Rhode Island outraged by use of Massachusetts to illustrate size of oil spill

Rhode Island, perhaps because it is the smallest state in the union, is the preferred media reference when describing the size of something. This works well for both the factual and the fantastical.

031105_RhodeIsland The following are just from news stories in the past week:

The ice sheets that peel off of Antarctica all seem mathematically related to the Ocean State. The most recent: An Ice Shelf the Size of Rhode Island Breaks Up in Just 24 Hours

For those of you keeping track at home, Rhode Island is either 1000 square miles in size (just measuring the land part) or 1,500 sq. mi. if you include Narragansett Bay as well. Now comes the horrific news that MASSACHUSETTS!!! of all places is being used as a measure.

They say the dead zone is roughly the size of Massachusetts, or at least 7,722 square miles. The largest ever measured was just over 8,000 square miles in 2001.

Rhode Island has always had a chip on its shoulder about Massachusetts. My home state was literally founded by Bay State castoffs (cast off because they were in favor of things like religious tolerance, I might add). So this trend has to be stopped in its tracks. NOW. So Mr. Reporter, lets try again. It is nearly EIGHT TIMES THE SIZE OF RHODE ISLAND!!! Now, isn’t that more impressive?

Advertisements

Most colorful pol in US ready to run again for office!

God bless you, Buddy Cianci.

Cianci –– former mayor of Providence, RI, current radio talk show host, and convicted felon – says he may get back into politics. Cianci says he may run against either Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-Carpet Bagger) or current Mayor David N. Cicilline (the only gay Jewish Italian mayor IN THE WORLD!).

marinara Buddy is an astute observer of politics and he notes there is a strong anti-incumbent feeling out there. This feeling is running even higher in the Bay State which has something like a 13% unemployment rate. (Top that Michigan!) To outsiders it would seem that even that wouldn’t be enough for Cianci to get elected. They would be wrong.

Outsiders get all hung up on the fact that Buddy left office in disgrace not once but twice.

  • In 1984 he resigned the mayoralty after pleading no-contest to charges of kidnapping and assaulting Raymond DeLeo with a fireplace log, an ashtray and a lighted cigarette. Cianci believed DeLeo, a long-time friend, was having an affair with the mayor’s estranged wife. This assault was witnessed by Cianci’s police chauffeur, his divorce lawyer, the Providence director of public works and a former state attorney general. But that’s ancient history.
  • In 2002, during his seventh term as mayor, he was convicted for running a criminal enterprise out of City Hall and served a 4.5 year sentence. In some states that could present a problem, but not in Little Rhody where getting busted is practically a rite of passage for most pols. (For even more entertaining details click here for my article on RI, politics and corruption.)

Outsiders get it wrong because if you haven’t lived in RI you have no idea how weird it is. It is Fellini meets Terry Gilliam only weirder.

If Buddy runs do not bet against him. He has lost only one election that I can think of. His pasta sauce, The Mayor’s Own Marinara, is still sold throughout the state (and if you want some amusement google “Rhode Island gift baskets” and look at the contents).He remains popular with the electorate because he probably knows all of them. As Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr told me, “I always remember there’s the friend of mine who’s a Cambodian guy – he came here, survived the killing fields. Did the classic American struggle, went to school and went to college, became a school counselor and then he got his master’s degree. On a hot summer afternoon in South Providence in this guy’s backyard, they were celebrating his master’s degree with some Cambodian food and a few friends and up comes the limo and out gets Buddy with a proclamation. … And that’s him, he’s always doing stuff like that.” During his times in office it was widely believed that Buddy would attend the opening of a door.

Sadly Kennedy’s seat is probably safe. Buddy would be bored out of his mind in Congress and he knows it. But if he runs for mayor his only opposition will be the good government types who are ethically right and about as interesting as a damp sponge.

Also in Buddy’s favor is the “he can’t be any worse than what we already have” factor. If I still lived in RI, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat – he may not always provide bread but he excels at circus.

Ill gov. arrested for trying to blackmail a newspaper

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (pronounced: U-r-kid-ing-me) and his chief of staff have been arrested  for trying to shake down various people and institutions. While the lead in the news is how it is related to naming a successor to our president-elect, what really got me is this:

According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper’s editorial board who had been critical of him fired.

OK, so the risk for an elected official doing this sort of thing is what will happen if the press finds out about it. Don’t really have to worry about that “if” in this case, do you Rod?

As someone who grew up in Chicago and then Rhode Island (Motto: We’re not as corrupt as Louisiana but we’re trying), I am curious to know if there is a corruption index for government in the US?

UPDATE: The interwebs is democratizing satire: For bid on eBay: 1 Ill. Senate seat, slightly worn

ANOTHER UPDATE: TOTALLY BIASED LIST OF MOST CORRUPT STATES: Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the nation. That’s according to an analysis of government data released today by Corporate Crime Reporter. Louisiana (1), Mississippi (2), Kentucky (3), Alabama (4) and Ohio (5) are the top five most corrupt states in the country, according to the analysis. Rounding out the top ten are Illinois (6), Pennsylvania (7), Florida (8), New Jersey (9), and New York (10). Corporate Crime Reporter looked at the 35 most populous states in the nation. (The fifteen states with population of under two million were not included in the analysis.)

No list that doesn’t have Rhode Island in the top 5 is worth its palm grease.