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Carcieri downplays strife with the ProJo

Making a return engagement to WPRI/WNAC-TV's Newsmakers, Governor Carcieri this morning downplayed his administration's frustration with how it is being covered in the Providence Journal. His only concern comes, Carcieri says, when the paper gets its facts wrong, as the governor says it did with this editorial on Wednesday.

Dan Yorke took up the same point earlier this week, accusing the ProJo of publishing a flat-out lie by asserting that the governor wants to cut court-based interpreters.

Let's go to the editorial:

We agree with Governor Carcieri that Rhode Island must slash spending to close yawning budget deficits and get the state back on its feet economically. But courtroom translators are not the place to start.

During a recent radio talk-show appearance, Governor Carcieri seemed to argue that such translators are a needless extravagance, and that immigrants should do more to take care of themselves when they come to America, and rely less on the generosity of taxpayers when they get here.

Carcieri has previously said that he supports cutting state-employed interpreters aiding those "who want benefits from us." Speaking today, he said that does not include interpreters in court.

However, the governor's attitude was more ambiguous when it was reported in a Kathy Gregg story last Friday.

Before he went on the radio, the governor would only say that his staff-reduction plans would target “back office” workers, like those who work in “finance, accounting and a few lawyers.”

He loosened up two days later, however, when talking to a radio audience.

Asked by a caller why the state needs interpreters in the courts and other state agencies, Carcieri said: “Amen to you buddy.”

In the hunt for expendable jobs, Carcieri said he found, for example, one department with eight Spanish-speaking interpreters, and “I said why are we, at taxpayer expense, providing interpreters for people who want benefits from us? It seems completely illogical to me because you’re right,” he told the caller. “My grandparents immigrated from Italy. My grandmother didn’t speak English. She learned it…”

“But the point is if they needed somebody…they got somebody, a friend or relative who spoke English, right? So why in God’s name [are] we providing, at taxpayer expense, staff whose sole job is to interpret English for people who apparently have no friend and no relative that can speak English. I don’t think we should be doing that.”

The bottom line here is that the Journal, in both its news coverage, its editorials, and its opinion columns, has cast a more astringent look this year at the governor and his administration. For the most part, IMHO, the coverage and commentary has been on the mark.

Some, including Yorke, mischaracterize the ProJo as a hotbed of liberalism, and point to the friendly connections between General Manager Mark T. Ryan and Democratic Speaker William Murphy, in explaining the tougher coverage of Carcieri.

The governor, no doubt, would prefer for the ProJo to focus only on the lapses of legislative Democrats. Yet even while pursuing a wide-ranging offensive to spread his message with other media, he remains reluctant to pick a fight with those, as the saying goes, who buy ink by the barrel.

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