Saving Superman Building, Break Glass in Emergency RhodeMap RI
While the oxygen was being sucked out of the news cycle over embattled House Finance Chair Ray Gallison’s Federal investigation, proponents to save the Superman building launched a bizarre and seemingly ill-timed press conference. Rhode Island Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggiero, God of Labor “Ponos” dismissed speculation that there was anything “nefarious” in the ongoing discussions between the State and High Rock Development’s hope to rehab the “Superman Building”. The public reaction to this latest cheerleading effort courtesy of Rhode Island leadership, High Rock Development, and Greater Providence Chamber was predictably raucous. Rhode Island’s rank and file electorate whose last nerve has been worn clean to a nub by a scandal rocked Smith Hill and leadership’s failed attempts to pick winners at the cost of millions to taxpayers, the mention of investing public dollars into another corporate welfare project is cause engage a
re-enactment of the “Burning of the Gaspee” on the State House Lawn. Tabling Mayor Elorza’s lofty rhetoric, and the “Kryptonite” metaphor offered by Prov. Chamber President Laurie White, there’s often more to be read by what isn’t said at these staged political events then what is. David Sweetser, High Rocks Chief Operating Officer indicated discussions with members on the Hill had been ongoing for the three years, but when pressed for financial and planning detail his painful dodge even for the smallest conceptual detail four times over was clear Sweetser knew more than was willing to share. Clumsy as this press conference was, there’s little doubt the principle proponents have a “Plan B” on the back burner and a ringer to break the stalemate.
The fiscal and political climate in Rhode Island is fertile ground to federalize the rehab of the Superman building. The city of Providence is so desperate for cash they’ve marshaled an army of 700 parking meters to help keep the lights on. Since the purchase of the Superman building at the time of the 2008 Economic Meltdown High Rock has pumped millions in maintenance and taxes into empty shell, a risk assumed by every capitalist. No doubt their expectation was to partner with the State in the rehab of 111 Westminster until the 38 Studios collapse. If there were a moment the electorate might have given the nod to a High Rock/State partnership, well that vaporized when Smith Hill leadership chose to protect the principle architects of 38 Studios by refusing to conduct a full and public reckoning , then saddling taxpayers with $120 Million consolation prize and lecturing the masses to get over it and move forward. Proponents to save Superman building have met an immoveable object however they are not without recourse and a possible end run around the will of the electorate. The Federal government is the Patron Saint of Corporate Welfare, and by now someone on the Hill has dusted off the controversial RhodeMap RI economic plan passed unanimously by the State Planning Council under heavy fire in December 2014. RhodeMap RI is the state’s “Break Glass In Case of Emergency” conduit to funding thru HUD’s Sustainable Communities. Under the guise of economic development local government cedes control to land, transportation use and housing decisions to the Federal government/HUD in the interest of “Social Equity and Justice”. Municipalities would be forced to conform to strict guidelines dictated by HUD in exchange for their financial largess. For every Federal dollar received there’s a thousand dollars of Socio-Political agenda and strings that reach clear back to Washington, state sanctioned Social Engineering. If there is any doubt as to HUD’s brute force benevolence a November 2014 video offered by GoLocalProv immortalizes a sampling by several members of RhodeMap RI’s consortium calling the opposition “Racist” and “Ku Klux Klan”.
It is unclear the degree of authority that state and municipal leaders have to parse and sell off the state’s sovereignty, however it would be a monumental mistake to dismiss the potential exploit of RhodeMap RI to back door the will of the electorate to finance any Corporate Welfare project. The Federal government already exerts far too much authority and control over our personal lives and freedom. As for High Rock Development they’re fortunate to have survived the self-inflicted Economic meltdown of 2008, there’s hardly a road in Rhode Island not littered with dark and vacant buildings where business once stood, collateral damage of the Federal Government’s manipulation of capitalism and the free market.