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

Friday, December 21, 2012

 

Who’s Hot

Allan Fung -> The early winner out of John Robitaille’s decision not to run for Governor in 2014 has to be the Cranston Mayor, who says he’ll announce his plans for the future in short order. Mayor Fung certainly has the be the frontrunner among the Republicans, but one has to wonder if he’s willing potentially run against his close friend Angel Taveras or Gina Raimondo, someone he’s worked closely with since she took office in 2011.

Organized Labor -> The news that Judge Sarah Taft-Carter had ordered the state and its labor unions into mediation to discuss a potential settlement over the pension reform law appears to be a win for organized labor (and Governor Chafee, for that matter). In Providence, egos were pushed aside and the mediation was a success. But on the state level, both sides enter talks with a lot more animosity toward one another.

Teresa Paiva Weed -> The Senate President made the right call this week when she said she isn’t opposed to letting same-sex marriage go to a vote in the judiciary committee in 2013. That doesn’t mean she supports the issue, but it shows she recognizes that it deserves a straight up or down vote during the next session.

David Salvatore & Gina Raimondo -> The Providence Councilman called for both the city and the state to divest from any funds that are found to include assault weapons manufacturers and Treasurer Raimondo deserves credit for saying she’ll review the state’s investment holdings. While it’s no secret that these two leaders do not get along, they both seem to have their eye on the ball on this issue.

J.R. Pagliarini -> Congrats to this veteran political operative, who is leaving City Hall to become Chief of Staff at the embattled Economic Development Corporation. Pagliarini is well-respected and should help with some of the changes that are already underway within the quasi-public agency.

Providence Nonprofits -> Now that the agreement with Providence College is complete (assuming the Council approves the deal), the city’s nonprofit colleges and hospitals will make nearly $50 million in payments in lieu of taxes over the next 11 years. This is a major win for the city and an excellent gesture on the part of all of the nonprofits, which are helping to play a role in turning the city’s finances around.

Olivia Culpo -> Simply put, Miss Universe is the best story of the year in Rhode Island.

Who’s Not

Gina Raimondo -> The Treasurer finds herself on both sides of the list this week after Judge Taft-Carter’s decision to send the state and organized labor to the negotiating table over pension reform. Raimondo says the state is willing to negotiate in good faith, but she also has to sit back and watch as Governor Chafee pats himself on the back for calling for settlement talks several weeks ago.

Unemployment -> The unemployment rate didn’t budge in November and it appears all but certain Rhode Island will end the year with the second-highest jobless rate in the country. While there are plenty of issues to address in 2013, here’s hoping state lawmakers keep the focus on job creation for the majority of the General Assembly session.

Homelessness -> With unemployment stuck at 10.4 percent, it probably comes as no surprise that the state’s homeless population has increased. With winter here, it’s time for the state to provide more funding to shelters so that everyone has a place to sleep at night.

Erick Loomis -> Let’s be clear: The URI professor was not calling for the assassination of anyone at the NRA when he took to Twitter to say he wants its CEO’s “head on a stick.” Still, he should have picked a better metaphor and URI isn’t wrong to distance itself from him.

Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence -> Shame on both the state and Congress for allowing one of Rhode Island’s most important organizations to lay off workers at a time when gun violence is the most important topic in the country. Here’s hoping state leaders come to their senses and recognize that the Institute should be growing, not letting people go.

 

Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan.

 

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