It’s the opening line of Cicero’s first oration to Cataline. The full sentence is “Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?” It essentially means, “How long, Oh Cataline, will you abuse our patience?” It’s an age-old sentiment for expressing frustration with the powers-that-be. My high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Murray, would be proud that this was the sentiment that struck me today as I reviewed the events of the rally yesterday to stop the concrete plant in Cranston.
The rally was about the size of the one last September but seemed less populated with political big wigs and more populated with families and children. As things got organized, Geoff Schoos quickly filled me in on exactly where things stood legally. As detailed in today’s Projo, legislation was passed to expand the city’s zoning board and one of the additional zoning board members was appointed last night, a lawyer named Steven Minicucci. Now we are waiting for the Mayor to choose the second zoning member appointment, and then there should be enough members of the zoning board to form a quorum and review the building permit issued to Cullion (and hopefully revoke it).
Suzanne Arena deftly wielded the bullhorn and organized the children. The Mayor benevolently crouched down and greeted each child as he or she handed over their petitions and asked in one way or another for the preservation of their neighborhood. Our ward councilman, Emilio Navarro, was there in a full suit and spoke emphatically on behalf of his constituents. Frank Mattiucci, President of CCRZD, reminded everyone that it has been a full year with little progress on resolving the concrete plant issue. Then there were questions. One woman asked why there are vehicles parked at the site of the concrete plant every day if they are not building it. The Mayor responded that there is an existing business there that they are continuing but that if they try to start building the concrete plant, the city will file a “cease and desist” motion or make some sort of blocking legal action.
There were some other good questions, but the question that really cut to the chase was the last, asked by the young gentlemen with reddish hair. I don’t remember his exact words, but the gist of the question was, “How long? How long before we know that this concrete plant will not be built?”
The Mayor’s response was that he guessed the Supreme Court ruling would be postponed for about a year. This was when you could hear the collective groan of a community whose patience is already on life support. But he quickly added that the zoning board should be able to rule on the matter long before then. So people could take heart in the knowledge that at least in terms of our local government, we weren’t going to be waiting for an answer too much longer.
But the article in today’s Projo reveals Cullion’s counter strategy to this game plan. John O. Mancini, the lawyer for Cullion (and former Democratic Mayoral candidate in Cranston), implied that Cullion will try to get a restraining order to prevent the zoning board from convening. If this restraining order is granted, could things really be stalled for another full year?
Perhaps it’s not worth worrying about. Perhaps the restraining order won’t be granted and Cullion will give up and the concrete plant will go away after the zoning board rejects the building permit.
But I wouldn’t count on it. Which means the community is still in limbo. People who were planning to sell their houses are in limbo. Buyers interested in moving into the area are probably holding off. People all over the city and state are waiting to see if our government can function to protect a residential area from environmental hazard.
One reason why people are losing patience is because this is the Mayor who promised to revoke the building permit for the concrete plant once he was in office. Now he says the Supreme Court’s stay on the case prevents him from doing this. Soon, a restraining order may be filed to prevent the zoning board from convening. Basically, whatever the city does to try to move things along, the Cullion team is going to block.
So, the question remains. How long will government abuse the patience of the people it supposedly serves? How long will the citizens of Cranston have to wait to get this issue resolved?