RI State Report: Block v. Fox, RIGOP Push for Latino Vote; More
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Block Calls Speaker Fox an Imperialistic Leader; Fox Responds
Moderate Party candidate for governor Ken Block has accused House Speaker Gordon Fox of being an imperial speaker who does not have his constituents’ best interests in mind.
“The Speaker of the House exerts almost complete control over the legislative process in the RI General Assembly,” Block told GoLocal on . “No bill passes that the Speaker does not want to pass.”
Specifically, Block references Fox’s decision to kill the Master Lever bill, which looked to repeal a 1939 Rhode Island law that created a straight party option at the polls.
“Despite the support of a majority of 42 state Representatives, thousands of emails from concerned RI voters and unanimous testimony of more than 100 people who came to the State House in person to testify that the Master Lever had to go, the Speaker personally killed the bill in the most unaccountable way possible—he did not allow the House Judiciary Committee to vote on the bill,” Block told GoLocal.
According to Block, Speaker Fox’s approach puts him at odds with the will of the people.
“When the Speaker defies the wishes of both the people who he is elected to represent and his legislative members who have clearly indicated their position on this issue, he is not working in the best interest of Rhode Island citizens,” Block told GoLocal.
Speaker Fox’s Reaction
“Once again, gubernatorial candidate Ken Block is issuing self-serving statements for his own political gain," said Larry Berman, spokesman for Speaker Fox. "Speaker Fox has stated on numerous occasions that he believes the master lever is a legitimate option that many voters choose to utilize.”
Master Lever Debate
In April, Block released data showing that killing the Master Lever legislation helped Speaker Fox avoid defeat in November. According to Block, the final results of the District 4 State Representative race between Speaker Fox and challenger Mark Binder showed that Master Lever votes likely made the difference in helping the Speaker keep his seat.
Check out more news from the week below
The RI GOP and Latinos
Harrop Blasts RI GOP Over Failure to Attract Hispanics.
On Tuesday, Republican candidate for mayor of Providence Daniel Harrop criticized the RI GOP over its ineffective attempts to court the Hispanic vote and it’s poor handling of immigration reform.
“The RI GOP has not addressed this constituency successfully,” Harrop told GoLocal. “The RI GOP is going to make no significant headway in the General Assembly without picking up some seats in the urban core in Rhode Island.”
According to Harrop, the RI GOP has been particularly ineffective in appealing to Rhode Island’s Hispanic popular due to its stance on immigration reform.
“The Democrats have been successful because they have supported immigration reform. And why not? Who is going to deport 12 million plus people immigrants? The Democrats have also continually stood with the Hispanic community while the RI GOP has continued to insist on little to no contact until the borders are sealed and the immigration issues are settled,” said Harrop.
As for Harrop, he supports the Dream Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), which was first proposed in the U.S. Senate in 2001.
“As a candidate several times in Providence, I have specifically supported the Dream Act, immigration reform leading to a pathway to citizenship, and in-state tuition fees for high school graduates who may not have appropriate residency documentation,” Harrop said.
“We are losing generations of new voters in failing to support immigration reform, as Ronald Reagan did,” added Harrop.
In order to address this gap, Harrop is encouraging Republican candidates, staff and supporters to attend the Roosevelt Society’s upcoming “Engaging Latinos in Your Community & Political Organizations” event, which will address ways to effectively and respectfully engage the Hispanic population in community and/or political efforts.
The RI GOP currently has a Hispanic Assembly tasked with reaching out to Hispanic voters, but the group has been largely unsuccessful attracting the state’s more than 54,000 eligible Hispanic voters.
Michael Napolitano, RI GOP Communications Director, told GoLocal that he acknowledges the party could be doing more to attract Hispanic voters and stated that they’re currently “working on messaging.”
In regard to immigration reform, Napolitano told GoLocal that the RI GOP does support a pathway to citizenship as long as it includes sealing the country’s borders and implementing an e-verification system.
