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.

The hydrangeas are in full bloom, the sailboats bob on their harbor moorings and the red, white and blue stripe adorns Hope Street. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay takes a break from politics to celebrate our nation’s birth.

It’s the height of summer: long days of light framed by peach sunsets, high sun and a cobalt sky punctuated by whipped cream clouds.

The handsome Federal and Greek revival homes are dressed in American flags and more red white and blue bunting than Fenway Park on Opening Day.

Moody’s Investors Service says the $8.1 billion budget signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee on June 15 “is credit positive for Central Falls and schools, but leaves Woonsocket and pensions unaddressed.”

Moody’s points to “a material increase in funding for schools” — $34 million, or almost 4 percent, “marking the third consecutive annual increase in school funding. State funding for education now stands at over $900 million, well above pre-recession peak.”

Lawyer Max Wistow, a partner in the Providence firm of Wistow & Barylick, was hired by the state today to try to reduce the roughly $100 million liability faced by taxpayers due to the meltdown of 38 Studios.

After being introduced by Governor Chafee during a Statehouse news conference, Wistow said he couldn’t offer specifics on his approach since he’d just started on the job as a special counsel for the state Economic Development Corporation.

State Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher Koller plans to camp somewhere in the vicinity of the US Supreme Court when the court is expected to issue its highly anticipated decision Thursday morning on the Affordable Care Act.

Curt Schilling took to the sports talk airwaves last Thursday to once again blame Governor Lincoln Chafee for the collapse of his 38 Studios video game company.

As usual, the washed up Red Sox pitcher tried to deflect blame from his wrongheaded leadership of the nascent company and shift responsibility to Chafee and R.I. state government.

The Lifespan hospital chain, Rhode Island’s largest private employer, is probably going to announce Monday the appointment of a new CEO to succeed George Vecchione, who is retiring.  While the search process for a new CEO has been done quietly, with no media leaks, several sources in Rhode Island’s tight-knight medical care industry say Dr. Timothy Babineau, a surgeon who has been Rhode Island Hospital’s CEO since 2008, is the leading candidate. Babineau has impressed the state’s medical community in his tenure at RIH, the flagship of the Lifespan chain.

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo has offered the following statement in response to lawsuits filed today challenging the state’s pension overhaul:

Governor Lincoln Chafee’s choice of Christine Ferguson to head Rhode Island’s new Health Benefits Exchange has drawn praise. But RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says Ferguson may face challenges she can’t control.

Governor Chafee didn’t have to do an intergalactic search to find the person best qualified to run the state’s latest effort to extend health insurance to all citizens. For once, the person best suited for the job is a Rhode Islander, Christy Ferguson of Jamestown.

A series of union lawsuits filed today in Superior Court — aimed at stopping the sweeping state pension overhaul enacted last year — shouldn’t come as a surprise, says Robert Walsh, executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island. He says opponents made their stance clear before the overhaul was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Tony Simon, deputy state director for US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, is leaving that position to run the freshman senator’s re-election campaign, RIPR has learned.

There was a time when the managers of great American manufacturing companies loved their products, cared about their employees and customers and valued the communities in which they did business. Factories were run by people who weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty working in the same space as blue-collar workers.

The worst-kept secret in state government came to an end this morning when Governor Chafee introduced Christine Ferguson as the director of the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange. Ferguson has a long history in health policy, and she says the exchange offers the promise of cutting healthcare costs:

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist once famously talked about shrinking the federal government “to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Providence native Joe Nocera uses his New York Times’ op-ed column today to argue that state Representative Jon Brien is wielding a similar cudgel to cut spending in Woonsocket:

The Rhode Island GOP yesterday held its second in a series of recent news conference to introduce a batch of legislative candidates. The latest bunch was enthusiastic and their let’s-rock-the-status-quo messaging is potentially appealing in a state suffering from persistently high unemployment.

The Rev. Bernard A. Healey, the effective and hard-working lobbyist for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, is moving from St. Ambrose Parish in Albion to become pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in East Greenwich in August, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has announced.