RI State Report: Surprise Raimondo Donors, Block Turns Republican
Saturday, November 02, 2013
Raimondo's Surprise Donors
Earlier this week, GoLocal reported that Ernest P. Baptisa, father of Mayor Angel Taveras' acting spokesman Peter Baptista, and Nicholas Pell, cousin of possible gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell, have both donated to State Treasurer Gina Raimondo—the likely opponent of both Taveras and Pell.
Ernest Baptista's Past Support of Gina Raimondo
Baptista has donated $3,250 to Raimondo, according to the Rhode Island Board of Elections. Baptista, a Principal of the Gencorp Insurance Group, made four contributions to Raimondo from 2009 through 2012.
The contribution details are as follows:
- $250.00 on 12/31/2009
- $1,000 on 3/26/2010
- $1,000 on 8/12/2011
- $1,000 on 3/28/2012
In regard to the contributions, Baptista told GoLocal earlier this week, "Gina's been a friend for 15 years," but did not say whether he'd be supporting her in the upcoming election. Baptista added that he knows all the potential 2014 Democratic gubernatorial contenders personally, including Clay Pell.
Baptista's son Peter, who is the co-founder of the Hamilton Group consulting firm, joined the Taveras campaign team in January. Prior to joining Taveras, Baptista served as deputy campaign manager and finance director for Frank Caprio's 2010 run for governor.
Nicholas Pell's Past Support of Gina Raimondo
Pell, a New York investment banker and cousin of potential 2014 Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell, has donated $2,250.00 to Raimondo over the last four years, according to the Rhode Island Board of Elections. Pell, who is the grandson of the late six-term U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, made four contributions to Raimondo from 2009 through 2012.
The contribution details are as follows:
- $1,000 on 12/26/2009
- $500 on 3/19/2010
- $250 on 9/30/2010
- $500 on 10/17/2012
Pell made the first three contributions while serving as Director in the Investment Department of WP Carey & Co, and made the latest while employed as Managing Director of Investments at Gramercy Capital Corp, which is his current position.
GoLocal contacted Pell on Tuesday to determine whether he would support Raimondo over Clay in a potential Democratic primary, but he declined to comment.
In 2010, Pell considered running for Rhode Island's District 1 Congressional seat after Rep. Patrick Kennedy announced he would not seek reelection.
Pell is a member of Newport Festivals Foundation Board of Directors, which supports the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals. Prior to his position at WP Carey & Co., Pell served as Director of Sony Pictures Entertainment from 2002 to 2005.
2014 Governor's Race
Raimondo has not formally announced whether she will run for governor, but has stated that she will make her decision before the end of the year. Taveras formally announced his candidacy on Monday—becoming the first major Democrat to do so.
The Democratic field also includes declared candidate Todd Giroux, who previously ran for governor in 2010, and Pell, who GoLocal first reported earlier this month is considering a run for governor.
Moderate Party founder Ken Block, who GoLocal reported on Monday would run as a Republican in the 2014 Rhode Island Governor's race, is the only official candidate on the Republican side. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, is expected to officially announce his candidacy on Monday, Nov. 4.
Block Joins the GOP
Block becomes the first official Republican gubernatorial candidate.
Ken Block, the founder and former head of the Rhode Island Moderate Party, announced on Monday that he will run as a Republican in the 2014 Rhode Island governor’s race.
With the switch, Block becomes the first Republican to formally announce a gubernatorial bid.
Block, who ran for governor on the Moderate Party ticket in 2010, made the announcement in a letter to Republican primary voters, which read in part:
“My name is Ken Block and I am running to be your Republican candidate for Governor.”
“We share a common goal: to restore fiscal sanity to our state. Unlike politicians who will tell you they share your goal but then have no idea how to get there, I am here today to tell you that I have a plan to save Rhode Island $1 billion in wasteful spending.”
In the letter, Block goes on to state his first campaign promise. Block writes, “When Rhode Island’s government spends its money as carefully as you spend yours, we will reduce taxes across the board and become more competitive with our neighbors. That is job #1.”
The decision is not entirely surprising considering that Block told GoLocal back in September that he was considering switching party affiliations.
