campaign 2014

Gov candidate Fung wants to scrap education board

April 24th, 2014 at 9:49 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung on Thursday pledged to make sweeping changes to Rhode Island’s education system, unveiling a plan that would scrap the state’s two-year-old Board of Education and require the education commissioner to report directly to him.

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Dem gov hopeful Clay Pell unveils economic plan

April 23rd, 2014 at 11:52 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell on Wednesday rolled out his first major policy proposal of the campaign, offering a laundry list of ideas on what he would do to improve the Rhode Island economy if he’s elected in November.

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• PDF: Read the full text of Clay Pell’s economic proposal


Ahead of Easter, RI governor hopefuls discuss their faiths

April 18th, 2014 at 12:01 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – It’s Holy Week and Passover for Christians and Jews around the world, and among those commemorating the solemn religious periods will be the five major candidates for Rhode Island governor, all but one of whom say they’re Christians.

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Brown poll: Raimondo has slight lead over Taveras

April 10th, 2014 at 10:53 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – State treasurer and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo is clinging to a slight lead over Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, but more than a third of primary voters are still undecided, according to a Brown University poll released Thursday.

The new survey of 600 registered Rhode Island voters – including 395 Democratic primary voters – put Raimondo in the lead with 29.4%, with Taveras close behind at 25.8%. Clay Pell finished a distant third at 9.6%. More than 35% of those polled said they were still undecided.

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Education activist Regunberg to run for Fox’s House seat

April 3rd, 2014 at 12:02 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Young liberals have found the candidate they want to replace former Speaker Gordon Fox in the R.I. House of Representatives.

Aaron Regunberg, a 24-year-old community organizer known best for launching the Providence Student Union activist group, said Thursday he plans to run for the House District 4 seat left open by Fox, who resigned as speaker and announced his plans to retire after law enforcement officials raided his Gorton Street home and State House office two weeks ago.

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Republican Loughlin may challenge Cicilline

April 1st, 2014 at 10:59 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Congressman David Cicilline may have a serious challenger after all.

John Loughlin, a former Republican state representative who lost to Cicilline by six percentage points in 2010, said Tuesday he is considering challenging the two-term incumbent later this year. He said he will make a final decision in the “very near future” and could declare his candidacy as soon as next week.

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Mayoral candidates want to hire minorities, fix schools

April 1st, 2014 at 6:05 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Five mayoral hopefuls outlined their vision for Rhode Island’s capital city Monday, promising to hire more minorities and women, improve the school system and build a more diverse police force during a candidate forum at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on Cranston Street.

The forum was moderated by Brown University political science professor Marion Orr and hosted by the Rhode Island Black Business Association, a 501(c)6 nonprofit founded in 2010. The candidates included Democrats City Council President Michael Solomon, former Housing Court Judge Jorge Elorza, former Water Supply Board Chairman Brett Smiley, East Side businessman Lorne Adrain and Republican Daniel Harrop.

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Providence’s pension return tops state’s since ’11

March 27th, 2014 at 5:50 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The pension plan in Rhode Island’s capital city has outperformed the state’s fund since Democratic rivals Mayor Angel Taveras and Treasurer Gina Raimondo took office, the city’s longtime financial consultants said Thursday.

The analysis, conducted by Boston-based Wainwright Investment Counsel, shows Providence’s $284 million in investments earned a 10.9% return between 2011 and 2013, while the state pension fund earned a 9.2% return during the same time period.

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Rep. Marcello claims he has votes to become speaker

March 22nd, 2014 at 11:21 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Nicholas Mattiello isn’t the only state representative who believes he has the votes to be the next speaker of the House.

Michael Marcello, D-Scituate, said Saturday he has assembled a team that would include him as speaker, Rep. Chris Blazejewski, D-Providence, as majority leader, and keep Rep. Stephen Ucci, D-Johnston, in his role as majority whip. Helio Melo, D-East Providence, would remain chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee.

“We have the votes,” Marcello said.

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NEARI teachers’ union swings support behind Clay Pell

March 20th, 2014 at 4:36 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Rhode Island’s most powerful teachers’ union has officially thrown its support behind political newcomer Clay Pell in this year’s Democratic primary for governor.

The NEA Rhode Island Political Action Committee for Education (NEARI-PACE), the political arm of the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI), made its endorsement official on Thursday.

“Clay gets it,” NEARI President Larry Purtill said in a statement, suggesting the 32-year-old would “stop the testing craze” and provide educators with “the resources and personnel” they need.

“I’m deeply honored to have earned their support,” Pell said in a statement.

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Raimondo proposes more RI infrastructure spending

March 17th, 2014 at 11:49 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo on Monday put forward the second piece of what she says will be her campaign’s comprehensive jobs plan, proposing a significant increase in state spending on infrastructure.

