TGIF: 9 Things To Know About Rhode Island Politics & Media

Jun 30, 2017

A new fiscal year dawns, along with a series of fresh storylines. So thanks for stopping by. As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. (Note: TGIF is taking a summer break, so yes, this week's column is way shorter than usual; TGIF is taking next week off and will return July 14).

1. The PawSox' quest for a new stadium seemed dead as recently as last week. Yet even before that, there were indications that Governor Gina Raimondo would revisit the issue, in an attempt to salvage the deal and keep the Boston Red Sox top minor league franchise from leaving Rhode Island. Raimondo said a revamped deal addressed her concerns about protecting taxpayers. As a result, House and Senate Finance committees plan fall hearings on the proposal. It remains unclear when the whole General Assembly may vote on the plan, and if the PawSox will entertain out-of-state offers in the interim. Yet by deciding against considering the proposal as time runs out on the session, lawmakers avoided a situation with terrible optics. Critics still object to the idea of the state and Pawtucket helping to provide financing for the PawSox' wealthy ownership. During a news conference this week, Senate Finance Chairman William Conley called that one of the good questions to scrutinize during fall hearings.

2. The Rhode Island Working Families Party has made its presence felt, first by helping Marcia Ranglin-Vassell to oust House Majority Leader John DeSimone in a primary last year, and then by making paid sick leave one of the top issues of the 2017 General Assembly session. So what's next for the labor-backed progressive advocacy group? RIWFP state director Georgia Hollister Isman discusses that during an appearance this week on RIPR's Bonus Q&A.

3. The Democratic Governors Association is starting to train its attention on Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, the expected GOP gubernatorial candidate. That shows how we're heading into a slightly more active phase of next year's gubernatorial race. For weeks, the Republican Governors Association has waged a social media campaign against Governor Gina Raimondo, highlighting any hint of critical press in the local media.

4. Best wishes to Providence Journal sportswriter Brian MacPherson, who's leaving the newspaper for a gig with Athena Health in Massachusetts. It remains unclear if the ProJo will fill the job. (Recent employees who've decided to leave in recent years have not been replaced, although sports is considered a particularly important beat). On Facebook, MacPherson said in part, "I'm making the move of my own volition, trading the nights and weekends and travel of beat writing for the 9-to-5 normalcy and stability of the corporate world. I will never take for granted how fortunate I was to get to do this job. I owe enormous debts of gratitude to so many, from those who who hired me and edited my stories along the way (Dave Deland, Vin Sylvia, Mike McDermott, Bill Corey) to those I worked with (especially Tim Britton, my partner for the last 6 1/2 years) to my friends and colleagues on the Red Sox beat and beyond (too many talented people to name individually, though I owe Alex Speier a special debt of gratitude) to the Red Sox organization itself. The media has become a punching bag these days. To me, though, the media isn't its own entity. The media represents its readers and viewers -- and, in my case, that means it has been my honor to represent and ask questions on behalf of Red Sox fans in the press box at Fenway Park since 2010. Thank you to every single person who has read an article or listened to a podcast or clicked the little heart button on a bad-joke tweet over the years. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it."

5. Apropos a controversial New York production of Julius Caesar, give a listen to this provocative thoughtful discussion about theatre and politics, moderated by RIPR theatre critic Bill Gale, and featuring Tyler Dubrowski from Trinity Rep and Tony Estrella from the Gamm.

6. Indivisible RI and other progressives have been pushing for legislative leaders to call a vote on a bill creating a separate law protecting abortion in the state. Supporters of the measure point to President Donald Trump's potential ability to remake the US Supreme Court. But the Democrats who rule the Statehouse show no real interest in bringing this legislation to a vote in this session. During a recent appearance on RIPR's Bonus Q&A, for example, House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi said any move to undo Roe v. Wade would take years. Yet leadership's disinclination to take up an abortion bill probably has more to do with the divisive nature of the issue and a political preference to maintain the status quo.

7. Keep July 10 on your calendar. That's the date for a forum in the state Senate District 13 special election, sponsored by What'sUpNewp. I'll be part of a panel grilling the candidates on a range of issues.

8. The EU hit Google with a $2.7 billion fine. That makes it a good time to watch (or re-watch) the Googlezon video.

9. Graham Vyse asks: "Can Journalists Live Without Twitter?"