Taveras Confirms Gov Run
Taveras officially declares his candidacy for governor.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras formally declared his candidacy for governor of Rhode Island on Monday at the Meeting Street School in Providence—becoming the first major Democrat to enter the 2014 race. If elected, Taveras would become Rhode Island’s first Latino governor.
Democratic state Treasurer Gina Raimondo has stated she’s considering running, but has not made an official announcement. A recent Brown University poll showed Raimondo leading Taveras in a potential Democratic gubernatorial primary 42% to 34%.
Taveras, a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard University, has enjoyed impressive favorability rating during his tenure as mayor—including possessing the highest approval rating amongst any public official in the state, according to Brown University’s latest polling.
Despite high favorability ratings, Taveras has courted controversy over issues involving the mass firing of 2,000 teachers in 2011 and the recent closure at the Davey Lopes recreation center in Providence.
Prior to becoming mayor, Taveras served as an Associate Judge on the Providence Housing Court from 2007 to 2010.
New Campaign Manager
Taveras hires Kedem to run gubernatorial campaign.
Earlier this week, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras hired veteran Democratic party strategist Danny Kedem to manage his campaign for governor of Rhode Island.
Kedem recently managed former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner's unsuccessful campaign for mayor of New York City. Kadem chose to resign from Weiner's campaign in July amidst ongoing sexting scandal allegations.
Kedem also ran the successful re-election campaign of New Haven, Conn. Mayor John DeStefano in 2011.
Previously, Kedem worked as a campaign organizer for Hillary Clinton's presidential run in 2008, and for Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill's U.S. Senate campaign.
Top Aides Depart
Top aides Jerzyk and Lynch leave the Taveras administration.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is losing two of his top advisers just days after formally announcing his candidacy for governor.
It was announced on Wednesday that both deputy chief of staff Arianne Lynch and deputy city solicitor Matt Jerzyk have tendered their resignations. Jerzyk will remain in the solicitor's office until December 31, while Lynch's resignation is effective November 30.
Lynch joined the Taveras administration in January 2012. Prior to joining the Taveras administration Lynch was the Managing Director of Public Affairs and Strategic Communications at Advocacy Solutions LLC.
Jerzyk, who played a key role in Taveras' 2010 mayoral victory, was previosuly an attorney at DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Ltd. He also founded the Rhode Island's Future blog, which is now owned by Bob Plain.
Editor's Note: Matt Jerzyk used to write GoLocalProv's Side of the Rhode: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Rhode Island Politics column.
West Endorses Elorza
Former Common Cause head endorses Elorza for mayor of Providence.
Phil West, former executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, has endorsed Democratic mayoral candidate Jorge Elorza.
"I'm happy to support Jorge Elorza for Mayor of Providence. Jorge teaches at Roger Williams University School of Law. In his work as Housing Court Judge, he has forced some of the biggest banks in the nation to take responsibility for properties they've neglected. I believe he will lead Providence effectively and honorable," said West in a statement.
West served as the head of Common Cause, a nonpartisan government watchdog group, for 18 years before retiring in 2006.
In addition to Elorza, the likely field of Democratic mayoral candidates includes City Council President Michael Solomon, and political consultant Brett Smiley. Physician Daniel Harrop, who is the chairman of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, is the only declared Republican candidate.
Reed's Jobs Plan
Reed calls for Congress to focus on manufacturing jobs.
In an effort to get Congress to refocus on manufacturing jobs, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) has joined a group of 21 U.S. senators in launching the “Manufacturing Jobs for America” initiative, which seeks to build bipartisan support for legislation that will help create jobs, modernize America’s manufacturing sector, and improve workforce training. A key piece of the initiative is Reed’s Adult Education and Economic Growth Act (S. 1400), which will reform and increase investment in job training and adult education and help connect adult learners with opportunities for jobs.
Specifically, the Adult Education and Economic Growth Act would:
- Encourage employers to invest in lower skilled working adults by providing a tax credit for employers who invest in their employee's education;
- Increase funding for adult education to provide additional support for state and local authorities to ensure collaboration between adult education and workforce needs; and
- Expand access to adult education services through the use of technology.
