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

Friday, March 28, 2014

 

HOT: Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello

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.

HOT

Nick Mattiello - With the Gordon Fox era behind us, let's demand Matiello begin anew. Eight more years like the last eight years is a recipe for disaster. A local activist described the RI General Assembly’s workings as, "Pre-Ordained, Private, and Paternalistic." She was right. The political culture of the state has longed prioritized loyalty over results, shut up over speak out, have some cake over let's solve problems.

John Marion/Common Cause - "The new Speaker, whoever it may be, needs to begin restoring trust in our legislature by not playing politics with ethics reform... promise to bring H 7593 for a vote during their first two weeks as Speaker," Marion argues. From calling for more time for the budget before House Finance votes on it, removing the Master Lever, and banning fundraisers during the legislative session, Common Cause is an advocate for common sense . Keep up the fight!

Leo Skenyon/Chief of Staff -As GoLocal broke, "former top aide to Governor Bruce Sundlun and U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, Leo Skenyon" will be the new chief of staff to the Speaker of the House. This is the end of an era - outgoing House chief of staff Frank Anzeveno served the past three consecutive Speakers- Harwood, Murphy, and Fox. Two of those men left office in scandal. Anzeveno was a top-down, closed door, behind the scenes organizer, and hopefully a more transparent, more broadly accessible House will emerge with his departure.

Mark Binder - During the 2012 District 4 House Race, Independent Binder spent $12,000, and has since published a children's book, Cinderella Spinderella. Fox spent over $100,000, and is being investigated by the IRS, FBI and US Attorney's office. Not too shabby, Mr. Binder.

D. Faye Sanders/Government Strategies - Sanders, a lobbyist, had the good sense to resign from the Judicial Nominating Committee, which vets potential judges, when questions were raised about the appropriateness of her serving on the board again. One member of the "independent, non-partisan" committee, Richard McAuliffe, is a well-paid, well-connected lobbyist. Simply banning lobbyists from judge selection would seem an easy reform for the new leadership team.

#1 Mid-Sized City - 37 percent of the population is between 18-34 years old, we have a thriving local music scene, the food is fantastic, and the nightlife is divine (or something) - all of this results in Movoto.com calling little old Providence the most exciting mid-sized city in America! As the side of the Dean Hotel reads, "For a long time, I used to go to bed early."

AS220 - Truly, AS220 is an ingenious organization. The Renaissance would be hollow without the soul that glows off Empire and Washington. Shey Rivera presented plans for AS220's future , which include increased commitments to affordable artist housing and foster greater opportunities for artists. Mayoral Candidate Brett Smiley was spotted in the crowd (alongside the who's who of Rhode Island artists).

NOT

NOT: Former Speaker Gordon Fox

State House Culture - “If you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig," once said Gordon Fox. The issue on Smith Hill isn't simply any one person – it's the process of power that encourages leadership to act like tongue in cheek mobsters. A state house secretary told me to really understand the place I should watch the Godfather trilogy.

Gordon Fox - So ends the curious case of Speaker Fox. He brought marriage equality and a school funding formula to Rhode Island, lost a $75 million dollar bet on a video game, killed pay-day lending reform, killed judicial reform, has appointed long-time supporters as magistrates, and had his office and home raided by the IRS, FBI and US Attorney Office.

Fundraising During Session - In Maryland, it's a crime to hold fundraisers while the legislature is in session. In Rhode Island, we channel Fitzgerald: “... I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”

Michael Marcello - The chair of oversight tried and failed to become the next Speaker. He has a solid good government track record, but his coalition was beset by factions, and a GOP flip to Matiello.

Edith Ajello - The House Judiciary Chair's tenure has ended. Last year she sided with Gordon Fox in stifling judicial reforms, particularly ethics, and despite her good work on issues like marijuana regulation and marriage equality, the East Side Progressive is out. The Progressive movement as a whole fractured- some benefited (Art Handy supported Matiello and remains Chair of the Environmental Committee, Frank Ferri remains on House Finance), but others lost big (Valencia is off House Finance).

