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

Friday, January 23, 2015



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Memory of Sister Ann Keefe: Keefe, who passed away last Sunday at age 62, relentlessly fought to help the least fortunate, which is the essence of Christ’s message in the Gospel. She founded nonprofits such as the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence, AIDS Care Ocean State, Providence CityArts for Youth, and several others. Keefe is no longer with us, but her inspiring work will live on inside of the hearts of those she touched.

Senator Lou Raptakis: The State Senator representing Coventry, East Greenwich, and West Greenwich has introduced a bill that would subject rabble rousers who block highways to some steep penalties including prison time. Nobody wants to curtail the rights of people to protest, but when protesters take their frustrations out on the innocent, block highways, and endanger public safety, there should be serious consequences.

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Deborah Gist: GoLocalProv reported this week that the state's Education Commissioner is a finalist for a top education post in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Gist is controversial, yet for all the criticism of her she seems to be a hot commodity on the national level, as evidenced by her being named one of Time Magazine's Most Influential People in the World back in 2010. It seems like we're tossing away an asset.

Gina Raimondo: The Governor came out this week and said that any potential option that will keep Twin River viable should be considered. That's smart considering that there will soon be some staunch competition popping up in Massachusetts and the state must do all it can to protect its gaming revenue.

9th Best: The Animal Legal Defense Fund ranks Rhode Island the 9th best state in America for its animal protection laws. While there's more that can and should be done (State Representative Joseph Solomon is introducing a bill that would make it illegal to leave animals outside in very cold temperatures) that's something to be proud of, as Ghandi once remarked "the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: The state's Junior Senator and climate change crusader got the US Senate, including Republicans, to agree that "climate change is real and not a hoax" as part of a larger bill to allow the Keystone Pipeline. The language represents a clear victory for the senator, who has been beckoning Republicans to get serious on the issue for years.

LaDontae Henton: The Providence Friars star has been named to the Lute Olson mid-season watch list, named after the legendary Arizona coach, which identifies the top 25 players in the country. Henton has been on a scoring tear this year and has nicely taken over leadership of the team. But will he be able to lead them back to the post-season Promised Land that is the NCAA tournament?


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Dan Doyle: Doyle, who was arraigned in May of 2013 on 18 counts for his financial direction, or lackthereof, of the Institute for International Sport at URI is threatening to sue Channel 12 for libel due to reports he claims are inaccurate. One would think a man in as much trouble as Doyle might not want to draw any additional attention to himself, and suing Channel 12 is only going to draw attention to what went on at the institute.

The Huffington Post: The online news source took a very shallow look at the Congressman James Langevin's record and labeled him as one of the least productive members in Congress for failing to pass a bill as the lead sponsor. Rhode Islanders, however, should know better. Langevin has led the fight on important issues such as cyber security, funding career and technical education, and funding submarine construction (which is done here at home).

Drug Overdoses: The state of Rhode Island has suffered 7 overdose deaths since the beginning of the year. Governor Raimondo is correct in calling the situation a crisis and more needs to be done to help those addicted to narcotics.

State OPEB benefit funding: The state of Rhode Island's "other post employment benefits", which generally refer to health care benefits owed to retirees, are significantly underfunded according to a report released by the Auditor General this week. The state employees' plan is just 6 percent funded, and the teachers' plan is just 25 percent funded.

Childhood Poverty: RI Kids Count released their latest numbers this week and found that as of 2013, 21.5 percent of Rhode Island children were living in poverty—that’s roughly 45,000 children. That disgusting statistic means that all the more focus must be focused on creating good paying jobs because the best way to alleviate poverty is a robust economy.

Bill Belichick: It's almost incomprehensible that the incredibly successful coach of the New England Patriots, who is on his way to his 6th Super Bowl appearance as a head coach, could be "not hot". However, given the latest cheating scandal to surface, which alleges his team illegally deflated footballs during the AFC Championship game last Sunday, it's clear that Belichick, however astonishing it may be, is not having a good week in the news.

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Russell Moore has worked on both sides of the desk in Rhode Island media, on both political campaigns and for newspapers. Follow him on twitter @russmoore713. Send him email at [email protected]


Related Slideshow: Who Could Be RI’s Next Education Commissioner?

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Clay Pell

The not-so-dark horse who might be in consideration for Gist's spot (or the Board of Education's Eva Mancuso's) could be Raimondo's primary opponent Clay Pell, who comes from the education policy world at the federal level -- he was Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Education.

Given the millions Pell poured into his own campaign -- as well as how politics might have played out to give Gina the edge over opponent Allan Fung -- Pell might be well-positioned to maintain his profile in Rhode Island as he more than likely might be taking a look towards another run for higher offfice soon.

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Susan Lusi

Current Providence Schools Superintendent Susan Lusi has a resume that includes having been Superintendent in Portsmouth, Chief of Staff for the Providence Public Schools  -- and as Assistant Commissioner at the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  

Lusi has served as a consultant to RIDE, as well as groups such as the LAB at Brown, Education Resource Strategies, The Council of Chief State School Officers, and the Learning First Alliance.  Lusi has a Ph.D. and Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University, as well as a MAT in social studies and an AB in economics from Brown University.  Lusi could well be considered for the call up to the state's top education post.

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Tom Brady

Lusi's predecessor in the Providence Public Schoools Brady the helm in 2011 after serving for three years, and has worked in education consulting and served as Director of the Department of Defense Educational Activity, over seeing all Defense Department K-12 schools, both stateside and overseas -- 191 schools in 14 districts, serving more than 82,000 students.  A return to RI to fill Gist's shoes would be step up the education ladder in the state should Brady be in consideration -- and have the interest returning to RI.  

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Angela Romans

Providence Mayor Taveras' former education advisor, who has been at Brown's Annenberg Institute, while in the city helped secure over $5 million in education grant funding from local, regional and national public and private sources for the city and served as a tri-chair of the Mayor’s Children and Youth Cabinet (CYC).

Prior to working in city government, Romans served as New England Network manager at Diploma Plus, Inc., a Boston-based, national organization that in partnership with school districts and communities, designs schools and programs to improve the academic results of predominately urban, African-American and/or Hispanic youth.

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Dave Abbott

As the Deputy Commissioner at RIDE, Abbott has had to fill the shoes of Gist at meetings and events many times -- and could probably quite easily make the move up given his working knowledge of the office.

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Jennifer Wood

Lt. Governor Roberts' Chief of Staff has an extensive background -- and interest -- in education, serving as Chief of Staff and legal counsel for RIDE for 9 years, and general counsel for NEARI before that.  Roberts was an instrumental supporter of Raimondo's during the campaign.  


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