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

Friday, November 29, 2013


HOT: Cranston Mayor Allan Fung

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.


Susan Lusi/PPSD- How about that? A leader who responds to the public! Kudos and cheers go to the students and families connected to Providence Student Union, Alvarez High School, Young Voices, the School Board, and their supporters. Without the organizing and protest from these young people, the central office would have shut down and displaced an entire high school in the Reservoir neighborhood. Students and families held Lusi and the district accountable - and they changed.

Peg Langhammer/Day One- Kudos to Day One for spearheading a task force to address sex trafficking in Rhode Island. As GoLocal reported, "Recently, the state has seen a rise with these cases and there is no formal or effective process for dealing with them." Best of luck to Langhammer and her team!

Operation Clean Government- OCG, the good government group, hosted a forum last week on the pros and cons for a potential constitutional convention for the state. Jose Batista, a law student at Roger Williams, moderated the forum, which featured Secretary of State Ralph Mollis. Rhode Island's last constitutional convention, held in 1986, resulted in little structural changes (no reforms on judicial selection, unicameral legislature, Lt. Governor, or master lever), but did introduce the State Ethics Commission and a controversial measure to ban abortion (defeated roughly 65% to 35% in the polls).

Allan Fung/Cranston Mayor - Fung, Cranston Mayor and GOP gubernatorial hopeful, has contracted with Majority Strategies, a direct mail design firm which has worked on successful GOP races from Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Mitch Daniels in Indiana, and Rick Scott in Florida. Patrick Sweeney, Fung's campaign manager, notes, "I'm very excited to bring Majority Strategies onto Team Fung. They have one of the best, if not the best, mail firms in the United States."

Shelia Dormody/Director of Sustainability - The progressive community is searching for candidates to organize for in the General Elections next year. Some organizers are musing City of Providence Director of Sustainability Shelia Dormody as a potential Lt. Governor. The search occurs alongside Angel's dance right on economics (no new taxes), Gina's dance left on immigration (support for undocumented immigrants to have driver licenses), and Clay Pell's networking.

Giving Tuesday - After Friday's shopping frenzy, take a minute on "Giving Tuesday" and consider supporting one of the myriad well run non-profits in our region, from Barakat in Cambridge, funding schools for young women in Afghanistan, to Riverzedge in Woonsocket, promoting job training and arts mentoring. Giving Tuesday is sponsored by a coalition hoping to celebrate and encourage a "national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season." Cheers!

Feinstein-Gamm Theater - Go see David Lindsay's Abaire's play "Good People"! Director Rachel Walshe calls the play a "meditation on luck versus choice," as two old flames meet again, one, just laid off, lives pay check to pay check with a mentally challenged daughter in South Boston, the other, a doctor, is a married with a new baby girl in Chestnut Hill. This isn't sanitized- poverty isn't pretty, nor is wealth, but the play shows the humor, humanity, and assumptions across the board. Check this out!


Gina Raimondo - The state treasurer's former firm, Point Judith Capital, now based in Boston, may not be the best bet for Providence's pension funds. As GoLocal reported, "the city was paying the private equity group as much as it gained from its performance -- if not more." Hmm...

Angel Taveras - The Mayor and gubernatorial candidate announced a proposal for a dramatic expansion of pre-school for the state's children, contrasting the costs for prison with the cost for preschool. So, in 2018, will thousands of children attend great pre-schools, but some of their older brothers and sisters still have middle schools with leaks, mold and brown water?

Anthony Izzo/Sims Metal Management - The Allen Ave scrap metal company is embroiled in a lawsuit and countersuit with three other salvage and scrap businesses for wrongful compensation. One of the companies involved is Rhode Island Recycled Metals, owned by Eddie Sciaba and Ralph Sevinor. Both Sims and Rhode Island Recycled Metals have been cited by the DEM for environmental health violations. Allens Ave- gateway to the creative capital?

Gordon Fox and Teresa Paiva Weed- As GoLocal's Kate Nagle reported, "the dissolution of the EDC takes with it its Federal Identification Numbers, which are necessary for the validity and operations of the millions of dollars in federal contracts associated." Larry Berman, spokesperson for Speaker Fox, assured that the legislature would address any concerns related to federal funds. As Bryant University professor Gary Sasse remarked, "There are sometimes unintended consequences in major reorganizations of public functions."

Meds and Eds...Sort of - Richard Florida , the guru of hipster development, warned that an emphasis on medicine and education alone will not create a vibrant economy with multiple opportunities for a large chunk of the people. However, Florida did specifically mention Providence as a potential metro area that is "most likely to benefit from greater competition and clustering" among universities and hospitals.

Underrepresentation - Providence College's Tony Affigne noted at a recent Brown forum, "If the elected General Assembly members reflected the minority population, which represents nearly a fourth of the population, the number of minority House and Senate members would be 18 and 9." As the Journal reported , currently there are four minorities in the House, and two in the Senate. Recruitment time?


Related Slideshow: The 15 Costliest Government Programs in RI

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#15 Non-Highway Transport

Category: Transportation

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $4.87

National Rank: 4

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#14 Community Development

Category: Environment and Housing

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $4.97

National Rank: 12

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#13 Sewage & Solid Waste

Category: Environment and Housing

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $5.09

National Rank: 36

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#12 Health & Hospitals

Category: Social Services

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $5.40

National Rank: 49

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#11 Other Ed. & Libraries

Category: Education

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $6.00

National Rank: 12

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#10 Fire

Category: Public Safety

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $6.50

National Rank: 2

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#9 Highways

Category: Transportation

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $7.66

National Rank: 48

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#8 Police

Category: Public Safety

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $7.87

National Rank: 13

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#7 Utilities

Category: Utilities and Liquor Stores

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $9.25

National Rank: 40

Note: Utilities are not considered to be "direct general expenditures." Instead utilities are categorized as "other direct expenditures." The category is a U.S. Census Bureau term. Unlike some states, Rhode Island does not have state-run liquor stores.

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#6 Gov't. Administration

Category: Administration and Debt Interest

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $11.05

National Rank: 16

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#5 Interest on Debt

Category: Administration and Debt Interest

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $12.13

National Rank: 3

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#4 Higher Education

Category: Education

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $13.59

National Rank: 45

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#3 Pensions and Other

Category: Insurance Trust

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $39.62

National Rank: 4

Note: Other than pensions this area of spending includes unemployment security, disability insurance, and workers compensation. Together, these expenses are categorized U.S. Census Bureau as "insurance trust."

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#2 Public Welfare

Category: Social Services

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $46.90

National Rank: 7

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#1 Elementary and Sec. Ed

Category: Education

Cost Per $1,000 of Income: $48.59

National Rank: 15


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