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

Friday, March 01, 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

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras made this week's "Who's Hot?" list for his handling of the city's issues with Buck Consultants.

Angel Taveras -> Cheers to the Mayor for holding Buck Consultants, the city's contracted actuary, accountable for mistakes costing Providence at least $10 million dollars. As the city struggles with basic services and still-crumbling city schools, every penny counts. 

Justin Katz-> Kudos to blogger Katz for coining a new political term "Rhode-apathy." As Katz calls it, "Rhode-apathy is a mysterious mixture of resignation and affection. The Ocean State’s various assets — the geographic, historical, and cultural components of its high “quality of life” — have given the powers of corruption and incompetence room to impose a premium for living here." Now we need to do something about it. 

Senators Raptakis, Metts, and Pichardo-> Overdraft fees can gobble a decent chunk of a paycheck. This State Senate trio is hoping to use bill S 0305 to ban banks from charging overdraft fees in excess of the amount overspent. For people with tight budgets, this will make a difference. Let's hope it passes. 

Providence City Council-> The City Council recently passed a unanimous resolution in support of Marriage Equality. This is the second time the Council has done so. The State Senate should join the city council and the rest of New England in recognizing marriage equality. 

Senator Walter Felag -> The East Bay State Senator is proposing to reduce the gasoline tax by 5 cents to help RI gas stations stay competitive with those in Massachusetts- not a bad idea. As per lost revenue, the state needs to find a funding stream for RIPTA not dependent on tax revenue from people driving cars. 

Latino Policy Institute and Housing Works RI-> These groups have done great work bringing to light some sobering news: the jobless rate among RI Latinos is over 20% -20- and "nearly one in three Latinos spend more than half their monthly income on housing costs." These challenges impact the whole state and we need some creative problem-solving to turn this situation around. 

Who’s Not

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed made this week's "Who's Not?" list for once again not scheduling a vote on same-sex marriage.

Gordon Fox -> Happily, the House agreed to prohibit starting debate on a bill after 10:30pm, but, at the same time, rejected a proposal to have bill changes available to the public at least 24 hours before a vote. Whether you're for eliminating the sales tax or raising the income tax, the House rules decide how things get done—and the process is murky, seemingly by design. 

Economic Development Corporation-> This past week saw more resignations from the EDC board. As our unemployment rate sails high above our neighboring New England states, Rhode Islanders need a creative, effective strategy for economic growth. We clearly don't have one. 

Cranston City Council -> What does Providence City Council think of the Master Lever? Opposed. Narragansett Town Council? Opposed. Burrillville Town Council? Opposed. The Cranston City Council? They're in favor. Cranston should join the eight other city and town councils in the state who have gone on record opposed to the Master Lever to end voter confusion at the ballot box. 

Woonsocket -> Rhode Island's "City on the Move" is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Retirees were told this past week of a plan that freezes their pensions, residents were told of a supplemental tax increase, and unions were asked of concessions. This all happens alongside revelations that a parish priest in the city was involved with sexual molestation, albeit years ago. Woonsocket is suffering. 

Barrington's Community Opposed to Development (COD)-> COD, a Barrington neighborhood group spearheading opposition to a proposed 48 unit townhouse style affordable housing development, has collected over 500 signatures in opposition. There are many more important things to organize around in this state besides keeping out 48 people or families who need a decent place to live. 

Teresa Paiva-Weed -> Another week, another side-lining of marriage equality.


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so Taveras & company including NOW EDC acting Director JR Pags were at sleep..blew $10M & he's hot..wtf?..as far as EDC..Extinct..Dead..Contrived

Comment #1 by frank bentley on 2013 03 01

Why do we need consultants to begin with, couldn't people like Damico, the mayors director of admin. figure this out, hey the guy is getting paid $175,000 a year without benefits!?!?!? What are all those people making $100k plus doing???

Comment #2 by anthony sionni on 2013 03 01

While I'm always happy to be mentioned in a positive way, I have to correct the record: I didn't coin "Rhode-apathy," although my essay in the American Spectator may be the term's first appearance for a national audience.

Folks on my side of the aisle have been lamenting "Rhode-apathy" for years. I think I first heard it from one of the other Anchor Rising contributors, or perhaps Colleen Conley, but I think it originated with Dan Yorke on WPRO.

Comment #3 by Justin Katz on 2013 03 01

How about Charlie Fogarty being hot, he did pencil whip the unemployment numbers to make Rhode Island look like a moving and happening place.

Comment #4 by David Beagle on 2013 03 01

Mayor Tavares is hot... How about him dolling out exorbinant raises to high level staff members. Now he's hero for going after a consultant. Last time I checked consultants do just that consult and the administration makes the final decision. Shame on the administration for not vetting the information provided by Buck Consultants.

The City Council should be worried about more important things than Homosexual Marriage. I guess none of them drive down the streets and see pot holes, know that the city is in another financial free fall, or that the Mayor is giving away the candy store.

Comment #5 by Ronald Syper on 2013 03 01

Congratulations to Senate President Piava Weed for not allowing Homosexual Marriage up for a vote. She is on the wrong list!

Comment #6 by Ronald Syper on 2013 03 01

Why can't we have Voter Initiative in this State? Like they do in Massachusetts and California and many other states.

Then the people who could gather up enough signatures to put a proposition on the ballot and let the people decide.

The way it works in RI now is that the Senate President can decide what gets heard. The system prevents true democracy from working in RI. All you have to do is buy the handful of crooked politicians in the General Assembly and you get what you want.

Let the people decide. Join me in demanding Voter Initiative in RI!

Comment #7 by James Berling on 2013 03 01

Tavares is anything but "hot." His staffers are trying to hide the fact that the city's deficit is again increasing, he is paying those already highly overpaid staffers excessive raises, and his economic development plan -- if he has one -- is a disaster.

Tavares's economic development director James Bennett seems completely incompetent and dishonest. The Projo caught him lying, when he claimed that seats at T.F. Green were increasing -- implying that paid traffic was improving. He later admitted to the ProJo that he knew he was referring to empty seats that were increasing, meaning that he knew paid traffic was decreasing.

A similar gem of Bennett's efforts is, apparently, the Gilbane dormitory project on the east side's Thayer Street. Gilbane originally claimed it would pay full taxes; Gilbane is now trying to obtain a deep long-term tax discount. If multibillionaire Gilbane's project can't make a profit, don't let it proceed. Why should other taxpayers subsidize it?

The Buck issue seems phony. If Buck had given the city the correct estimates, would the city have been able to obtain more givebacks from the unions? It's very unlikely.

How soon will Tavares be going back to the major tax-exempts for another handout, and how much more of the city will he try to sell to them?

Comment #8 by Bill Ardtev on 2013 03 01

Mr Fenton..this column needs to be retired..GoLo needs more sports or borrow McGowan from Ch 12..gets worse each week..ship sinking

Comment #9 by frank bentley on 2013 03 02

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