Rhode Island is not immune to race politics.
While over the past several years it seemed that there was no huge dividing line between “black” and “white.” And it really was not much of a political issue, but today, it has remerged. Governor Raimondo says Rhode Island has a culture of “white privilege” and as a result she is committed to adding diversity to the ranks of government starting with two judgeships that she will have the opportunity to appoint in the next couple of months
Raimondo is committed to reversing the culture. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has no idea what she is talking about. For his part, he says he doesn’t see the existence of white privilege in Rhode Island. But be careful before you accuse him of not being race-conscious, because in an interview with the Providence Journal, he was quick to tout legislation that was passed under his leadership to combat racial profiling.
Move over, Dillinger
By the way, the House Speaker took some criticism from Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell who called him Public Enemy Number 1. Why? Well, because Mattiello will not support a bill that would restore power to the Rhode Island ethics committee.
Mattiello says the commission was abused and ethics complaints were often filed by political opponents. Apparently, House Minority Leader Brian Newberry agrees because he voted against it in the past. Clearly the ethics commission is once again being used as a political tool since it seems like convenient timing for the party to renew the argument after Mattiello was criticized last week for allegedly giving a legislative grant to a youth Hockey team and then providing them with uniforms that had his name on it.
I picked the Governor, but I didn't pick 3 Deputies
Governor Raimondo has hired a third deputy chief of staff, Lisa Vura-Weis. She has the Ivy League credential and seems more than qualified -- but the question remains, why does the governor need THREE deputy chiefs of staff?
For whom the truck tolls
Truck tolls are back in the news as members of the General Assembly and the Governor seem to be wheeling and dealing to reach a solution to fund construction projects and infrastructure repair in Rhode Island. Perhaps, a judgeship is being leveraged in order the gain support for the Truck Toll plan? It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. Carcieri was infamous for trading judgeships for legislative support.
With the truck tolls returning as a political issue, the truckers have introduced their own plan to fund infrastructure projects. Their plan looks at increasing the diesel tax from 34 to 52 cents and increasing registration fees for trucks. They also suggest refinancing highway bonds to save money. It looks like they are looking to compromise as it appears the passage of the Rhodeworks plan may be imminent. The real question is if the political leaders will bring the truckers into the discussion. It appears Speaker Mattiello is more open to it than the Governor’s office who is afraid the truckers' plan will jeopardize local business.
Painting the legal corners
House Oversight Committee Chairwoman, Karen MacBeth, is calling on Curt Schilling to testify in a hearing regarding the 38 Studios debacle. What a novel idea, have the man behind the deal testify. If I were Karen MacBeth I wouldn’t hold my breath, somehow Schilling managed to escape deposition in the actual court case, I doubt the will be chomping at the bit to testify at the State House. Not surprisingly, Mr. Schilling has not responded to MacBeth’s messages. She says the committee will be willing to pursue a subpoena. Well, good luck with that because he wasn’t even forced to give deposition in the lawsuit against him.
Now, Clay Buchholz has a business idea to pitch
By the way, lawmakers can yell about 38 Studios until their blue in the face, but it seems that the average Rhode Islander has a short memory -- and the 38 Studios deal is quickly being forgotten. Can you blame them? It was like three governors ago and it involves a lot of financial and legal concepts that make most people’s eyes glaze over. Sometimes that’s just the way of things. Rhode Island will probably never see justice on that issue and what the state is recovering in the lawsuit is pennies compared to what is owed.
That’s it for this week. I’ll see you next week!
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