Scott MacKay

Political Analyst

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 commentator for Rhode Island Public Radio's 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.

Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScotMackRI

Ways to Connect

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island’s two U.S. Senators, Democrats Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, have nominated Rhode Island’s top public defender, Mary McElroy, to the U.S. District Court vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Mary Lisi.


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.


Providence Fire Chief  Clarence A. Cunha is retiring after almost 35 years with the capital city’s fire department.

Cunha has reached the mandatory retirement age of 60. His retirement is not related to the ongoing negotiations between the union representing firefighters and the administration of Mayor Jorge Elorza, said mayoral spokesman Evan England.

``This didn’t come as a surprise,’’ said England. ``It is not related to the platoon talks.’’

Elorza said in a statement that Assistant Chief Scott Mello will take over as chief on an interim basis.

Emily Wooldridge / RIPR

The Rt. Rev. Nicholas Knisely, Rhode Island’s Episcopal Bishop, voted in favor of a resolution approved by the Episcopal  Church’s highest governing body, that issued a strong statement that marriage should be available to ``straight, gay and lesbian couples equally across the church.’’

``This has been the practice in Rhode Island since very soon after I was consecrated bishop in 2012,’’ Knisely said in a statement.

The resolution was approved at a meeting of the church's leaders at a meeting in Salt Lake City.

Providence lawyer Sally Dowling has been appointed to chair the Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission by Gov. Gina Raimondo, the governor announced today.

Dowling, a lawyer at the Adler, Pollock and Sheehan law firm, has a long resume of public service in Rhode Island and was a onetime policy director for former Republican Gov. Edward DiPrete.

Dowling replaces Louise Durfee, whose term has expired.

``Sally’s years of experience in the legal field will be a tremendous asset to the commission,’’ said Raimondo in a statement..

Providence Dioceses

Update: In an interview with Rhode Island Public Radio, RI state Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, said she does not support Bishop Thomas Tobin's call to resists the U.S. Supreme Court gay marriage decision. Paiva Weed is a practicing Catholic and was an opponent of the 2013 measure that legalized same-sex marriage in Rhode Island. But in a taping for RIPR's political roundtable that will air tomorrow morning, the Senate president said the U.S. Constitution must be obeyed.

Rhode Island motorists will pay a penny more per gallon of gas, beginning tomorrow (July 1), under tax changes announced by the Rhode Island Department of Revenue.

The gas tax hike was due to an inflation indexing formula that the General Assembly approved in 2014.

Cigarette smokers will be paying an additional  25-cents per pack in Rhode Island taxes beginning August 1 under the budget for fiscal year 2016 approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island has been chosen as the site for the 2016 gymnastics championships, which feature more than 1,800 of the country’s best gymnasts.

The competition will be held from June 8th to 13th at the Rhode Island Convention Center and the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence. ``USA gymnastics is excited to bring one of our premier events to Providence,’’ said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics.

Manuel C. Correira

The flags and bunting adorn the handsome colonials and Greek Revivals along Hope Street, the hydrangeas are blooming and a fresh stripe of red, white and blue has been painted along the July 4th parade route downtown.

The parking lot at the Lobster Pot was clogged yesterday, the Celtic music session at Aidan’s was standing-room only and Independence Park was jammed with revelers listening to a Jimmy Buffet cover band.

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.

In sharp contrast to Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin, Rhode Island’s Episcopal Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Knisely, welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision.

In a statement, Bishop Knisely said, ``I support this decision which allows same-sex couples to marry, not in spite of my Christian faith, but because of it. The Episcopal Church has been blessed for many years by the life and ministry of gay and lesbian couples, both lay and ordained. I have seen how they contribute to the common good of a congregation and community.’’

Congrats to Emma Dickson of Providence and Brown University, who has been named a White House summer intern, according to a White House statement. Dickson is a former intern at Rhode Island Public Radio and also served as an intern at former Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s press office.

Other Brown students named to the prestigious program are Sydney Menzin of Locust Valley, N.Y., and Benjamin Miller-Gootnick of Washington, D.C.

Dave Barber, a familiar face at the Statehouse and reporter for Capitol Television, is hospitalized in his home state of Michigan after suffering a stroke and a heart attack, according to a Michigan newspaper.

Barber, 60, a former radio talk show host in Michigan and Rhode Island, was visiting Flint when he apparently choked while eating, blocking his airway and triggering other medical issues.

Barber is a patient at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan and is in a medically induced coma, according to his brother Larry Barber.

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin, who led a high-profile, albeit failed, campaign to defeat same-sex marriage legislation in Rhode Island in 2013, today blasted the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

In a statement, the Rev. Tobin said, ``a thousand courts may rule otherwise but the very notion of ``same sex marriage’’ is morally wrong and a blatant rejection of God’s plan for the human family.’’

Chris Hondros / Getty Images

The shooting death of nine people at Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, has raised a nationwide discussion about the Confederate battle flag. The flag is prominently displayed in many parts of the American South, including the South Carolina Statehouse. Many people are calling for its removal, but some say its cultural touchstone, that should remain.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Scott MacKay got some insight from Brown Professor Matthew Guterl who specializes in race after the civil war.