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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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