Interestingly, former Rhode Island Republican Hispanic Assembly chairman Ivan Marte resigned his post and quit the GOP in 2009 following South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst during a President Obama address to Congress in which he shouted “You lie,” while the President was speaking.
City Council Contenders
Fmr. Fire Chief Eyeing Solomon’s Council Seat.
GoLocal learned earlier this week that former Providence Fire Chief George Farrell may be looking to run for the soon-to-be vacant Ward 5 council seat, which is currently held by Council President Michael Solomon, who is expected to run for mayor.
Farrell was the chief of the department from 2007 until 2011, when he retired citing health concerns resulting from a battle with leukemia. Prior to serving as chief, Farrell served State Fire Marshal. He is currently president of Farrell Associates, LLC, Fire Code Consulting Group.
Sources also told GoLocal that former Ward 5 councilman Patrick Butler, who narrowly lost to Solomon in 2006 is considering running for his old seat. Additionally, Joe Elliott, an inspector at the Providence Department of Inspections & Standards and neighborhood activist in the Pleasant Valley Parkway area, is also looking to run.
Interestingly, Elliot’s potential city council candidacy may be at odds with the Providence City Charter’s “Prohibited activities and conflicts of interest” guidelines.
According to the Providence City Charter Section 1206:
Employees and/or appointed officers are prohibited from becoming official candidates and from holding any elected public office of the government of the City of Providence. Employees and/or appointed officers who become candidates for such offices in the City of Providence shall be granted an unpaid leave of absence for up to six (6) months, with no individual receiving more than six (6) months leave of absence within a four-year period, dating from the beginning of the first leave of absence. Upon election to a public office of the government of the City of Providence, the individual shall cease to be an employee or appointed officer of the City of Providence.
As a result, Elliott would either have to resign his position with the City or take an unpaid leave of absence six months prior to next year’s November 2014 election. The charter also prohibits employees and appointed officers from engaging in political activities during work hours while employed by the City—which would directly affect Elliott.
Ward 5 (Elmhurst and Mount Pleasant) has traditionally been a key ward for mayoral elections and is typically the highest non-East Side neighborhood in terms of voter turnout.
Columbus Day Parade
Block Denied Access to March in Columbus Day Parade.
On Monday, GoLocal learned that Moderate Party candidate for governor Ken Block was denied access to march in Sunday’s Columbus Day parade in Federal Hill.
“Yes, that’s the case,” Matthew Schweich, Policy Director for Block, told GoLocal. Schweich declined to comment any further.
Interestingly, sources tell GoLocal that candidate for General Treasurer Ernie Almonte, who is not currently an elected official, was allowed to march in the parade.
Being an elected official hasn’t always granted politicians easy entrance to march in Rhode Island's various parades. In his autobiography Pasta and Politics, former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci chronicled his long-standing struggle with Bristol Fourth of July Parade organizers, who were less than welcoming to Cianci during his 1980 gubernatorial run.
Additionally, in 2008, former Providence Mayor David Cicilline was a vocal opponent against Cianci marching in the very same parade saying, “It is enormously embarrassing and defies logic and ethics in every conceivable way.”
RI Delegation Fundraising
Sen. Reed Leads Rhode Island Congressional Delegation in Third Quarter Fundraising.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed’s war chest grew to more than $2.8 million after an impressive third quarter in which he raised $452,902, according to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission. Reed’s total far surpasses the other three members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation. Reed, who is up for re-election in 2014, does not currently have an opponent.
Here’s the fundraising breakdown, according to the latest quarterly filings, which covers June 30 through Sept. 30:
- Sen. Jack Reed: Raised $452,902; $2.84 million cash on hand.
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse: Raised $59,411; $730,124 cash on hand.
- Rep. Jim Langevin: Raised $141,093; $265,249 cash on hand.
- Rep. David Cicilline: Raised $160,145; $261,966 cash on hand.
