By JIM BARON - As it turned out, there was no gunman. There was no gun. Nobody had even said the word gun until the panic had already started, for Peteâ€™s sake.
Nonetheless, the state university cancelled classes for the day. Students were in lockdown all across the campus for several hours. Frightened parents punched the numbers on their cell phones, frantically trying to contact their student offspring. The universityâ€™s website crashed from the sheer numbers of people trying to log on to find out what the heck was happening.
That liberal stooge of the unions, Gov. Lincoln Chafee, has done it again.
Paying the state labor movement back for getting him elected in 2010, Chafe has introduced a legislative package thatâ€¦ that uh,â€¦ that, wellâ€¦that is remarkably similar to the proposals put forward by that snarling, snorting enemy of all unions, Gov. Donald Carcieri, several years in a row.
If news coverage were the NFL, Channel 12 would have drawn two penalty flags last week for piling on.
Right after a Brown University poll the previous Thursday slammed both Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Congressman David Cicilline to the ground, Channel 12 pounced with everything they had â€” investigator Tim White, analyst Ted Nesi and pollster Joe Fleming â€” right on top of their already battered bodies. (The penalty flags are, of course, just metaphors, Channel 12 didnâ€™t do anything wrong. Those reporters did their job and did it well.)
Like the guy in Rudyard Kiplingâ€™s poem â€śIf,â€ť Congressman David Cicilline seems to be keeping his head while all about him are losing theirs and blaming it on him.
Cicilline told me over the weekend: â€śI am going to do the only thing I know how to do and that is work hard every single day to represent the constituents in my district and do things that I think will improve the lives of the people that I serve.â€ť
I find it remarkable that one of the liveliest debates being engaged during this presidential election year is about, of all things, contraception.
I understand that sexually related matters tend to raise the most heated passions (pun sort of intended), with abortion and gay rights amongst the most hot-button of those issues, but I kinda thought the contraception debate had been settled. And, really, it has been.
The proposed 2 percent additional tax on restaurant meals and beverages has emerged as the big headline from Gov. Lincoln Chafeeâ€™s 2012 budget. His notion that it would fund additional aid to school districts didnâ€™t seem to get as much ink.
My advice? Go someplace nice for lunch, order a good meal and a cocktail, and stop worrying about it. The tax ainâ€™t going to happen.
Governor Chafee is right (thereâ€™s a phrase you donâ€™t see or hear in the media too often) to make 2012 the Year of Cities and Towns, and to focus his attention on helping the municipalities that are starting to fall like fiscal dominos, one crashing into the other as they fall until, looking from above, you see they spell out the message â€śRhode Island is screwed.â€ť
Tomorrow, Gov. Lincoln Chafee gives his State of the State speech, a companion piece to the budget that will be introduced in the House of Representatives a few hours earlier.
Itâ€™s a safe bet that presentation wonâ€™t have the air of political theater that Chafeeâ€™s old Senate buddy, President Barack Obama, had in his State of the Union address a week ago tomorrow.
The bad news is, you have been robbed and cheated for years now, paying a car tax on values that are way out of whack, nowhere near what your automobile is really worth.
The good news is, a bunch of rabble-rousers in Warwick have gotten the attention of state Rep. Joseph McNamara, who is moving to change the law so that the value your vehicle is taxed on more closely resembles reality.