The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RI

By Dan McGowandan

Ted went on vacation and the government shutdown ended. Just saying. While he’s on the left coast, feel free to send your takes, tips and trial balloons to or For quick hits all week long, follow both of us on Twitter: @danmcgowan & @tednesi.

1. The talk about former Providence Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci running for mayor again in 2014 just won’t go away. Even with some of his allies confirming that he has extended his contract at WPRO-AM, former Mayor Joe Paolino – one of Buddy’s best friends – told me that more and more people are urging Cianci to throw his hat in the ring if Angel Taveras runs for governor. “There are many qualified leaders in the city of Providence who are encouraging him to run and I am privy to those conversations,” Paolino told Without a viable Republican candidate in the race, Cianci would likely have to at least consider running in what is shaping up to be a crowded Democratic primary that already includes City Council President Michael Solomon, former Housing Court Judge Jorge Elorza, former Water Supply Board Chairman Brett Smiley and, more than likely, state Rep. John Lombardi. Paolino acknowledged that there are several good candidates – “Solomon is the strongest City Council President in years” – but said he thinks Cianci would have a good chance at reclaiming City Hall. “Of course, I think I’m the best candidate, but I’m not running,” Paolino said. “I think his experience and can-do attitude would make him a very qualified candidate. He would do a good job.”

2. Nobody in General Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s office was caught off guard by the information included in union analyst Edward Siedle’s 106-page pension beat down Thursday, but even if the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission takes a flyer on investigating the state’s pension fund, a year’s worth of opposition research for about $20,000 isn’t a bad deal for organized labor. Other pieces of the anti-Raimondo effort are starting to come together as well. Two days before the treasurer held her big women’s fundraiser at Roger Williams Park Casino in September, a Facebook group called “Women United for Economic Security“ was formed by a progressive activist. The group now has 437 members. Perhaps more problematic is the “Anybody But Gina” contingent that doesn’t necessarily love Providence Mayor Angel Taveras – her likely opponent in next year’s Democratic primary for governor – but will do whatever it takes to make sure Raimondo isn’t victorious. “I’ll use what modest influence I have to do whatever I can to make sure that Taveras wins, and that Raimondo loses – along with the architects of the financial crisis and would-be Social Security slashers who are bankrolling her career,” former state Rep. David Segal, one of the most talented organizers in Rhode Island, told Siedle probably did his job adding fuel – and providing plenty of backup gasoline – to that fire.

3. Raimondo talk may have dominated the local news cycle, but Providence Mayor Angel Taveras didn’t do much to ingratiate himself with organized labor this week either. Taveras’s decision to team up with the mayors of Denver, San Antonio and Sacramento, Calif. for a national education tour was not taken too kindly by teachers” union officials. “It was disappointing to see the mayor embrace some of the more divisive voices in education,” Patrick Crowley, government relations director for the R.I. chapter of the National Education Association, told The union’s biggest gripe, as Rhode Island’s Future reported this week, is likely that Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is married to prominent school reformer Michelle Rhee. There is a bright side for Taveras. Johnson, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock are three of the most prominent Democratic mayors in the country and their education policies have largely been hailed as innovative. Simply being associated with that group will undoubtedly boost the mayor’s profile. Of course, both Taveras and Raimondo may have another problem on their hands if Clay Pell ends up running for governor.

4. Odds and ends: Andrew Caruolo – son of political kingmaker George Caruolo – has been hired as a State House lobbyist by the city of Providence… What a difference a year makes: Last year, Providence Councilman John Igliozzi was on the outs with the Taveras administration and council leadership; this year, Taveras is throwing him a fundraiserDeer Tick singer-songwriter John McCauley has a new song called “Mr. Sticks” about his dad, the former state rep. who is currently in prison… Secretary of state candidate Guillaume de Ramel continues to staff up, this time hiring Providence College graduate Kristin Murphy – a former intern for lobbyist Rick McAuliffe – as a finance assistant… The Old Timer’s Tap, a legendary politico bar on Mount Pleasant Avenue, is reopening under a new name and new ownership… Congratulations to Peter Baptista, co-founder of The Hamilton Group and finance director for the Taveras campaign, who got engaged last weekend… The leaders of the 195 Commission are set to offer a status update to the Senate Committee on Commerce next Thursday. (Of note: three members – Dr. Barrett Brady, Barbara Hunger and Diana Johnson – all had their terms expire earlier this month)… Sheri Miller Williams, who recently left her job as executive director of the United Providence union/management compact, has taken a new job as the director of leadership and teacher professional learning for Chicago Public Schools.

5. House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed co-bylined a piece in the New England Real Estate Journal last week on Quonset’s site-readiness program, which provides pre-permitting and pre-engineering for the industrial and commerce park’s remaining available parcels. In it, they wrote: “This program is making it much easier for existing businesses to expand at Quonset and for entrepreneurs to discover what a welcoming climate exists for businesses there. The site-readiness program provides business owners with a streamlined and expedited permitting process, practical tools they need to save them time and money.” Quonset now provides approximately 9,500 full and part time jobs – more than a third of which have been created since 2005 – at over 175 companies, according to spokesman David Preston.

