to do good or their desire to see good in this state - but we need to look at the results.

I'm not a fatalist. We're not destined to be stuck in the mud. We need transparency and consequences. Unless our elected leaders can fix this situation, they should consider not continuing in their current positions...or perhaps, simply, the voters will not return them to office.

Too many people are hurting in this state -looking for work, expecting better schools, demanding better treatment- for there to be no consequences for the loss of 112 million dollars. What will you do to fix this, Mr. Speaker and Madame President?


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The RIEDC is a pawn for the GA. The GA runs the show and in this case as there are many DIDN'T run it right. We the tax payers are being duped every day with ill conceived or reactionary bills from the GA. This is a group of misfits that are not trained or educated to serve the people of RI, just look at all of the mess we are in from decades of no plan or backing of a real thought process.
The GA has to go.

Comment #1 by Gary Arnold on 2012 05 28

This deal was NOT made with the best intentions!!!! Stop reporting that LIE.

This deal was made with a select few who force fed the rest of the GA, that this was a good idea. If what we're reading is true (and most of the time it isn't), the remainder of the GA had no idea that a deal with 38 Studios was already made, when they approved additional funds.

Again, that's RI's GA working for THEIR OWN BEST INTERESTS, not those of RI.

When I keep screaming that these people NEED to go.....I MEAN THEY NEED TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment #2 by pearl fanch on 2012 05 28

Governor "Gump" Chafee deserves blame for failing to exercise proper oversight over the deal while the EDC was under his watch for the past 17 months. He said he was openly against the deal to begin with, and it was his responsibility after being elected to the governor's seat (which oversees EDC) to step up and make sure that 38 Studios wasn't squandering the money, and make sure that the operation was running properly. Yet he failed to so much as even inquire as to how the operation was running, and didn't even open his mouth on the matter until the "blank" was already hitting the fan.

He may not have approved of the deal before being elected, but he had the power to monitor the EDC's shady loan to 38 Studios and to look out for the interests of the taxpayers, and he failed to do both. Shame on you Governor Chafee for not doing your job and for using this as an "I told you so" publicity stunt.

Comment #3 by Russ Hryzan on 2012 05 29

In most other states, several of the politicos would be under ivestiigation right now. Some would be heading to jail. But not in RI. How many elected "leaders"....or anyone else...was ever punished for the corruption fiasco at the state landfill? Don't expect any elected official to ever get punished for 38 studios, aside from a possible mild reprimand from our missing-in-action state Ethics Committee. In fact, all these leaders will be rewarded and rehired with raises because RIers just can stop themselves from pulling the "all democrat" lever in the voting booth.

Comment #4 by Captain Blacksocks on 2012 05 29

i have a great idea several people left or our leaving the EDC in view of this "misfortune " that occurred how about hiring the guy from Mass. who refused the Schill what do you think

Comment #5 by Howard Miller on 2012 05 30

Seventy-five million dollars a givent to 38 Studios is the same amount we sold Public Education for by going after Race to the Top money openning up Public Education to Wall Street hedge fund Managers. It is official we are now Rhode Island Inc. Open to any Wall Street scam they come up with.

Comment #6 by Eloise O'Shea-Wyatt on 2012 06 04

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