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

Friday, May 25, 2012


Who’s Hot

Robert Watson -> If anyone stands to benefit from the terrible situation at 38 Studios, it’s the former House Minority Leader. Once considered one of the most vulnerable legislators following a year that included multiple arrests, Watson is the only member of the General Assembly that can look his constituents in the eye and say he voted against the bill that made it possible for Curt Schilling to receive that $75 million loan guarantee in the first place.

Daniel Connors -> At least one former member of General Assembly leadership has a clue. The former Senate Majority Leader is now working as a lobbyist for the group hoping to restrict predatory payday lenders from charging the state’s poorest residents outrageous interest rates. Still, with former Speaker William Murphy on the other side of the battle, the consensus seems to be that Speaker Gordon Fox will find an excuse to kill the legislation.

Angel Taveras -> Kudos to Mayor Taveras and the City Council for saying they are committed to providing a much-need increase in transparency in city government. Of course, it’s one thing to say you’re committed to open government and another to actually show a little follow through. It should be noted that City Hall staffers are still instructed to prevent this reporter from doing his job.

Charles Lombardi -> The North Providence Mayor seems to know exactly what he wants to do with the $60 million his town will receive from that landmark Google lawsuit. Lombardi hopes to use some of the cash to better fund the pension system and he wants built a brand new public safety complex near North Providence High School. Sounds like a homerun on both ideas.

Netroots Nation -> We’re only a few weeks from the annual progressive convention making its way to Providence and Paul Krugman and Elizabeth Warren have been confirmed as guests for the event. The fun part will be looking out for which local pols show up pretending to be progressives.

Sheldon Whitehouse -> Senator Whitehouse picked up a big win this week when the Senate Judiciary Committee passed his bill to make it easier for small businesses to file for bankruptcy. This is a great pro-business piece of legislation. The current process is often too daunting for local businesses and can result in more companies closing rather than restructuring.

Who’s Not

Lincoln Chafee & Gina Raimondo -> It might make for great political fodder, but with an 11.2 percent unemployment rates, cities and towns collapsing and taxpayers seemingly on the hook for a disastrous $75 million loan guarantee to Curt Schilling, this public spat between the Governor and the General Treasurer is doing nothing to help improve Rhode Island. There will be plenty of time for bickering between now and 2014, but the two leaders ought to keep their eye on the ball for now.

Curt Schilling -> No one should blame Curt Schilling for taking a major risk to start a video game company (remember, he has poured millions of his own cash into this venture), but the fact that the former Red Sox pitcher wasn’t up front about 38 Studios’ cash flow problems is bothersome. Schilling probably has enough money to pay the bills (he’s not Antoine Walker), but he’s put several hundred now-former employees in a difficult position.

EDC -> The EDC is in desperate need of a win — and fast. The 38 Studios collapse is probably going to end with legislators trying to pass all kinds of bills to restrict the corporation from helping out other business down the line.

North Kingstown School Committee -> There is simply no excuse for cutting school sports programs and that’s exactly what they’re doing in North Kingstown. When every study links the availability of after school activities to student performance, this decision is tantamount to saying, “screw it, we’ll settle for mediocrity.”

Lincoln Town Council -> Maybe Lincoln hasn’t been as devastated by foreclosures as some of the urban areas in the state, but it makes no sense for the Council to vote against an ordinance that would have required banks and homeowners to go to mediation before executing a foreclosure. The Council says the state should handle the problem. Talk about passing the buck.

Woonsocket -> Members of the House may consider their efforts to kill the supplemental tax hike in Woonsocket a success, but has anyone paid attention to Central Falls? Bankruptcy, which is absolutely on the table, isn’t exactly going to turn the city into Barrington.

Cory Booker -> I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that the popular Newark Mayor took a shot at President Obama on national television or that he acts as if Republicans are somehow to blame for his comments.


Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected].


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