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Sunday, May 27, 2012

A teachable moment

RI Needs to Learn from Mistakes of 38 Studios Deal

To the 379 people who just lost their jobs, I want to say something that no one responsible for this turn of events is going to say: I’m sorry. I doubt that will make you feel better, but I think it needs to be said, by someone.

You moved yourself and your families down here, you put your work into an artistic endeavor, and I’m glad you work in an industry that is so good as to reach out to you immediately (although I hear that unless you work for Valve, your work hours are crazy).

I wish you luck, and I hope you create great things in the future.

That said, the politics behind this whole thing has been atrocious. It was championed by both the former Gov. Carcieri and House Speaker Gordon Fox, which despite their different partisan labels, found some common ground in it.

It displays that there is now a reckless disregard for the very real impact of the decisions that happen in the State House on the people of Rhode Island.

Everyone with an iota of power who is involved in the direction of this state needs to spend the summer discussing what’s happened over the last two years, what failed, what worked, and what needs to be done.
I don’t care if you want to kill each other at the end, as long as it makes you more effective. The citizens of Rhode Island are more important than your feelings, and they deserve better.

To the officers of the General Assembly, please remember these cheery facts: in 20 years, people will have difficultly remembering your names. In 40 years, only historians doing research will. Your personal prestige needs to be subsumed into the idea that you need to make the best decision for the state.

No one should want you to fail. No matter your political affiliation, the issue is that you need to be the best you can be. And right now, you’re not. I don’t have the answers, and I can’t tell you how to do your jobs (though I think doing them full-time and for reasonable pay wouldn’t be a bad idea).

There was a lot riding on 38 Studios that shouldn’t have been. But this deal was opposed by the people of Rhode Island, and the more I compare the polls to the actions of our government, the more I wonder whether Smith Hill just lives in a different state.

Samuel G. Howard - A native-born Rhode Islander, educated in Providence Public Schools, went to college in North Carolina and a political junkie and pessimistic optimist.