--Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season for those who observe. You know what that means, of course, yesterday was Fat Tuesday or the actual Mardi Gras Day. Our Woonsocket Mardi Gras Ball last Saturday was the best I’ve seen, and I’ve seen them all except for the ones the Jaycees put on in the 1950s. Congratulations to the Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts for a really fun time.
Down in the city where Mardi Gras is best known, New Orleans, the crowds were huge, as expected. The French Quarter parties were non-stop, and a few blocks away the parades drew capacity crowds.
I was disturbed by the news that the Mayor of New Orleans banned all tandem parade floats after two spectators died. For the uninitiated, a tandem float is one which is so large it is divided onto two flatbed trailers which are hooked together like train cars and pulled by one truck. Well, first a woman last Thursday and then a man on Saturday tried to cross the street while the parade was passing by trying to jump between the two floats, tripping, and being run over by the second trailer.
I don’t know if the victims had been drinking. Of course a lot of that goes on in The Big Easy during the Mardi Gras celebration, so it wouldn’t surprise me. Regardless, it’s a horrible way to go.
--Some say I’m tempting fate by even discussing this out in the open, but I just can’t get over how lucky we’ve been here in the Blackstone Valley this winter. Today and tomorrow the folks up north of us are getting a whopper of a snow storm and we’re only getting grazed by the southern edge and it’s all rain.
Global warming? Probably. But I’m not getting into the political guilt game. I will point out that although we sometimes get clobbered by bad weather here in the Blackstone Valley, more often than not Mother Nature give us here an easy pass.
--Speaking of Easy Pass. It was recently announced that Governor Raimondo’s plan to charge a toll on all big trucks just isn’t bringing in the dough she promised the general assembly it would when they voted to back her on the proposal. When you deduct the legal fees she’s had to pay to defend her plan, that’s probably even less money raised to plug the budget deficits.
Okay, it happens. Sometimes plans just don’t work out. But it seems to be happening regularly. Like when they put sports betting into Twin River and the revenue just didn’t match what they said we’d take in.
If I were a member of the legislature, I’d never believe the income estimates proponents of new revenue plans offer. Better to be surprised if it happens than to be disappointed (and responsible to make up the difference) when it doesn’t.
Getting back to the tolls. The way I understand it, this whole plan to toll the truckers is going so poorly, and the money being taken in is so far below estimates that they are making a change. Well, that makes sense, if a plan isn’t working, I think we should make a change. But they change they’re making just doesn’t make sense to me. They’ve built only about half the gantries which will charge the tolls. But instead of making efforts to build the rest of the planned gantries quickly so they can go online and get the money rolling in, they’re going to cancel building them at all to “save money”.
I hate to be negative, but the whole idea just smells to me. Everybody makes mistakes. When you get caught in one, at least be honest about it, admit it, apologize, and try to make it right. This whole thing hasn’t seemed honest from the start.
But I’m not complaining. With fewer toll gantries, when they finally decide to toll other types of vehicles, it will be easier to dodge them.
--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. Thanks for reading.