Another Lesson for RI: Vomit on the City Hall Stairs


If you missed this telling editorial in Saturday’s Providence Journal, be sure to read the whole thing:

The other day, the son of Cumberland’s David Ram-pone, president of Hart Engineering Corporation, was married at the Biltmore Hotel, in downtown Providence. Before the wedding, the bride wanted some pictures taken at leafy Burnside Park, with its lovely water fountain. So the entire wedding party, including two toddlers, trooped across the street.

Unfortunately, Mr. Rampone recounted, “we left in short order, as there were needles on the ground, human feces on some of the artwork, and a couple of people smoking crack. Nice environment for our small grandsons to be around.”

So the group moved on to the City Hall, a striking 1878 gem that is on the National Register of Historic Places and which The Providence Journal once called “our municipal palace.” They thought of taking photographs on the steps, from which such luminaries as Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy have addressed Providence crowds. But that was a no-go too. “Dried vomit and urine were all over the stairs.”

As fascinating as the original testimony, though, was the Twitter exchange that it prompted between progressive blogger Bob Plain, Democrat lobbyist Bill Fischer, and Providence firefighter union head Paul Doughty.  Plain voiced a “poor little rich people” sarcasm, to which Fischer took some umbrage, with Doughty chiming in to say that city government should be able to fund both jobs for cleaners and poverty programs.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rhode Island government in a nutshell.  The progressive heart bleeds so for the disadvantaged that those who are not poor become the enemy, and are well advised simply not to make the state their problem.  Organized labor drives up the cost of accomplishing anything through government, under the assumption that there will always be people with more money to foot the bill.  And the Democrat lobbyist and mainstream newspaper lament the results achieved by the politicians and policies that they have backed, without going so far as to reconsider those politicians and policies.

Even putting aside the inevitable raw corruption, big government inevitably comes to the point of vomit on the city hall stairs when it is built on the premise that government’s role is to redistribute wealth and simply make positive outcomes happen by fiat.  We should try allowing government simply to be a civic framework that allows the market to work, perhaps with some carefully considered corrections where there are cracks, and trusting in people to resolve problems (because we’ve encouraged them to do so through strong cultural institutions).

It will not help the poor of Providence if nobody with money ever goes there, and chasing redistribution up the government ladder — attempting to redistribute at the state, national, and international levels, so there’s nowhere for those with money to run — will only ensure that the hammer falls harder when it falls.

  • Mike678

    Is it really too much to ask to be able to use our public places as they are intended to be used?

  • Rhett Hardwick

    In Washington, the police have no problem with chasing the sort of people who create this sort of dystopia off the Mall. Why is it a problem for Providence.

  • ShannonEntropy

    I can’t help but wonder if the recent “re·design” of Kennedy Plaza isn’t somehow playing a role in the disintegration of the place as a public space

    A few years ago “Traveler’s Aid” moved away to across town — to “Crossroads” at the old YMCA bldg. The number of bums in KP dropped noticeably almost immediately. (( The number of hookers hanging around both KP and Crossroads also regrettably dropped … but that is another post ))

    And now since the re·design the place looks like Skid Row. It seems like it has been too long since the “Occupy” Movement of a few years ago for its influence to be lingering on … but then again, I am not a progressive sociologist

    • ShannonEntropy

      A little research revealed this =►

      The author David Brussat got it backwards tho … the re·design did NOT “… turn public space for people of lower income into public space for people of higher income”

      Instead, it turned a transportation hub into an out·doors park for homeless people to roam at all hours of the day
      or night

      • Mike678

        Thanks. I didn’t realize that public space could be restricted to “people of higher income.” Silly me…I assumed clean, beautiful areas would be appreciated by all. Perhaps David B, with an apparent penchant for division/class warfare, can explain what “lower income” people really want.

        • Rhett Hardwick

          “people of high income” who don’t wish to share a public space with “working poor” are probably well down the road to becoming insufferable snobs. But those who do not wish to share a public space with those who vomit, defecate and urinate in public are a whole ‘nother story. Need we go into the diseases those behaviors can spread? I know a woman who works in Boston, the women in her office keep count of the men they see urinating on the side walk. She tells me they are mostly of middle class appearance, although blacks predominate. I am not sure what I would do if I were in distress in Boston, or New York. Several guys I know who commute by car to Boston keep a bottle in their car. Does Paris still have pissoirs?

