What a week in Rhode Island politics. Welcome back to my weekly column, and thanks for stopping by. As always, feel free to drop me a line at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Let's get snapping.
In most protracted court battles, a settlement reached after tortuous year-long negotiations marks the end of a lawsuit and allows the parties to move forward. Often the lawyers celebrate and perhaps even share an odd drop together.
That wasn’t the case Friday. The proposed legal settlement between the state and the unions that represent public school teachers and state employees and retirees is just the beginning of a cumbersome ratification process that is sure to become ensnared in what is shaping up as a contentious political campaign season in Rhode Island.
A settlement that could end a legal dispute over the 2011 overhaul of the state pension system is expected to be unveiled Friday. The deal appears back on track after hitting a snag earlier this week.
The federal mediation service that has overseen more than a year of closed-door pension talks is set to hold a news conference (4:15 pm) at a state building near the Statehouse. The subject is expected to be a proposed settlement between the state and a series of public-employee unions.
Update: It looks like a settlement is back on; the federal mediation service plans to hold a news conference at 4:15 pm Friday.
A news conference to unveil a pension settlement Wednesday afternoon was abruptly postponed, although closed-door mediation in the case will continue. Meanwhile, the judge overseeing the dispute has also set a trial for September 15, in the event that a settlement can’t be reached.
The latest WPRI-TV/Providence Journal poll shows Angel Taveras clinging to a small lead among the three major Democratic candidates for governor, although the main takeaway is the wide-open nature of the contest.
What everyone in the Rhode Island political swirl should understand about the state pension overhaul settlement details that are due for release tomorrow: This is very likely to be only the beginning of a protracted process.
One thing we know for sure. Even if it is fair and reasonable, not everyone is going to like it. Some unionized state employees and teachers will not be satisfied with anything less than a full restoration of the pension benefits that were sliced dramatically in the 2011 special General Assembly pension session.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee, State Treasurer Gina Raimondo, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Tersea Paiva Weed met privately at the State House this afternoon for a 90-minute closed-door briefing on the proposed state pension overhaul legal settlement.
The settlement details are scheduled to be released on Wednesday. The parties to the pension lawsuit have been under a gag order by Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter for more than a year. None of the state officials in today’s meeting disclosed any settlement details.