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

Friday, March 16, 2012


Who's Hot

Lincoln Chafee -> Say what you want about Governor Chafee, but he has certainly followed through on his commitment to help cities and towns. Now it's up to the General Assembly to pass his sweeping package, something even he sounds concerned about. But as Chafee correctly pointed out Thursday, the only other option for some cities and towns is bankruptcy.

Dominick Ruggerio -> Here's a major win for Providence: The Senate Majority Leader is sponsoring legislation that would force nonprofit institutions to pay 25 percent of the taxes they would normally owe if they weren't tax-exempt. Expect both the hospitals and colleges to lobby hard against the bill, but with Ruggerio's blessing, the Taveras administration has to be confident it has a chance to pass.

Peter Kilmartin -> Kudos to the Attorney General for introducing legislation that would create a more open government. There is really no excuse for having poor open records laws in 2012, but Rhode Island, which was given a d-minus for transparency in a study released this week, is near the bottom of the entire country.

Jack Reed -> Senator Reed goes about his business quietly, but he continues to bring money back to the Ocean State. This week he announced that $1.3 million in funds have been awarded to help Rhode Island's homeless. Considering the lack of assistance our General Assembly provides to the homeless, it's nice to have leaders in Washington who can help.

Joseph Polisena -> The Johnston Mayor doesn't get recognized much, but he came off as the most confident and well-spoken of all the local leader during the press conference announcing the Governor’s municipal relief package. And given the $103,000 he is sitting on in his campaign account, one has to wonder if he plans to take a shot at higher office in a few years.

Harold Metts -> This State Senator wants all new gaming revenue to be devoted to education, a plan that makes a lot of sense given the financial problems so many school districts are currently having. Kudos to Senator Metts for standing up for Rhode Island's schools.

Mary S. McElroy -> Congrats are in order for Rhode Island's soon-to-be first female public defender. The PC and Suffolk Law graduate has a sterling reputation and will be a valuable asset in her new role.

Rhoda Perry -> The fewer miniature Pauly D's running around in Rhode Island, the better. Senator Perry's bill to ban youth tanning passed in the Senate this week and it's difficult to imagine it not passing in the House either. Then again, if the orange people lobby is anything like the beverage lobby, there could be trouble.

Who's Not

Anthony Gemma -> This "will he or won't he" game with the likely Congressional candidate has become something of a sideshow. That, plus that fact that one of the state's top fundraisers (Peter Baptista) turned down an offer to work on his campaign is a bad sign for a guy who could have a real chance to win a Democratic primary against David Cicilline.

Brendan Doherty -> The Republican Congressional candidate's performance on WPRI's Newsmakers last week has been fodder for politicos on both sides of the aisle all week. As one Republican told GoLocalProv, "Brendan was so bad that John Loughlin should throw his hat back into the ring." Clearly Doherty still was a lot of work to do when it comes to his messaging, but one has to wonder how much he really needs to speak when he holds such a huge lead over the incumbent.

David Cicilline -> Given Gemma's indecisiveness and the fallout from Doherty's Newsmakers appearance, this should have been the best week the Congressman has had in a while. Unfortunately, Providence popped up again when Fitch downgraded the city's credit rating to near-junk status. If he seriously thinks his record in Congress is the only thing people will want to talk about this summer, he's got another thing coming.

Bishop Tobin -> It's one thing for the Bishop to be against gay marriage; it's another for him to call it an "ill-advised social experiment." Sadly, as pathetic as his statement was; it comes as no surprise. Tobin has firmly planted himself on the wrong side of history on this matter.

Providence -> The city continues to struggle after Fitch downgraded its credit rating three notches and Mayor Taveras confirmed Thursday that he expects Moody's to deliver more bad news shortly. The clock is ticking for the capital city and with Chafee's municipal package likely to face a lot of opposition on Smith Hill (particularly in the Senate), the talk of bankruptcy is likely to heat up again.

Lisa Baldelli-Hunt -> Rep. Baldelli Hunt has said she won't recuse herself from a vote on check-cashing businesses that will benefit her brother. Even if it's not that big of a deal, it's a bad message for a state that all too often is labeled corrupt.

Joseph Almond -> Despite, you know, every education expert in the country praising the benefits of early education, the Lincoln town manager recently called pre-K "glorified baby-sitting," according to the Valley Breeze. Almond has a great reputation among Republicans, but statements like that are going to come back and bite him down the road when he decides to pursue higher office.

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