“The best way to keep our economy moving forward is to get people back to work, and the best resource for our economy is an educated and skilled workforce. We need to invest in human capital,” said Reed. “The “Manufacturing Jobs in America” agenda shows there is a broad range of things Congress should be doing to help create jobs. One of the initiatives I have put forward as part of this effort is the Adult Education and Economic Growth Act, which creates and supports avenues for adults to continue their education and build their career skills. By better aligning education and workforce training programs to the jobs that are available we can help people get the jobs of today and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Despite high unemployment levels, a recent Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute online survey found there are an estimated 600,000 unfilled U.S. manufacturing jobs due to a lack of workers with the right skills.
According to Reed, 150,000 Rhode Islanders could benefit from some form of job-skills training or adult education right now. But today there’s only enough financing to help 6,500 (4.3%).
“Adult education can help bridge the skills gap that separates people seeking work from those who are offering good paying jobs. We need to effectively prepare our workers to meet the demands of a shifting economy. Investing in adult education programs helps American workers learn new skills and improve their lives. It gives them a platform for upward mobility both professionally and personally. It can help lift individuals, communities, and businesses together because the more skilled workers out there earning a paycheck, the more demand there is for the goods and services our businesses offer,” said Reed.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST), Rhode Island has an estimated 1,500 manufacturers, and 95 percent have fewer than 100 employees. In 2011, these manufacturers employed 40,349 workers.
To help local manufacturers, Reed has secured federal funding for the Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Services (RIMES), a nonprofit funded jointly by the federal and private investments. RIMES has a strong record of helping local small and medium-sized manufacturers in the state with improving operations and increasing efficiency.
Earlier this year, Reed helped secure $750,000 in federal Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) funding for the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation to help local manufacturers accelerate development and adoption of cutting edge manufacturing technologies. Reed also helped the state land a $100,000 first round “Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnership” (IMCP) grant to help the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) and its collaborative partners enact long-term economic development strategies intended to create a business environment that leads to well-paying, sustainable manufacturing jobs.
“Our nation has learned an important lesson: we have to put people on the shop floor because it’s not only the ability of the United States to create and innovate, it is a competitive global marketplace out there. Unless you are actually manufacturing these products, you don’t have the advantage of learning how to do it better, how to improve it, how to be more competitive. Think of all the things, the manufacturing products we’ve invented. But then we’ve lost the ability to reproduce them and as a result we’ve lost the jobs. So this whole effort is designed to rekindle that spirit of giving people the skills, the incentives, and the encouragement to go back and manufacture. The greatest phrase we have been hearing is Made in America, so let’s make it in America,” concluded Reed.
More Sandy Relief
Rhode Island gets $16 million more in Sandy recovery aid.
A year after Superstorm Sandy devastated many Rhode Island businesses and homes, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced on Monday that an additional $16 million in federal funding is on its way to help pay rebuilding costs and better protect communities from future storms.
This latest round of federal support comes in the form of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) grants, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which may be used to make infrastructure upgrades; repair homes, businesses, and public facilities; and ensure communities are better prepared for and can respond to future natural disasters.
To date, Rhode Island has received approximately $61.4 million from federal disaster relief programs to help Rhode Island recover from Sandy.
“This federal funding will provide the state with critical resources to help families, businesses, and communities that were hit hardest by the storm. It also offers communities the opportunity to take steps to better protect themselves from future storms and encourage sustainable economic growth,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. “Increasing the resiliency of our infrastructure and coastline and accounting for future risks is a smart investment that can save taxpayers in the long run and help build a stronger Rhode Island.”
In July, the Congressional delegation brought federal officials from the Hurricane Sandy Task Force to Rhode Island for a firsthand look at coastal communities that suffered extensive damage during Sandy. Shortly thereafter, the state’s action plan for spending its initial allocation of $3.2 million in CDBG-DR funds for Sandy recovery was approved by HUD.
Rhode Island has now received over $19.24 million in CDBG-DR funds for Sandy assistance.
When Superstorm Sandy hit Rhode Island on October 29, 2012, it caused widespread devastation and affected approximately 300,000 Rhode Island residents, or 28% of the state’s population. Mandatory local evacuations were ordered in eight communities. Approximately 122,000 homes and businesses lost electricity as a result of the storm, and an estimated 40,000 remained without power for two or more days. The highest concentration of storm damage was located in Rhode Island’s southern coastal communities. The majority of the damages in these areas occurred from storm surge and high winds.
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