Chi chi chi chi changes

Cicilline's rapid decline; riding RIPTA; the art of architecture; two artistic losses
By RUDY CHEEKS  |  March 30, 2011

The title of this item sounds like I blatantly lifted if from some old David Bowie song. Would I stoop so low? (Don't answer that.)

In recent weeks, we have witnessed numerous reports on the financial condition of the city of Providence, with an emphasis on what level of culpability the former mayor (and current congressman), David "Chi Chi" Cicilline might bear. It seems that he hasn't been very convincing in responding to his critics. The "Chi Chi, You Got Some 'Splainin' To Do" movement seems to be picking up steam as evidenced by the recent poll results from Brown University's Taubman Center, where a measly 17 percent of respondents felt Cheech was doing a "good" or "excellent" job.

Ironically, Cheech appears to be tanking as a congressman not because of his performance in Washington (in general, I think he's been doing quite well so far), but because of his failings as mayor. His non-explanations about the fiscal catastrophe are convincing no one, as his favorability poll numbers seem to be on a permanent downward slide.

A disclosure for those with short memories: I worked as a policy aide for former mayor Joe Paolino in his push to replace the Bud-I, shipped off to his four-and-a-half-year bid at a "federal gated community." Cheech won that election, claiming his first term in office.

My feelings at the time, which still remain: as brilliant and talented as politician the Cheech is, the position of mayor was just not the right fit for him. I won't go into the details or specifics but, suffice to say, I felt that Joe Paolino's skill kit was a far more pertinent match for the executive job of mayor, whereas Cheech's strengths fairly shouted "legislator." And now, it seems, his time in the mayor's office could blow up in his face.

There is also the media sideshow element to Cheech's rapid decline. The former mayor and current show biz phenom, the mighty Vincent A."The Bud-I, Mr. Pasta & Politics" Cianci, has spent perhaps a bit too much time on his daily radio show alluding to the story of "Cheech & Schlong," a soap opera tale of an alleged romance between the then-mayor and a, shall we say, well-known "adult entertainer." While much of Buddy's critical analysis of Chi Chi's handling of the city has been on target and quite accurate, the show biz shuck-and-jive of Cheech & Schlong — and Esserman's fruit faux pas — are something else. But, "that's entertainment" —i.e., the true essence of talk radio.


Another in our series of reports on life as lived on the RIPTA buses. All dialogue verbatim.

Time: 8:15 pm. Place: the inbound bus stop on the Cranston/Providence line on the corner of Montgomery and Broad streets. The author is waiting for the #1 Eddy Street bus, which he has just noticed is idling around the corner at the bus turnaround. A light combination of rain and sleet is starting to fall.

A middle-aged woman approaches and sits on the stone bench at the stop.

Woman to author: "Do you know when that bus is coming?"

Author to woman: "8:20, I think."

Woman: "I just gots to get me home. I'm tired."

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