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

Friday, January 17, 2014


HOT: Governor Lincoln Chafee

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.


Martin Luther King Jr- In his last public speech, Dr. King recounted, "the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' 'But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to him this man, what will happen to him?"

Lincoln Chafee - "This budget helps us become more competitive. It invests in getting people back to work, and ensures our schools are properly funded." The Governor never became much of a player with the General Assembly, but Chafee ends with a positive vision for a strong state investment in education, the arts, and infrastructure. He even received a few favorable head nods from Treasurer Raimondo.

David Dooley (URI), Nancy Carriuolo (RIC), Ray Di Pasquale (CCRI) - Chafee's proposed budget includes a $10 million tuition freeze for all state higher education - URI, RIC, and CCRI. The University, however, could potentially be the biggest beneficiary, with the potential for a $175 million bond to expand and grow its engineering school.

Valerie Talmage/Preserve RI - Talmage has long advocated for "a robust program" of regulated historic tax credits to rehab and re-use historic structures throughout the state. Governor Chafee is proposing to expand the current historic tax credits to over $50 million. Governor Chafee argued, "According to a 2007 report commissioned by GrowSmartRI, the state historic tax credit program was estimated to leverage $5.35 million in economic output for each $1.0 million in state investment."

Randall Rosenbaum/Rhode Island State Council on the Arts - Early this week, the governor celebrated Rhode Island's "Creative and Cultural economy" - proposing a $35 million dollar bond to authorize new grants for artistic facilities, an additional $1 million line item toward arts funding, and a surprise new location for RISCA- in the RI Commerce Corporation. Connecticut similarly locates its "Office of the Arts" in their Economic and Community Development Department.

Dr. Joyce Stevos/Rhode Island Black Heritage Society - From the phenomenal life of 19th century singer Sissieretta Jones to the mix of politics and music at the Celebrity Club, RIBHS shares the often overlooked stories of the state's past to influence our present. RIBHS is gearing up toward a major fundraiser in February to help expand their public work: "We are driven by the pride and confidence instilled by cultural memory and manifested in initiative, risk-taking, and civic leadership...But we cannot hope to succeed without you by our sides."

Michael Yelnosky/Roger Williams University- "I look forward to helping us continue to design and implement innovative approaches to preparing our students for modern law practice while remaining true to our core values of teaching, scholarship, and community service," said Yelonsky, an employment and labor law expert, on his recent appointment as Dean of Roger Williams University School of Law. Yelnosky is well-regarded and has been active in good government initiatives, particularly judicial selection.

RI Coalition for Domestic Violence - Just over a week ago, a friend posted, "RIP Kathleen Salvi from Woonsocket who died from domestic violence." We are reminded of the importance of supporting the over 8,000 men and women who are victims of relationship violence each year in Rhode Island. The legislature needs to ensure fair funding for domestic violence Court Advocates - no more cuts.


NOT: Jim Langevin

Gordon Fox, Lincoln Chafee, Teresa Paiva-Weed - As GoLocal's Zeke Wright reports, "Predictions for job growth in 2014 place Rhode Island and Massachusetts at the bottom of the nation." Ed Mazze of URI notes, "The economy is fragile because of the high unemployment rate, an aging population requiring more services, and poor leadership by government in creating jobs." The proposed bond initiatives are bold long term investments, but don't help the state become an easier place to start a small business in the near term.

Representative Jan Malik - The East Bay Representative's vision for a sales tax cut wasn't exactly embraced by the Governor. Chafee did propose reducing the sales tax to 6.5%, once internet sales are also taxed. Conservative blogger Justin Katz tweeted, "Umm, eliminating the state sales tax would "level the playing field" between brick-and-mortar and Internet, too." We'll see what the Speaker says.

The Procaccianti Group - “This is now the second time the Federal government is citing the Hotel for violating our rights. Why does it think it is above the law?” said Julian Bello, an employee at The Procaccianti Group 's Renaissance Hotel. The National Labor Board has issued a complaint and notice of hearing against the multi-billion dollar hotel management company, arguing TPG has restricted and intimidated the right of employees to organize. In October 2013, TPG was cited for OSHA violations, and paid an $8000 fine.

