Don Roach: A Conversation with Representative Brian Newberry
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
What is your number one goal for the session?
It’s not a simple question to answer. There’s a vast difference between what the General Assembly should be doing and what we’re going to do. We all know what the number one issue facing rhode island. That’s not new. Every year the Democrats pay lip service to it and then do nothing about it. If you talk to people in the private sector they can tell you what needs to be done. The bottom line is we need to change the culture in the state to make it attractive to private investors. But, I don’t have the confidence that the current leadership is going to do anything of the kind.
They’ve been in power for 70+ years and they’ve had every opportunity to do something game changing and they haven’t. Why should we expect different results? In the House there is a lot of friction and factionalism on the Democratic side. One reason is the uncertainty around the leadership of the House. If people assume that Fox is not running for reelection (he says he will) then people jockeying for position will make it more difficult to do anything substantive.
The second reason is 38 Studios. Last year, they barely scraped together the votes needed to pass the budget. My team analyzed paying the annual 38 Studios 12.5 million payment and they came back that the cost of paying didn’t outweigh the benefits of not paying. We held a hearing on the analysis but still nothing was done to address the issue. In addition, the Sakonnet River bridge toll issue will detract from the primary issue of the economy.
How do we get more Republicans elected to the General Assembly?
Number one, we need good candidates to run because it’s hard to win an election. Republican candidates need to be better than the average. We can have the right conditions to help us (an open seat, vulnerable incumbent, candidate training) but if we don’t have a quality candidate, we can’t win. We have people who step up who are good people, but not necessarily good candidates. It just makes things harder to win. The message I want to send to potential good candidates is step up and we will help you run a campaign.
That said, 2014 should be a very favorable climate if people step up and run.
Also, modern campaigning requires some technological investment. It requires targeting voters, raising money, and the party is doing as good a job since 2004. I think 2014 will be different because the infrastructure is being put into place and the issues facing RI are in our favor this year. It just takes the right people to get involved and put in the work.
For the most part if you have good ideas in the GA, you don’t get credit for them. I don’t want to sound bitter because that’s just politics. For example, my first year in the Assembly a constituent asked me a question about an issue. I did a little digging and found a bill that my predecessor had introduced previously. I took that bill and introduced it in 2010 and the Corporations committee supported it. There was little opposition to it. Come May, on the House Floor it was in another assemblyperson’s name. They wouldn’t allow me to take credit for the idea.
Do you believe that Ken Block is really a Republican?
Do you believe that Allan Fung is really a Republican?
Who best represents the ideals of the GOP?
Is a primary good or bad for the party?
It depends on how the primary is conducted. If they run a positive campaign and make their case and pledge to back the loser of the primary, then it’s a good thing because it will keep attention on both of them as good free press. If it turns negative, then it’s a bad thing because the winner will be damaged for the general election.
Who has the best chance to beat the Democratic winner?
I know Allan and I know Ken, but I support Allan in the primary. I think they both can win the general election but not with the same mix of voters. If Block wins the primary, social conservative voters may stay home and not vote for him. I do believe Fung has a better chance of consolidating conservative voters, but I do think both are capable of winning.
Don Roach can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Don on twitter @donroach34.
14 To Watch in RI in 2014
One of the most exciting GoLocal up-and-comers to watch is only just starting to make her mark, as SlowFoodURI founder Neill is a URI senior in Kingston.
Named a Truman Scholar last spring—one of only 61 nationwide—Neill founded Slow Food URI "with a passion for food and great concern for the wellbeing of all things."
Co-owner of Midday Records and guitarist for Satellites Fall, Moore is making a major impact on the New England music scene. While he's been part of the Midday label since 2008, Moore has been taking it to another level, putting out a series compilation albums featuring some of the best bands in the area titled New England Indie Alt Rock, as well as a digital compilation with 80 bands titled Onefundboston.org: A Benefit For The Boston Marathon".
Brierley is a rising fashion designer who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and resisted the lure of the Big Apple to open her flagship store in Newport.
"I just wanted to do something fresh," Brierley told GoLocal in July. "I love how much the community in Newport appreciates what we do and our windows. It is a rewarding connection to a community."
12 to Watch in 2012...Best Brunch in Providence in 2013...multiple nods for the James Beard Award...Farmstead's Matt Jennings is not one to rest on his laurels atop the always competitive Providence and RI culinary scenes.
