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

Friday, September 13, 2013


Fung's recently launched Exploratory Committee for Governor features a who's who of Republicans including Dawson Hodson, Don Carcieri and former Mitt Romney advisor Lanhee Chen.

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

Recalling 9/11: Twelve years ago, millions responded to tragedy by trying to heal, protect and connect. Let's recall the families and friends of those who lost loved ones that day (mentally and physically), and help others as we can.

Michael D'Amico: The city's Director of Administration is holding the line on extending various "tax stabilization" programs that have resulted in numerous high-end downtown properties—from Granoff's Arcade to Chace's Westminster properties—from not paying the tax rates most other private property owners in the city pay. We need a level playing field for businesses—lower tax rates overall, not just for a select few.

Allan Fung: The Cranston Mayor launched a formal Exploratory Committee for Governor (ranging the Republican ideological gamut from Dawson Hodson to Don Carcieri, from Romney advisor Lanhee Chen to former RI GOP chair Ann Clanton). Fung argues, "At the end of the day, we need a leader who will shout from the top of his lungs that ‘Rhode Island is open for business.'"

Jhumpa Lahiri: Lahiri, the Pulitzer Prize winner (and South Kingstown High grad), is on the short list for the prestigious Booker Prize in fiction. Her father, Amar Lahiri, is librarian at URI. Who says Rhode Islanders aren't classy?

Chris Currie/Anti-War Vigil: In Burnside Park, Currie, a Vietnam Veteran and Move On.org coordinator for Rhode Island, called a vigil this past Monday night attended by dozens of folks interested in an alternative to war in Syria. From an Occupy organizer to a Presbyterian minister, crowd members gave speeches, encouraged folks to contact their Congressional delegation, held candles and sang a song for an alternate way forward.

Michael Solomon: Small victories for transparency add up. The Council President noted, "In a small, but critical first step we are now publishing full agendas for committee meetings... we will soon start engaging the public by posting audio and video records of committee meetings." Good work, and the sooner full committee hearings are available to the public, the better.

Who's Not

Jim Langevin: Congressman Langevin is a member of the permanent select committee on intelligence, and supports domestic surveillance of American citizens. Randall Rose has argued, "The average member of this committee received $69,000 from defense and intelligence firms in 2011 and 2012, but Rep. Langevin got far more: $119,000." (www.wired.com)

Eva Mancuso: The Supersize (K-16) Board of Education discussions should be open, public debates, just like House Finance or Senate Judiciary committee hearings. The ACLU, Providence Student Union, and others are right to argue for broad transparency in the graduation requirement debates. Public input is not a "sideshow"—it's part of democratic government.

High School Graduation Rates: According to the census, 73.3% of people in Providence have a high school diploma. That's a smaller percent than comparable sized cities like Springfield, MA (75.9%), Jackson, MS (82.1% ), Worcester, MA (83.9%), Salt Lake City (86%), and Tallahasse, FL (91.6%). What jobs are we attracting to help out those folks without higher education?

Gordon Fox, Teresa Paiva Weed, Don Carcieri: 38 Studios won't go away. The SEC is investigating the failed video game company. The cast of characters who brought this bubble to the state should have seen it was ready to burst, instead of leaving us the bill.

Street Cars 1.0: For what it's worth, perhaps the feds not funding our hip train line is not that bad a loss. In total, the project would have cost around $114 million dollars to build a roughly 2-mile streetcar track from Brown to Brown, excuse me, from Thayer St to Upper South Providence (aka Rhode Island Hospital). The submitted proposal appeared to simply give more shiny things to downtown and College Hill. Next try, incorporate wider parts of the city (dare I say Rhode Island College?)


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Providence has taken some great steps towards open government. The more information voters and taxpayers have, the better off we are. Great work!

Comment #1 by John Durst on 2013 09 13

Michael DAmico ..little PUNK..smart one but still a punk & VOTE KILLER

Comment #2 by frank bentley on 2013 09 13

"We need a level playing field for businesses—lower tax rates overall, not just for a select few."

We need lower salaries at city hall and not people making $180,000 a year, more than what Obamas Chief of staff makes? Not for just a select few of the mayors staff, enjoy your new pay raise you got July 1st!

Meanwhile, your property and car taxes are on the rise in Providence and we dont have money to keep a swimming pool open for the community!

