If I hear the words hunker down one more time this week I might go insane.
Between Governor Raimondo and local news broadcasters the phrase must have been used over a thousand times this week. If you played a drinking game to take a shot every time you heard the words you would have been dead within the first four hours of the storm.
Because I'm your Governor, that's why!
That said, Governor Gina Raimondo comes out on top this week for her leadership during the blizzard. While some were critical after they were notified of the statewide travel ban most people were supportive and thought that it was a good an effective idea. Less than three weeks in her first term as governor Raimondo had to make some big decisions declaring a state of emergency and implementing a travel ban that lasted almost a day.
After the ban was lifted the roads did seem to be significantly better and State Police say before the ban there were over 70 accidents, after there were none.
Raimondo started off shaky and almost nervous in her first press conference. She sounded the alarm and alerted Rhode Islanders of the upcoming travel ban. She also took on the role of “mom’ expressing her concerns about everyone’s safety and urging everyone to get prepared and stay save. Maybe that’s the touch Rhode Islanders needed because most people heeded the travel ban and it lead to an effective clean up.
Something out of nothing
Did you also notice that newly elected Lt. Governor Dan McKee stood by Raimondo the entire time? This is big. Technically the Lt. Governor didn’t have to be there but he was and he worked with officials on the storm management. Not only was it a good showing of solidarity it was a chance for the Lt. Governor to show that he plans to be involved and do something despite the criticisms that the Lt. Governor is a do nothing job.
Meanwhile, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza weathered his first storm too. Unfortunately, Elorza took some criticism on Thursday when the city decided to open schools and some people were concerned about safety because sidewalks and bus stops were buried in snow. Traffic in and around the city was also a mess on Thursday morning as commuters were trying to watch out for ice and pedestrians. The problem is even if the city had decided to keep schools closed the mayor would still be taking criticism from parents who need to send their kids to school so they can go to work. I guess you could say it’s a “snow-win situation.”
State Representative David Bennett introduced legislation which would require high schools and middle schools to carry narcan. This in itself is frightening. It basically means there is reason to suspect that school age kids might be overdosing on heroin. While narcan in schools may save a life, the bigger problem here is that our kids are getting heroin. Perhaps the bill should include some drug prevention programs too.
It’s not me, it's you
Colin Kane resigned as the head of the 195 Commission yesterday. This is no surprise since Governor Raimondo has been outspoken on the importance of using the land productively. Raimondo has even said maybe we don’t need to let the market dictate how we use the vacant land. The land has been vacant since 2011 when the 195 relocation project was finished. Almost 4 years later the commission is still struggling to find tenants. Kane most likely resigned at the request of the governor and perhaps she is right after 4 years maybe it is time to take the development in a new direction. Hopefully she let him down nicely.
Jim Bennett also resigned as chairman of the Convention Center and from his role as the head of Providence’s Department of Economic Development. Bennett said he will go to the private sector and noted that Raimondo deserves to pick her own team. It was a graceful way to go. Hopefully, whoever she picks to fill the role will be up to the challenge.
Meanwhile, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is still waiting for a decision from Tulsa on whether she will land an education commissioner gig there. Either way, she is out here after her contract was not renewed. Does this mean that Clay Pell might be the next Rhode Island Education Commissioner? It’s what everyone is thinking. If Pell is picked as commissioner it would be a way for the Governor to throw a bone to the teachers unions. Remember at the last minute some union leaders put their support behind Raimondo despite her support for pension reform.
Last but not least, Go Patriots. Most of us will be glues to our TV’s this weekend as we watch the big game. According to a Madden video game simulcast, the Patriots will be down in the first half but catch up in the second half, scoring the game winning touchdown in the final minutes. We will see.
As an aside, Aaron Hernandez was the last Patriots player to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl. In 2012 he scored the teams last touchdown against the Giants. Today, he’s on trial for murder.
Enjoy the game, the commercials and the half time show even though admittedly Katy Perry is a Sea Hawks fan. I’ll fill you in on the political football next week.