New Houses and Old politicians

I took a tour, unauthorized, around the lot where the West Side Road Housing Project is being built. The foundations are going in steadily and I think some of the modular units will be arriving this fall sometime. These houses will represent a dream come true for 21 families, or is it 20? Anyway there are a lot of happy folks going to be living there. Yeah we all know that, so you're asking why am I spouting off about it again, right?

Remember when the project was still in it's infancy and our most illustrious,(in his own eyes)councilor tried his best to short circiut the whole process? Well guess what? That self same person wants to become our firt warden so I'm told! This person who didn't care one whit that he was trying to disrupt 20-40 peoples dreams, now wants to have control (imagined) over all of us with his jaundiced decision making processes! If his past performance is a manifestation of what is to come if he gets elected, hold tight to your hat, your wallet and your ass 'cause they are all going to be in jeopardy!

I think it is going to behoove all of us, to take a very close look at all the players who want to be elected to office this fall, and specifically WHY they want to. I don't know who all the people are just yet, but it seems a few from the past want to re-join the fray with their same old tired non-fixes, to the same old problems and to continue the same old croni-ism(sp) that went on for years. You cover and protect my ass and I'll do the same for you no matter how bad you screw the pooch!!! They need to be asked some pointed questions about specific problems and what exactly would they do to fix them! What is THE most glaring and obvious problem staring us in the face? I say it has been the mis-managment or should I say the "non" management of the town. It has been run by seat-of-the pants, off-the-cuff, act-alone, egregious decisions by the Town Manager with little to no input OR repercussions from the GOVERNING council! Where has their oversight disappeared too? Everything is being decided by two or three, and mostly behind closed doors. Why is it allowed to continue? This is not just my feelings about this stuff. I hear it everywhere I go in some form or another.

The towns infra-structure is beginning to fray badly and will soon start to unravel at a faster rate. This council and a few before it have neglected to do anything meanful, about the care and well being of most all of it's buildings. They have got to take the bull by the horns and hire a competent person to spend 40 hours a week performing the required maintenance and upkeep to keep them from falling apart. And you have to pay the person who does it an equitable wage! Minimum wage doesn't cut it. NO ONE can support a family out here on that income!

There are a lot of problems ongoing with the management and running of this berg. Change, and I mean significant change is needed to head off anymore disasters in the making. For starters, a PROFESSIONAL Town Manager! TIFN


overwhelmed said...

Dare I say it?
Perhaps it's time for a mayor?
Maybe the administration of the town has reached a point where the current model of governance can no longer meet the complex needs of this burgeoning 21st century reality?? The council members serve in addition to their full-time professional work, perhaps the problems and demands of today exceed the commitment they can realistically make to the governance of this island community.
Just wondering?

Sam said...

I asked a similar question here on a completely different island in a completely different state.

The answer was "The realtors and developers and big businessmen control the Island. There is very little you can do to stop them. They get their way unless it's some enviro thing."

Sound familiar?

Anonymous said...

The people who run this Island are the big monied folks from out of state who want to run the tourist business off the island, and the middle class with them.
Unfortunately our elected, balless, politicians find it easy to side with them because they too are elitist and very dumb.
"who are these people?"
They are the people who bought their houses here for 2Mil because the couldnt afford the 8mil for a house on the vineyard or Nantucket or fishers Island.
Now they want to turn this place into one of those exclusive Places.
Our town manager and the other locals who run this town have been co-opted by these elite want-to-bes.
The elites have convinced the managers that buisness is the problem, exacerbating the rift between the locals and the buisnesses.
If this continues the businesses will eventually leave and there will be only two clases- workers and vacation home owners.
and the workers will have to take the worker ferry home to the mainland every day.

Tell me I am wrong!

Island Worker said...

to anonymous,

I think you are wrong. There can be a balance between tourists and residents. And yes residents are those of us who are here yearround, not just in the summer.

The businesses that escalate the problems are a few but they really, do cause most of the problems.

As far as what we need to run the town ARE business people. The Town is a a multi-million dollar business that needs to be run like one. Smart business people know you can't ignore issues and hope they go away. Smart business people know you have to deal with them promptly.

As far as two classes of people. There are people who work out here and people that don't. That isn't going to change. But remember if people didn't come out to the island there wouldn't be work for those of us who need to work to live out here.

