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Bakst: Carcieri still drifting -- "or worse"

The ProJo's Charlie Bakst returns from vacation today with a forceful blast aimed squarely at Governor Carcieri, asserting that "his administration has continued to appear to be drifting. Or worse."

The governor's administration is none too happy with some of the coverage it has been receiving in the Journal, believing that its achievements have been given short shrift and some of the DOT issues made to seem worse than they are.

Yet Bakst finds particular fault with the governor's response to Child Advocate Jametta Alston's lawsuit against DCYF:

But it also was unnerving to hear Carcieri say he’d been completely unaware of the wholesale abuse the suit outlined and that he did not know Alston had wanted to meet with him to address the problems in advance of bringing the suit.

And it was unnerving to see that when Carcieri boasted of moving to end “night-to-night placements” in which youngsters in state care don’t know from day to day where they’ll sleep, Alston had to note there’d been at least 25 such placements in the last two months.

And it was unnerving to see that 24 hours after launching a review of allegations of abuse of foster children, Carcieri announced there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing by DCYF. Did he think a quick glance by his own administration was going to ease the public’s mind? Even DCYF director Patricia Martinez said it was too early to tell if anyone bungled responsibilities.

Bakst also takes Carcieri to task on big-picture economic development:

Meanwhile, on a cheerier topic, Carcieri was pleased to announce reaching his goal of creating 20,000 private-sector jobs. OK, it took six months longer than anticipated, and I don’t fault him for that, and I encourage him and other officials to continue to set targets. But this particular goal was modest to begin with.

And I leave it to you to judge whether Rhode Island’s economic picture is bright. Do you have a job? Is it satisfying, does it pay well, can you afford a place to live, can you send your kids to college? Can they get a decent job and find a place to live? Does the economy provide the tax money the state government needs if it is to be responsible and humane?

The Boston Globe reports that Governor Patrick has a plan to invest $1 billion in biotechnology, including $500 million in borrowing for a stem-cell bank and gene research center at the University of Massachusetts. He told legislators, “This is our chance to capture the field, to create thousands of new jobs and make a lasting contribution to humanity.”

I wish Carcieri talked that way. Unfortunately, for openers, the socially conservative governor is down on embryonic stem-cell research. I won’t argue with him here. But what bold plan does he have for creating jobs and helping mankind that approaches what Patrick wants to do in Massachusetts?

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