Rhode Island Recap

by by Maggie Lange

Proverbial pawnshop
The city of Providence has, in essence, gone to the proverbial pawnshop. Items for bidding at the Renaissance City’s Urban Tag Sale: city infrastructure, sewer lines, and parking meters. Mayor Cicilline’s administration considered leasing the city’s hardware to compensate for a severe $59 million deficit. Although this is the urban-planning equivalent of tucking its tail between its legs, the city could make bank by contracting out infrastructure; an estimated $11.7 million will come from one-time sales this year.

Meanwhile, 10 minutes up RI-146, North Providence made a not-so-negligible $4,000 faux-pas. The town’s municipal officials accidentally sold someone else’s trailer on eBay. On Wednesday, Mayor Lombardi explained that the town had to shell out $5,800 to make amends with the owners of the trailer. The trailer had sold on eBay for $1,825.

Falling far from the tree
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was one of only seven senators to show support for ACORN funding. ACORN, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is a community-based organization that advocates for low-income neighborhoods. ACORN has come under recent scrutiny thanks to a "guerilla" (not to say "gotcha") exposé by citizen
journalists Hannah Gile and James O’Keefe. The two arrived at ACORN offices armed with cameras, an egregious prostitute ensemble, and a faux fur pimp jacket. In several incriminating (and possibly edited) videos, ACORN staff members seem to offer assistance to help the two organize an underage, humantrafficked prostitution ring.

While the US Senate voted 83-7 to cut federal funding to ACORN, Senator Whitehouse would not be deterred by the popular sway. Senator Whitehouse issued a statement to the Providence Journal: “certainly
no one condones the conduct in question by a few ACORN employees…but if we tried to shut down every organization, nonprofit, or company that was embarrassed by the actions of a few employees, we wouldn’t have many left.”

Also standing out in Congress is Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, a top foreign policy advisor to Obama, who opposed the Democratic party when he expressed misgivings about the possible troop build-up in Afghanistan. Reed noted that the US should focus on training Afghan security forces and investing in their equipment, and expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of an increase of American soldiers.

Ocean state surfing
The state of Rhode Island announced on Monday that their official web site——won the Interactive Media Awards top honors in an international competition in website design and development. According to Reuter’s business wire, won for “meeting the highest standards of design, usability, innovation, content, and accessibility.” has even joined the social networking youth—sharing its pics on a flickr photo pool, uploading videos onto YouTube, and using its 140-characters-or-less tweets judiciously. Apparently, the site also offers transparent government resources.

Enough to break the ice
In another contest the Ocean State cares deeply about, the Roger Williams Zoo’s very own polar bear is competing in a beauty contest of sorts. The National Geographic photo contest lists a picture of Kobe as one of 12 finalists in the wildlife category. Unfortunately, Rhode Island’s potential Little Mr. Sunshine was under the Tucson, Arizona sun, where he is on loan, when the photo was snapped. The winner will be announced on October 15th. Kobe looks like a strong finalist, and he wasn’t even holding a Coca-Cola bottle.