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Lede* of the Week, New Year's Version

Courtesy of Scott MacKay, master of the juxtaposition:

State government is broke, Rhode Island was one of only two states to lose population in 2007, the schools lag those of its New England neighbors, college grads tend to flee the day they earn their degrees, our bridges are crumbling, some pols are in cahoots with crooked businessmen, and a felon hosts a show on the state’s biggest talk radio station.

Despite this grim combo, the ProJo scribe, in his year in review story today, finds a mixed outlook:

State leaders were AWOL during a December snowstorm. Traffic snarled from Pawcatuck to Pawtucket. Governor Carcieri was in Iraq. Nobody told Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts he was going.

Yet 2007 wasn’t all traffic jams, layoffs and plea bargains.

Rhode Island colleges and universities were rated among the most prestigious in the United States, our health-care system is one of the nation’s tops, and philanthropist Warren Alpert left Brown University’s medical school $100 million.

Providence continued its rebirth as a hip center of culture, entertainment, hospitality, medicine and culinary excellence. The state’s violent crime rate, already one of the nation’s lowest, went down, childhood poverty dropped, and the once-threatened piping plovers made a comeback on Rhode Island’s sandy southern coast.

The billowing majesty of the Tall Ships filled Newport Harbor under a shimmering June sun. Our theater groups were among the region’s best. In a country that lives by the 21st-century religion of velocity and worship of the new, we venerate the past and dwell in cozy neighborhoods in houses from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Sports fans from New York to Los Angeles are envious of the success of our beloved New England franchises — the Sox, Pats, Celts, Bruins, PawSox and P-Bruins.

Looking back at 2007 in Rhode Island is like going to a family reunion: you recognize everybody but notice they have changed. Your view of the event is shaped by whether you see the eggnog bowl as half full or half empty.

* Common spelling among the ink-stained.

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