Comment #3 by anthony sionni on 2013 09 13

When is Solomon going to clean up his ward, especially around PC. Red drinking cups and trash strewn all around the neighborhood! He wants to be mayor and his ward is a mess, lets not talk about all the graffiti around his area!

Comment #4 by anthony sionni on 2013 09 13

Actually, the area around PC is quite nice. On occasion, college kids have parties. That is a reality when you live near a college.

Comment #5 by Moe Howard on 2013 09 13

Michael D'Amico - complain as you wish but the man is smart. For those of us that have heard him speak it is a talent to take numbers and put them into "speak" that those of us without accounting degrees can understand.

Salaries are based on experience. I am sure by check out Mr. D'Amico you might she a Master's degree. Also, these are salaries, so by union rules, Mr. D'Amico when attending night meetings should be paid time and a half...or on weekends. I know I have seen him past 5pm speaking...and I am sure he arrived at 9am that morning to City Hall.

Now regarding Solomon and the PC area. Two years ago I attended meetings called "Operation Red Cup" half the city police force was in the area busting college parties. You cannot keep blaming the city - the landlords must take action against the students. It is a college area - as Moe said parties happen...what rules apply to move off campus at PC? Do you have to be a jr or sr? Or be 21?

Would it be such a bad thing to knock on the door of the college kid and say hey...can we chat about your parties? Or stay stubborn and bitch bitch that never fixes a thing?

Comment #6 by christine spaziano on 2013 09 13

Kudos to Mayor Fung. I met him when he was running for council so many years ago. I wish him luck with whatever he decides.

Comment #7 by christine spaziano on 2013 09 13

Rhode Island is like an over weight 55 year old with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and showing symptoms of diabetes. In other words, big life style changes are needed, today. Can Allan Fung do that? Can he break the grip that state and municipal unions have? Or will he go along to get along and more or less keep the state at status quo, which aint getting it done.

Comment #8 by David Beagle on 2013 09 13

I drive through the pc area every day to bring kids to lasalle, and I see more and more red cups, trash strewn, cars parked illegally and the kids running the stop signs all the time-it's scary . I have often wondered why the college and landlords don't do something about the way the kids live. Many of the houses have been fixed up nicely, but I know just what Mr. Sionni was speaking about, there is one house that has the remnants of what looks like an epically huge party strewn all around the house, driveway and adjoining area-has been that way for several days. I feel sorry for the older residents, yes if you live near a college you expect some craziness, but that is well beyond all reason, something should happen to the kids living there. No sense of decency in our live and let live society.

Comment #9 by sasc voter on 2013 09 13

Allan Fung I assume has a strong possibility to be our next Governor. Not withstanding my bias being an active Republican. He is Mayor of Cranston, done a great job from all indications, can win Democratic and Independent votes, made history not only being an Asian American Mayor in Rhode Island but is the only Republican Mayor in Cranston history to have no Democratic mayoral opponent in his last election.
Allan can head a city with Democrats running the city council with strong majorities. He portends to work with Democratic majorities in the R.I. General Assembly when elected. I think the GOP will pick up seats in the legislature in 2014. It appears the Democrats will have a contentious primary for Governor. Ken Block, who I do not know, does not have Republican bona fides and clearly highly contributed to John Robitaille's defeat in 2010. Anyone can change their affilation but that does not automatically make them a serious GOP candidate.
I think all Republicans should close ranks behind Mayor Fung. He's electable, has government and business experience, and proven he can win Democratic and Independent votes. As far as Governor Carcieri or any Fung supporter to what extent they play a role in the Fung campaign it is the Mayor's choice. The Studio #38 matter or anything else many if not most people know the legislative leaders have a lot to say what goes on in Rhode Island, and any plusses or negatives of Governor Carcieri or anybody else is not going to automatically impact Mayor Fung.
I speak only for myself. I am not on Mayor Fung's Steering Committee.
Scott Bill Hirst
Member, Hopkinton Town Council
Vice Chairman, Hopkinton Republican Town Committee
Member, R.I. Republican State Central Committee from Hopkinton

Comment #10 by Scott Bill Hirst on 2013 09 13

oh yes christine he has such a bigger brain than all the other chief of staffs before him lol. You say talent, so does managing a chemical company division make him talented in city government ?? I am so sick of hearing people having to get paid exorbitant salaries cause they have talent, what ever happened to giving back??? Oh thats right, we dont give back, we just need to get the highest pay we can for as long as we can! I say pay him 75 grand, if you dont want the job take a hike.