With a loyal Twitter base nearing 10,000 followers, Jennings—known as "Providence's Pied Piper of Cheese" and "Prince of Pork"—continues to advance the culture and excellence that landed Providence atop Travel + Leisure's list for Food/Drink/Restaurants—the #1 city in the country—in 2012.
Providence-based biotech EpiVax, Inc., is an immunology company that has "developed comprehensive analytical capabilities in the field of computational immunology" and applies those tools to re-engineer therapeutic proteins and to design new vaccines. The company continues to forge ahead as a groundbreaking health science company in the state. Basically, as stated on their website, they "do it all."
Microfinance proponent and co-founder of the Capital Good Fund, Posner is working to be the "best best financial empowerment organization in America by providing high-quality, innovative and transformational financial services to underserved families."
In October, the National Consumer Law Center gave Rhode Island a "C" for debt protection laws for consumers in the state. Posner told GoLocal that "One of the biggest problems is that we are the only New England state that allows payday lenders to charge more than 36% APR. In fact, in RI they can charge up to 260% APR thanks to a special carve out in the general laws. These loans target the poor and trap them in a cycle of debt that leads to tremendous stress and a significant drain on their finances."
This Betaspring darling and Walker Williams brainchild is set to revolutionize the way that custom-designed tee-shirts are produced. The company allows customers to design a style, set a sales goal, and pre-order the product, cutting out the need for a middle man.
"No paying thousands of dollars upfront, no guessing how many shirts or what sizes you'll need, and no passing out t-shirts one by one and chasing people down for cash," writes Teespring on their website. And folks are taking note—Forbes contributor Alexander Taub wrote in January of Teepsring, "Is this Rhode Based startup the future of custom apparel?"
This consummate public relations professional struck out on her own in 2013 after years at RDW Group with Patti Doyle Communications, and shows no sign of slowing down.
Doyle's clients include Twin River Casino, which officially launched its table game offerings after a successful 2012 referendum. The gaming licensing process has been slow and deliberate in Massachusetts, which in 2011 approved legislation to allow up to 3 casinos and a slots parlor, promising stiff competition to Twin River once those are up and operational. Once the fight is on, watch for Doyle to be spearheading the communications strategy from Rhode Island's third-largest source of revenue.
A 2013 RI YWCA "Woman of Achievement," Cano-Morales is no stranger to accolades for her work in the community. The Central Falls native is the Director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University and is Chair of the Central Falls School District Board of Trustees.
Cano-Morales was no stranger to GoLocal's Hot or Not lists this year, earning multiple "hot" nods for her work, including LPI reports focusing on the state's latino workforce. And Cano-Morales is forward thinking when it comes to educational opportunities, and talked with GoLocal about the biggest challenges she saw facing Rhode Island.
Which way will the wind blow in 2014 for the Deepwater Wind project?
2013 saw Deepwater Wind win key leases in the first round of federal auctions in August for offshore wind projects, taking the bids at just over $3.8 million. In December, the state properties committee approved agreements to allow for an underwater transmission cable to go through Scarborough State Beach, to allow Deepwater to build a "demonstration" wind farm off of Block Island.
In 2012, the legalization of same-sex marriage was the top social and legal issue addressed and approved by the General Assembly. Will the full-scale legalization of marijuana be on the table in 2014? Expect to see State Rep. Edith Ajello front and center in the debate if so.
While medical marijuana and the decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of it have moved through the General Assembly, the question is whether Rhode Island will follow Colorado and Washington's lead and pass full-scale legalization legislation.
Will he, or won't he?
One of the burning questions for 2014 is whether the former two-time Mayor of Providence will toss his hat in the ring for a third go at the office.
GoLocal posed the questions back in September, asking political experts and pundits their thoughts on the matter. Of the longest-serving Mayor of Providence, who was in office from 1975 to 1984 and again from 1991 to 2002, Darrell West of the Brookings Institute and formerly of Brown's Taubman Center for Public Policy said, "There would be tremendous media and public interest if Cianci ran. It would turn this into a high-profile campaign. It is not clear what will be the deciding factor. It would be very different if Cianci is in the race or not."
In October, GoLocal broke that Clay Pell, grandson of six-term Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell, was weighing a potential 2014 gubernatorial run in Rhode Island.
Pell, who's resume includes being a White House staffer and Coast Guard Reserve Officer, married Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan in a ceremony at First Unitarian Church in Providence in 2013, and was appointed by President Obama as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education in April.
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