Greg Gerritt: Providence Journal doubles down on cluelessness

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I am familiar with the old adage, never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. But the Providence Journal has fewer reporters, the paper is smaller, the circulation is shrinking, and they are buying less ink. In addition, the right wing racist millionaires who own it do not frighten me. To be labeled a BANANA by such a clueless organization seems to be a badge of honor, thought of course the label is untrue because I, and many others that the Providence Journal wants to label as obstructionists, would like to see lots of things get built in the City, it is just different stuff than the millionaires might think we need.

The Providence Journal can not think of any actual fact based reasons that the people are opposing the Fane Building, the LNG facility in Washington Park or the Invenergy fracked gas power plant in Burrillville, so they have started calling names. Maybe it is presumptuous of me to assume that at least some of the Providence Journal’s name calling was directed at me, but since I more straight forward than anyone else in attacking the misguided economic development model that the Texans who call the shots at the paper want to foist on us, I am proud to wear the label, and challenge the Providence Journal to debate the facts in public. I am pretty sure they are way too chicken to get on stage in front of the public and discuss the basic models of economic development that will be useful in an age of climate change and greater inequality since all of the ideas the Texans and the Editorial Board are touting are based on lies and their pet experts are just that, pets bought and paid for by millionaires. I challenge Edward Mazze to provide one fact based study that demonstrates the correlation between business climate and growth rates.

Fact 1: I said the first floor of the proposed Fane Tower will regularly flood 100 years from now. It is proposed for a lot that is within five feet of current sea level. Does anyone actually think that if we continue on the economic development path we are on that there will not be more than five feet of sea level rise in the next 100 years? The Providence Journal, while claiming to understand climate change, actually never factors it into anything they write about the economy.

Fact 2: Greater inequality has been determined to be one of the key factors that will harm the economy, slowing growth and making cities much less governable. Does anyone at the Providence Journal think the development strategy that they and Governor Wall Street offer will not give rise to greater inequality?

Fact 3: Rich people have no trouble finding a place to live in Providence. There are plenty of luxury building built in recent years that had trouble selling. We do not need any more of those, but rather need thousands of units of housing for working families and low income people There is nothing in any of the plans that the Providence Journal touts that will help us make a real dent in the affordable housing crisis, and it is more than likely that the proposals the Providence Journal loves will make the problems worse. What is really galling is that the rich come to us for subsidies to build luxury condos and for other buildings designed to be used by the rich. If the rich can not build without subsidies, the entire model of economic development is a fraud.

Fact 4: A study just came out of Baltimore that points out that the economic development strategies that cities are taking around jobs for the extremely well educated do nothing for 90 percent of the people and neighborhoods of the city. In fact the types of development most touted by the “professionals” end up leaving more and more people behind and make housing more expensive.

Fact 5: Using the medical industrial complex as a key component of economic development primarily makes health care unaffordable. The unbalanced approach to health care, with way too much money going into high tech health care and way too little going into community health and public health shows up easily in the fact that life expectancy in the USA is going down. Betting all the marbles on a strategy that results in shorter life expectancy seems a really big waste of the public’s money,

Maybe I do my research in the wrong places. I carefully read the United Nations reports on sustainable development and the millennial and sustainable development goals and plans. Currently I am reading a brand new United Nations report of the economy which is pointing out the tendency towards a bubble economy that real estate and financially driven economies are traipsing towards today, and how the world growth rate is likely to go down even without taking into account ecological collapse and climate change. I subscribe to and read monthly reports from the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I have been reading economic development plans in New England and Rhode Island for well over 20 years, and have watched as they mostly sit on shelves because they do not address the real issues, which involve the economic opportunities in low income communities. The rich do not need our help despite what the “experts say” And when the plans are implemented, the government throws money at rich people, which the World Bank repeatedly reminds us is the least useful way to do economic development if our goal is to end poverty rather than just line the pockets of the rich. I also do extensive research on the issues of climate change, forests, resource depletion, waste, compost, agriculture, and unlike most of the people doing economic development planning in Rhode Island, I work hard to make sure that the ecological and the economic work together rather than at cross purposes.

For years I have used the tag line “You can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty, you can not end poverty without healing ecosystems.” Rhode Island continues to plan as if poverty and ecological collapse have nothing to do with the economy, and as if if they gave rich people enough benefits that our growth rate would go up. And in keeping with the wishes of their ownership, the Providence Journal continues to tout its fantasies about where the Rhode Island economy would go if the public would get out of the way and let the rich have their way. No wonder that such an out of touch bunch is losing their audience.


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1 Comment

  1. The opposition to the “iconic” Fane’s Folly have been maliciously and falsely maligned as small-minded provincials who stand in the way of progress.

    A comprehensive zoning plan for development is in place in every city for a reason. Why does one developer get to break all the rules while others have to abide by them? If the I-195 district commission, the General Assembly or the City of Providence are not satisfied with the comprehensive zoning plan for the “knowledge district,” there is a process for changing the rules.

    Why does a developer get two years of hearings – on a clearly non-conforming project – that encroaches on a public park, trashes the zoning code for size, setback and side lot distances, and seeks a 430-foot special exception on height restrictions?
    Why does this organization get to build whatever and wherever they want?

    If this was not a throughly corrupt process, this project would not even be on the drawing board.

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