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

Friday, March 23, 2012


Who's Hot

  Ernie Almonte -> The worst kept secret in Rhode Island political circles was that former Auditor General Ernie Almonte has been planning to run for Governor and this week he confirmed to the Journal that he is considering throwing his hat into the ring. Almonte is well-liked and assuming he runs as a Democrat, he could be a legitimate primary challenger to Gina Raimondo, who is widely considered the favorite in 2014.

James Doyle -> The State Senator's bill to force executive-level lobbyists to follow the same disclosure reporting rules as legislative lobbyists is perfect for a guy who is planning to run for Secretary of State in 2014. Doyle has the support of current Secretary of State Ralph Mollis on this bill and should be a serious threat to win what will likely be a hotly contested race in two years.

Dan McKee -> Speaking of 2014, the Cumberland Mayor, who was considered a threat to Congressman David Cicilline before saying he had no intention of running for Congress, appears to be the early favorite to run for the open Lieutenant Governor's seat in two years. The thinking is that McKee could make education the priority in that position the way Elizabeth Roberts has done with health care. It's a good plan, but McKee will certainly face a solid union-backed candidate if he does run.

Sheldon Whitehouse -> Senator Whitehouse's legislation to strengthen campaign finance reporting rules is a win for the good government crowd. There is still far too much secret money floating around to candidates all over the country and in a Presidential election year, it will only get worse if changes aren't made immediately.

William Walaska -> Kudos to Senator Walaska for calling on his colleagues to pay more for their health insurance. As one lawmaker told GoLocalProv this week, "It’s not about the money – it’s the principle of the thing. How can we, meaning elected officials generally, talk about the need for public union employees to pay more in co-shares for health insurance when we don’t do it ourselves?"

Harold Metts -> Senator Metts' bill to offer a "certificate of good conduct" for parolees is an excellent idea for helping those with a criminal record become more productive members of society. While it's okay to be tough on crime, all too often ex-offenders are forced to live with a scarlet letter that prevents them from ever climbing out of the difficult situations that led them to become criminals in the first place.

Danny Hurley -> WPRO radio host Dan Yorke was spot-on this week when he blasted those who are attempting to politicize the new URI basketball coach's salary. Yes, he'll be the highest paid state employee. This isn't a Rhode Island thing. It's an everywhere thing. And big time college programs help the state far more than the couple of million it might save by hiring a third-rate coach. Just ask the University of Connecticut.

Who's Not

RI GOP -> Pat Sweeney's departure as executive director in an election year is a major blow to a Party already on life support. It's going to be awfully difficult to replace a guy who was smart enough to know how the game on Smith Hill is played and young enough to have the energy to work hard to get people elected.

Anthony Gemma -> It was a rough week in the media for the soon-to-be Congressional candidate. First he was blasted by the liberal RI Future blog for his questionable strategy in recruiting Facebook friends and then the Phoenix offered spot-on analysis about the challenges he'll face against David Cicilline. Still, those who say he isn't a credible candidate are kidding themselves. At this point, anybody is credible against a guy with 15 percent approval in the polls.

Woonsocket -> The endless saga that is Woonsocket's financial problems continued this week with the City Council deciding to postpone a vote for a supplemental tax hike. The tax increase seems inevitable at this point, but there are certainly some people who wonder why the city shouldn't just go all-in and file for bankruptcy right away.

Leo Medina -> The embattled Providence State Rep. is back in the news after pleading not guilty in a life insurance scheme. While he is certainly innocent until proven guilty, it's difficult to see how Medina will be able to win re-election this year.

Bill Lynch -> The former Democratic Party chairman and Congressional candidate has stepped away from his position as lawyer for the Sport Institute at URI, but it appears the Lynch brothers and many other current and former politicians in the state still have a lot of explaining to do. Kudos to the Journal for its excellent coverage of the entire scandal.

