Donna Perry: Predictions for 2012

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Pensions—and trees—dominated the headlines in Rhode Island as 2011 drew to a close.

Pensions dominated the headlines all year culminating in passage of the landmark Pension Reform law, which was enacted just before Thanksgiving.

Trees, as in the Christmas vs. Holiday Tree debate circus, only hit the headlines at year’s end but the wider controversy served as a large, noisy metaphor for Governor Chafee’s continued tendency of governing by (liberal leaning) symbolism over substance.

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So what will 2012 bring to the headlines? Here are a few predictions.

Steve Pare and Occupy Providence:

In 2012, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety Steven Pare will find himself reporting daily to his new office outside—in a tent in Burnside Park. Turns out, following a series of ongoing and increasingly twisted negotiations between the Occupy Providence group and Pare, the group clearly gained the upper hand, and the Commissioner, confused by which side had promised what, inadvertently agreed to “swap offices” with Occupy. The group has now set up shop in Pare’s office in the Public Safety Complex, while he operates from a cell phonein the Park.

There’s been no final decision by the city on the group’s proposal that the capital city officially change its name from Providence, RI to Occupy Providence, RI.

Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Obama:

Raimondo will outdo herself and manage to craft a detailed and workable new pension plan structure for all 36 locally run pension plans in a marathon all night work session, fueled by coffee alone in her office, within the first three weeks of the year. The national media attention to her remarkable track record and expertise with redesigning troubled pension plans will result in her being personally called by President Obama to become U.S. Treasury Secretary as he tells her he’s steamed at that annoying Tim Geithner and besides, his troubled re-election campaign is desperate to look like it has a plan to restore fiscal health to the nation’s numerous fiscally collapsing states.

When word leaks out, Governor Chafee will be the first one to call, giddy as he urges her to take this prestigious post. (with crossed fingers as he hopes she gets the heck out of RI for 2014).

Governor Chafee:

Speaking of the Governor, seeking to build on the successes of his first year, Chafee will decide to offer some positive rehabilitation to the next accused murderer he discovers could end up on death row, by offering the man a part time position in his Administration while awaiting legal proceedings. Chafee will put him on his communications team, claiming the accused murderer’s “tough background” could be helpful in fending off those pesty reporters and nasty talk show hosts.Chafee willalso appoint the new hire to be his new Director of Holiday Decorations for the statehouse.

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Congressman David Cicilline

The Congressman’s aides will make contact with the accused murderer/new Chafee staffer, find out how many family members he has, and offer to relocate them for free to a new house on a street in South Providence which lies within the proposed redrawn boundaries of his First District. He will also offer to “help” the family get registered to vote, and also offer to have them driven to the polls next November, should they need a ride. Cicilline will find himself fending off heated charges by the campaign of Brendan Doherty that he is once again engaging in outrageous pathetic pandering just to gain a few more votes.

Warwick City Council and the Airport:

The final legal delay lodged by the Warwick City Council in the long running battle to extend the runway at Green Airport to allow for direct West Coast flights will prove fatal in the coming year. The airport’s steadily declining passenger traffic will force multiple airline withdrawals from Green, resulting in the FAA decision to shut down the state’s only major airport. Enraged state and EDC officials will demand that the Warwick City Council operate a long distance taxi service where Rhode Islanders can be driven non-stop as far as Chicago, before having to change cars for extended westward highway routes.

Public Sector Union Leaders:

Leaders of some of the state’s public employee unions, especially Service Employees Union (SEIU) President Phil Keefe are facing backlash over their strategy to urge union members to stop donating to the homeless and the poor because certain homeless and poverty advocate organizations were allied with the dominant business group backing the pension reform law. In the coming months, many union members will say they are disgusted and ashamed about a controversial email where memberswere encouraged to go into certain soup kitchens, take the soup bowls and spoons away from those in line,tell them to “get used to it”, and explain it’s because the soup kitchen directors are friendly with Anne Nolan, the Executive Director of Crossroads RI.(So far, it turns out few if any union members have followed the directive to turn against those in soup lines.)

Thanks for all the great material in 2011 Rhode Island. All the best for 2012!!

Donna Perry is a Communications Consultant to RISC, RI Statewide Coalition.


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