Moore: Mattiello Must Leave Pawsox Fate Up To Voters
Monday, May 11, 2015
The time has come for direct democracy—particularly on the Pawtucket Red Sox issue. The state legislature needs to support Patricia Morgan’s (R-West Warwick, Coventry) bill that would require any subsidies to the new Pawtucket Red Sox owners before a voter referendum.
Does anyone else find it ironic that so many state legislators grovel obsequiously in the presence of House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, yet businessmen push him around while he, in turn, genuflects?
In other words, for a man who everyone in the legislature seems so afraid of, his primary motivation for the most prominent actions he's taken as House Speaker have been driven by fear.
It obvious why most rank-and-file state legislators lack courage. They're worried about securing and maintaining jobs for family members, receiving grants for the local little league, and passing obscure legislation that nobody will recognize or understand anyhow--not to mention invitations to the Christmas Party or a parking spot or a decent office at the statehouse. In other words, go along to get along.
Go Along, Get Along
But Mattiello isn't much different than his minions in that respect. The only real difference is he calls the shots.
Rhode Islanders don't need to be reminded of the fact that they're in the midst of paying back the $100 plus million dollar 38 Studios debt which, the bond documents explicitly states, was not a legal debt of the state of Rhode Island. Mattiello should have taken a hard line stance with the bond buyers, who got a better interest rate because the investment was so risky (and they knew this full well), and negotiated a settlement that was more favorable to the taxpayers. Instead, he took the easy way out and simply paid them.
His rationale, he said, was that he was afraid of the bond rating companies. He said that they'd wreak havoc on the state's bond rating, which would in turn cost us more money to borrow money in the future, thus costing us more in the long term. Mattiello always fails to point out that bond rating companies merely issue opinions (that's they're position), and it's what bonds sell for at the auction that really determines bond prices. Bond ratings agencies are nothing to fear.
Running for (Political) Cover
A year later, the state finds itself faced with another difficult financial decision--whether or not to lay out the financial red carpet for the new, wealthy owners of the Pawtucket Red sox. The ownership group is led by the uber connected Rhode Island lawyer and political insider James Skeffington, who has given thousands in contributions to Rhode Island politicians.
Once again, Mattiello is cowering in fear and for no good reason. Mattiello told wpri.com that he believes the majority of Rhode Islanders will ultimately want the team to stay in Rhode Island as opposed to moving to Massachusetts. (It's hard to imagine a more foolish negotiating tactic than handing the person on the other side of the table leverage.) Keep in mind, this was before a closed-door House Democratic caucus. How's that for transparency?
What exactly would Rhode Islanders be losing if the team were to pack up and move to Worcester? Some sales tax revenues on the sales of hot dogs, cracker jacks, and beers?
Mattiello has now hired a consultant to tell him what he wants to hear. It's more political cover at taxpayer expense. (I thought we already paid for a House Policy Office for a reason?)
Irrational Propensity to Fear
Given Mattiello's irrational propensity to fear, this decision, which could cost Rhode Islanders tens over tens of millions of dollars, should be left up to the voters to decide directly. Instead of guessing whether or not Rhode Islanders are in the mood to cower to the threats of the well-heeled Pawtucket Red Sox owners--like former Fleet Bank CEO Terry Murray, and former CVS CEO Tom Ryan--let them make the decision. Hold a high profile voter referendum later this year.
It makes perfect sense. The state routinely asks voters to approve various expenditures during every statewide and off year election. Last year, the state asked voters to approve expenditures of $125 million to construct a new College of Engineering building; $35 million to fund artistic, historic and cultural centers; $35 million in bonds to fund enhancements and renovations to mass transit hub infrastructure; and $53 million in bonds for environmental and recreational purposes.
The money that Mattiello is considering forking over to the owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox, will certainly be in that range, if not more. It's a significant expenditure of taxpayer dollars, and the people paying the bills should have a direct say in whether they agree with it.
It might be nice to have people who aren't motivated by fear to make the decision.
Editor's Note: A previous version had that Mattiello hired a consultant for 38 Studios, which he did not. Mattiello had met with two bond ratings agencies in New York City.
Related Slideshow: You Know You’re From Pawtucket When…
Fanny the Elephant
If you’re from Pawtucket you definitely remember Fanny the elephant at Slater Park.
