Baldelli-Hunt denies politics at play in Woonsocket stalemateJune 12th, 2012 at 3:33 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Governor Chafee’s office and the Woonsocket House delegation are still at loggerheads over the lawmakers’ undisclosed demands in exchange for approval of a supplemental tax the state says is necessary to keep the city solvent. Speculation has swirled about what role, if any, Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt’s political ambitions are playing in the machinations. I asked her about that outside the House chamber on Tuesday; here’s what she said:
NESI: Rep, how much of this is about your relationship with Mayor Fontaine?
BALDELLI-HUNT: Excuse me?
NESI: I said, how much of this is about your relationship with Leo Fontaine? He’s the mayor.
BALDELLI-HUNT: I know he’s the mayor. I’ve lived in the city for 50 years. But I don’t understand what you mean, is this about -
NESI: Well, you’re known to have a strained relationship, it’s often said how you want to run for mayor in the future, and certainly it would look pretty bad if he -
BALDELLI-HUNT: Quite frankly – are you Ted Nesi?
BALDELLI-HUNT: Quite frankly, if I want to run for mayor, I’m not intimidated by anyone, and I would run for mayor. So you implying that it’s politics? You’re totally off base. So get your facts straight before you imply anything.
NESI: So you’re not running for mayor or you might?
BALDELLI-HUNT: I said, if I ever want to run for mayor in the city of Woonsocket I would run for mayor, no matter who runs for mayor.
NESI: And are you interested in doing so?
BALDELLI-HUNT: If I’m interested in doing so, you’ll know when I declare.
NESI: While they’re in bankruptcy court? So you can be the savior?
BALDELLI-HUNT: You know what? You’re very cute.
And with that, she walked into the chamber. The governor’s office has yet to comment on the latest proposal from the lawmakers, which they discussed for hours on Monday night. With the House moving to adjourn by the end of Tuesday’s business, the clock is ticking for Woonsocket.
Update: Revenue Director Rosemary Booth Gallogly just confirmed the Woonsocket delegation has demanded that she support amending the Fiscal Stability Act to remove Mayor Leo Fontaine and City Council President John Ward from the city’s new budget commission in exchange for approval of the supplemental tax. The proposed change in state law would only apply to Woonsocket, Gallogly said.
Update #2: Here’s the full slate of demands from the Woonsocket delegation, according to Gallogly:
- remove the mayor and council president from the budget commission
- create a study commission to investigate Woonsocket’s deficit problems
- support passage of H 7966A to halt a sewer plant’s construction
- provide extra education funding to the city paid for by state taxpayers
- lower the supplemental tax increase and exclude it from the future tax base
Gallogly, who met with the lawmakers until nearly midnight Monday, said she disagreed with the proposal to remove the two elected officials from the budget commission because having them there keeps some local control and is cheaper since they serve for free. She said steps will be taken to investigate the deficits already.
In addition, she said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is requiring construction of the wastewater treatment plant; the state can’t appropriate extra education money for just one municipality this late in the budget season; and their proposed smaller supplemental tax would not provide enough revenue long-term.
Update #3: Rep. Jon Brien, another member of the Woonsocket delegation, said the governor’s office is now considering a new counteroffer from them to get the supplemental tax through. This one would use a different number as the city’s new tax base and postpone the sewer plant while a court appeal of a similar project progresses in Massachusetts.