On Politics

Rhode Island Public Radio's political blog. Scott MacKay and Ian Donnis keep you up-to-date with the latest in political news from around Rhode Island.

We also have PODCASTS of regular politics coverage, too!

Pre-2013 archives of the On Politics​ blog can be found here.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

With a looming change in the executive editor's post at The Providence Journal, the paper's publisher warned Thursday that layoffs may result if a new buyout offer doesn't attract enough participation.

Reporter John Hill, president of the Providence Newspaper Guild, said ProJo Publisher Janet Hasson shared the news during a staff meeting in which executive editor Dave Butler's departure was announced.

Hill said some well-known reporters could be among those taking the latest buyout. "I've been hearing a lot of interest from the [Guild] membership," he said.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A new poll by Bryant University's Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership shows strong backing for Governor Gina Raimondo's proposal to offer two years of free college tuition to Rhode Islanders, and softer support for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello's move to phaseout the car tax over five years.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo wants to offer Rhode Islanders two years of free tuition at CCRI, RIC, or URI. 

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo's approval rating has increased 10 points in the latest poll by a Washington, D.C., firm, although she still ranks among the lower tier of the nation's governors.

Morning Consult shows Raimondo with a 48 percent approval rating, while 45 percent of respondents disapprove of her. Six percent didn't offer a response, and the finding has a five percentage point margin of error.

Chris "C.J." Chivers
Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0 (Wikipedia)

Congrats to old friend C.J. `Chris’ Chivers of the New York Times, a former Providence Journal reporter, for winning a 2017 Pulitzer Prize, journalism’s highest honor.

Chivers, who lives in South Kingstown with his wife Suzanne Keating, also a fine journalist and former ProJo reporter, and their five children, won the coveted award for a December, 2016 profile of a 24-year old Marine Corps veteran of Afghanistan with PTSD and his difficulties reentering U.S. society after he mustered out of the service.

Courtesy of Whitehouse office.

Rhode Island’s 2018 U.S. Senate featuring incumbent Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse just got more complicated. 


Ian Donnis / RIPR

During a visit to Rhode Island last week, former NPR Moscow correspondent Corey Flintoff stopped by to talk about Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the US missile strike on Syria.

A new baseball season dawns, and the General Assembly gets ready to get down to the nitty gritty. Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez plans to use an appearance in Rhode Island Thursday to tout Governor Gina Raimondo's free college tuition plan as a smart investment in the state's future.

Alex Van / Creative Commons License Via Pixabay

A former employee of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for stealing unemployment funds.

Ambulai R. Sheku, 37, of Providence, a onetime senior employment interviewer with DLT, had entered a guilty plea to charges of conspiring to commit mail fraud, theft of government funds and accessing a government computer to commit fraud.

Greg Pare / Rhode Island General Assembly

Former State Sen. William Walaska of Warwick, a Democrat who represented Warwick for more than two decades in the chamber, died this morning after a protracted battle with cancer. He was 71.

Walaska, who ran an auto parts business, was a graduate of La Salle Academy and Providence College. He comfortably  won reelection after reelection until 2016, when too sick to campaign vigorously,  he lost the Democratic primary to Jeanine Calkin, who won the general election and is now in the Senate.

Jared Vincent / CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE VIA FLICKR

As winter fades, New England’s summer passion returns. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay takes a break from politics to usher in the baseball season at Fenway Park and McCoy Stadium. 


More boisterous times in state and national politics. So thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

Alisha Pina, a member of The Providence Journal's Statehouse bureau, a long-serving staffer, and the only reporter of color on the ProJo's staff, is leaving the newspaper.

Pina is working her last day for the statewide daily on Friday.

On Twitter, Pina said she is becoming spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Clay Pell, who ran for governor as a Democrat in 2014, announced Wednesday that his marriage with former Olympic ice skater Michelle Kwan is ending.

In a statement, Pell said, "It is with deep regret that I share that Michelle and my marriage is coming to an end. This is a sad and difficult turn of events for our family. I love Michelle, and wish her the very best as her life takes her in a new direction. I want to thank friends and family who have given wisdom and support, and I ask for privacy during this challenging time."

Pell and Kwan got married in 2013.

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