Whitehouse, who handedly won his reelection bid in 2012, won’t face reelection until 2018. No Republicans have stepped forward to run against Langevin and Cicilline so far, but Independent candidate Jonathan Maciel has announced that he will challenge Cicilline for his 1st District seat.
Source of data: http://www.fec.gov/
New Taveras Appointee
Mayor Taveras Appoints Xay Khamsyvoravong to Providence Water Supply Board.
Following Mayor Angel Taveras’ appointment of Xay Khamsyvoravong to serve on the Providence Water Supply Board, the appointment was recently confirmed by the Providence City Council and approved last night by the Providence Water Supply Board. The Board nominated and voted Xay to serve as Board Chairman. Xay’s appointment was made to fill the vacancy created by the recent resignation of Board Chairman Brett Smiley.
“Over half of Rhode Islanders rely on Providence Water for clean, reliable water, making it one of the city’s and the state’s most important assets,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “I am confident that Xay will provide invaluable leadership and insight to Providence Water.”
Xay, a Providence native and resident, brings to the Board a strong background in government and infrastructure. Over the course of his financial career, Xay has handled over one billion dollars in financings for government borrowers across the country, with nearly half of those transactions funding water and wastewater projects. He currently works as a vice president of government and institutional banking at Webster Bank, and has a background in public finance.
Xay also brings extensive public service experience, having served as the deputy chief of staff in the state treasury at the height of the financial crisis, advising the treasurer and handling the office’s policy, communications and intergovernmental affairs.
Xay holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brown University and a master’s degree from Brown University’s Taubman Center for Public Policy. He is a past recipient of undergraduate fellowships from Yale Law School’s Arthur Liman Public Interest Fund and Harvard Law School’s Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising.
“I am excited and honored to have this opportunity to serve the City,” said Xay. “The Providence Water Supply Board has demonstrated the important role that the City has and will continue to have in the effective regionalization of municipal services. I look forward to working with Mayor Taveras, the team at Providence Water, and our regional partners to ensure the transparent and financially prudent operation of Providence Water.”
Fung's Big Announcement
Mayor Allan Fung Announces That Big News is on the Way.
Earlier this week, the Committee for Allan Fung urged Rhode Islanders to mark their calendars for November 4, because the Cranston Mayor plans to make a “major announcement.”
Although Mayor Fung won’t yet divulge whether he’s running for governor in 2014, Fung’s most recent campaign e-mail announcement seems to indicate that he is.
In the email, Fung’s Committee touts the Mayor’s recently released fundraising figures—which showed that Fung raised over $100,000 last quarter—as well as last week’s Brown University poll that showed the Mayor tied in a potential governor’s race.
In regard to the poll, Patrick Sweeney, a consultant for Fung, told GoLocal: “Though Mayor Fung is still in the process of exploring a potential run for governor, the Brown poll shows he is in a very strong position for being 14 months out."
Sweeney went on to add: “Given Rhode Island's history of electing Republican governors, there is no question that when people get to know Mayor Fung, learn the great things he has done for Cranston, and listen to his vision for RI, our numbers will strengthen."
Fung’s e-mail message concludes by stating: “Of significant note, the people of Rhode Island are only beginning to learn of the great things the Mayor is doing in Cranston, but they are going to be learning a lot more on November 4th!”
Stay tuned for updates prior to Nov. 4, as well as Fung’s big announcement.
Taveras Education Tour
Mayor Taveras Stops in Denver on His Ongoing Mayors for Education Excellence Tour.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras joined Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to tour Denver’s public schools on Wednesday as part of the Mayors for Educational Excellence Tour (MEET).
"The tour offers us an opportunity to share innovative strategies and overhaul how we approach education. Providence is focused on the strategies necessary to dramatically raise the percentage of students reading on grade level by the end of third grade," said Taveras. "Working with a coalition of community partners, we are placing hundreds of high-impact volunteers in city classrooms, boosting kindergarten readiness, expanding meaningful summer learning opportunities and working to address chronic absenteeism. Providence's comprehensive plan to invest in young people and improve third grade reading proficiency has earned national recognition."