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• Related: Taveras proposes new CCRI job-training program (March 11)


Rep. Ray Hull mulling run for Providence mayor

March 17th, 2014 at 10:54 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – State Rep. Ray Hull, a veteran member of the Providence Police Department, is considering tossing his hat into the city’s already-crowded mayor’s race, WPRI.com has learned.

The 50-year-old Providence Democrat confirmed Monday that he is planning to launch an exploratory committee “very soon,” but said he did not wish to comment further until his plans are finalized.

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Most gov candidates oppose NECAP, support testing

March 13th, 2014 at 7:28 am by under General Talk

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – All but one of Rhode Island’s major gubernatorial candidates have found something they agree on: The NECAP standardized test should not be part of the state’s high school graduation requirements.

Democrats Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Clay Pell as well as Republican Cranston Mayor Allan Fung all said Tuesday they oppose tying results on the test to a high school diploma, but indicated they aren’t completely against the use of standardized testing in education.

Businessman Ken Block, who is challenging Fung in the Republican primary, said he supports the graduation requirements that are already in place, which include the use of the NECAP – short for the New England Common Assessment Program – for the classes of 2014, 2015, and 2016 before moving to another assessment beginning the following year.

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Taveras proposes new job-training program at CCRI

March 11th, 2014 at 11:15 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras on Tuesday put forward a proposal to have the Community College of Rhode Island offer up to 2,000 Rhode Islanders specialized job training tailored to the needs of individual companies.

Gina Raimondo quickly dismissed the Taveras plan as just “baby steps,” which led the Taveras campaign to accuse the treasurer of “trying to score cheap political points.” Republican Ken Block, meanwhile, said both Democrats want “more big government business as usual.”

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• Related: Raimondo rolls out plan to boost RI manufacturing (March 10)


Raimondo rolls out plan to boost RI manufacturing

March 10th, 2014 at 1:51 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo on Monday put forward the first piece of what she said will be a comprehensive plan to grow Rhode Island’s economy and add jobs in a state with the nation’s highest unemployment rate.

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Watch Newsmakers: Guillaume De Ramel; Rep. Jay Edwards

March 9th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Myrth York, former Taveras ally, backs Raimondo for gov

March 5th, 2014 at 8:30 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The woman who made three unsuccessful runs for governor of Rhode Island is throwing her support behind a new contender for the job.

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Smiley wants overhaul of Providence loan program

March 4th, 2014 at 4:15 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The mayor of Providence would have no say over a controversial taxpayer-funded small business loan program controlled by the city, under a proposal released by mayoral candidate Brett Smiley Tuesday.

Smiley, an East Side resident and former chairman of the city’s Water Supply Board, is calling for the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP) to establish an independent program that would place “loan-making decisions in the hands of qualified underwriters” rather than the agency’s current 15-member board.

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Steve Jobs’ widow to co-host Raimondo fundraiser in Calif.

March 4th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s gubernatorial campaign is getting support from Silicon Valley royalty.

Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, will co-host a fundraiser for Raimondo on March 25 in Palo Alto, Calif., along with SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, who is married to Facebook executive and “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg, and David Crane, a former advisor to Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who has backed changes to public pensions in the Golden State.

“Gina represents a dynamic new generation of Democratic leaders – she helped usher in progress for Rhode Island by adhering to key principles that have steadily guided her career: creativity, tenaciousness, and listening well,” the invitation, obtained by WPRI.com, states. Suggested contributions are $250 to $1,000.

The Raimondo event is part of an Election Speaker Series organized by Emerson Collective, a nonprofit founded by Powell Jobs, according to the invitation. Powell Jobs gave a maximum $1,000 donation to the treasurer’s campaign last September, while Crane has given Raimondo $2,000 since 2012 and Goldberg has given her $1,000, according to R.I. Board of Elections records.

Raimondo’s campaign confirmed the event but declined to say how long the treasurer will be in California or whether she will hold other events while she’s on the West Coast.

• Related: Clay Pell loans his campaign $1M; Gina Raimondo has $2.5M (Feb. 2)


Taveras chief of staff leaving to launch consulting firm

February 27th, 2014 at 5:28 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The man largely credited with helping save Providence from bankruptcy is leaving City Hall.

Michael D’Amico, who served as the city’s director of administration since Mayor Angel Taveras took office in 2011, plans to launch a consulting firm that will specialize in finance and accounting, union contracts, and labor and government relations.

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Solomon hires Taveras aide as campaign manager

February 27th, 2014 at 12:29 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Another top aide to Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is leaving City Hall, but she isn’t going too far.

Liz White, who has served as Taveras’s deputy director of communications since last year, is departing to manage City Council President Michael Solomon’s campaign for Providence’s top job. Taveras, a first-term Democrat, is running for governor.

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Dems angling to succeed Raimondo all back pension deal

February 26th, 2014 at 12:53 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The men vying to succeed Gina Raimondo as Rhode Island’s general treasurer are all supporting the proposed settlement she recently announced that would end unions’ legal challenge to the 2011 pension law.

