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

Friday, February 17, 2012


Who's Hot

Governor Chafee -> It's not trendy to praise the Governor, but he deserves credit for at least saying all the right things when it comes to Providence's deteriorating financial condition. As a former Mayor, he has been outspoken in his quest to offer more support to cities and towns and he has stood alongside Mayor Taveras as all of the capital city's bad news has unfolded.

Johnson & Wales -> JWU has long had an agreement with the city when it comes offering more voluntary payments and it's nice to see the school get much-deserved credit for being the first to announce it publicly. The only question is, because so much of their deal is tied to 195 land, will the other tax-exempts who might not want to expand have as much incentive to fork over more cash to the city?

John Marion -> Rhode Island's campaign finance laws took a step in the right direction this week when Governor Chafee and General Assembly leadership jumped on board a Common Cause-backed bill that would require more financial disclosure, particularly from Super PACs. This has to be viewed as a big win for Marion, the organization's executive director.

Marriage Equality RI -> The House of Representatives' Facebook page was flooded with over 300 comments and 500 "likes" regarding a GoLocalProv report about same-sex marriage potentially being on the table during this legislative session. It may be a difficult year to get the bill passed, but that amount of buzz shows the issue isn't going away and General Assembly leadership may need to have an answer sooner rather than later.

Joseph Kennedy III -> It looks like it won't be long before a Kennedy is back in Congress. Joseph Kennedy III kicked off his campaign for the retiring Barney Frank's House Seat and early polls show the 31-year-old with a commanding lead.

Joseph McNamara -> It has already been a pretty good year for the Warwick/Cranston Rep., who has led the way on reforming the way the state values vehicles and is now pushing for mandatory background checks for anyone mentoring students. McNamara has also introduced a bill that fights big tobacco and "return to work" legislation that would create more jobs.

Terry Hassett -> Nice to see Councilman Hassett helping fight for stricter punishments for hit 'n run drivers. Hassett, who is at least considering a run for higher office (he's got just over $28k in his campaign account), was a victim of that horrible hit 'n run on Atwells Ave in 2010. Senators Paul Jabour and Ed O'Neil deserve credit for co-sponsoring the bill.

Who's Not

Sam Zurier -> The Providence Councilman's infamous letter to two of his constituents is unlikely to be forgotten when he runs for re-election in a few years, but here's hoping it's not the only thing voters remember. Zurier is considered one of the good guys on the Council and he has been an asset during his first term. His foolish mistake will make for great campaign flier material in 2014, but he shouldn't be completely blacklisted just yet.

Daniel Doyle -> As the Institute for International Sport scandal evolves, things aren't looking good for the organization's founder. With allegations of missing cash and forged signatures, it's difficult to imagine someone won't end up in prison when this is all over.

Richard Tomlins -> The cranky Cranston man who failed miserably to mount a challenge against Allan Fung in 2010 is back in the news after he paid for robocalls to call for an appeal in the Cranston prayer case. That's right; a guy who thinks the city misspends it money wants it to shell out money to fight a case that has zero grounds for appeal. Talk about a waste of money.

Thomas Lazieh -> The former Central Falls Mayor is calling for receiver Robert Flanders to leave the city and hand it back over to elected officials. While that deservers to happen at some point, Flanders shouldn't leave until the city is fully back on track or when Councilman James Diossa officially throws his hat in the ring to run for Mayor.

Robert Flanders -> That's not to say Flanders has been perfect. He is probably making too much money in the broke city and the news that his chief of staff was fired from her previous job makes him look bad.

Providence Tax-Exempts -> For all the attacks on Brown University, it's worth pointing out one more time that there are six other large tax-exempts the city is trying to collect PILOT payments from and so far, only Johnson & Wales has stepped up. It's time for the nonprofits to do their part.

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