The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RIAugust 4th, 2012 at 5:00 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post
1. David Cicilline is under no illusions about the uphill battle he faces to win reelection in November. But he’ll benefit from two not-so-secret weapons: campaign manager Eric Hyers and field director Andrew Childs. The ground game Hyers and his fellow Democrats put together in 2010 played a major role in delivering Cicilline a 6-point win during an otherwise dismal year for his party. Childs is a Texan whose last boss was Virginia state Sen. George Barker, known for his bare-knuckled gerrymandering. These guys know how to win on the ground, and this time they can hold onto the coattails of everyone from Barack Obama to local General Assembly candidates. Meanwhile, first-time Republican Brendan Doherty is relying on his political director Rob Coupe, a veteran of the late John Chafee’s campaigns, and the National Republican Congressional Committee to help get him over the finish line.
2. Cicilline’s campaign launched his first TV ad, “Helped,” during the Olympics this week. A GOP source puts the initial buy at $48,500 from July 31 to Aug. 12. For context, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dropped roughly $264,000 on its pro-Doherty ad blitz earlier this year, while so far no outside groups have bought ads to support Cicilline. Meanwhile, Smart Media Group reports Joe Kennedy III just bought $160,000 worth of Providence TV ads for Oct. 16 to Nov. 5.
3. State Sen. Elizabeth Crowley held a press conference in Central Falls this week to protest that the removal of polling places from two senior housing complexes there, Forand Manor and Wilfried Manor, would “effectively disenfranchise” elderly voters. But Common Cause Rhode Island’s John Marion sees a more cynical motive behind Crowley’s sudden enthusiasm for voting rights: “Senior citizens high-rises are chock-full of votes for machine politicians in Rhode Island,” he notes. “While I applaud any effort to protect voters, there were a lot of opportunities during the legislative session – like when they decided to close the polls an hour earlier – when most politicians, including Senator Crowley, didn’t go to bat for all voters.”
4. David Remnick’s 15,000-word New Yorker profile of Bruce Springsteen, “We Are Alive,” is some of the best long-form journalism I’ve ever read. You don’t have to be a Springstreen fan to enjoy it. (Though read Leon Wieseltier’s dissent, too.)
5. Last week’s column noted the four-way Democratic primary in East Providence’s House District 63 and suggested House Democrats’ progressive wing would be glad to have either of the two young candidates, Katherine Kazarian and Sam Lovett – an impression I got directly from someone who’s a member of that progressive wing. Well, the item drew a heated response from a veteran lefty operative, who blasted the suggestion either of them should be seen as the progressive in the race, citing their stands on union and labor issues. He said that mantle should go to Charles Tsonos, the school committee chairman and owner of CLC Menswear. Interesting.
6. And speaking of East Providence, don’t miss this weekend’s Newsmakers debate between Dan DaPonte and Bob DaSilva, who are competing for the Democratic nomination in Senate District 14. (It gets a special airing tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Fox Providence.) The two lawmakers were respectful and on point, but they also demonstrated just how significant the divide is right now among East Providence Democrats (as well as between the party’s legislative leaders and union stalwarts). One of the more surprising exchanges was over 38 Studios – in 2010 both men voted in favor of creating the $125 million loan program the company quickly tapped, but now both say they had no idea that’s what it was going to be used for. DaPonte, who was already leading Senate Finance then, said 38 Studios was “above my pay grade.”
7. The biggest bias in political journalism is toward the Overton window.
8. Peter Kerwin has been leading a lonely crusade since he was abruptly terminated in April by the board of the quasi-public R.I. Higher Education Assistance Authority (RIHEAA), which Kerwin claims was retribution because he tried to stop the merger of RIHEAA with the R.I. Student Loan Authority (RISLA). Kerwin has filed multiple complaints with Attorney General Peter Kilmartin about the two quasi-publics over the past year, including an open meetings complaint filed more than a year ago on July 22, 2011. Kilmartin spokeswoman Amy Kempe says she thinks the year-old complaint will be dealt with “shortly,” and attributed the delay to the various complaints being examined together: “The more complex and the more they intersect, the longer it takes.” Meanwhile, the R.I. Personnel Appeal Board is also taking its time on Kerwin’s wrongful termination complaint: the board is looking at holding a hearing in September, four months after Kerwin says he stopped getting paid.
9. Did you know the new CEO of magazine giant Time Inc., Laura Lang, is a Rhode Island native? She grew up in Warwick.
10. The four Venture for America fellows who are assigned to Providence companies have started their fellowships, founder Andrew Yang reports. They are Brown grad Melanie Friedrichs, assigned to Andera; BC grad Sean Lane, at Swipely; Notre Dame and Brown grad Sean Pennino, at TeeSpring; and Wharton grad Bryant Yik, at MoFuse. For more on VFA, watch Yang’s Executive Suite interview.
11. In Rhode Island, we consider radical the budget-cutting steps taken in places like Central Falls and Providence. But those are nothing compared with Sandy Springs, Ga., which basically privatized its entire municipal government. Local officials who want to try it here will be glad to know the how-to book “Creating the New City of Sandy Springs” is only $3.47 for your Kindle.
12. This week on Newsmakers – a Senate District 14 debate between Democrats Daniel DaPonte and Roberto DaSilva. Watch Saturday at 6:30 p.m. or Sunday at 10 a.m. on Fox Providence. This week on Executive Suite – John Picerne of Picerne Military Housing and Robert Leonard of Leonard Hair Transplant Associates. Watch Sunday at 6 p.m. on myRITV (or 6 a.m. on Fox). See you back here next Saturday morning.
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