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

Friday, June 06, 2014


HOT this week: Central Falls Mayor James Diossa

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.


James Diossa:  Have you been to Central Falls lately? “The comeback city. That’s what we’ve been screaming, ‘We are the comeback city!'” Mayor Diossa touted to MSNBC's Suzy Khimm. As Khimm notes, under Diossa's leadership, major rehabilitations of mill buildings have been promoted, a gun parts manufacturer has opened shop in the city, and a growing culture of philanthropy have contributed to civic projects - attracting both local residents and, as GoLocal reported, Hollywood. See you at Stanley's, Mr. Mayor.

James Risen: "Many people have criticized the use of anonymous sources of late. Yet all reporters know that the very best stories- the most important, the most sensitive - rely on them" wrote Risen in the acknowledgements to his 2006 book, State of War, an expose on CIA and NSA abuses. Currently, Risen, a Brown grad and New York Times reporter, faces potential jail time for failure to reveal sources. Risen has taken real risks for challenging government overreach - and deserves applause and support. 

Sandra Cano: Politics in Pawtucket? "The current City Council is made up of nine men," notes Ethan Shorey of the Valley Breeze. This past Wednesday at Slater Mill, Cano announced her bid to shake things up, as she declared for City Council at Large. GoLocal identified the Shea alum as one of "13 to Watch in 2013." Currently, Cano serves on the Pawtucket School Committee, works for Navigant Credit Union, and is actively engaged with community organizations across the state, most recently the 2014 New Leaders Council (joining a host of talented up and comers). 

Tony Affigne/Green Party of Rhode Island: The Green Party of Rhode Island is working with other New England Greens to oppose the expanded use of fossil fuels in the Northeast, and to demand more renewable energy. Recently, the party protested at a regional Democratic Governors Association policy conference in tony Greenwich, CT to condemn Spectra Energy's proposed natural gas pipeline expansion. As Affigne argues, "Spectra's fracking-gas pipeline through Rhode Island is a very bad idea—it's dangerous and unnecessary." Read more here

Learning for Life (L4L) @ Rhode Island College: L4L is "a collaboration of the College Crusade, Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island, College Visions, and Rhode Island College." The goal is to bring multiple groups into collaboration with the aim of "a coordinated, easily accessible, and holistic network of student supports," particularly for first generation college students. Thanks to Rhode Island College for taking steps to help more students grow and graduate

The Manton Avenue Project: Talking blueberry muffins! Flying dogs! All sorts of wonder and amazement come from The Manton Avenue Project, a theater arts collaborative celebrating ten years of engaging elementary school students through playwriting, storytelling and logic games. Student playwriting workshops culminate in performances by adult actors, celebrating the work of young writers in the Olneyville neighborhood. Support this great group! 


10 Steps: Remember Schoolhouse Rock? According to Vox, "only 103 of the 7,207 bills and joint resolutions introduced during this Congress have become law — fewer, by this point, than in any other Congress since at least the 1970s." Check out this update of how a bill becomes a law in the 21st Century Congress. 

The Procaccianti Group (TPG): According to Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos, TPG's opposition to the $15 Hotel Worker Minimum Wage ordinance is out of line with most Rhode Islanders. Cranston-based TPG owns the Providence Hilton and the Renaissance Hotel (the latter has been fined by OSHA for worker health violations). As GoLocal reported, "64 percent of Providence voters support the $15 minimum wage for hotel workers." Of those polled, the "most convincing reason to support (41%) is that it levels the playing field given that the Omni and Biltmore already pay $15 per hour for comparable work."

Allan Fung & Angel Taveras: Both Mayors need to re-examine their campaign strategies. Fung's foolish "Blockheads" ads will, in the words of one commentator, cause him to end up broke and regretful. Taveras' sidestepping of the Hotel Worker Wage ordinance does nothing but upset potential supporters he needs to convince to sign up for his campaign, not Pell's. The Mayor rightly emphasizes he was "the son of nobody famous," - well, plenty of folks in the city are in a similar position and would like a sign their government cares about them, not just one hotel chain that is out of step with the rest of the local industry.

Parking Lot Madness: As mentioned on Greater City PVD, Salt Lake City has the right idea. In 2012, the Salt Lake City Council banned "demolitions of downtown buildings to make way for surface parking lots." If Providence had adopted a similar ordinance twenty, even ten years ago, our downtown streetscape would be much larger -and dare I say it- more vibrant than it is today. 

Joe Paolino: Speaking of parking lots, as former Mayor Paolino continues to advocate for expanded gambling on Aquidneck Island, he should heed the warning Newport City Councilor Kathryn Leonard told GoLocal, "There are lots and lots of casinos now and none of them seem to be making much of a profit these days.  The more casinos you have, the more revenue gets split amongst more places.”

Iraqi Death Tolls: On a sober note, according to the New York Times, "Violence claimed the lives of 799 Iraqis in May, the highest monthly death toll so far this year." According to the BBC, 2013 was the worst year for political violence in Iraq since 2006. The major US troop withdrawal took place in 2011. 


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