Edward Krawetiz -> It is unbelievable that this disgrace of a cop managed to avoid jail time after kicking a handcuffed woman in the head in what he suggested was an act of self defense. Krawetiz's actions gave a black eye to cops all over the state and he deserved a prison sentence.

Luis Aponte -> The Providence Councilman is being sued by his former friend Greg Costantino over a $37,000 check he allegedly pocketed rather than returning to Costantino. It sounds like there are questions about this deal on both sides (what took so long for the claim to be made?) but it's never a good sign when former U.S. Attorney Robert Corrente is the plaintiff's lawyer.


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Almonte may be a wonderful and capable guy, but first he was auditor general for a long time during a period in which a lot of funny business took place and second good luck with name recognition.

Comment #1 by Edward Smith on 2012 03 23

kudos to sen walaska for asking for ga members to contribute to their health insurance that the state employees are already paying their , in most cases mandatory 20 percent co pay ?
how about no health coverage for these elected , part time officials .
where in the case of family plans the annual cost exceeds their salaries .

Comment #2 by vinny coia on 2012 03 23

Ed, that's a great point. In an Almonte/Raimondo matchup, Raimondo will be able to say she spotted more problems in one year than he ever did as auditor.

The whole "is he really a Dem" thing could hurt in this state too.

Comment #3 by Dan McGowan on 2012 03 23

Dan - can't argue that Woonsocket is not hot...but the City Council could not vote on the supplemental tax bill because the city charter calls for two weeks between introduction and passage of legislation.

Comment #4 by John D Revelator on 2012 03 23

Questioning the "HOT" status of Almonte. A name mention in the paper, followed by numerous mumblings about missing the International Institute for Sport problem, as well as a dozen years of failing to recognize the short fall in the pension and the remarkable problems with the pension actuarial process - all retirees are not white males (contrary the former actuarial assumptions that slid passed Almonte for 12 years).

Spot on with Bill Lynch - there seems to be a grand jury subpoena floating around somewhere with his name emblazened on it... Now that he is free of the Institute, it will be interesting to see what does and what does not remain privileged.

Mr. Medina's testimony on the Racial Profiling Bill makes Medina look like a complete idiot now... Cops doing their legit jobs should never be confused with racial profiling.

Comment #5 by David Allen on 2012 03 23

Dump Cicilline 2012

Comment #6 by anthony sionni on 2012 03 23

As an "old timer', Almonte is going to have to explain why he wasn't publicly waving the red flag before RI's cities started to descend to near-bankrupt level, while Raimondo will be able to talk about how she started to fix the problems caused by "old timers". Raimondo has run successfully statewide and has high positive name ID. I can't see Almonte beating Raimondo.

You had to figure that things would eventually catch up with Bill Lynch. There has been way too much smoke around Lynch for years....something was bound to catch fire.

Comment #7 by Todd B on 2012 03 23

I personally met with Almonte back in 2006 to raise Red Flags concerning the WW Pension Fund...


Nothing, Nada, Zip.....

It dropped from being funded at 96% to less than 28% today...

Imagine if he had demanded a Forensic Audit as I asked him to do?

Comment #8 by Aldo Palazzo on 2012 03 23

You’re flat out wrong to question Almonte. He sounded the alarm on this pension mess years ago. He also testified in 2011 that the Pension Reform bill did not do enough to solve problems with independent public pension plans run by municipalities -- an issue that our political opportunist treasurer was too afraid to address -- which has obviously proven to be the case.

A strong Democrat, Almonte is best equipped to move our state towards a more prosperous and secure future. He’s a financial expert, CEO of a thriving Rhode Island based business, professor at Brown University, chair of a nation-wide financial literacy program sponsored by the American Institute of CPA’s – an organization for which he previously served as the chairman – and chairman of the U.S. Department of Defense Audit Advisory Committee.

I think we should elect Ernie Almonte -- a dedicated family man who is nationally recognized as a financial expert -- as our next Governor, and shy away from putting another politician looking to move up the political ladder in this very important office.

Comment #9 by Andrew Mofitt on 2012 03 25

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