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Wednesday, September 25, 2013


There is no shame in being shamed by Justin Katz, Doreen Costa and John DePetro.

It rather feels like a badge of honor. Or at least a testament that the work we are doing at RI Future matters for something. 

If nothing else, we’re at least getting under the skin of the most mean-spirited minds in Rhode Island politics. 

The irony is that they each probably oppose seat belt laws and marijuana prohibition, but why let principles get in the way of a good political smear.

Here’s some of my favorite coverage:

Katz deserves credit for breaking the story by tweeting a picture of the police log from The PendulumNorthEast Independent, a newspaper here in East Greenwich. The Pendulum Independent, on the other hand, published at least two inaccuracies in their story. 

The newspaper said I was arrested for marijuana, which I wasn’t, and it said car smelled like “burnt marijuana,” which it didn’t. The actual police report didn’t say anything like that and I’m not accused of such things. Whatever the reporter smelled, it wasn’t coming from my car.

I was given a ticket for not wearing my seat belt and having a small amount of marijuana in the car. I’m pretty embarrassed about not wearing my seat belt, because I think it’s kinda dumb not to do so. The marijuana, on the other hand, was entirely legal: my spouse has a medical marijuana card and we switch cars all the time.

I’ll probably have to pay a fine for not wearing my seat belt and the judge will hopefully dismiss the marijuana ticket. I’m hoping the misunderstanding might lead to some reform in RI’s medical marijuana statutes: spouses shouldn’t be punished for transporting their loved one’s medicine.

I also missed a court appearance for having a suspended license because of an unpaid ticket. These aren’t victimless actions, as they each cost the system, and thus my neighbors, but it’s really more a comedy of errors than an actual crime. None-the-less, judges don’t like to be blown off and getting caught missing a court date means an automatic night in a jail cell.

If there was a silver lining in any of this, it would be the eye-opening experience of getting to see the very first layer of onion skin in our criminal justice system. I’m still working on a separate post about that.

Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.