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

Friday, April 06, 2012


Who's Hot

Jack Reed -> Nice to see Senator Reed standing up for college students across the country with his bill that would cap Stafford loans at 3.4 percent interest. With college debt now exceeding credit card debt in this country, it is clear more needs to be done to help address this problem. Next step: How about just making college more affordable?

Lincoln Chafee -> His opponents will only remember issues like the talk radio ban and the holiday tree, but all of a sudden, Governor Chafee is putting together a solid second year in office. He’s the one going to bat for cash-strapped cities and towns and now he’s calling out the raises being handed out at the state’s public colleges while tuition is on the rise. It will be interesting to see whether his approval ratings are about to spike.

Patrick Sweeney -> He leaves the GOP and then suddenly he’s running Senate candidate Barry Hinckley’s campaign. The key for Sweeney will be helping Hinckley understand that he needs to simplify his message to voters. People don’t understand (and don’t care about) the million-page tax code. It’s an admirable issue to take up, but it’s time for Hinckley to get on TV and start explaining why Rhode Islanders should pick him over Senator Whitehouse.

Sabina Matos & Teresa Tanzi -> Congrats to these local politicians on being recognized as “rising political stars” by the YWCA of Northern Rhode Island. Matos has quickly proven herself as a leader on the Providence City Council and some believe she has an outside shot at becoming Council President in 2015. Rep. Tanzi has established herself as a champion of progressive politics and her name has already been whispered as a potential Secretary of State candidate (although she says she’s not interested).

Barrington Police Department -> Kudos to the Barrington PD for not bowing to Senator Frank Ciccone’s shameful attempts to get Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio out of his DUI last week. As everyone scrambles for more juicy details on the story, it continues to be forgotten that somebody could have been killed that night.

Don Grebien -> The Pawtucket Mayor is doing everything he can to help his city avoid bankruptcy or a massive supplemental tax hike and that means taking on the firefighters now. Grebien is taking long overdue steps to control spending by cutting overtime costs and while it won’t make him any friends in the short-term, it could help save the city down the road.

Newt Gingrich -> Rhode Island is expected to be a Romney state and will almost certainly be an Obama state during the general election, but it looks like it might catch Newt fever for a couple of days prior to the April 24 primary. A Gingrich visit would certainly give the State GOP a boost and a second place finish in Rhode Island would be a huge win for the former House Speaker.

Who's Not

Frank Ciccone -> The story just keeps getting uglier for Senator Ciccone, whose deplorable actions only make labor leaders across the state look like complete thugs. One has to wonder how he’ll be able to survive a primary challenge if a Democrat takes him on this September. Of course, if politicians keep giving back contributions, he will have a massive war chest.

M. Teresa Paiva Weed -> It’s a shame that the Senate President has been unwilling to take questions from the media on the entire DUI saga. Forget forcing Sen. Ciccone to give up a couple of seats on committees; how about encouraging him to resign from the Senate?

Brendan Doherty -> The Republican Congressional candidate deserves credit for returning the $1,250 in campaign contributions, but it was awfully foolish of his campaign to not immediately distance itself from Senator Ciccone. In the grand scheme of things, no one will remember this situation in a few months, but Rhode Islanders this week certainly had the right to question the whole “uncommon integrity” slogan.

John Loughlin -> There isn’t a political insider in the state who believes John Loughlin left the Hinckley campaign over a mistake in a press release virtually no one in the media picked up. It will be interesting to see if the true story is ever revealed.

Mark Zaccaria -> With drunken Democrats making fools out of themselves, this should have been a banner week for Republicans in the Ocean State. But when the chairman of the Party goes on a local talk radio show and claims Congressman Cicilline could leave the race this week, Republicans just look foolish.

Robert Flanders -> Judge Flanders is poised to make a lot of money as cities and towns across the country move toward bankruptcy, but it probably wasn’t the smartest move to run around suggesting Providence was going to file without, you know, consulting with Mayor Angel Taveras first.

Neumont University -> With state colleges suddenly acting like for-profit institutions, the last thing Rhode Island needed was some degree-peddler coming in and charging outrageous tuition fees.

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Good riddance to Neumont. A very bad policy idea.