Remember they aren't here when the island is at its prime. Summer gets worse every year but fall gets better.

Sam said...

Ah, you're starting to figure out that more of a certain kind of "business" means less of those "good" vacationers during the summer. It's happening lots of places.

reality check said...

Just a point of reference re: minimum wage and the island. No one can support a family on the mainland solely on minimum wage. While there's certainly a severe situation on the island, it's not like the average family can affort a really nice apartment, much less their own home on the mainland. Housing costs and the shortage of affordable housing is a problem for most every community on the Eastern Seaboard.

If anythiing, Block Island has proportionately dealt with this issue rather effectively. When you think about the size of hte island and year round population and see how much has been accomplished, as well as the quality of the projects, I would offer that a person/family on the island may actually be in a better position than a similar family in South County RI.
Just a thought to put the problem in a broader context.

Island Worker said...

How much has been accomplished? that to me is a surprising statement. Yes there have been a FEW projects but more is needed to keep a healthy community. What about the people who don't live in those houses but still live in substandard housing. What about the people who work 2 or 3 jobs just to maintain a decent livng?

Yes SOME has been accomplished but MUCH more is needed.

good listener said...

And what about the sense of entitlement that seems to pervade - there are a certain percentage of people that should NOT be homeowners that think they should, and the rest of us struggle to work our butts off and pay our taxes legitimately to support grants and federal funding for these people who just don't get it!

On another note_
The School Committee has seen the light that it's time to re-examine how the school is run - it's too bad the people in Town Hall couldn't do the same. It's like a fibrillating heart, full of meaningless, chaotic activity that needs to be shocked into some organized rhythm.

reality check said...

If I may ---
The following sentence from "Good Listener" is worthy of some kind of literary award for Best Use of Metaphor in a Blog....

"It's like a fibrillating heart, full of meaningless, chaotic activity that needs to be shocked into some organized rhythm."

Does that emphatically get the point across or what???
Kudos to this brilliant writer.

I agree with the author's points regarding entitlement.

Island Worker said...


Is it entitlement to want a secure place to live that you don't have to worry about moving out of after 6 months.

reality check said...

The 'entitlement' comment was about house ownership--- not about " a place to live".

Maybe the island needs more apartments rather than 'houses'? I think it's safe to say that people, in general,on both the mainland and the island are not 'entitled' to houses.

Again, the housing problem is larger than the island; hence, the number of grass-root organizations addressing housing problems throughout the state of Rhode Island.

But-for the sake of argument- let's look at entitlement. I'm living on the mainland in a microsized apartment--that's what I can afford. Do I want to live in a house with a yard? You bet. Do I want a living area larger than probably 300 square feet? You bet.
Can I afford any property in coastal Rhode Island. No.
The fact is that if I want to buy an affordable house, I'll need to look at the boonier areas of Rhode Island. Away from the coast---far, far away from the coast.
That's the reality of housing on the mainland.

Now here's the question:
I am employed on the RI coast.
Am I entitled to a house on the RI coast? (even though I can't afford one?)

If so ---why?

That's the same question I would pose to "Island Worker"
Is everyone entitled to house on Block Island, by virtue of the fact that he or she works on the island?

Islan Worker said...

To Reality Check,

I don't feel I am entitled, but if the Community wants to be a healthy community it needs to have a balance. If you want to have the "worker bees" of the island continue to work and contribute to the island you will need to have them feel a commitment to the island. Many contribute more than just by working. Many are your volunteer Firemen & Emt's. Others contribute in other ways or are maybe your friends or current neighbors.

If you have an apartment outhere you never know when it is going to be transfered to a weekly rental. There is a strong sense of community and security when you actually own a home and plan to spend the next 30 years in it.

You will always be able to get people to work outhere. But are they really the people you want living next to you. People who are willing to live in substandard living conditions aren't really the people I want living next to me. It is nice to see the diversity that exists with the many different cultures that are spending more time on the island.

But getting back to the issue of is anyone entitled to a house. I say no, but efforts should be made to keep individuals that have shown a commitment to island. Those who have slugged out a few winters. Those who volunteer and contribute to their community.

The big difference between here and the rest of coastal RI is that one can't drive an hour or two between home and work. The boat leaves on its own schedule and we all know how reduced it gets in the winter.

I hope I made some sense and didn't just ramble. It is a touchy subject for many.