2013-10-17 / Opinion


October Observations

D on't look now, but the calendar is making its move toward

November. Streets like Gibbs and Indian avenues have burst into color as fall foliage reaches its peak. Meanwhile, on the water, Newport's cruise ship season is in full swing, while around town, small business owners have begun recounting the season and planning for the next.

Downtown, most say the same thing: what started out as a slow summer, beset by rain and cooler-than-normal temperatures, rebounded in July and August and kept going strong through September. So far, October has been encouraging, and the outlook for the winter appears good.

Things are a bit different on Broadway, where we've heard nervous rumblings about the continued disruption from the Broadway Streetscape Improvement Project. If even the thought of a building collapse wasn't bad enough, the prospect of enduring another six to nine months of construction has given some business owners real cause for concern. Let's hope that the city finds a way to keep Broadway open for business.

On the other end of the spectrum, word among the island's Realtors is that Newport's high end real estate market has been heating up in recent weeks, with a number of high-profile sales and higher-profile prospective buyers in town. Cash is often the name of the game, and while it may be good times for those at the top, it's hard not to notice the number of houses in certain parts of town that have gone dark for the season.

The takeaway? Newport is a good investment, but even in areas once host to a vibrant middle class, home ownership is too often a dream out of reach for those who live here year round.

Political Intrigue

Has anyone else been exhausted by the needless tug of war taking place down Pennsylvania Avenue?

Apparently, Washington has decided to follow up its summer of discontent with an autumn of anguish.

The saga brings to mind the words of Jose Maria de Queiroz, the great Portuguese novelist, who said famously that "politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason."

Which leads us back to the calendar, which when it turns over later this month will serve as the unofficial start of the 2014 political cycle.

In the race for governor, Rhode Islanders could be asked to replace one political scion for another, as Clay Pell, the grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne deB. Pell, has begun telling advisors that he's mulling a run for governor.

Pell, a Harvard-educated Coast Guard officer, attorney, and White House fellow, has a resume at 32 years old that is rarely seen among those even twice his age.

If he does decide to throw his hat in the ring, Pell would likely be faced with running in a primary between Gen. Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras for the Democratic Party nomination.

To date, much of the conversation surrounding the governor's race has been resigned to pension reform and investment returns. Pell's introduction into the fold would certainly shift the conversation. To what end, one can only guess.

Staying on the state level, last week we learned that former state Rep. and Democratic Party Chairman Edwin Pacheco announced that he was withdrawing from the race for Secretary of State.

Pacheco's departure should provide a boost to the hopes of Newport native Guillaime de Ramel, as he looks to build on his 2006 campaign for the same office. de Ramel, who currently sits on the influential Coastal Resources Management Council, is expected to face off against former Housing- Works R.I. Executive Director Nellie Gorbea in the Democratic primary.

If Pell does decide to get into the race, Newport could play a featured role in the narrative leading into next November. That could be a good thing. Oftentimes, Newporters are happy to simply turn away from the antics that go on in Providence. Call it unabashed pride, but we think things would be in better shape if Aquidneck Island were to lend more of its talents to the matters of state.

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