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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The gall of Don Carcieri

By Bob Plain in

It should come as no surprise to see former Governor Don Carcieri, the architect of the 38 Studios fiasco, yucking it up at the Republican Convention even though he has yet to answer questions about his role in state’s biggest economic blunder in a generation.

After all, Carcieri always represented conservatives first and then Rhode Islanders somewhere after that. We’re talking about a governor who gave more interviews to WPRO shock jocks than the rest of the local media combined!
But, like Scott MacKay of RIPR, we were surprised that Carcieri had the gall to be offering an economics lecture to President Obama. Here’s how MacKay put it:

Curt Schilling gets "I love Don Carcieri" tattoo
Well, governor, what say you about a purported conservative Republican  Rhode Island governor who gambled with the taxpayers money, made the most reckless  crony capitalism economic development loan in the state’s history (38 Studios, which is now bankrupt) and left the taxpayers hanging for $100 million in loan guarantees. Then this very same governor leaves office, goes into virtual hiding, refuses to answer to anybody to justify his actions and finally turns up in Tampa at the Republican National Convention to lecture the president on business.
The reality is many of Rhode Island’s economic sore spots are Carcieri’s fault. 38 Studios is only the most obvious example. Another is the state’s epidemic of failing cities. When Carcieri cut off state aid to the state’s poorest communities he virtually guaranteed at least some of them would have no other option than to go through an expensive reorganization.
As governor, he also focused his energies on cutting the state payroll instead of growing the state economy. And he fought really hard against obvious economic development winners like a casino and a port at Quonset.
One missed opportunity that few people recall is when Carcieri had the old Jamestown Bridge demolished instead of turning it into what would have been one of the most beautiful – and probably well-visited – bike paths in the world.
Environmentalists and transportation advocates fought hard for the idea at the time, though the local media largely ignored the idea. Imagine how many additional people who visit and vacation in the Ocean State if they could ride their bikes from the South County beaches, through scenic Saunderstown over Narragansett Bay and right out to Beavertail and Fort Wetherill.
It’s well worth noting that Carcieri had a beach house in Saunderstown – it’s his legal address these days, though we get the feeling he spends more time at his place in Florida than in Rhode Island – and many of the uber-affluent residents on both sides of the bridge deplored the idea of sharing their slice of Rhode Island with the masses.
The best thing Carcieri probably did for Rhode Island is give us proof positive that business acumen doesn’t translate to political acumen.
And now here is campaigning for a businessman for president.
That should be all the evidence Rhode Island and the nation needs to know that Mitt Romney is the wrong guy to be president. After all, Carcieri has proven no more effective at picking winners in politics than he has in the video game business.
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.