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

Friday, February 22, 2013


Every Friday, Dan Lawlor breaks down who's rising and who's falling in the world of Rhode Island politics. Check out who made the cut this week.

Who’s Hot

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian made this week's Who's Hot list for his town's posting of a budget surplus at a time when other municipalities are struggling to make ends meet.

Gina Russo -> This remarkable woman has been a leader in the fight for healing and justice for families, survivors, and victims of the 2003 Station Nightclub Fire. Russo is president of the Station Fire Memorial Foundation and is author of the book "From the Ashes."

Governor Don Carcieri -> Carcieri's greatest moment was in helping families in the aftermath of the horrific Station Nighclub Fire tragedy. When speaking at an anniversary event this week, recalling the compassion people shared, Carcieri recalled, "At a time of our state’s worst tragedy, in some sense, it was our people’s finest hour.’’ 

John Joyce -> John Joyce, a homelessness survivor and advocate, passed out of this world leaving a legacy of caring and determination. Involved with building Providence's Tent Cities and the struggle for the Homeless Bill of Rights, Joyce once said, ""There is no reason why a human being should have to freeze to death under a bridge." At a bill signing over the summer, Joyce declared, "Rhode Island is the first state in the nation to pass a Homeless Bill of Rights. That means hatred and bigotry are not accepted here. Soon, may we be the first state to end chronic homelessness!" May it be. 

Young Democrats of Rhode Island-> A group of young progressives is attempting to reboot the local chapter of Young Democrats of America (who define young as under 35). The group sponsored this past week's Drinking Liberally at Wild Colonial, and will have a big kick-off event this Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. at Aspire Restaurant downtown. Will these young voices shake up the state party? 

Scott Avedisian -> Warwick posted a budget surplus. In a time of multiple municipalities hanging over a bankruptcy abyss, deserved kudos go to the department directors and school department administrators in Warwick. Good news for the Mayor and the city! 

David Fisher -> His name might not be well known, but the former editor of EcoRI (an environmental news web journal) is announcing a run for Mayor of Woonsocket. Considering all the challenges the state's "city on the move" has faced, a fresh perspective can only be a good thing! 

Regionalization -> Speaking of movement, looking at how cities and towns can coordinate services and improve public safety and opportunity are key for getting Rhode Island out of its funk. Instead of Johnston and Providence being in a cold war over who pays for ambulance runs, the capital city and surrounding towns should be looking to better coordinate services. 

Who’s Not

A report issued last week by the US Department of Education said Rhode Island has the worst rate of teacher absenteeism in the entire country.

Teacher Absenteeism -> No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks. Well, before blaming the teachers, keep in mind all the chaos involved in closing multiple schools, stresses connected to the new supervision system, laying off an entire workforce, leaving the multiple buildings in physical disarray. 

Lincoln Chafee-> The Independent Governor is courting the Democratic Party establishment - or is it vice versa? Either way, Chafee should benefit nicely from a fundraiser held by mucka-mucks like Sheldon Whitehouse, Jack Reed, David Cicilline, Jim Langevin, and former Congressman Kennedy in Washington, DC. Too bad the state's falling apart. 

Gina Raimondo -> Like Chafee, Raimondo is shuffling the deck a bit, bringing on an outside expert to be her new chief of staff. The treasurer's done a lot of good work—but I'm willing to bet there's still some more finances to be sorted out before running for Governor. 

WPRO -> Firing Ron St. Pierre, who is literally in the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame, hardly seems like a way to win friends and influence people. Somehow, John DePetro remains.

Providence's Commercial Property Tax Rate -> As the city struggles in the after effects of recession and financial mismanagement, making our commercial property tax rate competitive is a key tool to promoting business. 

Patrick Lynch -> In light of the 10-year anniversary of the horrific Station Nightclub Fire, people are still criticizing the decisions of the former Attorney General to not criminally prosecute former West Warwick Fire Inspector Denis Larocque. Larocque went on to be promoted. 

Teresa Paiva-Weed -> Civil Rights shouldn't be bargaining chips—call the vote for Marriage Equality.


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