The portrait of Governor Chafee was unveiled at the State House this week in a special ceremony. Noticeably absent from that ceremony… former Governor Chafee. Last week, Chafee explained he didn’t want his presence to detract from the beginning of Gina Raimondo’s term in office. Maybe, but more than likely he is completely disenfranchised with Rhode Island Politcs and is ready to be out of the lime light for a while after all the controversy that surrounded his term in office. No surprise Chafee is still marred in controversy has he refuses to show up to the unveiling of his own portrait. Ultimately he has ended his term as he began it but making moves that no one quite understands.
Speaking of missing governors…
Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena got tough during his inauguration ceremony on Monday. The mayor, being sworn in for a fifth term, touted the town’s success in managing the unfunded pension liability. He also took aim at former Governor Carcieri for balancing the state’s budget by cutting aid to cities and towns. He even reference the 38 Studios debacle saying that today the former Governor can’t even be found by a search warrant. Looks like local municipalities never quite got over the drastic cuts implemented by Carcieri in his last term in office.
Ready for my close-up
Meanwhile, there are some people who DO want to be found and photographed; it has been the week of photo-ops for the newly elected governor and state officers. This week, many of them appeared at Mayor Polisena’s swearing in, and then a peace vigil held by the dioceses, and then they toured Harrington Hall with the Homeless Coalition. Hopefully in between the schmoozing and kumbaya moments they have had a chance to look at some of the issues facing the state.
Another photo-op this week between Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and new city Council President Luis Aponte, the two having their first sit down meeting this week.
Policy Academy 8: Citizens Under-Patrolled
Regarding Providence, the city council is moving to put more police officers on the street calling on the mayor to include funding for a police academy in his first budget. Elorza said during his campaign that he intended to grow the department over eight years. The questions: Can the effort to hire more police officers begin in year one? Or is the budget shortfall too high to add more officers.
The General Assembly is back to work and Representative Joe Shekarchi is trying to put people back to work. The Warwick Representative has introduced legislation to give companies incentives to hire new employees. The bill makes tax incentives available to companies who hire new full time employees with salaries that is at least 250 percent the state’s minimum wage. Large companies could get a .25 percent tax incentive off their net income for every 50 new hires. It’s a nice idea, the problem is even with a tax incentives many business are struggling to keep their doors open… not expand.
When one gap closes...
Although, Electric Boat in Quonset will be hiring after it was awarded submarine contracts. The company is reaching out to Rhode Island and asking that the state ensure there are qualified employees for the company to hire when it is time. I’m sure the politicians love this since they are often calling for more job training programs for unemployed workers and closing the skills gap. Meanwhile, what does that say about Rhode Islanders? We are not very qualified to work? Is it an insult to Rhode Island or a necessary wake up call?
4 more eclairs!
Also in the General Assembly, we are already taking on the tough issues. Senator Lombardi has introduced a bill allowing bake sales at polling places after the Cranston PTO was barred from holding a bake sale outside of polling locations to raise money for school children. Okay, so maybe it is not tough, but Lombardi is watching out for his constituents who were upset by the rule restricting them from hosting the sale which could have raised money for the students.
Roads? Where we're going, we do actually need roads...
Meanwhile, protesters closed down the Route 93 in the Boston area as part of a protest against what they call the mistreatment of minorities by police. This caused massive traffic problems during the morning commute, and at least one ambulance was forced to rerout. The group says they are trying to bring the issue to everyone’s attention through acts of civil disobedience. Those who were stuck in the traffic and made late to work are less than impressed with the group's methods.