State Report: Cicilline VS Doherty, Chafee’s Approval & Fixing the EDC
Saturday, October 06, 2012
This week's State House Report looks at the curious case of Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Despite his tough stance against 38 Studios and his ongoing efforts to reform the EDC, the governor remains unpopular, according to a new poll.
We also examine the contentious congressional race between Rep. David Cicilline and Brendan Doherty. We also touch on a newly approved roadway safety bill that aims to reduce fatalities in the Ocean State. Lastly, a new RI GOP website has popped up and guess who they blame for the state's numerous woes? Keep reading to find out if the site's claims hold water.
RI lawmakers continue to review EDC
Just days after the RI Public Expenditure Council submitted their recommendations for the Economic Development Corp., state lawmakers continued to mull over possible ways to improve the state’s economic outlook this week.
On Monday, the General Assembly’s Joint Committee heard testimony from business and development leaders who suggested more communication between the state and the private sector. The local leaders consisted of Scott A. Gibbs and Marcel A. Valois, president and vice president of the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island, and Gary S. Sasse, director of the Bryant Institute for Public Leadership.
The group’s report titled “Rebooting the Economic Development System in Rhode Island” advises lawmakers to eliminate the EDC and place the agency’s responsibilities in three new bodies: a tactical office that answers to the governor, a research group based in the state’s universities and a new board of directors that would correspond with the private sector.
“We are very much interested in hearing from anyone who has looked at the issues and has some suggestions to make. Economic development is no simple formula, and we need to hear everyone’s ideas in order to make informed decisions about what our state government should be doing to rebuild our economy and encourage prosperity,” said Representative Donna Walsh (D-Dist. 36, Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly).
Last week’s RIPEC report recommended that the state appoint a commerce secretary who would help mold the state’s business guidelines and supervise a new Executive Office of Commerce that would include the Department of Business Regulation, Environmental Management and Labor and Training.
Both reports come at the request of Gov. Chafee, who has called for systematic changes in the way the state pursues economic growth.
Gov. Chafee remains unpopular among RI voters
Governor Lincoln Chafee has the lowest approval rating among all major statewide politicians, according to a new poll released Tuesday by WPRI Channel 12. Chafee has an approval rating of just 28.5 percent, which is an improvement over his 21 percent approval rating in February. The poll found that Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo are the state’s most popular politicians, both recording a 57.9 percent approval rating.
Chafee was also slammed in another WPRI poll, which asked RI voters how well they think the governor is handling the 38 Studios situation. The results indicate that 53 percent of voters disapprove of his handling, while just 32 percent approve. The remaining voters polled stated that they were not sure.
“I think everybody is just sick about what happened and they’re lumping everybody in. I can just say that we’re working hard to recoup that money,” said Chafee to WPRI.com. Chafee went on to add that he thinks the numbers will change when voters see how hard he has worked to recoup the state’s losses.
Chafee was opposed to the $75 million loan guarantee granted to 38 Studios when it was initially approved by the EDC in 2008.
Cicilline and Doherty battle over women voters
Congressional candidates Rep. David Cicilline and Brendan Doherty took the gloves off this week in their battle for the female vote. The battle began on Wednesday when the Democratic Party criticized Doherty for his opposing the expansion of the Violence Against Women Act.
In particular, Doherty objects to one provision of the VAWA that protects male transgender individuals. “To the extent that federal funds are directed to investigate and prosecute violence against male transgender individuals, it should not be part of VAWA,” Doherty told Ian Donnis, a political reporter for WRNI.
“Today we understand what Doherty meant when he told the Providence Journal in September that he was against reauthorizing and expanding the Violence Against Women Act because of the legislation’s ‘protections for people in other walks of life,’” said RI Democratic Party spokesperson Bill Fischer. “Unfortunately, Mr. Doherty has decided to support his Republican colleagues on this important issue and embrace the right-wing cultural values of exclusion.”
On Thursday, Doherty lashed back by stating that Cicilline defended murderers and others who hurt women in the 1980s and 1990s, while he was putting them behind bars as a member of the State Police.
“While David Cicilline was representing ruthless batterers and child killers, I spent my career putting vicious domestic predators and wife beaters behind bars. I’d put them in jail; Cicilline tried to keep them out and put them back on the streets,” said Doherty as news conference on Thursday.
The Doherty camp also issued a press release on Thursday detailing three examples where Cicilline represented men convicted of crimes against women. In one case, Cicilline represented Frank A. Bertram, who was convicted of first-degree murder of a 16-year-old girl who was strangled to death. Her remains were then left in a wooden box in a hotel room.
Passed in 1994, the VAWA was originally enacted to protect women against domestic violence. The Senate passed a bill to expand the law earlier this year to include protections for gay and transgender individuals and women assaulted on Indian reservations. The Republican-controlled House has declined to vote on the expansion. The original VAWA authorization expired in 2011.
Strategic Highway Plan looks to improve roadway safety
On Monday, Gov. Chafee signed the Strategic Highway Plan, which is designed to decrease fatalities and serious injuries on the state’s roadways. The state’s approach will focus on curbing speeding and impaired driving in order to improve roadway safety.
“This plan will target our efforts at the State's most serious traffic safety problems. While applauding the achievements of the past, it puts us on a course to continue moving forward with our highway safety initiatives,” said Chafee.
The new plan is part of a national highway strategy known as Toward Zero Death that seeks to cut roadway deaths and serious injuries in half by 2030.
Rhode Island has made numerous strides toward improving roadway safety in recent years including enacting a primary seatbelt law, increasing the use of median guardrails and installing shoulder rumble strips on 75 percent of all highways. As a result, highway fatalities decreased by 17 percent from 2006 to 2010.
RI GOP launches website emphasizing the state’s poor rankings
“Have you had enough?” That’s the new rallying cry of a new partisan website launched earlier this week. Launched by the state Republican Party, www.rirankedlast.com cites a plethora of nonpartisan studies that rank Rhode Island’s ineptness in various categories such as unemployment, business climate, tax burdens, and government transparency.
So what’s the RI GOP’s solution? Not surprisingly, it’s to vote the majority party out of office. The site reads:
“Because the Democrats control the State of Rhode Island with such dominating numbers this pattern will continue into our future unless it is broken. Democrats control which ideas and eventually which legislation makes it to the floor in our legislature. Many Republican ideas never see the light of day. Rhode Island needs balance in our General Assembly as it can clearly be seen that one-party domination is not working. Republicans realize that Rhode Island does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. Voting Republican will send a clear message to our state and put us on the path to prosperity.”
Aside from nonpartisan reports detailing the state’s dismal unemployment picture and poor housing market, the site also delves into corruption charges that have been brought against Democratic leaders. The site includes recent headlines such as Deputy House Speaker John McCauley pleading guilty to tax fraud and Central Falls Mayor Charles D. Moreau pleading guilty to corruption.
Visit www.ridemocrats.org if you wish to check out an opposing view.
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