Arthur Schaper: The Politics of 38 Studios: Junk
Friday, December 27, 2013
Let’s start from Level One, shall we? Every time the government takes money from one group, and with the best of intentions invests the money for a corporation to create more jobs, all one can hope for is more trouble, waste, and fraud. Diverting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in a cash-strapped state to a high-risk venture, a video-game company, with a former baseball player as CEO: Just writing this scenario gives me pause. Hitting the reset button, I remain unsettled all the more. Maybe a magic mushroom can power me through this muddle.
Look, I love video games. I saved my allowance money just to get the Nintendo 8-bit NES console in the mid-1980s. Mario and Luigi were a lot of fun, and I even collected the Nintendo Power magazines to get a feel for what I would be getting. I spent my money (not someone else’s), and I took the time to learn about my investment. I cannot believe that this writer as an eight year old had greater presence of mind and money than the political leadership which brokered the broken 38 Studios deal.
Carcieri’s support of the deal
Who pressed the start button on this dumb idea? Sharing his side of the story on WPRI news with Tim White on September 2012, former Republican Governor Donald Carcieri, who had championed the deal, shared: “We all felt, we were all excited.” Yes, the powers that were had a good feeling that a high-risk venture in video gaming would save Rhode Island.
Carcieri admitted his support for the decision, yet subdued the admission as only one vote out of twelve to stump for the company. He defended himself and the Board enacting the loan, arguing that they made the best decision they could at the time. He also refused any responsibility for the fate of the company, since he left office and had no knowledge or control over the company’s supervision.
From “Player One Start” to “Your Princess is in another Castle”, what part did the General Assembly play in this video game break-down?
Speaker Fox’s role
Writing to ProJo this past summer, Lori Ribeiro fingered Speaker Gordon Fox and his Democratic flock in Providence (A fox watching a flock. Be very afraid!). No matter what the governor then or now did with respect to 38 Studios, the General Assembly under the minority rule of District Four Rep Gordon Fox passed the bill. Instead of powering up the state economy, 38 Studios has been a Goomba of a boondoggle. While the Mario Brothers could stomp the Goombas flat, the video game debacle has flattened any chances of recouping any money for the state.
I reviewed the stunningly corrupted interview Fox engaged with Tim White on WPRI. Consider the Speaker’s thoughts on the House Oversight Committee on 38 Studios. Like Carcieri, Fox supported the deal in the beginning. Regarding Fox’s role in oversight, White asked:
“Should you even be deciding whether to issue subpoenas?” White reminded the audience that Fox was friends with key players in the deal.
Speaker Fox answered: “It’s pursuant to the rules.” He then dismissed any notion of recusing himself, despite the blatant conflict of interest on the matter. About compelling testimony before the committee, Fox demurred:
“It makes for good theater. ‘We want to subpoena people’. It’s a tool.”
“Part of robust oversight, which didn’t exist before I was Speaker, you have to look at rather than doing document dumps, you have to take sort of an excising view of these documents. . .”
White interrupted Fox again: “You have ties to this deal.”
In other words, what kind of oversight can we expect from the overseer who was seeing through the deal in the first place? Fox countered repeatedly: “Let the process go through”, but if the whole investigation is distorted from the outset, what’s the point? Quid custodiet. . .
Fox then redefined oversight: “Learn about what happened, come up with different policies and practices to make for healthier government.”
If the head is sick, the whole body suffers, and Speaker Fox heading investigations into his own government’s mistakes will ensure that Rhode Island will never get over 38 Studios “Game Over”.
In the mean time, Rhode Islanders can take comfort in California’s craziness. 38 Studios cost one hundred million dollars. Governor Jerry Brown is full speed ahead on a billion dollar bullet train boondoggle. In other words: “A lot of junk!”
"This is not a damn game," US House Speaker John Boehner once shouted earlier this year. Rhode Island needs to junk the politicians who pushed the gamey 38 Studios video game deal!
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at email@example.com, and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.
Rhode Island’s Most and Least Popular Politicians
The statewide poll conducted by the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University in October 2013 is the latest public opinion survey by the Ivy League institution.
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