6. If there was any doubt whether Cranston Mayor Allan Fung’s “major announcement” on Nov. 4 will be that he’s running for governor – we know, there wasn’t – this should confirm it: On Nov. 22, the popular Republican will travel to Scottsdale, Ariz. for a candidate information and training session held by the Republican Governors Association. “Our goal is to share the best campaign practices directly with candidates and their campaign managers as we move into an important 2014 election cycle,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Brown graduate who serves as chairman of the RGA, wrote in the invitation. Fung raised about $102,000 during third fundraising quarter that ended Sept. 30, according to campaign aide Patrick Sweeney.

7. Judge beat: The Providence Journal’s Kathy Gregg broke an important story about how Richard Licht, Gov. Chafee’s director of administration, may be able to more than double his pension if he is appointed a Superior Court judge thanks to a 40-year-old provision the benefits only those who have served as a judge, a state lawmaker and in a statewide office. If that seems like a tall task, it is. “In fact, the only person who clearly stood to benefit was Frank Licht, who served as governor from January 1969 to January 1973, after stints as a state senator and Superior Court judge,” Gregg wrote. Gregg followed up by reporting that Chafee, Treasurer Gina Raimondo and House Speaker Gordon Fox all support a repeal of the rule. Meanwhile in Providence, it took all of 20 minutes for a City Council panel to clear the way for former state Senator David Igliozzi to become a Housing Court Judge. The full Council will likely approve Igliozzi’s nomination later this month. Ironically, municipal judicial appointees have traditionally been required to appear in front of the City Council Finance Committee – which is currently chaired by his David’s brother, John Igliozzi – but council leadership essentially dismantled the committee last year in favor of the Ways and Means Committee after having a falling out with Councilman Igliozzi.

8. While R.I. education officials are paying a lot of attention to the achievement gap these days, new data released by the Providence Plan this week showed just how far the state still needs to go. In its first attempt to track a large cohort of students, ProvPlan found that only 59% of minority students in the 8th grade class of 2005 reached the 11th grade on time. Three quarters of non-minority students became high school juniors on time. It gets worse. Of the 1,217 minority students from that cohort who enrolled at CCRI, RIC or URI, 47% didn’t reach the third semester of college. The figures were released at the second annual Rhode Island Education Summit, hosted by state Sen. Juan Pichardo. “We can’t have half of them drop out before their third semester of college,” Board of Education Chairwoman Eva-Marie Mancuso told the audience. “What does that tell us? We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

9. Must-reads for the week: Ted reported that state lawmakers are concerned about behind held out of pension settlement discussions… Providence Journal scribes Bill Malinowski and Amanda Milkovits’ insightful three-part series (here, here and here) on the cost of gun violence in Providence… A Providence College professor figured prominently in this story on the diet of former President Taft, who was obese… My story on school reform critic Diane Ravitch’s visit to URI… My colleague Walt Buteau reported Congressman Langevin won’t return campaign contributions from imprisoned real estate planner Joseph Caramadre… Politico had the definitive inside baseball report on the government shutdown… A brilliant profile on the collapse of Anthony Wiener… A “World Cup of terror“ in Brazil next year… National Review assessed the healthcare exchanges… How Amazon became the everything store under Jeff Bezos… The gap between schooling and education… The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza on how to fix Washington… The best profile ever written on Jay Z… Meet the 9-year-old boss of a Bangladesh sweatshop… For the under 30 crowd, check out this SB Nation story on a streetballer’s trip to Rucker Park.

10. Set your DVRs: This week on NewsmakersTim White looks at the Boston Marathon bombings, six months later. Watch Sunday at 10 a.m. on Fox Providence. This week on Executive SuiteJames Roosevelt Jr., president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan. Watch Saturday at 10:30 p.m. or Sunday at 6 p.m. on myRITV (or Sunday at 6 a.m. on Fox). See you back here next Saturday morning.

Dan McGowan ( ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan

5 thoughts on “The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RI

  1. Good work Dan. You make a great point with #3 – the REAL issue with the teachers unions’ dislike for Taveras is that like Raimondo, he falls solidly into the education reform camp. Fixing our education system is the best thing we can do to make Rhode Island competitive again. The teachers unions are doing everything they can to hold us back because they will lose their power and be irrelevant under a performance-based system.

  2. RI native…which probably means you no longer live in the state….when was the last time you were in classroom? Before you make far reaching bogus claims…do your research…the unions are against performance based teaching…what planet are you from?…oh yeah, right wingers don’t need facts to back up their allegations…I was a teacher for 35 years in the inner city and nothing of what you said about education reform is true…but again the right wing doesn’t need facts….I bet you like michelle bachman…. read a book!

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