Purchased from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus in 1958, the beloved Fanny served as a symbol for Pawtucket for over three decades.
Fanny ultimately left Pawtucket in 1993 and resided at the Black Beauty ranch until her death in 2003. The news of Fanny’s death was such a major deal that the Providence Journal ran an obituary for the famous elephant.
Rockin’ at the Leroy
You know you’re from Pawtucket if you saw Aerosmith rock the Leroy Theater on March 8, 1978.
Originally known as Pawtucket’s “Million Dollar Theater,” the Leroy entertained fans as a concert and movie showcase for over 60 years before closing in 1990. In its prime, the Leroy was able to attract some of the biggest names in music including Aerosmith, Bob Seger, The Kinks, The J. Geils Band, Blondie, and Frank Zappa.
Who do you remember seeing?
You know you’re from Pawtucket if you’ve ever had frozen lemonade from a Palagi Bros Ice Cream and Frozen Lemonade truck.
Founded by Peter Palagi Sr., the Palagi family has been serving summer smiles to Pawtucket residents for over 100 years.
What’s your favorite flavor?
You know you’re from Pawtucket if you once attended at skating party at Bobby’s Rollaway.
Located on Newport Avenue, Bobby’s Rollaway was the place to skate if you were a teen in the ‘70s and ‘80s. And who could forget their classic television ad featuring the classic Yes song “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”
Want a taste of nostalgia? Check out the ad below.
You know you’re Pawtucket if you remember eating at the Modern Diner when it was located on Dexter Street.
Most folks know consider the Modern Diner a symbol of East Avenue, but this classic eatery was originally located on Dexter Street when it was built in 1940. One of just two Sterling Streamliner diners in existence today, the Modern Diner was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
You know you’re from Pawtucket if you’re first job was bagging groceries at Almacs.
This local favorite served Pawtucket residents and many throughout New England for over 50 years until it closed in the mid ‘90s. In its heyday, Almacs had 30 locations throughout Rhode Island.
If you grew up in the ’60s and ‘70s you might even remember receiving S&H Green Stamps at the checkout counter.
Photo: Flickr/Ken Carr
You know you’re from Pawtucket if you used to spend your Friday night watching second run movies at the Darlton Theatre.
Located in the Darlington section of Pawtucket, this retro style theatre was a local mainstay for 37 years before closing its doors in 1977. If you truly remember the Darlton you’ll recall the theatre’s most unique feature: an infant crying room.
You know you’re from Pawtucket if you used to do your school clothes shopping at Apex.
Originally founded as an automotive service business, Apex has served the retail needs of Pawtucket residents for over 90 years. Known for its trademark pyramid-shaped roof, Apex was also home to the Rhode Island DMV until it relocated to Cranston in 2010.
Photo: Flickr/Marc Belanger
Every Rhode Islander may know about McCoy Stadium, but only a true Pawtucket native remembers when the Pawtucket Indians played there.
Prior to the Paw Sox, the Indians, a minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians played their home games at McCoy from 1966 to 1967. Do you remember catching an Indians game at McCoy?
You know you’re from Pawtucket if you used to spend your Saturday nights bowling at Down Under Duckpin Bowling.
Down Under, formerly known as Sullivan’s and later Chip’s, featured 24 lanes and a small deli/coffee counter called Chip’s cafeteria. For those people who weren’t interested in bowling alley cuisine, there was a Sullivan’s Steak House right across the street.
Photo: Flickr/Steve Snodgrass
You know you’re from Pawtucket if you tried to be an extra in the movie American Buffalo.
Filmed entirely in Pawtucket, American Buffalo was the second feature film directed by Pawtucket native Michael Corrente. Interestingly, the Times Square Restaurant was renamed the Riverside Diner during filming – a name is still bears to this day.
Howell Smith Druggist
You know you’re from Pawtucket if you still fill your prescriptions at Howell Smith Druggist
One of the few remaining family-owned independent pharmacies remaining in Rhode Island, Howell Smith Druggist has been serving Pawtucket residents since 1938.
So what has kept this pharmacy in business for all this years? According to their website its their quality customer service and personal touch. “When you call Howell Smith Druggist during business hours, you will always speak to a real person!” reads the website.
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