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

Friday, March 08, 2013


Who’s Hot 

Governor Lincoln Chafee's push to lower the state's corporate tax rate landed him a spot on this week's "Who's Hot?" list.

Susan Lusi-> It can't make up for some of the disruptions caused by her mid-year shuffle of principals, but Superintendent Lusi, backed by Mayor Taveras and the School Board, are making tremendous efforts to inform and engage high school families around the new NECAP graduation rules. The new junior year NECAP graduation rule isn't good policy, but hats off to the School Board, Mayor and PPSD for their "Graduate Providence" campaign.

Nick Garrison of Foolproof Brewery -> Garrison is another rising Rhody entrepreneur, kickstarting a rapidly growing Pawtucket brewery. Foolproof joins good company - Bucket Brewery and Ravenous, among others - working to make craft beer part of Rhode Island's economy. More Garrisons will empower the state. 

Fuerza Laboral-> This local activist group recently released a depressing report "Shortchanged: A Study of unpaid wages in Rhode Island." Illegal underpayment of workers undermines the economy and people's livelihood. According to the Department of Labor, "$2,967,230 was stolen from working people in RI between 2002 and 2011." 

Mark Smiley and Dan Harrop -> These two aspiring GOP party chairs, who don't necessarily see eye to eye, have been making the rounds to vie support from the GOP State Central Committee. Smiley represents a more grassroots, Tea party candidate, and Harrop represents a big-tent, digital savvy GOP. Whatever the outcome later this month, the state needs a functioning GOP. 

Achievement First -> The charter school, which is rehabbing the de-commissioned Oliver Hazard Perry Middle School in Hartford Park, recently accepted 180 kindergartners and first graders out of more than 1,100 applicants to its lottery for next year. For better or worse, the charter highlights a demand among Rhode Island families for more high quality options. 

Chris Blazejewski -> Representative Blazejewski introduced an Early Voting bill to allow people to vote up to three weeks before Election Day. Early voting is used in 32 states and DC, and is a great way to give voters more opportunities to participate. For a really far out idea, consider Washington and Oregon's model - all voting is done by mail. 

Lincoln Chafee -> The proposal to cut the corporate tax, if adopted, should help make the state more competitive for business. We just need to find a way to make the state competitive without gutting RIPTA or hiking college tuitions.

Who’s Not

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin found himself on the "Who's Not?" list this week.

William San Bento and Michael McCaffrey -> I did not know whether to laugh or cry. San Bento's "good government" package - which includes restricting recounts and weakening campaign donation limits - are only good for those with power. Shameful.


Angel Taveras -> Asking the legislature for a $40 million dollar special deal to make an Art Deco skyscraper into apartments to keep the city "vibrant"? Sounds a bit like a $75 million dollar deal to spark a video game industry. 

Hasbro Job Cuts-> The final round of Hasbro lay-offs is a reminder that we're far from turning around the economy. Our new 9.8% jobless rate is a bit too high to make the Hot List. 

Peter Kilmartin -> A lawsuit is in the courts now to determine if a notorious, scandal plagued group, the Legion of Christ, manipulated and misled the widow of a former Fleet Bank board member, Gabrielle Mee before her passing. Can the state AG also investigate this case to make sure that this $60 million RI fortune earmarked for charity doesn't unnecessarily end up in the hands of a cult?

Deborah Gist ->  Massachusetts offers a high stakes test to students sophomore year, giving plenty of time for interventions and tutoring supports. The Bay State is a national model in terms of public education. Why does the Commissioner want to give RI kids one year less of supports to pass a high stakes test than the most advanced state in the nation?

Sequester-> Will Rogers once said, "They are all good fellows at heart, and if if they wasn't in Congress, why, they would be doing something else against us that might be even worse."

Teresa Paiva-Weed -> The Senate President still ignores the advice of her own Newport County Chamber of Commerce, and refuses to call a vote for marriage equality.


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