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

Friday, September 06, 2013


Instead of a re-election campaign, Governor Chafee can devote his full attention to improving Rhode Island.

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

Lincoln Chafee: Chafee's promise to not seek re-election, and instead focus on the needs of the people for the rest of his term is refreshing. As he said, "In this moment of Rhode Island's history, I want to put all my time, all my energy, to the task at hand. And that is running our government...My dad said, whatever job you have, leave the workplace better than you found it."

Rep Ray Hull: As RI Future notes, the Mt. Pleasant State Rep has sent an appeal to the state's Congressional delegation, arguing, "I simply do not understand how the leader of a nation... could wantonly murder his fellow countrymen, especially through the use of chemical agents. That being said, I nonetheless must ask you to not support any U.S. military intervention in the nation of Syria if or when the issue comes before Congress when it reconvenes next week."

Michael Boyce/Refugees International: Boyce, a Rhody ex-pat, writes as the Press and Information Officer for the DC based human rights group. He notes, “Countries like Turkey and Lebanon have already taken in more than 2 million Syrian refugees... The United States and other donors must do more to help these countries feed, shelter, and care for Syrians. If we do not, then Syria’s neighbors will start to close their borders, leaving vulnerable families with no means of escape.” 

College Republicans of RI: The College Republicans have scored a big political invite. A September 28th fundraiser at Brown University hosts Beth Myers, a big-time GOP political consultant and advisor with Mitt Romney and Scott Brown. What will she have to say about broadening the local GOP base?

RI Jobs with Justice Coalition: Jobs with Justice organized a feisty Labor Day protest - marching past Providence Place Mall (which doesn't pay property taxes) to the Renaissance Hotel (which also receives tax breaks). The protestors highlighted the traumatic abuses faced by garment workers in Bangladesh who create clothes sold at the mall, and the mistreatment and disrespect against hotel workers locally.

Chief William M. McKenna/Cranston Fire Department: Kudos to the fire department for stepping up in response to a harrowing Labor Day flash flood off Cranston's Oaklawn Ave. Smart, fast work helped make sure residents were safe, moving dozens by boat.

Steve O’Donnell, CEO of GreenBytes: Tip of the hat to the Promenade St. software firm for being a finalist at the VMworld awards, which "showcases the top technologies of the year, which are judged according to innovation, value, performance, reliability, and ease of use." Good work! 

Rebekah Greenwald Speck/Riverzedge Arts: Woonsocket, a working city, is over 125 years old. Chafee acknowledged the city still has challenges in his press conference. Riverzedge is a dynamic organization working to teach skills to dozens of young people to be entrepreneurs and help build up the next 125 years. Consider supporting them.

Who’s Not

Jim Langevin: We don't need the "very disturbing" domestic spy program that Congressman Langevin supports. Who called it "very disturbing" ? The other Congressman from Rhode Island, David Cicilline.

Ken Block: Focus on the big picture, don't nitpick about Mayor Taveras' appearance on PPAC billboards. Otherwise, you'll be channeling Evita... "One always picks,The easy fight, One praises fools,One smothers light,one shifts left to right..."

Deborah Gist: Mt. Pleasant High School building (of which my great-grandfather was a construction worker) was designated by the state as one of 14 schools that need "major renovations or need to be replaced." It is full of students. RIDE has been working hard on evaluations, but needs to step up and advocate for effective funding to fix infrastructure. What good is the rubric if the ceiling falls on the student?

Segregation: The DC-based Economic Policy Institute has found that, nationwide, black and white students are less likely to attend school together than in 1970. De facto segregation still exists.

Drop-Out Rates: According to the Latino Policy Institute, "the Rhode Island Department of Education reports that the state’s dropout rate for White students is 9.5%, while the rate for Latinos is 19.7%...Latinos in RI drop out of school at higher rates than both their White counterparts here and their Latino counterparts across the country." We need thoughtful action.

Perpetual Fundraising: As GoLocal Mindsetter™ Carol Anne Costa has said, "We live with the reality that our politicians are 85% fundraisers and 15% lawmakers. And, we wonder why nothing is done." According to Open Secrets, in 2012, Sheldon Whitehouse spent over $4.9 million and Barry Hinckley spent over $1.6 million for the right to represent us in Washington. Government by, for, and of the people.


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