The mayors will continue to highlight fresh policies and programs at each of the stops in Sacramento, Providence and San Antonio. Over the course of the next several months, MEET and the Mayors hope to be the voice and start of nationwide change in public schools.
MEET was founded to share successful education policies and programs from each mayor's K-12 public school system that can be implemented in school districts across the country. Though the mayors have employed different educational policies and programs in each of their cities, they are united in purpose: bringing the most transformative, successful measures to schools across the country.
Giroux Proposes IG
Candidate Giroux Wants to hire Rhode Island’s First Inspector General.
On Tuesday, Independent candidate for governor Todd Giroux proposed that Rhode Island hire its first Inspector General in order to promote government transparency and investigate waste, fraud, and abuse.
“The transparency of government is often promised and seldom delivered by the revolving door of mainstream politicians,” Giroux told GoLocal. “I want to change that by hiring the first Inspector General here in Rhode Island to provide continuity of oversight for compliance to state contracts, agreements by executive boards and to the legislative actions and commitments the people of Rhode Island take ownership of when leaders make their closed door deals. “
“I have been suggesting the Inspector General position for Rhode Island since my first run for Governor in 2010 and here is why. The nature of a part time Rhode Island Legislature often runs out of time leading to the passage of hundreds of bills at the last session that have serious consequences for Rhode Island taxpayers such as the 38 Studios, bridge tolls and infrastructure projects like our new bridge built on top of a decaying hurricane barrier. We all have the experience to know the state’s history of projects, waste and duplication be it the Rhode Island Resource Recovery, the Economic Development Corporation, and all the nooks, crooks, cronies build in to the system of existing budget levels” Giroux added.
Last spring, State Senator James Sheehan introduced legislation that would establish an Office of Inspector General as an independent administrative agency, with the purpose of preventing and detecting fraud, waste, abuse or mismanagement in the expenditure of public funds.
Massachusetts is currently the only New England state that has an Inspector General.
- RI State Report: 2014 Budget Highlights
- RI State Report: Big Bucks For Raimondo + Unionization Battle
- RI State Report: Big Money For Rhode Island’s Hospitals + Coast
- RI State Report: Chafee Out + Budget Surpluses
- RI State Report: EDC Overhaul + Twin River Table Games
- RI State Report: Education Bills + Chafee Switches Parties
- RI State Report: Fox Investigated, Gag Orders + More
- RI State Report: Fung’s Governor Moves + 38 Studios Hearings
- RI State Report: Gay Marriage + RI Launches Feel-Good Campaign
- RI State Report: Gay Marriage, Stress + Tax-Free Liquor Days
- RI State Report: Gov’t Shutdown, New Gubernatorial Hopeful + More
- RI State Report: Grants For Vets + Bishop Tobin Switches Parties
- RI State Report: Help For Voters + RI Small Businesses
- RI State Report: Made in RI + Tax Incentives to Live Healthier
- RI State Report: Marriage Equality + Tax Hikes On The Rich
- RI State Report: Medicaid Fraud, Kidnapping + Seat Belt Laws
- RI State Report: Minimum Wage, Woonsocket + Cutting School Days
- RI State Report: More Tolls, Bryant Pays + Casino Theft
- RI State Report: Pro-Life Plates + 10-Cent Sakonnet Toll
- RI State Report: Rhode Island Gets Big Money For Housing + Medicare
- RI State Report: Sexual Discrimination, State Worker Theft + More
- RI State Report: Strip Clubs, Guns + Drugs
- RI State Report: Twin River, CPR Certification + Drunk-Driving Loophole
- RI State Report: Veto, Veto, Veto
- RI State Report: Workforce Grants + Relief for Homeowners