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By now everyone is familiar with the saga of Sue Stenhouse, the former Cranston senior services director who made some poor schlub bus driver dress like an old lady to make her press conference about kids shoveling snow for old people look better. Because everyone knows how important optics are when it comes to a little puff piece that will appear at the end of the 12 o’clock news.
In any other advanced society, this story would be relegated to the odd news section of the local news websites and forgotten in a few hours. But Rhode Island isn’t like other places. For our friends in Central Massachusetts, let this Rhode Island turtle-rider try to explain why these things happen here.
See, Rhode Islanders don’t often have much to get excited about. Other than being used as a unit of measurement for ranches in Texas and wildfires in California, Rhode Island doesn’t get much love on the national stage. Perhaps its our inferiority complex from being the smallest state, or perhaps it’s the fact that we’re a state where nothing of consequence happens surrounded by states where things of consequence happen, but we crave the widespread attention, no matter what the reason is. It’s why our little Rhode Island hearts swelled with pride every time DJ Pauly D appeared on Jersey Shore. We feel shafted when everyone talks about Massachusetts and forgets that we exist. Kind of like how Worcester feels when people act like nothing west of 495 means anything in Massachusetts.
This brings us back to Mrs. Doubtfire-gate. Somehow, this story got legs and has been reported on by the likes of Fox News and the New York Post. On Monday, Pamela Cotter from the Providence Journal tweeted that producers from the Jimmy Kimmel show reached out to her about doing a bit on the story. Crack NBC 10 I-team investigator Parker Gavigan, continuing NBC 10’s attitude of acting like they broke the Watergate scandal with this story, proudly tweeted that he did an interview on Canadian radio about the story. Sincerest congratulations to him.
This whole thing started because some highly paid “public servant” thought she couldn’t have a press conference that 13 or 14 people were going to see without having a token old lady standing in the background, and wouldn’t be stopped in her quest to make that happen. Add to that another bozo on the town dole who thought nothing of dressing in drag for some pointless press conference and boom, you get the story of the year.
Gotta love seeing people rushing to her defense, saying things along the lines of DID YOU WANT HER TO MAKE A REAL OLD LADY STAND OUT IN THE COLD!? The thought that maybe, just maybe, the kids with the shovels with the fake snow and the mayor in the background would have been sufficient doesn’t seem to cross anyone’s mind. Oh, and maybe if you’re going to have a strange man in drag pretending to be an old lady standing next to the mayor and former gubernatorial candidate for 15 minutes, you might want to clear it with his office first.
The fact that we hire people like Sue Stenhouse for state and town positions all the time and everyone rushes to her defense is why Rhode Island will always be ranked last in everything. During the recession, we were always up there with Michigan and Nevada for the highest unemployment rate in the country. Michigan had the failing auto industry, and Nevada had the fact that no one wanted to blow money in casinos while their savings tanked and they lost their jobs. What excuse did Rhode Island have? None, except that we continued to hire and pay people fat salaries to come up with brilliant ideas like dressing a middle-aged man in drag and putting him next to the unsuspecting mayor of one of the state’s biggest cities to make their meaningless press conference look better.
But you can bet my heart will still be filled with pride when Rhode Island gets mentioned on Jimmy Kimmel!
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