It’s a slow week as everyone winds down from a turkey hangover and gears up for holiday shopping…
The State House Christmas Tree lighting was the quietest it has been since Governor Chafee took office. In an effort to avoid the “Christmas Tree” controversy, Chafee passed the tree lighting privilege to Secretary of State Ralph Mollis for the second year in a row. The button was pressed, carols were sung, and Fox News stayed in New York and all was right and merry in the world; such a quiet end to a saga that plagued Chafee’s time in office.
Where were all the Christmas crusaders this year? A Christmas tree lighting is not enough to drag them out of their houses… but if it was a holiday tree, you better believe they would be there.
Meanwhile, another notable tree in the State House was lit; the Heroes Tree honoring Rhode Island’s veterans. It’s worth noting as the situation in the Middle East is escalating and we are starting to see a new wave of brave men and women being deployed into war zones. It makes you thankful for what you have and who you have, especially since some people won’t be spending Christmas with their family this year. It’s sobering too because other Gold Star families will never have Christmas with their loved one again because they gave the ultimate sacrifice.
'Tis the season for inauguration
While the holiday season is front and center in most peoples minds, the incoming elected officers are still working on their transitions.
Governor-Elect Gina Raimondo has tapped a Chief of Staff and in a surprise to some she found this person out of state. Raimondo has hired Stephen Neuman of Maryland to lead her office. Neuman currently serves as the director of public affair in the Office of Governor Martin O’Malley. Nationally, there is speculation that O’Malley could be a possible presidential or vice president pick for the Democrat party.
If it’s true, O’Malley could be a powerful ally for our incoming governor.
The pick to go out of state for a chief of staff had some people raising eyebrows. At the same time it symbolized something; Raimondo is looking to make changes to the state and bring in new leadership.
But not all the top posts will be headed by new leaders. Raimondo announced that Janet Coit will remain as the head of the Department of Environmental Management and A.T. Wall will remain as the Director of the Department of Corrections, a move that the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers must have been less than pleased with. The group endorse Raimondo in the past election however they have been vocal about their issues with the leadership in the department.
Raimondo still has several other key appointments to make, including Director of Administration.
Rhode down the creek without a paddle
In other news, the RhodeMap Rhode Island plan is supposed to be voted on next week on Dec. 11. Opponent of the plan have been holding various meetings throughout the state and say they plan to attend next weeks meeting. The meeting was postponed after House Speaker Nick Matiello asked the state to put on the brakes so he and his staff could review the controversial plan.
Bad cop, good cops
It’s a bad time to be a police officer across the country, as nationwide protests are underway after the Ferguson Grand Jury decision and now the decision not to indict a cop in New York after a chokehold death of a suspect. While free speech is a good thing and everyone should be heard, people shouldn’t condemn all police officers. They need to take a look at the services local police officers provide to the community and remember times like the birthday of little Tyler Seddon.
Hours in absentia
Speaking of police taking heat, Pawtucket Police Officer Major Moreau is under fire after a recent Hummel Report says the Major has been getting paid for hours when he was not on the job. Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien was quick to get ahead of the situation calling on State Police for an independent investigation. If the State Police confirm the findings of Hummel investigation this could be a major problem for the city’s police department.
Meanwhile, Providence could probably use a few more police officers as 2014 is shaping up to be one of the most violent years in the city since 2009. The murder count is now at 19.
18 and life to go
Lastly, 18 new lawmakers were at the State House this week for orientation. As the newly elected get ready to join the ranks of the Rhode Island political elite they are being briefed on how the State House works and on the state’s budget. Are they ready for the challenge? We will check back in a few weeks to find out.
That’s all for this week. Take it easy and enjoy your weekend!