        • ShannonEntropy

          “people of higher income.”

          Yeah right. KP is basically a transit stop for RIPTA … and there is a very good reason why the bus is nick·named the “Loser Cruiser”

          • Mike678

            Perhaps, but does this help the cause to label people losers? Are there not hard working people using the bus/park that are as disgusted as you with the destructive/unsanitary people Bob Plain celebrates?

            More concerning to me is that RIBTA draws funding from the gas tax…a tax designed to fund road and bridge repair. So now we have bad roads, fees on car registration, and a threat of new tolls. Why do those who use paying for the transportation of those who don’t?

          • ShannonEntropy

            All apologies, Loser Cruiser Users

            We recently spent a half-hour at KP and I can assure you that there were *zero* “high income people” milling around … unless they were like me and deliberately ‘dress down’

            What on earth were we doing in KP ??

            Waiting for our Peregrine-banding party to assemble for a trip to the top of the Superman Bldg

            See Comment #4 at

          • Rhett Hardwick

            In college, I decided that falconry might be for me. I went to the library and found every book dealing with it had “disappeared”. Every magazine that had an article had the article excised.

          • Rhett Hardwick

            I think all schemes of public transportation form a bit of social stratification. When I lived in New York “nobody” took the subway, or admitted knowing the stops on the IRT. When I lived in Boston, I shared a stop with then Gov. Dukakis. He famously “took a subway to work” (a social statement). One morning he tried to board a subway (Longwood stop,above ground there) that was on a training mission with a “No Passengers” sign. the driver wouldn’t let him on. He tried “Don’t you know who I am?”. The driver replied “I don’t care who you are, you’re not getting on”.

          • ShannonEntropy

            When I lived in New York “nobody” took the subway, or admitted knowing the stops on the IRT.

            My experience with family & friends who live in NYC is that it is “high status” to not even own a car and to either walk everywhere
            — ever hear of the “sidewalk tax” ?? —
            or to use public transportation exclusively
            … cabs are for tourists

            Here in Rhody, tho, only losers use RIPTA. I have lived here 33 yrs now and have never even set foot on a RIPTA bus

  • ShannonEntropy

    Perhaps David B, with an apparent penchant for division/class warfare …

    Brussat is the architecture critic for the Pro·Jo and writes
    an infrequent & allegedly “clever” editorial column called
    Dr Downtown

    His main shtick is ragging on the horrors of modern / post-modern architecture and the moral & popular superiority of the classical styles (( Can’t disagree with him there — I live in a Queen Anne Victorian that was built in 1890 ))

    BUT … he is also on the Pro·Jo’s editorial board and so he has to toe the line on the Progressive Ideology or he will get the ax from ultra-leftist publisher Janet Hasson

    Just in case he missed the memo when Gatehouse Media took over the Pro·Jo last September, look how quickly they got rid of Leftist looney-tune Bob Kerr. Bob’s un·forgivable sin ?? He is a former member of the US Marine Corps who served in Viet Nam. A member of the US *MILITARY* writing for them ?? Not gonna happen … so pay attention, everyone else

    • Mike678

      Nobody said having integrity was easy….

    • Rhett Hardwick

      I had an email exchange with Dr. Downtown a number of years ago, he was quite defensive of George Bush. He was delighted that I had an autographed copy of “From Bauhaus to our House”.

      • ShannonEntropy

        I love that book. One of the things Tom Wolfe points out is the origin of why almost all modern buildings have flat roofs … and how idiotic that design is anywhere but a desert

        Down on Seaview Ave in Pawtuxet Village where I live, someone just finished building a post-modern box of a house with a flat roof. That guy is gonna have enough trouble with the 40+” of rain we get here a year … but wait until we have another Winter with 90+” of snow !!

    • It will not help the poor of Providence if nobody with money ever goes there, and chasing redistribution up the government ladder — attempting to redistribute at the state, national, and international levels, so there’s nowhere for those with money to run — will only ensure that the hammer falls harder when it falls.