Comment #1 by Malachi Constant on 2012 04 06

Duh, you left Sen. Ruggerio off the list. Looks like you bought into the successful smoke show to protect him. Afterall, he was the charged and apparently has a wrap sheet similar to Cicione's.

Comment #2 by Jeffrey Brown on 2012 04 06

Bob Flanders' next gig...casino lobbyist..good point on the Barrington fiasco...could Loughlin be re-thinking his hasty decision to leave the race?

Comment #3 by louis rizzo on 2012 04 06

Providence City Council rising star Sabina Matos would be a excellent choice as well as Councilman Correia he is a stand up straight shooter takes no bull-- from anyone. He's here for his neighborhood and the taxpayers of this city.I get the council docket he is the only one that ever has resolutions on it for his neighborhood. Keep up the good work both of you.

Comment #4 by conern taxpayer on 2012 04 06

The Governor has problems besides the tree and talk radio appearances.
His attempt to shiled a man accused of murder during a bank robbery from Federal prosecution is insane.The Federal government has the death penalty and the right to seek it.Chafee is being obstructionist to satisfy his own beliefs.
Chafee's decision to dispense with e-Verify;his promise to veto an e-Verify bill;and his machinations involving the Board of Governors of Higher Education to institute in state tuition foe illegal aliens indiicate his desire to basically turn RI into a sanctuary state.

Comment #5 by Joseph Bernstein on 2012 04 06

When will Republicans ever get leadership that doesn't leave for a larger paycheck. There seems to be a cycle here. This makes Mr. Sweeney financially smart. But as a Republican, quite frankly I am disappointed that he bailed in an election year for $$.

Comment #6 by Vet forlife on 2012 04 06

Congrats to Sabina Matos & Teresa Tanzi!

YWCA of Northern Rhode Island is hosting a celebration to honor women who hold office on April 30, 2012 from 6 to 8pm at Bryant University. For more information visit www.ywcanri.org/who or call (401) 769-7450. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance.

Comment #7 by Meghan Grady on 2012 04 06

If ever there were a sign that Gingrich's campaign is over, his campaigning in RI is that sign.

Patrolling Barrington might not be as hard as patrolling South Providence, but I bet they've got to deal with the same level of attitude. Only the people with the attitudes are driving BMW's instead of tricked out Japanese cars.

Onto the "strange category".

I'm still confused as to why Ciconne gave money to Doherty and how they know one another. Ciconne's only past federal contribution was a small one to his fellow Democrat and former colleague Jack Reed. But he gave over $1,000 to a Republican who was in management while he represented unions? Strange.

If Hinckley fired Loughlin over an honest mistake in a press release, he doesn't get politics. I'd bet Hinckley was trying to cut costs or was looking for a young person who would follow his directions rather than attempting advise him. Also strange.

Zaccaria's suggestion that Cicilline would leave the race is beyond strange.

@Vetforlife: Unless Sweeney agreed beforehand to stay on through the election, you can't blame him. He didn't run for an elected term and leave midway through his term. He's no different than any other employee who gets a better offer and takes it.

Comment #8 by Todd B on 2012 04 07

Todd B, thanks for reinforcing my point. Yes, to some loyalty is the almighty dollar and helping one's party is not as important as taking a higher paying position. Yes, he is no different than any other RI politician, and there in lies the disappointment.

Comment #9 by Vet forlife on 2012 04 07

Chafee may be going to bat for cash stapped cities and towns, but for now, he's still in the batters box, swinging a heavy wish list.

Comment #10 by David Beagle on 2012 04 07

@Vetforlife: The best thing for society is for people to work at the highest level they can. Suggesting that one should forgo personal professional advancement out of an obligation to help "one's party" sounds an awful lot to me like an argument a socialist in the former USSR would make.

If you want to keep good people then pay them what they're worth in the open market. If you don't want to pay employees what they're worth in the open market, don't think the individual is under any obligation to hold themselves back to help a "party".

Comment #11 by Todd B on 2012 04 08

looks like Doherty changed his mind, he wants to keep the $ 1000 or so thar Sen. Frank Ciccone sent him.

Maybehe -Doherty, reassessed his integrity in favor of campagn contributions and Frank Ciccone's influence with voters in Providence and North Providene.

Comment #12 by al toke on 2012 04 12

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