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.

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The days are getting shorter, our cobalt coastline is cooler. The rhythms of fall return. In our cozy corner of New England, a timeless harbinger of the season is students thronging college campuses.

Behind the teary parental goodbye hugs and lugging the laptops to the dorm looms an uneasiness in the realm of higher education these days. Students loaded down with mountains of debt graduate into an uncertain economy. ``Do you want fries with that diploma’’ is the gallows humor of our age.


The debate over Obamacare rages from Providence to Pasadena. As the state moves closer to launching its health insurance exchange, Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay parses the arguments and traces the law’s Rhode Island roots.

Ask Rhode Island Republican State Chairman Mark Smiley what he thinks of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare and you’ll get a blunt answer:  He says, ``I hate it.’’

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Once again, Rhode Island has embarked on an advertising campaign to raise our state’s flagging self-esteem. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time for us to stop running down our tiny corner of New England.

Back in 1996, when Jack Reed was running his first U.S. Senate campaign, Texas Gov. Ann Richards came to Newport to speak at a Reed fund-raiser. The tart-tongued Texan introduced the vertically-challenged Rhode Island Democrat by saying to prolonged laughter that Reed is proof ``that size doesn’t matter.’’

Our  air conditioners have been working overtime in this steamy summer. Our wallets will be lighter when the electricity bills arrive. Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay says to stabilize power costs, Rhode Island needs to look north to Canada.

Flick the wall switch and the lights go on. Turn the knob; the stove heats up. Push a button; the air conditioner hums.

Courtesy Bryant University

Rhode Island politicians are increasingly looking to non-profit institutions to finance local government. The latest tug-of-war between town and gown is in Smithfield, where the town thinks Bryant University is not paying its fair share. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says its time for cooperation, not confrontation.

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Rhode Island’s business climate has once again been scored as one of the nation’s very worst. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on why dwelling on these ratings don’t tell the whole story. 

Don Boorman / RIPR

Rhode Island’s 2013 General Assembly made history by legalizing same-sex marriage back in April. But it left Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay scratching his head wondering why lawmakers don’t handle other issues in the same manner.

After a vigorous debate, the Assembly made history in April when it approved same gender marriage, making Rhode Island the 12th American state to sanction gay unions.

When Gov. Lincoln Chafee and gay marriage advocates two years touted its economic benefits for Rhode Island they were widely disparaged. Rhode Island Public Radio's political analyst Scott MacKay explains why Chafee and his allies may well be right.

Don Boorman / RIPR

Will Rhode Island ever get beyond the shadow of the 38 Studios-Curt Schilling disaster. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on why state government so far has not developed options for putting this behind us.

President John F. Kennedy said famously that ``life is unfair.’’ Some men,’’ he noted, ‘’are killed in a war, some men are wounded and some men never leave the country.’’

Rhode Island and the rest of New England have become foreign territory for Republicans, says Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay.   

Lincoln Chafee is now the first Democratic Rhode Island governor since the early 1990’s. Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay wonders what the governor’s party change means for his future.

Don Boorman / RIPR

After the Rhode Island court scandals of the 1990’s, the state changed the way judges are chosen. Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay explains why lawyers with Statehouse connections keep getting appointed to the bench … despite the reforms.

Common Cause of Rhode Island, the good government group, the Rhode Island Bar Association and a past president of the NAACP skewered Gov. Lincoln Chafee recently when he elevated former Senate President Joe Montalbano to a coveted judgeship on the state superior court bench.

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The Dynamo House, the century-old onetime Narragansett Electric power station, now sits as a forlorn reminder of what once thrived along Providence’s downtown waterfront.  And as Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay notes, it now stands as a guard to the old Jewelry District that state and city officials are trying to rebrand as a Knowledge District.

Rhode Island hasn’t had enough to celebrate lately. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay brings us an anniversary all Rhode Islanders can take pride in next month.

Three hundred and fifty years ago, Rhode Island struck a blow that would reverberate around the globe when England granted the colony a charter that for the first time in the modern world put in place a government that granted absolute religious freedom to its people.

Providence already has too many underused office buildings.  Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay, has some thoughts on what can be done to prevent the Superman building from going dark.

Maybe you were driving home from a night Celtics, Bruins or Red Sox game. Perhaps you visited friends in Boston or were returning from summer vacation on a lake in Vermont or New Hampshire.