The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RIMarch 16th, 2013 at 5:00 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post
1. Why is the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association sending up smoke signals about how much he’d love to have independent incumbent Lincoln Chafee join the party ahead of the 2014 elections? One reason: the White House. Barack Obama clearly likes Chafee and would be glad to give him the same treatment as Charlie Crist. But here’s another reason: Governor Raimondo – specifically, fears about that possibility on the part of national public-sector unions. Blocking the treasurer from winning the governor’s office could be their last shot at preventing her from becoming a national figure who could put a smiling, Democratic spin on cuts in government workers’ benefits. Their voice matters in intraparty debates thanks to the deep pockets of labor groups like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which spend big bucks backing Democratic candidates. Still, blocking Raimondo’s ascent won’t be easy in light of her campaign’s deep pockets and the fact she’s already got full-throated support from the head of Emily’s List.
2. House Speaker Gordon Fox’s allies undoubtedly think their maneuver this week to bottle up the ethics bill served a higher cause: same-sex marriage. The speaker and his allies are locked in a delicate dance with Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed on the issue – trying to find the right balance between pressuring her and protecting her, in the hopes the result will be Senate passage of gay marriage by July. Sending over an ethics bill that Paiva Weed is known to dislike – and takes heat for squashing – was probably not going to butter her up on the marriage issue. Plus, they see Tuesday’s committee vote as an act of revenge by Paddy O’Neill, not a principled stand. Such reasoning is a tad ironic, though, when you consider the majority leader’s own lawyer argued it’s the speaker’s critics who think the ends justify the means.
3. Who will the Republicans put up for statewide office in 2014? Dan Harrop, who hopes to be elected party chairman next week, knows what he wants: Allan Fung for governor, Scott Avedisian somewhere on the ticket, and no primaries. But this week’s Newsmakers shows the GOP isn’t united behind that idea: Harrop’s opponent, Mark Smiley, said he wants Brendan Doherty to run for governor. Of course, in the end it’s up to the potential candidates to decide who’ll run – and while Fung looks like a lock to throw his hat into the ring, Doherty isn’t sure yet.
4. Always on the lookout for Rhode Islanders making a splash in the political world: Gabe Amo, the pride of Pawtucket and a Moses Brown alum, is now working at the White House as a staff assistant in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Gabe worked on Obama’s 2012 campaign in Chicago last year, and it seems likely he’ll make his way back to Rhode Island at some point down the line. (Full disclosure: we went to college together.) And out west, Warwick native and one-time soccer star Andrea Marcoccio is taking over next month as executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. She’s not the first Rhode Island politico to end up there: Kilmartin campaign chief Brett Broesder worked for a time as the Montana Dems’ communications director.
5. And now for our next act, here’s Jack Reed jumping a barrier at the Capitol.
6. I’m grief-stricken about the looming execution of Google Reader, the company’s still-popular RSS reader, which has been an essential part of my Internet reading habits for nearly a decade. (The only service I use more is Instapaper.) It’s been suggested that since the service was free, people don’t have the right to complain that Google is pulling the plug – if you like something, pay for it. Fair enough. But Google never asked us to pay! And if the company had, you can bet a lot of people would have paid a reasonable subscription fee to continue using the familiar and functional service. Google has betrayed its loyal Reader fans: providing a service for years to an omnivorous audience that grew dependent on it, then pulling the plug without consultation. That’s their right, of course, but we don’t have to like it. I won’t forget this wisdom from Farhad Manjoo anytime soon: “Reader’s death illustrates a terrible downside of cloud software – sometimes your favorite, most indispensable thing just goes away.” Still, Marco Arment says Google Reader’s death is actually a good thing; I hope he’s correct.
7. Looking for a thought-provoking read this weekend? I recommend Jerry Muller’s Foreign Affairs opus on what the left and the right get wrong about the modern economy: “Contemporary capitalist polities need to accept that inequality and insecurity will continue to be the inevitable result of market operations and find ways to shield citizens from their consequences – while somehow still preserving the dynamism that produces capitalism’s vast economic and cultural benefits in the first place.”
8. During Tuesday’s press conference where Teresa Paiva Weed unveiled her 25 economic bills, one senator on the speaking list offered particularly fulsome praise for the Senate president, Majority Leader Dom Ruggerio and her Democratic leadership team – Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere. Considering Algiere’s Republican affiliation, you might expect him to be critical of a ruling bloc that’s presiding over the highest unemployment in the nation. Nope: Algiere actually went out of his way to say how much Paiva Weed, Ruggerio and the others have done in recent years to pass laws that are improving Rhode Island’s economy. It was quite a contrast to the hostility toward General Assembly Democrats you often hear at the Republican grassroots in Rhode Island, and it raises the question of how much of an opposition party Rhode Island’s Senate GOP really is. After all, just weeks ago North Kingstown Sen. Dawson Hodgson was the only senator who voted against installing Paiva Weed as Senate president – the other Republicans voted for the Democrat, unlike in the House where they voted for Brian Newberry over Gordon Fox.
9. After seeing Dan McGowan’s list of potential candidates to succeed Angel Taveras as mayor of Providence, a Saturday Morning Post reader argued the lineup could pose a problem for the mayor’s gubernatorial aspirations – there will be more pressure for him to serve another term in the capital city, which ain’t fixed yet, if residents don’t have confidence about the options for finding somebody to take over should Taveras depart to pursue higher office. I’m not sure how much impact that would have on the mayor’s decisions, but there’s no doubt plenty of Providence residents would happily cast November 2014 ballots with Raimondo for governor and Taveras for mayor.
10. You don’t want to miss the all-star panel “Everyday Exposés” this Tuesday at 6 p.m at RIC. Tim White, Ian Donnis, Kathy Gregg, Amanda Milkovits and Scott Pickering will discuss how to use Rhode Island’s Access to Public Records Act to uncover information. (There’s free parking and light refreshments.) The sponsors are NEFAC, ACCESS/RI, Common Cause, the ACLU and the Rhode Island Press Association. [An earlier version of this item incorrectly said the panel is Monday.]
11. Habemus papam! For a primer on Pope Francis, read John Allen’s National Catholic Reporter profile.
12. Set your DVRs: This week on Newsmakers – the two candidates for chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, Dan Harrop and Mark Smiley. Watch Sunday at 10 a.m. on Fox Providence. This week on Executive Suite – the PVD Lady Project’s Julie Sygiel and Sierra Barter, plus top Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee Chris Prazeres. 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.
An earlier version of this column incorrectly said the Everyday Exposes panel is Monday; it’s Tuesday.
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