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TGIF: 10 things to know about RI politics + media

December 14, 2012

Everything pales in comparison to the horrific news today from Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed more than two-dozen people, including 20 children. Governor Lincoln Chafee says state officials have offered to assist their counterparts in Connecticut . . . . Here’s my countdown for the week: 

1. If all other things were equal, would James Diossa have emerged Tuesday as the mayor-elect of Central Falls? Probably not, even if many people might view his win as a simple repudiation by CF residents of a corrupt old way of doing business.

Diossa faced a very short electoral timetable between Charles Moreau‘s resignation in September and the first of two elections on November 6. Diossa was squaring off with one candidate with a team, money, and high name recognition (former police chief and former state rep Joseph Moran), and another with very high name rec (former mayor Thomas Lazieh). Diossa’s supporters responded with what they call an unprecedented effort, modeled on President Obama‘s early voting successes in Ohio, Iowa, and Virginia, to get him through the crucial first stage (five-way) election.

An aggressive push on mail ballots meant that Diossa went into Tuesday’s election with a 262-vote lead. More than 150 volunteers knocked on doors in the days before Tuesday. Dozens of young people were part of a precinct-by-precinct GOTV effort on Election Day, as illustrated by eight maps on the walls of Diossa’s Broad Street campaign office. (The mayor-elect referenced one of those young people, a Central HS senior named Michelle, during his victory speech.) And though Diossa got campaign advice from experienced operatives like Matt Jerzyk and Gonzalo Cuervo, the heart of his campaign was people who graduated together from CF High (home of “the Warriors”) and busted their tails — campaign manager Josh Giraldo, a 6th grade teacher at Blackstone Valley Prep; legal counsel and high-rise coordinator Lisette Gomes, a lawyer; and phone bank coordinator Stephanie Gonzalez.

2. The Moderate Party’s Ken Block recently suggested the January to June length of the General Assembly session is a barrier to getting more people to run for the legislature. It’s true that the early months of the session are generally characterized by a lot of incremental activity. House spokesman Larry Berman, however, defends the length of the legislative year as “about right,” and says significant work takes place during committee sessions in early months. He says criticism about the six-month schedule is basically sour grapes from groups that have a tough time finding candidates.

3. Providence City Solicitor Jeff Padwa, a potentially strong choice to be the next state Democratic chairman, told me Thursday night he’s not a candidate for the position. Former chairman Bill Lynch isn’t pursuing it, either, so the search continues, with current chairman Ed Pacheco eyeing a run for secretary of state.

4. It was a not-so-hot week for state Treasurer Gina Raimondo. She probably gets a measure of public sympathy when firefighers picket one of her fundraisers, as they did Monday. But the news that a Houston billionaire contributed more than $100,000 to EngageRI is bound to raise more questions about the group’s lack of transparency. As part of a probing pair of reports in the ProJo, the tenacious Kathy Gregg detailed how much time Raimondo spends outside Rhode Island.

5. State Representative-elect John Lombardi says he’ll definitely think about running for mayor of Providence if Angel Taveras seeks another job in 2014. Lombardi, a longtime former city councilor in Providence, spoke during a taping this morning of WPRI/WNAC-TV’s Newsmakers. Taveras, btw, referenced my list of 16 possible City Hall successors when he appeared on Newsmakers last week.

6. There’s probably about a zero chance that Lincoln Chafee will run to succeeed Taveras if the incumbent goes for Chafee’s job. But there’s been a cottage industry of late in Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton being talked up as possible mayoral candidates in different cities. And Chafee did joke, back in 2007, about a run for mayor of Providence (in 2010).

7. The aforementioned Ken Block is among the fans of the Providence Journal’s move this week to use Facebook for its comments on the newspaper’s Web site. As he  notes, “The nastiest comments here [on the ProJo Web site] come from folks who cower in anonymity.” The ProJo’s G. Wayne Miller is also engaging the debate on the newspaper’s new approach.

8. Half of the country’s deadliest school shootings have taken place since 2007.

9. What is it about the Sopranos and Rhode Island? First, Dominic “Uncle Jun” Chianese was in town earlier this year. Then, Joey Pantoliano screened his mental health documentary at Salve Regina. Now, Frank Vincent is in a series of commercials for Job Lot

10. Nanobrewing has been dubbed the hot trend in craft-beer brewing.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2012 10:09 pm

    The vast majority of part-time state legislatures in this country get their sessions completed in far less than 6 months. RI need not be that different from the rest of the country.

  2. December 15, 2012 10:48 am

    In fact, what a lame and sophmoric response made by the spokesperson for the Speaker of the RI House in response to a data driven concern raised by the Chairman of a recognized RI political party. Yes, the Moderate Party had a tough time recruiting candidates, and I was able to document the reason why and provide substantiating data showing that RI is FAR different than other states in terms of the duration of our session. If Spokesperson Berman’s logic and reasoning are representative of how our House Leadership assesses problems then that would be a neat explanation for how RI arrived at the crisis we find ourselves in now.

  3. December 15, 2012 11:01 am

    When a State legislature actively undertakes an agenda to squelch competition you end up with a lopsided legislature – exactly like Rhode Island’s, which has a hyper majority almost 90% Democrats. The Master Lever, one of the longest legislative sessions in the country for a part time legislature and lesser issues contribute significantly to tamping down competition, which apparently suits the Speaker’s spokesman just fine.

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