The three Democrats running for treasurer are former Treasurer Frank Caprio, former Internal Auditor Ernie Almonte, and political newcomer Seth Magaziner. No Republican has entered the race so far.

Almonte spoke out Wednesday in a Providence Journal op-ed, describing the settlement as possibly “the best short-term option” while also criticizing how long lawmakers allowed the pension problem to fester.

“This is a worthwhile settlement because it achieves significant savings without costly litigation and uncertainty,” Almonte, who raised red flags about the pension problem as internal auditor, wrote. “But it also highlights the true cost of continuing to delay making difficult decisions that will shape our state’s future.”

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Taveras, Raimondo exchange harsh words over pensions

February 25th, 2014 at 3:49 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The campaigns of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo exchanged fire Tuesday about the two Democrats’ records on pensions, signaling Rhode Island’s ongoing battle over retirement benefits will be a battleground in this year’s primary for governor.

“Not only has the mayor failed to solve Providence’s pension problem, for most of his term he was too busy to bother with it,” Raimondo campaign manager Eric Hyers told WPRI.com. “He skipped 80% of the meetings of the board that oversees the city’s pension fund in the first half of his term.”

“We’re not surprised that she’s attacking him now since her constantly evolving positions and statements prove that she will say or do anything to get elected,” Taveras campaign manager Danny Kedem told WPRI.com.

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Republican Ken Block calls for state tax overhaul

February 25th, 2014 at 1:46 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – If he’s elected governor, Ken Block is going to have a busy first year in office.

The Republican candidate for Rhode Island’s top job unveiled an ambitious plan to overhaul the state’s tax structure Tuesday, pledging to reduce the car tax, corporate tax and estate tax all in his first year as governor.

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Watch Newsmakers: Roundtable on primaries, pension deal

February 23rd, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Chart: Comparing Raimondo, Fung and Taveras on pensions

February 18th, 2014 at 12:39 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Three of Rhode Island’s major candidates for governor this year – Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras – have all struck deals with union members and retirees over the last two years to reduce the shortfalls in the pension funds for which they’re responsible.

So how much did they save?

In dollar terms, Raimondo obviously achieved the highest savings: a $3.9 billion cut in the state’s unfunded liability under the terms of last week’s proposed settlement, compared with a $186.4 million reduction from Taveras’s settlement and a $37.4 million reduction from Fung’s settlement. But that’s not really a fair comparison, since the two mayors were dealing with significantly smaller total liabilities.

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Watch RI PBS’s Lively Experiment on polls, pensions

February 18th, 2014 at 10:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Rhode Island PBS invited me to join the panel for last week’s edition of “A Lively Experiment,” along with Scott MacKay, Wendy Schiller and Dave Layman. The four of us carved up the new WPRI/Journal poll about the Democratic gubernatorial primary and discussed the pension settlement. Here’s the full show:


New WPRI/Projo Poll: Taveras 31%, Raimondo 27%, Pell 15%

February 12th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Treasurer Gina Raimondo are locked in a tight battle for the Democratic nomination for governor, with Taveras holding a slight lead but one in four primary voters still undecided, an exclusive WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll released Wednesday shows.

The new survey of 503 likely Rhode Island Democratic primary voters puts Taveras on top at 31%, with Raimondo close behind at 27% and political newcomer Clay Pell further back at 15%. An even larger share of primary voters – 25% – haven’t decided whom they’ll support in the Sept. 9 election.

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• Interactive: Dig into the full results and crosstabs for the new WPRI/Journal poll


New WPRI/Projo Poll: 46% of primary voters back pension law

February 11th, 2014 at 5:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Fewer than half of Democratic primary voters in Rhode Island support the 2011 pension overhaul championed by one of the party’s leading candidates for governor, Treasurer Gina Raimondo, an exclusive WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll released Tuesday shows.

The new survey of 503 likely Democratic primary voters also shows 70% of them think it’s important that a candidate for governor has prior elective experience, a key question for Raimondo rival Clay Pell, while 55% think Providence’s financial problems have been only somewhat solved by Mayor Angel Taveras, another Democratic candidate for governor, since he took office in 2011.

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• Interactive: Dig into the full results and crosstabs for the new WPRI/Journal poll

Tomorrow at 5 a.m. – find out whether Raimondo, Taveras or Pell holds the lead among primary voters.


Buddy Cianci looms large over Providence mayor’s race

February 10th, 2014 at 1:23 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A year ago, it was a whisper. Six months ago, a growing rumor. Now it’s the talk of the town.

Former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. said he isn’t ready to publicly discuss whether he’ll make a third political comeback later this year, but the 72-year-old acknowledged he is aware that his name has appeared in several polls linked to the mayor’s race in Rhode Island’s capital city.

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