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Thanks for nothing!

In our first annual list of Rhode Island turkeys, the Phoenix fingers 10 people and institutions that made a bad year even worse
By PROVIDENCE PHOENIX STAFF  |  November 22, 2011

 feat_TobinWilliams_main
A BIT MUCH, YOUR HONOR “Chiefy” Williams’s relationship with his driver and her family was clearly inappropriate.
FATHER OF THE FLOCK Bishop Tobin crossed the line.

We'd like to be thankful, we really would. Change came to Washington this year and the Mad Men returned.

But here in lil' Rhody, with Thanksgiving upon us, it's hard not to feel like we've had the stuffing kicked out of us. It rained all summer. The economy is crap. And the long-term prognosis? Well, it ain't too good.

Of course, it's not all our fault. There's AIG to blame. And Al Roker, or whoever controls the weather. But there are, sadly, plenty in our midst who managed to make a bad year worse.

There were crimes against the local economy. Attacks on freedom of speech. Assaults on gay rights. The mayor of North Providence even found a way to burnish that town's already considerable reputation for political ineptitude.

In a year that called for inspired local leadership — for some Hope amid the gloom — there was precious little of it.

So, as you pile on the mashed potatoes and prod that quivering mound of cranberry sauce, dig your fork into this: the Phoenix's first annual list of Rhode Island turkeys.


GOVERNOR CARCIERI

The governor can't take full credit for the ruinous state of the state. He is, after all, largely powerless before the General Assembly (more on that hapless brood below).

But when it comes to gay and lesbian rights, Carcieri is undoubtedly the turkey-in-chief. The threat of a gubernatorial veto effectively grounded same-sex marriage legislation in Rhode Island this year, even as marriage equality took flight across much of New England.

And last month, amid our pesky little bout with economic calamity, the gubnah made time to address the Massachusetts Family Institute, a group that labels homosexuality an "unhealthy practice" that is "destructive to individuals, families and society" and pledges to heal those "plagued by same-sex attraction."

But that was not all. A couple of weeks ago, the governor vetoed a bill that promised burial rights for those who lose a domestic partner, calling the legislation part of a "disturbing trend" toward "the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage."

All is not lost, though. Shortly after rejecting the bill, Carcieri took it upon himself to meet with some real-life queers and, after the meeting, pronounced himself open to a civil partnership law that would provide some, if not all, of the rights of marriage.

Who knows? Someday, Rhody's gays and lesbians may have full access to our badly carpeted funeral homes. But for now, dying while gay is proving nearly as nettlesome here as driving while black.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Carcieri, whatever his flaws, is at least inclined to do something. The same cannot be said for the turkeys in our state legislature.

The Great Recession provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the General Assembly to shelve that debate over the official state ice cream and confront a set of economic problems that run far deeper than a single downturn.

And there were ideas aplenty, some better than others — reform a much-maligned tax code, invest in a flagging higher education system, pursue full-scale casino gambling again.

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  Topics: News Features , U.S. Government, U.S. State Government, U.S. Conference of Mayors,  More more >
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