So when a wall st banker makes 20 million a year, thats talent too, now he must have a much bigger brain than damico, talent wise lol

Comment #11 by anthony sionni on 2013 09 13

first of all if we had a hands on councilman who would regularly go drive around his ward he might just see the trash, but he thinks one time is enough and just forget about it.

People bitch cause nobody is doing anything about it, hello! I am not blaming the city, I am blaming Solomon for not following up and addressing the situation. Come up with a plan,sure their will always be trash, but someone has to be held accountable and it has to be enforced!

Take heed Solomon!

Comment #12 by anthony sionni on 2013 09 13

The White House Chief of Staff salary is $172,200.00
A U.S. Senators salary is $174,000.00
The Director of F.B.I. salary is $178,700.00

Michael Damico, Director of Administration for the city of Providence makes more money then all of them, his salary is $180,250.25!

Maybe his brain should go into the Smithsonian for the most talented brain, give me a break!

Comment #13 by anthony sionni on 2013 09 13

Talent and education is something that should be considered when hiring someone. Whatever' mr.d'amico has - it makes him qualified by those who hired him to work for the salary is is receiving. I also believe he is holding two positions at this moment.

Giving back is why we pay taxes. It is why we volunteer our time. One hopes not to be making min. Wage at 40 years old. I don't see why experience should not be factored into a salary.

Being a us senator is a great thing - it is a job you can have no experience with and make $175,000 a year. However. We look at these high salaries and forget they work weekends - nights - these - including mr. D'amico - if paid by union standards might make more then the $180,000 he does.

Now it seems odd to blame one man for college partying. I was there at the meetings two years ago....these are issues that takes everyone - police, colleges, neighbors, and politicians to join in. At these meetings when it was suggested to introduce yourself to your neighbors - some people refused. That is not solving the problem and by having an attitude or waiting for a politician to fix the issue means it will never change. We do have to stick on our boot straps and do it ourselves sometime.

Comment #14 by christine spaziano on 2013 09 14

I never said he should be making min wage. and of course you have to pay for experience, but this is where we disagree, when the city is broke and your raising everyones property taxes and closing pools to save money, thats when you say we cant afford to pay you 180,000! You also have a pay freeze, not give yearly raises. Also you say he has 2 positions, take off your blinders! This goes on all the time in political positions, they give them all sorts of multiple titles to justify paying them more.This isn't the private sector and shouldn't be compared to the private sector.

The college partying is not the fault of one man, but one would think he would have to be the one who takes the initiative as the elected official for that ward, to come up with a permanent plan to address the ongoing issue. Its the job of the elected official to address these issues, not just let the neighbors figure it out and thats why we are talking about it, cause their is nothing in place.This isnt just one street its a few streets! WHATS THE PLAN SOLOMON,LETS THE NEIGHBORS FIGURE IT OUT????

Comment #15 by anthony sionni on 2013 09 14

Also you want me to make a list of the mayors staff who are making huge salaries and their previous experiences, I think you will find that many of them are way over paid.

Lets just talk about Ianazzi, the aide to Sen. Ruggerio, wasnt he in the news for getting some salary of like 85k with no college degree and little or no experience?


Comment #16 by anthony sionni on 2013 09 14

No comparing to private sectors. There are public unions as well. All aspects of jobs are paid by what the job entails and the experience that does along with it. Do I agree with mr. Ianazzzi's job? No. No degree no experience. That also keeps with the original point. Mr. D'amico is holding multiple positions and working beyond 9-5. A budget is established and these jobs - along with the raises - are included. Unfortunatly in public or private - if y want people with experience and education - you have to pay them.

As stated there was a plan - operation red cup. However you can't have half the ppd busting college parties. I am not sure how aware you are but colleges can have rules regarding off campus housing. It is in part their responsibility. As stated - everyone has to work together to resolve the issue and be open to change. You can't blame one man. One college. Or one house.

Comment #17 by christine spaziano on 2013 09 14

We obviously disagree, take care!

Comment #18 by anthony sionni on 2013 09 15

Have you heard the latest, Solomon let his chief of staff work just part time now, funny how he couldn't work part time to begin with, yet now that he wants to go to school, we now have a part time chief of staff for the city council.

Some questions to ponder, is he still getting healthcare? How much money is he now getting to work part time and how many hours is he working. Does he still have a free cell phone for part time??

Comment #19 by anthony sionni on 2013 09 15

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