Bows and boos for the early days of 2023 in Rhode Island

By Arlene Violet
Posted 4/4/23

R hode Island notables surely serve up a potpourri   of decisions for which they should take a bow or offer an apology. 2023 has had some sterling examples of both genius judgments and mistakes. …

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Bows and boos for the early days of 2023 in Rhode Island


Rhode Island notables surely serve up a potpourri  of decisions for which they should take a bow or offer an apology. 2023 has had some sterling examples of both genius judgments and mistakes. Here are just a few examples


Curt Columbus, artistic director of Trinity Repertory Theater, constantly re-earns his stripes over his almost 17 years in leadership. His most recent brilliant choice is selecting “The Inferior Sex” (now running through April 16) for the 2022-2023 season. In 1972 when the play takes place, Women’s Lib was  grabbing a toehold  in the United States, albeit  issues like equal pay, day care, professional jobs as lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc. were nascent. The play tracks these issues with characters like Shirley Chisholm  running for President, and a theme of a publishing revolt.

Before the play began on opening night there was a reception. In attendance not only were reviewers  but also people who personified the next wave of equality of rights. LGBTQ  attended in outfits that personified who they are. I felt privileged to be there in support of their self-expression and was heartened by their dressing as they wanted.

Now it is time for the rest of society to acknowledge the same rights which played during the performance.


Bishop Thomas Tobin is confoundingly blind. After allowing a dispensation on St. Patrick’s Day previously, he mysteriously balked at extending  one this year. It is all well and good to argue sacrifice, but the folks who really suffered weren’t His Excellency but the restaurateurs. Several said it was a financial punch to their gut, as many of the reported 67.5% of Catholics stayed home.

So much for helping this segment of business recover from COVID losses.


Rep. Rebecca Kislak, the sponsor of a bill requiring an “equity impact” statement, who identifies as a lesbian, was asked by Rep. Robert Quattrocchi, whether she was a pedophile. She maintained her dignity by  almly pointing out that wrongly and dangerously conflating sexual orientation with pedophilia is repeating ages-old prejudice.

She is correct. On my watch as Attorney General we handled close to 50 cases of pedophilia. Ninety percent were cases of heterosexual men preying on prepubescent or early teen girls. Another 7 percent were men preying on boys. The remaining 3 percent were women in places of power, like a schoolteacher, preying on a student, usually male. 


Rep. Robert Quattrocchi was probably correct that the bill was overbroad, but he didn’t know how to zip his lip. He did say that he didn’t mean to offend anybody, but then continued to do just that. To add insult to injury was his subsequent sanctimonious speech about “bowing only to God and not man.”  For heaven’s sake, can’t politicians just say “Sorry! I was wrong.”


So this is a double “boo-boo.” First, Gov. Dan McKee was caught flat-footed over the homeless issue. His “solution” was to place the homeless in the unsafe Cranston Street Armory.

The number of studies about the disgraceful condition of the facility are legion. Then-Gov. Lincoln Chafee promised a complete renovation. A 2016 study, costing $180,000, pegged the cost at $100 million to create an asset no more than $25 million. Now the Governor has another costly study going on.


Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

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