I am on a mental staycation. The days are long, the weather has been phenomenal, and there’s so many things in a Rhode Island summer to enjoy that don’t involve a lot of thinking. With the Olympics in full swing, I have to admit that I’ve even taken my eye off the Red Sox. They have been wandering through a west coast swing, starting games at our bedtime and not even coming close to the excitement of the Olympics. It’s really the best time of the year to take a mental break — and I’m on one!
It’s a quiet time for voters too. The primaries are just a month away, and candidates in contested races should be knocking on doors, making phone calls and reminding voters why they deserve a vote. For many Rhode Islanders there’s not a big race to entice them to vote in the primary — no statewide candidates are on the ballot and there are no significant primaries for Congress. The presidential race has gotten so crazy that it’s actually become white noise for those of us who have decided how to
Thankfully, Rhode Island’s news media has been on its toes this summer. In June, WPRI’s Tim White caught up with State Representative John Carnevale leaving a Johnston residence with a towel wrapped around his face. By the end of July, the bizarre story had taken many a twist and ended with the Providence Board of Canvassers finding that he was not legally a Providence resident and would be ineligible to run for office representing Providence. It was a case that defied common sense in a lot of ways — why would someone live in a basement with no facilities behind a wall made of a sheet while owning a perfectly good house just a few minutes away? The truth came out — he didn’t — but without the digging and “dog with a bone” reporting, it’s quite likely that this residency fraud would never be exposed.
The Carnevale case underscores the key role media play in keeping our political landscape clean, but it’s important to note that there was strong public outrage, someone “dropped the dime” and public records were available. So even as we are thankful for the on-point reporting, we shouldn’t let the lesson end there. Keeping government accountable is our collective responsibility and I’ll get back to doing my part — right after my mental staycation.