Scott MacKay's Commentary

Monday 6:35 AM and 8:35 AM

With a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Vermont and a wealth of knowledge of local politics, it was a given that Scott MacKay would become a weekly commentator for RIPR on Ocean State politics.  He also sits on the RIPR Political Roundtable.

As a former political reporter for The Providence Journal, MacKay has spent more than thirty years documenting the ins and outs of politics in Rhode Island and New England. MacKay is married to Dr. Staci Fisher, an infectious diseases specialist.

Aaron Read / RIPR

A coalition of researchers from Rhode Island’s colleges and universities have released another round of reports on the state’s economy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders what will happen to the latest round of research.

If Rhode Island were a bench, it would splinter under the weight of all the blue-ribbon commissions and consultant-generated reports that have for decades weighed in on what ails our state’s economy.

AFGE / flickr

Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders has become the leading challenger to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay, a former Vermont reporter, spent a few days in the Green Mountain state parsing the Sanders campaign.

RIPR FILE

Work is the fulcrum of social mobility in our country. In Rhode Island, lawmakers have approved an increase in the minimum wage. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says that falls far short of what’s needed to help the working poor.

Democrats claim to be the party of working people. Come campaign season, Democratic candidates boast at every turn that they care about ``working families’’ more than Republicans, the party Democrats brand as the tool of the rich and the one-percent.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Every Rhode Islander knows our state’s roads and bridges need repairs. Yet lawmakers closed up shop at the General Assembly without taking action on a plan to raise the money via truck tolls. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what the General Assembly needs to do to pay for the needed fixes.

Despite six collegial months, the General Assembly did not have a happy ending. The 2015 session crashed and amid the usual Smith Hill blame game. Several big issues were left without resolution, notably a plan to shore up the state’s aging bridges and roads.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The high cost of government in Rhode Island is once again in the forefront, as voters in Coventry dissolve the Coventry Fire District. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay asks if this can be a spur for consolidation in our tiny state.

In a referendum  Coventry voters resoundingly refused to give any more of their property taxes to the stanch the river of red ink drowning the Coventry Fire District. They  turned thumbs down on the fire district even though it provides fire and emergency services to the most densely populated part of the community..

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island’s General Assembly and Gov. Gina Raimondo have reached agreement on her first state budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what the new budget will do and what it lacks.

The $8.7 billion state budget for the financial year that begins three days before the Bristol 4th of July parade  seems greased for approval at the Statehouse. As is usually the case, this spending and taxing plan contains elements Rhode Islanders should cheer yet   fails to address some of our little state’s crying needs.

So Lincoln Chafee has become the first Rhode Islander to seek a major party nomination for president. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on why Chafee must step up his game quickly to be a factor in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.

Love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge that Chafee is a politician of conviction and deeply held views about what’s wrong with the country. Throughout his long career in Rhode Island politics, most honest voters would agree Chafee was on the right side of many issues.

Will Hart / flickr

Rhode Island’s Episcopal Church is about to unveil plans for a museum and teaching center dedicated to the slave trade. The state has a long and difficult history of involvement  in slavery.  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay discussed the proposal with Episcopal Bishop Nicholas Knisely, whose wife happens to work for Rhode Island Public Radio.

St. John’s Cathedral, once the nation’s oldest cathedral parish, sits empty today in a forlorn reminder of onetime greatness.

One of the principals of the new Pawtucket Red Sox ownership has died abruptly and was laid to rest over the weekend.. RIPR Political Analyst Scott MacKay assays the future of the Providence stadium plan.

Jim Skeffington cut quite a figure in Rhode Island. The Providence native scaled the heights of the legal profession in his hometown and was the go-to-guy for political and business deals. His bespoke bankers’ pinstripes and Ferragamo ties masked a sharp understanding, from the bottom up, of Rhode Island’s florid political and business cultures.

Scott Mackay RIC commencement 2015
Rhode Island College

RI Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay delivered the commencement speech at Rhode Island College Saturday, May 16th. He was granted an honorary doctorate of journalism. 

Good Morning. Most of you are from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, so you get what I mean: That by virtue of your degrees today, you are all officially "wicket smaht."

So Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza wants to build a trolley system. RIPR Political analyst Scott MacKay says this is a great idea, but can the city afford it?

Sure, it would  be wonderful to jump on a Providence  trolley system and ride from Brown University, down historic College Hill, to Rhode Island Hospital..

One can even imagine taking the trolley to a spanking new retro baseball stadium along the Providence River to watch the Boston Red Sox top minor league team.

Federal Wildlife Service

A push to legalize marijuana – once again – has returned to the Statehouse.  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses what has become a perennial issue.

Except for speeding on Rhode Island’s roads, is there a law more frequently scoffed at by citizens than the ban on recreational use of marijuana?
As the General Assembly again tackles the prickly issue of legalizing marijuana, it is well beyond the time for rigorous study of a policy that too often devolves into cliché and anecdotal opinion.

RIPR FILE

So Twin River’s parent company wants to build a new casino in Tiverton.   The idea is likely to raise a few eyebrows, but RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it  has to be done.

There are many Rhode Islanders who don’t believe that state government should be in the business of promoting gambling. Those critics point out the lottery games and slot-machine emporiums that speckle New England like daffodils these days are little more than cheap taxes on the poor.

The debate over Rhode Island taxpayer support for a new stadium for the PawSox in Providence has started. RIPR Political Analyst Scott MacKay talks about state government’s next move.

Listening to the opening salvos in the Providence stadium debate reminds one of William Faulkner’s dictum about the American South: "The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.’’

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island’s foundering economic is again the top Statehouse topic. Political analyst Scott MacKay has some thoughts as we at Rhode Island Public Radio kickoff our series on our state’s slow recession recovery. 

If Rhode Island was a lake, we’d all be drowning under the weight of decades of reports and high falutin  expert commissions charged with dissecting our state’s economic doldrums. Wonks, business leaders, academics and consultants have produced turgid chronicles – with scant results – on how to heal the sickest economy in New England.

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