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

Friday, December 28, 2012


Who’s Hot

Jim Langevin -> Kudos to Congressman Langevin (all of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation for that matter) for calling on House Republicans to bring the House of Representatives out of recess to discuss fiscal cliff solutions. Now it sounds like the House will reconvene this weekend in a last-ditch attempt to reach an agreement.

David Cicilline -> To his credit, Congressman Cicilline was also an outspoken critic of the House going into recess without a deal, but he makes the list this week because of the announcement that he’ll serve on the Budget Committee beginning next year. The announcement caps an incredible turnaround for the Congressman in 2012.

Dan McKee -> Rhode Island Public Radio reported this week that the Cumberland Mayor is considering a run for the open Lt. Governor’s seat in 2014. McKee would be a solid choice for the job and should be able to raise enough money to compete in a Democratic primary, but he’ll likely face opposition from the teachers unions, who disagree with his positions on education reform.

ACLU -> The organization’s actions aren’t always popular in Rhode Island, but the ACLU deserves credit for standing by the Cranston mother who wasn’t allowed to volunteer in her child’s school because of drug arrests that occurred before the child was born. Everyone agrees that background checks are necessary, but the woman shouldn’t be punished for life simply because she was addicted to drugs for a couple of years when she was younger.

Providence Police Department -> It’s great to hear that the city will be hiring 18 new officers thanks to federal funds that had previously gone untouched for several years. While overall crime in the city went down in 2012, the department is clearly stretched too thin and the new hires should provide a boost.

Who’s Not

Lincoln Chafee -> Not all of the criticism directed toward Governor Chafee has been fair in 2012, but there is no question it has hurt his chances of winning re-election in 2014. Political observers say George Caruolo’s decision to withdraw his name from consideration for chairman of the newly merged state education board was the latest sign that Chafee supporters are jumping ship.

National Grid -> As if the Rhode Islanders need another thing to be concerned about, both electric and gas rates are going to increase by February. On the electric side, rates could increase 3.5 percent and gas may go up by close to 5 percent.

Block Island Ferry -> Speaking of rate increases, Interstate Navigation—the owner of the Block Island Ferry— wants to increase ridership costs by 8 percent next year to cover increasing fuel costs. Rhode Islanders are already concerned about new tolls, but if they’re priced out of the ferry as well, the hospitality industry may be in for a difficult 2013.

RI Department of Education -> Commissioner Gist is under fire again as the unions protest the state’s new teacher evaluation system and it appears very few political leaders are willing to go to bat for RIDE. Gist says she opposed to delaying the process again, but it will be interesting to see whether anyone steps up and defends her over the next few months.

Bryant University -> Retiring State Senator John Tassoni may be on to something with his calls for Bryant to make payments in lieu of taxes to the town of Smithfield. The town might not have the same financial problems as Providence, but that doesn’t mean more financial support from the University wouldn’t be beneficial.


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