Magistrate Appointments - Part of our judiciary has become the General Assembly Alumni Association. Not all judicial appointments go through the JNC- another group of near judges are called "magistrates," who make a minimum of $139,000 a year. Magistrates are appointed by the State Senate upon suggestion from the judicial branch. Patricia Harwood, wife of former House Speaker John Harwood, former State Senators John McBurney and Charles Levesque, and former Senate President (now Superior Court Judge) Joseph Montalbano, among others, have all been magistrate appointments.

George Caruolo - The powerful lobbyist and former House Majority Leader saw his lobbying practice and influence take a major hit. He went all in for Representative Mike Marcello’s effort to be Speaker.

$338 Million - To fix the 14 most decrepit school buildings in the state would cost $338 million. While we're paying well-connected former members of the General Assembly nice salaries, numerous working class kids in Rhode Island are attending neglected and decaying school facilities - including Mt. Pleasant High School, Reservoir Elementary, and Esek Hopkins Middle School. We deserve better.

 

Related Slideshow: RI House Power Structure: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

Prev Next

Corporations Committee Chair

Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy

Democrat

District 38 (Westerly, Hopkinton)

Prev Next

Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chair 

Rep. Arthur Handy

Democrat

District 18 (Cranston)

Prev Next

OUT:

Finance Committee Chair

Rep. Helio Melo

Democrat

District 64 (East Providence)

Prev Next

IN:

Finance Committee Chair

Rep. Raymond E. Gallison, Jr

Democrat

District 69 (Bristol, Portsmouth)

Prev Next

Finance: Education Subcommittee Chair

Rep. Joy S. Hearn

Democrat

District 66 (Barrington, East Providence)

Prev Next

Finance: General Government Subcommittee Chair

Rep. Frank G. Ferri

Democrat

District 22 (Warwick)

Prev Next

Finance: Public Safety Subcommittee Chair

Rep. Raymond E. Gallison, Jr

Democrat

District 69 (Bristol, Portsmouth)

Prev Next

Finance: Human Services Subcommittee Chair

Rep. Eileen S. Naughton

Democrat

District 21 (Warwick)

Prev Next

Finance: Environment/Transportation Subcommittee Chair

Rep. Agostinho F. Silva

Democrat

District 56 (Central Falls)

Prev Next

Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chair

Rep. Joseph M. McNamara

Democrat

District 19 (Warwick, Cranston)

Prev Next

OUT:

Judiciary Committee Chair

Rep. Edith H. Ajello

Democrat

District 1 (Providence)

Prev Next

IN:

Judiciary Committee Chair

Rep. Cale P. Keable

Democrat

District 47 (Burrillville, Glocester)

Prev Next

IN:

Judiciary Committee Vice-Chair

Rep. Doreen Costa

Republican

District 31 (Exeter, North Kingstown)

Prev Next

PENDING:

Labor Committee Chair

Rep. Anastasia Williams

Democrat

District 9 (Providence)

Prev Next

Municipal Government Committee Chair

Rep. John J. DeSimone

Democrat

District 5 (Providence)

Prev Next

PENDING:

Oversight Committee Chair

Rep. Michael J. Marcello

Democrat

District 41 (Cranston, Scituate)

Prev Next

Rules Committee Chair

Rep. Arthur J. Corvese

Democrat

District 55 (North Providence)

Prev Next

Small Business Committee Chair

Rep. Patricia A. Serpa

Democrat

District 27 (West Warwick, Warwick, Coventry)

Prev Next

Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair

Rep. Raymond E. Gallison, Jr.

Democrat

District 69 (Bristol, Portsmouth)

Prev Next

Joint Committee: Housing Act Oversight Commission 

Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (Co-Chair)

Democrat

District 38 (Westerly, Hopkinton)

Prev Next

PENDING:

Joint Committee: Legislative Services

Gordon D. Fox (Chair)

Democrat

District 4 (Providence)

Prev Next

Permanent Joint Committee: Economic Development

Rep. Donna Walsh (Chair)

Democrat

District 36 (Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly)

Prev Next

Permanent Joint Committee: Healthcare Oversight

Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (Co-Chair)

Democrat

District 38 (Westerly, Hopkinton)

 
 

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