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.

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.

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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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Rhode Island has long been engaged in a debate about government benefits for the poor. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says our state isn’t as generous as most other New England states on helping those with less.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston has heard the complaints for years from conservatives and some elements of the business community:  That Rhode Island’s overly generous social welfare programs handcuff taxpayers and harm the state’s business climate.

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The debate over moving the Pawtucket Red Sox from McCoy Stadium to a new ball park in Providence is raging. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time for serious study, not hyperbole.

Tis the season of renewal: Easter, Passover and daffodils. Along with the longer days comes the return of baseball to New England. It may be hard to believe after our  harsh winter, but in two weeks the season opens at Fenway Park in Boston and at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.

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Once again, Rhode Island politics is ensnared in a public employee pension controversy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time to put this issue in our collective rear view mirror.

It’s well past time to get beyond the noisy debate over public employee pensions in Rhode Island. It’s a joust that has ensnared  the Statehouse for more than a generation. It has long pitted the business community against public employees and their union leaders, fractured relations between conservatives and liberals and led to tortuous attempts for years to shore up the system.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed her first state budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay looks at the politics of our new governor’s taxing and spending plan.

It’s difficult to argue with the rhetoric behind our new governor’s $8.6 billion budget plan. In her televised address from the Statehouse last Thursday evening, Raimondo outlined her goals in a convincing fashion, hitting all the high notes.  Her smorgasbord of ideas provides a little something for everyone.

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Gov. Gina Raimondo is scheduled to release her first state budget on Thursday. Part of the challenge is to slash a projected $190 million deficit.  So what will get cut? RIPR Political Analyst Scott MacKay tells us what to watch out for.

There is that ancient Statehouse cliché: If you want to figure out what a governor’s priorities are, check out the budget. Rhode Islanders get their first look at what our new governor, Gina Raimondo, values when she releases her spending and taxing plan for state government on Thursday.

John Bender / RIPR File

So is Rhode Island approaching a boon or a boondoggle?

Don’t get in line just yet for your luxury box seats at the new Providence ballpark that the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox want to build on the downtown Providence waterfront . The new owners and Mayor Jorge Elorza say any plan for a new  stadium is in infant stages.

While the move from Pawtucket’s iconic McCoy Stadium to a new site in Providence has drawn stellar initial reviews from the state’s political hierarchy and Elorza, the plans are a long, long fly ball from completion.

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R.I. politicians love to talk about job-development plans. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders why they aren’t  doing more to ensure that Rhode Islanders are hired for the Electric Boat expansion in Quonset.

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