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

Friday, December 27, 2013


HOT this week: Anna Cano Morales and the Latino Policy Institute

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.


Allan Fung- The Cranston Mayor and gubernatorial candidate has a vision for "A Rhode Island that provides employment opportunities for all seeking work- regardless of age or ability." The Republican Mayor has consistently been competitive in polling against Democratic front-runners Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras. Cranston ended the year with a $500,000 budget surplus .

Angel Taveras- The bright side: With Taveras (and Director of Finance Michael D'Amico) at the helm, the city has seen its bond rating improve, numerous developments downcity alongside a review of tax treaties, public art throughout the neighborhoods, calls for better state testing, and national recognition from Bloomberg Philanthropies for early childhood literacy efforts.

Lisa Baldelli-Hunt- Baldelli-Hunt decisively won election as Mayor of Woonsocket, a city languishing with over 11% jobless, a 66% high school graduation rate, and too many empty storefronts. The new Mayor has vowed, “The people of Woonsocket have spoken. They’re looking for a strong and effective leader and I will be that strong and effective leader."

Scott Slater- The Providence State Representative, supportive of community groups from Knight Memorial Library to the Childhood Lead Action Project, emerged as a quiet power player - successfully leading on the unionization of childcare workers and co-sponsoring the "ban the box" bill, preventing the automatic screening out of people with criminal history from job interviews.

Jay O'Grady- From old mill villages like Phenix to vacant properties in Woonsocket, the new, regulated version of the historic tax credit program spearhead by O'Grady gives financial incentives to redevelop historic properties throughout the state's former mill villages and cities. The Journal ruined what should have been O'Grady's slam dunk: they lobbied for the multi-million dollar program, and failed to disclose they would be using it themselves (in fact, taking up 25% of the credits).

Anna Cano Morales/Latino Policy Institute- Cano Morales has been an agenda-setter. From school reform to wage disparities, Morales and the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University have been a strong voice for research based discussion in the Ocean State. Keep up the conversation!

Young Republicans- The Young Republicans grew in media buzz and members over the year. Hosting everyone from the Log Cabin Republicans to Bishop Tobin, from the NEA to Deborah Gist, the Young Republicans embraced the idea of a big tent GOP. Let's see what the pay-off and networking effect is for candidates like Ana Santana in the fall.

Kate Nagle, Monica White, Tracey Minkin, and Caitlin Gil- The GoLocal team shined a light on the neglect of the city's pools, specifically for families on the South Side. As a youth told GoLocal, "Being outside is just aggravating. People get into fights and stuff, but I don't want to get involved in that. What I wish I could do is go to the pool. But we can't anymore since it's closed down."

Rhode Islanders United for Marriage- From Michael Pisaturo's beginning bill in 1997 to Donna Nesselbush's 2013 ending - what a journey to marriage equality! The "United" coalition mobilized religious groups, labor unions, and families to call, cajole, speak, and sing for all Rhode Island couples to gain equal recognition under the law. Great work!

Sojourner House, Day One, Destiny House- The murders of Evelyn Burgos, Vanessa Perez, and Mengchen Huang were stark reminders of the hateful reality of domestic violence and abuse. Sojourner House alone worked with over 3,000 abuse survivors last year. Consider donating to the groups above- each does so much to support people and change lives- and advocate for better funding!


Gordon Fox and Teresa Paiva Weed- The legislative leadership team had some notable victories - from live-streaming of hearings to expanded sick time for families. Unfortunately, both support a top-down style that quashes dissenters, and rewards the loyal with magistrate positions. While the legislators get catered food, the people deal with one of the worst economic situations in the US, with more homeless than anytime in the last twenty years.

Angel Taveras- The underbelly: Robberies have gone up, school buses are regularly late , the Southside's city pool was closed, the Superman building is vacant, numerous school buildings are listed in "in poor condition and need major renovation," and a growing number of relatives of "important" men (City Councilor John Igliozzi's brother David, George Caruolo's son Andrew) have been hired for city work.

Gina Raimondo- Despite Raimondo's national fundraising prowess, the state pensions have lost $200 million under her watch . One of her key responsibilities is stewardship of the pensions. She was a great lead in the overhaul, but the subsequent fees charged to hedge fund managers have been outrageous. She could still be governor, but she has a lot to explain, and needs much greater transparency from her office in 2014.

Susan Lusi- The superintendent is well-intentioned, but what a horrible year: ongoing bus delays, the horrific scandal involving the exploitation of developmentally disabled children at Mt. Pleasant High School, the poor choice to re-shuffle principals mid-year, the clueless proposed shuttering of Alvarez High School (defeated by student protests lead by the Providence Student Union and Young Voices), and the ongoing challenges with United Providence!

