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Side of the Rhode: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in RI Politics?

Friday, January 27, 2012


Who’s Hot

Deborah Gist -> Rhode Island is ranked among the best in the country for teacher quality and while ultimately the educators should get the credit, Commissioner Gist deserves praise for the work she’s done in her time in the state. Gist has certainly helped lay the foundation for improving schools across the state.

Lincoln Chafee and Jim Bennett -> The Governor and Providence’s economic development director –a former candidate for Governor himself – are leading the charge along with Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian to bring Jet Blue to T.F. Green. That won’t solve all of the state’s woes, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Plus, who doesn’t like satellite TV on a flight?

Joe Biden -> The Vice President is coming to town for a Senator Whitehouse fundraiser next month. This comes a week after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced she would be coming to Rhode Island to help raise money for Congressmen Langevin and Cicilline. National Democrats are clearly going to do their best to keep Rhode Island blue in 2012.

J. Joseph Garrahy -> It was a sad week for Rhode Island with the passing of the well-liked former Governor. He’ll be remembered for calming the state down following the blizzard of ’78, but more importantly, as one former aide told GoLocalProv, he was the “nicest man I’ve ever met in government.”

Occupy Providence -> It appeared as though the group was slowly fading away, but it came back strong by securing an agreement with the city to open up a day shelter for the homeless. Whether the Occupiers can continue to have an impact on the state remains to be seen, but this was certainly a victory.

Keith Oliveira, Julian Dash, Barbara Wong -> All three were confirmed by the Providence City Council Finance Committee to be members of the School Board. Oliveira and Dash are being reappointed while Wong is a first-timer. Here’s hoping they can work to reform the city’s struggling school system over the next few years.

Who’s Not

Bob Watson -> A rough week for the former House Minority Leader. It’s scary to think of what could have happened had he not been pulled over. So while everyone hopes rehab will help him, it’s also worth mentioning that he deserves a severe punishment.

Jack Reed -> The Senator is getting criticized this week for essentially shrugging off requests from city and state leaders to step in and convince Bank of America to remain in the Superman building downtown. GoLocalProv was first to report about concerns that the bank could leave town six months ago, but very little appears to be happening to address the problem.

Doreen Costa -> Less than six months after the Board of Governors for Higher Education approved in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, Rep. Costa wants the decision repealed. It’s an easy way to score points with her base, but why not give it a chance and see what happens? The world hasn’t collapsed in the other states that offer in-state tuition, has it?

Achievement First -> Six months ago, it seemed like the Board of Regents was almost certainly going to approve this organization’s application to open a school in Providence. Now 9 state lawmakers from Warwick, North Providence and Cranston have voiced their concerns and a Providence City Councilman (Davian Sanchez) pulled his support this week. The momentum appears to be shifting.

Mitt Romney -> After looking invincible for several months, the former Massachusetts Governor looks like he might pull one of the largest choke jobs in recent memory. Newt Gingrich is now surging in the polls and for the first time, it looks like Romney may no longer be the frontrunner.

Rhode Island’s Business Community -> Another blow to the state’s business community as the Tax Foundation ranked Rhode Island 46th in the country for business tax climate. With the third highest unemployment rate in the country, something clearly needs to be done to start attracting new businesses. Because what’s happening right now isn’t working.

Editor's Note: The original version of this piece suggested Jet Blue offered cable TV. That, of course, was ridiculous. A correction has been made.

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