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

Friday, May 17, 2013


Keeping the lights on in City Hall makes Central Falls Mayor Dames Diossa hot this week.

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 lists this week.

Who's Hot

Teny Gross: The Institute's "Invest in Peace" fundraiser at the beautiful Roger Williams Park Botanical Gardens was a who's who of Rhode Island politics. It was great to see so many gather to support an awesome cause—providing an alternative to crime in our neighborhoods.

James Diossa: The Central Falls Mayor is making local government more accessible by keeping City Hall open until 7pm on the second Tuesday and last Tuesday of every month. Diossa will also be hosting "Office Hours" from 4:30pm-7pm on those same days. Good work!

Friends of Knight Memorial Library: At a recent fundraiser The Friends of Knight Memorial Library netted more than enough money to fix the historic library's decaying front steps. Knight Memorial is a gem in the Elmwood neighborhood, and so are the people.

Gina Raimondo: Kudos to the treasurer to speaking out for payday lending reform.

Donna Walsh: Hardly a popular task, Representative Walsh is committed to making court magistrates go through the same (albeit imperfect) vetting process that actual judges do. Currently her bill, H 5022, is languishing in further study. 

Gordon Fox: The Speaker positively responded to an organized effort from nearly 26 representatives to halt the Governor's proposed (now withdrawn) 6% pay increase to his cabinet. Let's hope the Speaker likewise responds to people's needs while faced with the $50 million dollar revenue deficit.

Frankie and Kara Cecchinelli: Best of luck to the Cape Cod ex-pats behind Washington St.'s Figidini. The wood-fired pizza place is the second eatery to open in Buff Chace's Biltmore Garage.

Jay O'Grady: Rep. O'Grady's plan to bring back historic tax credits will give a chance for some old mill villages to have a new life, and the bill's financing caps will limit the cost to the state budget.

Rep Scott Slater: Slater is the lead sponsor on the House Bill supporting a funding stream to house the chronically homeless in our state. With poverty up, it's time to act.

Who's Not

Bill Murphy: Depressing that a former Speaker of the House still continues to lobby for high interest payday lenders. Here's hoping the current Speaker and Senate President have a better sense of what's decent.

Charlie Fogarty, Steve Costantino and Richard Licht: These three men are long-time political insiders, one of whom is the director of the state's overburdened unemployment office. Each should have turned down the Governor's proposed (now withdrawn) pay increases right off the bat.

Chafee's Budget: The homeless population in the state has increased to nearly 5,000. Meanwhile, in the FY2014 budget, over 1.2 million is proposed to be allocated to parking lots at the Pastore Complex in Cranston, and another $200,000 is proposed to build a fence around a rubble pile in the woods. Really? 

David Cicilline: It was true last week, and is true this week. The former Mayor, now Congressman, is costing cash-strapped Providence over $600,000 in HUD fines. Perhaps some of the aspiring Secretaries of State should consider running against him? 

Lincoln Chafee: Ignoring his own executive order to hire a more diverse state workforce, Chafee's spokesperson argued the Governor's recent nomination of former State Senate President Joseph Montalbano for a lifetime Superior Court position demonstrates a commitment to "highly qualified" people. She forgot to include well-connected and white.  


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