Robert Kando/Board of Elections- Common Cause has called on the state to establish a system of in person early voting, eliminate the Master Lever, re-examine the design of the ballot, and expand poll worker training and recruitment following the long lines and confusion of last election. Work has begun on some issues, but Kando needs to boldly lead the way to avoid mishaps this fall.

Andrew Annaldo/Board of Licenses- The Providence Board of Licenses, chaired by former City Councilor Andrew Annaldo, could use a revamp for 2014. Most egregiously, the compensated five person board refused to revoke the license of Cheaters Strip Club, where at least two documented underage girls worked in the Allens Ave club in the last four years.

Bill Murphy- Mr. Rogue Island is channeling the wrong political leaders. Can you imagine the late Secretary of State Susan Farmer advocating for unregulated pay day lending? I didn't think so. Murphy should learn from his late colleague's example - and help the people, not hurt them.

Richard Licht- Whatever Licht's individual merits as an applicant to be a Superior Court judge, we really need to move away from having our well paying judicial system be the General Assembly Alumni Association (Exhibit A: Former Senate President, former magistrate, now lifetime Superior Court Judge, Joseph Montalbano).

Jim "NSA" Langevin- The ongoing revelations from the Washington Post find that the NSA has engaged in massive data collection of Americans. Barry Hinckley warns against trading liberty for security, David Cicilline calls the NSA programs "very disturbing" and Langevin, a member of the US House Intelligence Committee, is a cheerful supporter of secret surveillance. Shameful.

Frank Anzeveno- All roads in the House of Representatives lead to the Speaker's Chief of Staff. Since Harwood, Anzeveno has been the key player- and during that time the state's economic trend hasn't exactly been positive. Is it time for Fox to have a new top assist?


Related Slideshow: Infamous Talk Radio Controversies

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Arbitron Ratings Scandal

In 2008, radio host John DePetro found himself in the midst of a ratings controversy.  The Boston Herald reported,

The briefly stellar ratings of controversy-dogged-talkmeister John DePetro’s Providence radio show tanked yesterday after a whiff of scandal forced Arbitron to reissue its spring survey of listener-dial habits.

In the 6 to 10 a.m. weekday slot occupied by the self-proclaimed “Independent Man” on WPRO-AM (630), “the reissue ranked WPRO at number nine” among valued 25- to 54-year-old listeners, “down from the number four rank in the original release,” program manager Paul Giammarco and station market manager Barbara Haynes announced in a joint statement.

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Candidate Name-Calling

DePetro was fired from Boston radio station WRKO in 2006 for calling then-gubernatorial Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross a "fat lesbian." 

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Office Scuffle

The Providence Journal's Mike Stanton reported on an altercation in 2009 between DePetro and radio host Ron St. Pierre.

DePetro said he was hit -- and scratched -- in the eye with a balled up paper with a staple thrown at him by St. Pierre.  

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Buddy's Return - to Radio


After five years in prison for racketeering conspiracy from 2002 to 2007, former Mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci returned to the public eye with a radio show on WPRO.  

While controversial, Cianci's continued popularity has people wondering if Buddy might just make another run for Mayor in 2014.  

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Chafee's Talk Radio Ban

Upon taking office in 2011, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee announced that he would not appear on talk radio shows and barred state employees in agencies and departments that report to him from doing the same during work hours.  

Governor Chafee is among the elected officials who have signed the "For Our Daughters" pledge.  

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Dennis and Callahan

WEEI sports radio hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were suspended in 2003 when they referred to an escaped gorilla as a "Metco gorilla" waiting for a bus to Lexington -- with Metco being bus program that buses inner-city students to suburban schools.

Boston's http://www.wcvb.com/Radio-Station-Gorilla-Remarks-Spur-Advertiser-Concerns/-/9849586/11281756/-/5lg3o9z/-/index.html#ixzz2nbPAwzd2" target="_blank">WCVB reported that advertisers Dunkin' Donuts and Blue Cross pulled back station support in light of the incident.  

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Severin Suspended

WTKK's Jay Severin was fired for making comments about sleeping with female employees over the years.  

Radio Ink reported on Greater Media's reaction to the incident.  

"Greater Media today ended its relationship with Jay Severin. Our company has always encouraged a free and open dialogue on a variety of issues and topics, and we will continue to be guided by that principle. But we also demand that our on-air talent maintain an appropriate level of civility, and adhere to a standard that respects our listeners and the public at large.

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Imus' Racial Remarks

in 2007, nationally syndicated talk show host Don Imus called Rutgers women's basketball players "nappy-headed hos."  Imus was suspended -- then fired -- by CBS Radio.  

Five years later, Imus was back on the national radio circuit, as reported by New Jersey.com

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Rush Limbaugh

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy; his latest remarks prompted the Democratic National Committee to call on Republican leaders to boycott the Daily Caller, which defended Limbaugh's remarks in an article entitled, "Liberals want to stop men from checking out women." 


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