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

Friday, January 18, 2013


Governor Lincoln Chafee->  Chafee's State of the State was described as "upbeat"- even as the Governor acknowledged our jobless rate as "unacceptably high, but improving." With a focus on cutting corporate taxes, helping municipalities and investing in education, Chafee noted, "Mr. Speaker, Madam President, members of the General Assembly – my priorities are reflected in this budget. And your priorities will be demonstrated in the action you take in the coming months."

Fundraising for the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence -> From Mayor Angel Taveras' eblasts to Vanessa Carlton singing at the Columbus, many people are showing their priority by helping the Nonviolence Institute. Thank Goodness! Providence's gang-related murder rate has been declining - and the Institute is a big reason why. As federal government cuts go into effect, regular people need to step forward to help make up the difference and support the Institute. Check it out here. 

N +1 Magazine -> This popular hipster publication from Brooklyn recently ran a profile of the great city of Providence - not necessarily the most flattering (that pesky mafia heritage figures prominently), but all press is good press! The title you ask? "Providence, You're Looking Good." 

Providence Restaurant Week -> One way to celebrate our good looks is to go out and eat! Now through January 26th, shake off the winter blues, enjoy some tasty food and support local restaurants. A discerning, unofficial guide to restaurant weeks past can be found here. Forget Meds and Eds, dining out is a Rhode Island growth industry. 

Rhode Islanders United for Marriage -> This week saw the launch of a new coalition "working to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Rhode Island." From SEIU to Planned Parenthood, from the State Council of Churches to the ACLU, let's hope this coalition can achieve full victory, sway enough State Senators, and bring Rhode Island in line with our neighbors. We shouldn't stand out for social inequality. 

Who's Not 

Our Unemployment Level! -> It has been several years since the market crash, and our official jobless rate still hovers over 10%. This is a four alarm fire - and the state needs to put it out, tomorrow, not conjure the next 38 Studios. 

Home Invasions -> Three bandits have been breaking into homes throughout the Elmhurst and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods, stealing money and a sense of security. The group has tied up at least two residents in the area around PC, either knocking out or blindfolding the victims. Let's hope these three are caught soon.

The Master Lever -> From Democratic Party Chair Ed Pacheco to Cranston Mayor Alan Fung, community leaders are lining up to eliminate the Master Lever, or party line voting. Ken Block's petition has lead to over 1,000 emails sent to legislators. Rhode Island is one of only 15 states with party line voting - a process that confuses and disenfranchises thousands of Rhode Islanders. Secretary of State Ralph Mollis has said, "The master lever has the potential to inadvertently confuse some voters, particularly in non-partisan races, and causes too many others to question the fairness of our elections," No other New England state still uses this out-dated voting tool. Speaking of which ... 

House and Senate Leadership -> A majority of state representatives have said they are in favor of eliminating the master lever. Twelve State Senators have done so (newly elected Democratic State Senator Pearson surprisingly is opposed). Leadership is waiting to have an opinion. Last year, leadership endorsed more disclosure for campaign donors. This year, let's hope they continue on that common sense, good government trend and eliminate this voter road block. The master lever was a bad idea in the 1930s, and it is a bad idea in the 2010s. Eliminate it. 

Our Homeless Rate ->  Rhode Island's homeless population is growing. Like it did last year, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before. Karen Jeffreys, of the RI Coalition for the Homeless, has said "We get tired of announcing this is the worst year for homelessness ever." We need more support for affordable housing and a strong economy.   


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