TGIF: 10 things to know about RI politics + media

Mar 1, 2013

Welcome to March, the run-up to spring, and another edition of my Friday column. Your thoughts and tips are always welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's head in:

1. Efforts to impose more stringent gun restrictions look like they'll continue to face an uphill battle on Smith Hill. During a legislative briefing on Wednesday, Representative Donna Walsh (D-Charlestown) articulated the view of many opponents when she referenced a H.L. Mencken quote about the fallibility of simple solutions to complex problems. Some of those pushing for change are motivated by how gun violence has a traumatizing combat-like effect for too many (mostly poor) young people, and it goes unaddressed. Yet tough laws don't necessarily make guns less available. For those seeking more restrictive gun laws, part of the problem  is the absence of an organized counterpart to the NRA (whose PAC has contributed about $120,000 to local lawmakers since 2002). Meanwhile, talks that are supposed to result in legislation continue among state police, the attorney general's office, and other state officials.

2. Speaking of guns, often-outspoken Governor Lincoln Chafee has very quiet publicly on the subject. That's a sharp contrast to the strong stands taken on the issue by his fellow governors not just in New York, but Maryland and Colorado.

3. State Representative Christopher Blazejewski (D-Providence) might  just be a few months into his second term, but he's going places in the House, judging by the jam-packed turnout of more than 200 for his Thursday night fund-raiser at Camille's. A few of those making the scene, a mix of old-timers and young progressives, in Blazejewksi's first fund-raiser as deputy majority whip: Congressman Jim Langevin; Providence Mayor Angel Taveras; House Speaker Gordon Fox;  Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio; and Providence City Council President Michael Solomon.

4. Speaking of the House, will Representative Lisa Baldelli-Hunt run for mayor this November in her home city of Woonsocket? The inside view is that she will, in part since 1) she would retain her House seat even if she lost the mayoral race; and 2) the next mayoral election won't be until 2016. (Baldelli-Hunt deferred answering when I asked her this week if she'll run.) She has proven popular in Woonsocket, winning her three-way primary race last September with almost 64 percent of the vote.

5. Will state Treasurer Gina Raimondo's fund-raising prowess, powered in part by the financial industry, come with backlash in a Democratic primary, with Bob Plain and other liberals dubbing her a "Wall Street Democrat"?

6. Meanwhile, no one got worse press than Governor Chafee ("Chafee widely disliked in Rhode Island," says Taegan Goddard) following his 26 percent approval rating in the latest Brown survey. Is that the kind of figure pols like? Of course not. Did Chafee win the governor's office with a bit more support (36 percent) in 2010? Yes. With RI's economy creeping back, it's not a stretch to think Chafee's numbers will improve by November 2014.

7. Is it right for Topps baseball cards to shun Pete Rose when MLB enabled and then kid-gloved many users and abusers of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs? You decide after listening to this great NPR story by Tom Goldman.

8. It's a sign of the further political maturation of Latinos in Rhode Island that we might see more than one vie to succeed Mayor Taveras, if he moves ahead with a run for governor: The possibilities include Housing Court judge Jorge Elorza and school administrator Victor Capellan, as well as the already committed Sabina Matos. For my earlier casting call on potential mayor hopefuls, click here.

9. It was bad enough that how Rhode Island's Economic Development Corporation had a virtual revolving door of directors for most of its history. After Saul Kaplan left in 2008, the post was left vacant for about a year by former Governor Don Carcieri, and then Ioanna Morfessis backed out after a national search. Next up was Keith Stokes and 38 Studios, followed by more board turnover of late. To hear some of Kaplan's thoughts about all this and how to improve RI's economy, listen to his interview with Scott MacKay and me.

10. Building better bacon. That is all.