Jim Langevin - If the Congressman needs further reminders of the dangers of unchecked government surveillance, he should check out this documentary from the New York Times on domestic spying in our country by J Edgar Hoover's FBI. Martin Luther King, Jr was subject to surveillance and harassment.

Robert A DeRobbio/Urban League - The Urban League's quest for a multi-million dollar property transfer from the city has stalled. Mayor Taveras is wisely hiring a forensic auditor to review the Urban League's finances, Raymond Watson, executive director of the Mount Hope Neighborhood Association, staged a protest outside Urban League headquarters, and the organization's controversy reached the attention of the Boston-based Non-Profit Quarterly (NPQ). What is the League's vision for the future?

Acme Video Closing - Advise and Consent, Il Divo, Richard III, Waltz with Bashir, La Commune (Paris 1871), Mr. Conservative, Hands over the City - what great films, and too bad to have this independent store shuttered. Acme Video, of course, was a true Fox Point store, with characters and conversation. As Curtis Parvin wrote, "A virtual shopping cart is not the same thing as someone taking the time to physically walk down an isle, finding a film and say, “Watch this, it changed my life. I think you’ll like it.”

Poverty Wages - Maria Shriver, in a new report, uncovers some sobering facts- women are nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers in the country , and more than 70% of low wage workers get no paid sick days at all. One success story in Shriver's report was Rhode Islander Dee Saint Franc, who, with student loans and government assistance, was able to care for her daughter, earn her bachelor's degree and now is a CNA. As Shriver argues, "leave out women, and you don't have a full and robust economy. Lead with the women, and you do."

Steven Costantino/Health and Human Services - The Justice Department recently found the state practicing policies of segregation and violating the civil rights of adults with different developmental abilities. Following the crimes at Mt. Pleasant, what's the next step to ensure full and fair opportunities for all Rhode Islanders?


Related Slideshow: Pew Research: New England Employment Figures From FY2007 to FY2013

While unemployment figures receive more media attention, the employment rate is a preferred index for many economists because it provides a sharper picture of changes in the labor market. The unemployment rate, for example, fails to count workers who stopped looking for a job. By focusing on 25- to 54-year-olds, trends are less distorted by demographic effects such as older and younger workers’ choices regarding retirement or full-time education.

Below are the employment rates in FY2007 and FY2013 for New England states as referenced by the Pew Charitable Trust's "Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis" Report, ranked from best to worst.

Prev Next

#1 Vermont

CY2007 Employment-population ratio: 83.5%

FY2013 Employment-population ratio: 82.6%

Percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: -0.9

Statistical significance of percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: not significant

Prev Next

#2 New Hampshire

CY2007 Employment-population ratio: 85.1%

FY2013 Employment-population ratio: 82.4%

Percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: -2.7

Statistical significance of percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: not significant

Prev Next

#3 Massachusetts

CY2007 Employment-population ratio: 80.3%

FY2013 Employment-population ratio: 79.1%

Percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: -1.3

Statistical significance of percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: not significant

Prev Next

#4 Connecticut

CY2007 Employment-population ratio: 81.8%

FY2013 Employment-population ratio: 77.1%

Percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: -4.8

Statistical significance of percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: significant

Prev Next

#5 Rhode Island

CY2007 Employment-population ratio: 82.5%

FY2013 Employment-population ratio: 76.8%

Percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: -5.7

Statistical significance of percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: significant

Prev Next

#6 Maine

CY2007 Employment-population ratio: 81.3%

FY2013 Employment-population ratio: 76.6%

Percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: -4.6

Statistical significance of percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: significant

Prev Next

United States Average

CY2007 Employment-population ratio: 79.9%

FY2013 Employment-population ratio: 75.9%

Percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: -4.1

Statistical significance of percentage point change, CY2007-FY2013: significant


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