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Fountain Street death watch

Plus losing a real-deal reporter, mercurial gubernatorials, and doing the right thing (or not)
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  March 18, 2009

At Casa Diablo we believe all the changes at the Other Paper — layoffs, cutbacks, newsstand and subscription price hikes, earlier deadlines, streamlined sections (business news is no longer a stand-alone section) — not only doom Our Little Towne's daily but are meant to do so. These are moves designed (yes, designed) to accelerate and exacerbate the drop in readership. The paper is committing suicide in front of our eyes.

So we say, before the end of 2009, the Providence Journal will cease to publish a daily newspaper. We don't expect the Belo Corporation of Dallas, Texas, to acknowledge this, but it is the only conclusion that makes sense. The big question is, will the new model for reporting and writing the news — whatever it is — provide wide-ranging and more comprehensive coverage?

In order for our democratic republic to work properly, we need aware, knowledgeable and actively engaged citizens. As we wait for a new news format to appear, we are in a very dangerous situation. We know too little as it is

P+J have noted that other media outlets are picking up on the story we broke about the Urinal upping its deadlines to avoid a second press run. The result: some late-breaking stories will not be covered in print the next day, merely online. Another wrinkle is that staff of the "Lifebeat" section now has two days lead time between filing copy and it seeing print. This may actually be a break for "Deadbeat"; in two days, readers may forget they've already read the same features in the New York Times or Boston Globe. Heck, P&J's deadline is only 36 hours from the Phoenix hitting the street, so now we're competitive. They're aiming high on Fountain Street.

Flags are at half staff over Casa Diablo marking the passing of Lee Dykas, a good guy and a first-rate reporter. Lee covered the police beat at the Other Paper for many years. He was also head ramrod for the Providence Newspaper Guild during some very difficult years.

A great storyteller, Lee was also a tough former Marine. For P&J, hanging out with Lee was like hanging out with Robert Mitchum or Richard Widmark in some '40s film noir. He was also a partner (with Tony Lioce) in what was probably the greatest reporter's hangouts in Providence history, Hope's on Washington Street. At Hope's, where legal closing time was only a suggestion, the reporters, cops and a collection of some of downtown's most colorful figures communed over mugs of nut-brown ale . . . a virtual "Leo's north" (with pickled eggs instead of a regular menu) in the Providence of the '70s and '80s with Lee frequently holding court.

Lee Dykas was a real deal, old-school reporter. P&J were honored to have known this man.

Every time your superior correspondents start to write about the free-for-all that appears to be gubernatorial race 2010, something new pops up to change the formula and we have to regroup. Last week, for instance, we were about to predict that Mayor David "Little Chi Chi" Cicilline would take a pass, but didn't get it together in time for our Tuesday afternoon deadline. Good thing, too. Chi Chi pulled the plug a day before the Phoenix hit the streets. We would have looked pretty stupid predicting yesterday's news.

That Steve "Laugh at Me" Laffey has also declined to toss his spiked helmet into the ring leaves Joe Trillo (whose act smacks of an angry Louie Prima with a lobotomy) as the sole interested Republican. But there appear to be a myriad of Democrats showing interest. Here's the Casa Diablo take at this moment (and we do mean "at this moment").

AG Patrick Lynch will do a lot of flexing and air pumping, but we don't believe he'll actually enter the ring. Either he'll have another very attractive gig offered to him or he'll cause trouble and have fun until he says, "Okay, I've caused trouble and had my fun. I'm out."

Treasurer Frank Caprio is in it, for sure, but, considering the similarities between his utterances and those of current office holder "Laughing Boy" Carcieri, we would urge him to come clean and run as a Republican. He talks like a Republican, walks like a Republican and smells like a Republican. We say he's a Republican.

The real Democrat is Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts and, while she is in no way the favorite in this horse race, we believe that she will come out looking better than everyone else because the campaign will enable her to display the skill and intelligence that has so far not penetrated through to the electorate, which will finally recognize her competence.

But, everybody knows that the elephant in the room (actually a former elephant) is one-time US senator Linc Chafee. You can bet that every candidate and potential candidate for the job of RI's head ramrod has considered (and shuddered at) the possibility of a Chafee run. P&J suspect this scenario: the highly respected (by both major parties) Republican mayor of Warwick, Scott Avedesian, announces that he's going to run for Lieutenant Governor as an Independent in a joint campaign (even though the offices are not linked) with indy gubernatorial candidate, Chafee.

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Related: Providence endorsements, Rhode Island in ’06: same as it ever was, RI ’08: Prelude to 2010, More more >
  Topics: Phillipe And Jorge , Chi Chi, David Ciciline, Elizabeth Roberts,  More more >
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