Lincoln Chafee

In the famous words of Yogi Berra, `it ain’t over till its over.’ RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains why that’s the case with the latest twist in Rhode Island’s public employee pension settlement.

In many a long legal  battle, a settlement reached out of court marks the end of a contentious lawsuit. The opposing parties shake hands and sometimes share an odd drop. Then they put the dispute behind them.

What a week in Rhode Island politics. Welcome back to my weekly column, and thanks for stopping by. As always, feel free to drop me a line at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Let's get snapping.

In most protracted court battles, a settlement reached after tortuous year-long negotiations marks the end of a lawsuit and allows the parties to move forward. Often the lawyers celebrate and perhaps even share an odd drop together.

That wasn’t the case Friday. The  proposed legal settlement between the state and the unions that represent public school teachers and state employees and retirees is just the beginning of a cumbersome ratification process that is sure to become ensnared in what is shaping up as a contentious political campaign season in Rhode Island.

Now comes another high-tech blabber seeking to blame Gov. Lincoln Chafee for the Curt Schilling -38 Studios fiasco that was actually done in the waning days of Gov. Donald Carcieri’s administration.

John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, slammed Chafee in a series of twitter comments this week. But his arguments are so incongruous that it is very difficult to take him seriously.

It’s more like he has been sampling the new legal stuff in Denver or Seattle.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung is calling for the immediate release of details about a settlement of the state pension dispute.

The federal mediation service that oversaw more than a year of closed-door talks plans to unveil the details during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

In a statement, Fung say it’s past time to let local officials on what was discussed during months of closed-door talks.

What everyone in the Rhode Island political swirl should understand about the state pension overhaul settlement details that are due for release tomorrow: This is very likely to be only the beginning of a protracted process.

One thing we know for sure. Even if it is fair and reasonable, not everyone is going to like it. Some unionized state employees and teachers will not be satisfied with anything less than a full restoration of the pension benefits that were sliced dramatically in the 2011 special General Assembly pension session.

Environmental agency directors and city managers focused on the urgent need to invest in wastewater infrastructure, stormwater management, and flood prevention at a meeting last night.

The nonprofit Save The Bay hosted its annual legislative briefing.  Executive director Jonathan Stone said many groups are working together to ensure the general assembly approves Gov. Lincoln Chafee's 75-million-dollar clean water bond.

This just in from RIPR's Ian Donnis:

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, State  Treasurer Gina Raimondo, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Tersea  Paiva Weed met privately at the State House this afternoon for  a 90-minute closed-door briefing on the proposed state pension overhaul legal settlement.

The settlement details are scheduled to be released on Wednesday.  The parties to the pension lawsuit have been under a gag order by Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter for more than a year. None of the state officials in today’s meeting disclosed any settlement details.

State officials and the public-employee unions that sued over a 2011 overhaul of the state pension system have reached a settlement, yet the deal remains shrouded in secrecy in advance of its expected unveiling Wednesday afternoon.

Governor Lincoln Chafee and Treasurer Gina Raimondo briefed House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed on highlights of the agreement during a closed-door Statehouse meeting Monday afternoon. Fox declined to offer any specifics after emerging from the meeting:

Natalie Jablonski / RIPR

The plan to locate a state probation office on Fountain Street in downtown Providence is dead. But RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says the debate on where it ought to go may be just beginning.

After an outcry ignited by Angus Davis, one of Rhode Island’s top young high-tech entrepreneurs, Governor Lincoln Chafee’s administration has pulled back a proposal to move a state probation office from a gritty South Providence neighborhood to a downtown venue nestled among the Providence Journal Building, The Rhode Island Convention Center and the Providence Biltmore Hotel.

A leading Rhode Island Republican is calling on GOP voters to keep an open mind about their two choices in this year’s primary.

By using his Facebook page, former gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille is urging GOP voters to focus on deciding whether Allan Fung or Ken Block has the best plan for moving Rhode Island forward. He says the candidates’ courage and personal authenticity are more important than internal politics within the state Republican Party.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

George Zainyeh, whose departure as Governor Lincoln Chafee's chief of staff was announced last Friday, is taking a job, as chief marketing and development officer, with the law firm of Shectman Halperin Savage LLP.

Shectman Halperin Savage has offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York. Founding partner Jonathan Savage previously served as the receiver for Central Falls.

Welcome back to my Friday column. Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

Don Boorman / RIPR

Every serious candidate says Rhode Island’s poor economy is the top issue in this year’s governors’ race. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time for Rhode Island to sort economic myth from reality.

Say hello to any of the five major candidates for governor and you’ll get a marathon run of rhetoric on the need to create jobs in our struggling state.  On the Republican side, Ken Block and Allan Fung have both talked about ushering in a better business climate, lowering taxes and looking for ways to save taxpayer money.


Political pundits love to emphasize that campaigns matter.  Clay Pell better hope that adage rings true if he hopes to be Rhode Island’s next governor, says our resident pundit, RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay.

Herbert Claiborne `Clay’ Pell  IV is the grandson of a legendary Rhode Island U.S. Senator, a Harvard University graduate  and at just 32 years old, possessor of a resume that would be the envy of many a decade or two older.