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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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