Friday, September 25, 2009

Editorial: Twin River

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The following editorial is in today's Valley Breeze newspaper about Twin River, a Rhode Island racetrack-slot parlor, that wants to give its executives bonuses during its bankruptcy reorganization.

Twin River bonuses? Are they kidding?
By Tom Ward
The Valley Breeze
September 23, 2009

Twin River bonuses? Are they kidding?

The fact that attorneys for Twin River casino in Lincoln are asking a federal bankruptcy judge to hand out bonuses totalling $1.3 million to eight top officials there ought to infuriate you.

Can we really just turn out backs in exasperation and say "It's just Rhode Island" again?

According to Saturday's Providence Journal, the judge is being asked to approve "a compensation plan that would give the top eight executives...about $3 million in annual pay and bonuses." Later, reporter Paul Grimaldi explains that the bonuses total $1.3 million. Now do the math. The pay portion averages $212,500 per employee. No doubt, the folks at the very top get more, and some less, but really, bonuses averaging another $162,500 each?

I'd write "Is there no shame?" but of course, I know that answer. No, for the connected in Rhode Island, there's no shame at all.

All this takes place against the backdrop of vendors, many of them small local businesses, who will be stiffed by Twin River during bankruptcy proceedings.

Let me be fair. I've noted in previous columns that Twin River has the worst deal in America, having been shaken down by the General Assembly through the years to the point of giving more than 60 percent of the revenue to the state. It's a bad deal. Amplified by the current recession and joblessness, Twin River has spiraled into it's current predicament. The executive staff are not to blame for the mess, and certainly should not be punished. That said, they shouldn't be getting bonuses, either. If there's an extra $1.3 million sitting around, pay off the little guy.

As for the well-worn threat that top executives might leave Twin River in a competitive marketplace, I say go! Head to Macau for all I care. There are plenty of talented Rhode Islanders who would be happy to take a $200,000 job at Twin River.

I trust the judge will laugh this request out of his court.

* Time will tell if Rhode Island's new political party, the Moderate Party, gains any traction. New party Executive Director Christine Hunsinger tells the Journal, "I was a registered Democrat up until last week. I feel my party at the state level has left me. In Rhode Island, we see such a control of one party. It's actually become the party of self interest and special interest, and not the public interest."

Hells, bells! Rhode Island's Democratic Party has been "the party of self interest and special interest" for two generations now, and has the highest unemployment rate in New England to show for it! But I'll be listening to them in the months ahead, and learning what they're all about. I just wish they didn't have such a warm and fuzzy name.

* Just in case you thought there was no media bias by the big newspapers and TV networks, last week's exposé of the scandalous ACORN by a pair of kids with a hidden video camera should put that thought to rest. Even I was stunned by the blatant bias more than the video.

In case you missed it, a young man and younger girl posed as a hooker and her pimp, going to several ACORN offices to ask for money to buy a home. In all cases, they told staffers they were in the prostitution business, and in Baltimore made it clear they were importing young teenage girls from El Salvador to turn tricks. The pair purposely told as bad a story as they could imagine, and over and over, ACORN, the "community organizers" group which President Obama wanted to give $8 billion of your tax money in stimulus funds, instructed the pair on how to break the law.

ACORN is a filthy, corrupt, and useless organization that doesn't deserve even a penny of tax dollars, and the media, outside of Fox News which broke the story, is silent.

Even our own Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse cast an embarrassingly sycophantic vote on the matter. When all in the Senate, including may clear-thinking Democrats, voted 83-7 to cut off funding for ACORN last week, Whitehouse defended this indefensible group. Yes, Rhode Island's former chief law enforcement officer, ex-Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse, voted to continue funding a group which instructs hookers and pimps on how to open a sex slave business in Baltimore. Hey, it's only your money.

ACORN is finished thanks to two enterprising young reporters, and no thanks to Sheldon Whitehouse. Lucky for Whitehouse, he's got three more years in his term for all of us to forget this.

I recall the old days, when CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" would have relished the ACORN story, but no more. Not today. Now, it's clear that organizations like CBS, MSNBC, The New York Times, Washington Post and others simply choose to ignore news that harms the people they worked so hard to elect.

And they wonder why big-city newspaper circulation is plunging, and MSNBC ratings are in the toilet. Maybe they should try doing their jobs.

Tom Ward is the publisher of the Valley Breeze newspapers