TGIF: 10 Things to Know About Rhode Island Politics + Media

Apr 5, 2013

If April is the cruelest month, as T.S. Eliot wrote, perhaps it's due to the chilly weather greeting the start of the baseball season. Welcome back to my weekly column. Your thoughts and tips are always welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's get to it.

1. State Democratic Chairman Edwin Pacheco says he doesn't have a timetable for deciding on a run for secretary of state in 2014, but don't be surprised if the former state rep from Burrillville launches a campaign so0ner than later this spring.  Doing so would enable Pacheco to start raising money for a primary with deep-pocketed Newporter Guillaume de Ramel without the shadow of his partisan (volunteer) post. The question of Pacheco's successor as Democratic chairman remains unresolved, but one name that keeps surfacing is that of former state representative David Caprio. The ideal candidate to succeed Pacheco might be a woman or young minority, yet attracting such an individual could be a reach considering the lure of working on a 2014 campaign. (Caprio didn't return calls seeking comment.)

2. Decision time is also creeping closer for Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. Regarding 2014 and who will represent Republicans in the race for governor, state GOP chairman Mark Smiley says, "We really just don't know know what Brendan [Doherty] is going to do. That's for real. I have no idea."

3. Speaking of the GOP, Fung and Smiley are slated to travel together to Los Angeles on Tuesday for the spring meeting of the Republican National Committee. Smiley plans to meet with RNC chairman Reince Priebus, and says Preibus has expressed hopes of re-establishing a GOP foothold in New England. As part of a panel discussion, Fung is slated to talk about how Republicans can do a better job in reaching minority voters. Fung says GOP campaigns need to start by engaging with diverse constituencies on a regular basis and well before campaigns. (Steve Frias and Carol Mumford will also be part of the RI GOP delegation in LA.)

4. Rhode Island's labor movement, which has shown a capacity for tipping the balance in targeted legislative primaries, is stepping up its role in the grassroots coalition pushing for same-sex marriage. The respective presidents of the AFL-CIO in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, George Nee and Steven Tolman, are presenting on Monday, April 8 (6-8 pm), what they call "a special gathering to demonstrate the labor community's strong commitment to marriage equality." (Tolman is a former rep and state senator in the Bay State and has a record of supporting LGBT rights.) Rhode Island's congressional delegation composes the honorary host committee for the fundraiser for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage. The event (with suggested contributions ranging from $25 to $2500) will take place at UFCW, Local 328, 278 Silver Spring St., Providence.

5. The debate over the master lever poses something of a quandary for House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed. Supporting the Ken Block-led effort to abolish the lever would raise the legislative leaders' standing among reformers. It would also take away an issue upon which Block has pledged to devote more attention in 2014. As it stands, Fox and Paiva Weed's reluctance to sign on lends credence to opponents who say the lever offers an unfair advantage to ruling legislative Democrats.

6. David Segal, the former city councilor, state rep, and CD1 candidate, has a book coming out (with two co-editors) in a month or so, entitled, "Hacking Politics: How Geeks, Progressives, the Tea Party, Gamers, Anarchists and Suits Teamed Up to Defeat SOPA and Save the Internet." Here's some more info from the publisher: "Written by the core Internet figures – video gamers, Tea Partiers, tech titans, lefty activists and ordinary Americans among them – who defeated a pair of special interest bills called SOPA (“Stop Online Piracy Act”) and PIPA (“Protect IP Act”), Hacking Politics provides the first detailed account of the glorious, grand chaos that led to the demise of that legislation and helped foster an Internet-based network of amateur activists."

7. Rhode Island gets a shout-out from the Center for Public Integrity for being among four states that have improved disclosure and access to public information over the last year.

8. Congressman David Cicilline is leery about the idea being floated to use $48 million in tax credits to renovate the Superman Building for residential use, as told us on Political Roundtable this week. "I think we have to be very careful about a proposal that would be a benefit to a single property owner," Cicilline said. The former Providence mayor said he was more comfortable, though, with the notion of using a renewed state historic tax credit program on the project.

9. Fun Fact: Joe Shekarchi is best known as the state rep who managed Gina Raimondo's winning campaign for treasurer in 2010 and who might one day run for mayor of Warwick. Less well known is how Shekarchi elevated his profile among local Democrats as the late Paul Tsongas' Rhode Island campaign coordinator in 1992, after having worked on Bruce Sundlun's losing run for governor in 1986. As my colleague Scott MacKay described in the ProJo at the time, Sundlun played a practical joke on Shekarchi during the 1992 campaign, pretending that he was calling from the White House.

10. Jay-Z and and execs from Goldman Sachs helped Alex Rodriguez to land his $275 million contract in 2007, the richest in the history of sports, and one that looks a lot like a white elephant, as the New York Times describes in a detailed report. If you want to enjoy the game with a far smaller investment, head to Pawtucket.