It seems like an epic game of chicken may be coming to an end. In the final weeks before heading to trial for “the Battle of The Pensions” it seems the state and the unions have finally reached an agreement. Now they have to vote again and it’s the same deal as last time; all the unions must approve the deal in order for it to fly. All the votes are expected to be in by Tuesday. Although WPRI released a report indicating one union may be issuing a no vote. If that happens, the case proceeds to court. If a deal is struck, it could be a win for the Governor as some form of pension reform survives litigation, if not the taxpayers will be the real losers.
A court room battle is almost a no win situation for the tax payers who have to foot the bill for the litigation. Even if the pension reform plan stands, the tax payers are still on the hook to foot the legal expenses. And if the plan doesn’t stand, well, the tax payers are in real trouble because they will be on the hook for legal fees and other expenses and the pension situation will go back to the status quo. Maybe cooler heads will ultimately prevail, we will see.
New dog on the block
Ken Block is back in the news forming a new good government group; “Watch Dog RI.” It’s funny how Rhode Island has all these good government groups but our government is known for not being “so good.” Blocks groups first mission is to take on local fire departments and overspending. Block has been rallying about the issues for months talking about the struggling Coventry Fire Districts. Block is talking about consolidation and streamlining city and town fire districts to cut back on costs. Local firefighters say Block might be missing the mark and have cited to safety concerns. Either way you have to give Block credit for still trying and not just throwing in the towel after losing in the GOP primary.
The Bell tolls for thee
Speaking of the GOP, they are changing ranks. Brandon Bell, an attorney from Cumberland, is taking over as chair. This is following a divisive GOP primary last Fall. As Bell, a close friend of Cranston Mayor and former gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung, takes the ranks as chair, he will be changing party leadership. After the primary, a lot of supporters of Ken Block left the ranks of the Rhode Island GOP disenfranchised and pointing the finger at Fung and his team for play dirty. Meanwhile Fung’s team pointed the same dirty finger back at the Block folk. That’s the thing with politics, when you start mudslinging no one’s hand stay clean.
As the Block faction moves out of the party, the Fung faction is moving in. Fung and his Fiancé Barbara Ann Fenton, the chairwoman of the Young Republicans, are changing the face of the party and recruiting to a newer younger crowd. While some say it’s doomed for failure, it might be a good change for the party. Maybe people don’t support Fung and that’s fine but the GOP in Rhode Island desperately needs newer, younger talent in order to reinvigorate it, if it is even possible at this point. Let’s see how the new chair and new party take the reins. They have a tough election coming up since there will be a presidential candidate on the ballot.
Amy Carter all over again?
Since I mentioned presidents, Malia Obama was in Rhode Island this week. Rumor has it she was visiting Brown. Will Rhode Island soon be the home to a presidential daughter? Maybe. The high school junior seems to be visited several Ivy League Universities. If Malia ends up at Brown it might once again put little Rhody on the map and of course it will give everyone something new to complain about. We already complain about the security surrounding Taylor Swift in Westerly, imagine if the secret service had to sweep local bars? Even when Obama is out of office, his daughter will still have security. More than likely the president’s daughter will look to a bigger city but then again the Obama’s do seem to like Rhode Island and it is a lot safer than the big cities.
A breakup ballad about taxes?
Meanwhile Newport is taking a stand against the so-called Taylor Swift Tax saying that it is a money grab by the state and that it is directly targeting Newport and South Counties. Well of course. If you want to target money in Rhode Island, you target the shoreline. The real question is when is Taylor Swift going to weigh in? Maybe instead of another break-up song we will be hearing a Rhode Island song soon from the pop star. Or maybe not. Maybe we can just ask Taylor to kick in the extra $12 million so we don’t need the tax.
Put that in your pipe, but don't smoke it
The extreme bill of the week award goes to Rep. Teresa Tanzi who wants to ban sales of tobacco products to people under the age of 21. I get it Tobacco is bad, but by 18 people should know that and be able to make the choice for themselves. Besides, we live in Rhode Island the nearest border is only 15 minutes away from any given location, if 18-year-olds want their tobacco fix that bad they will cross the border to get it and then Massachusetts will get the tax revenue from the purchase. The bill means well but it ignore the economic impact of such a move. Not only does it hurt local retailers but it hurts tax revenues.
That’s all for now, I’ll be back next week to bring you the latest in Rhode Island Politics.
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