Political news

Photo by Megan Hall.

PROVIDENCE, RI – The pension advisory committee for General Treasurer Gina Raimondo held its latest meeting, this time in East Providence.

The session was meant to identify possible solutions for Rhode Island's $7-billion in unfunded pension liability. But the best way forward remains in dispute.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a committee member, says the problem is so severe the state needs to rethink pension cost of living adjustments (COLAs).

Photo by Ian Donnis.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Supporters of a kind of charter school known as mayoral academies called on Governor Lincoln Chafee to support their expansion. The state Board of Regents is expected to vote on such a proposal September first.

Charter school supporters point to disparities in academic performance between rich and poor students to underscore the need for change.

Photo by Ian Donnis.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Businessman and former Republican candidate Jim Bennett is Providence's new director of economic development. Bennett says his ideas for creating jobs include streamlining zoning and building on existing technology companies in Rhode Island.

Mayor Angel Taveras says Bennett has the right stuff for the job.


State Treasurer Gina Raimondo met with local officials to seek their support for reforming Rhode Island's pension system.

Raimondo says she's developing a comprehensive pension reform bill for a special General Assembly session this fall. She says Rhode Island will face more municipal bankruptcies unless the state deals with its $7-billion in unfunded pension liability.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Providence City Councilor Miguel Luna was hospitalized following a heart ailment.

Luna was initially reported in stable condition after arriving at Rhode Island Hospital. City Council President Michael Solomon tells WRNI that EMTs had to revive Luna after responding to his home.

Further details about Luna's condition weren't available for this report. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras was among those sending his thoughts and prayers to Luna's family.

PROVIDENCE, RI – One local observer says economic uncertainty makes the possibility of a double-dip recession more likely in Rhode Island.

For the last year or so, University of Rhode Island economics professor Leonard Lardaro says he thought the state had a one in three chance of sliding back into recession. Now, slowing economic growth and Standard and Poor's downgrade of the US credit rating have changed Lardaro's view.

PROVIDENCE, RI – A controversial binding arbitration bill failed to move forward earlier this year in the General Assembly. Now, Central Falls' receiver Robert Flanders says that city's financial distress was caused in part by binding arbitration.

Central Falls is on the hook for $80-million in retiree benefits. Flanders says that's part of the reason why he made a bankruptcy filing for the city last week. He says binding arbitration caused Central Falls' finances to spiral out of control.

Photo by Ian Donnis.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Lincoln Chafee has faced a variety of challenges since taking office in January. Even before a bankruptcy filing last week for Central Falls, Rhode Island was suffering from a soft economy and high unemployment. Chafee recently sat down with WRNI political reporter Ian Donnis to take a look back at his first six months in office.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@wrni.org.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Local Democrats and Republicans are trading fire over GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's appearance at a Newport fundraiser, where former governor Don Carcieri was among the hosts.

For $250, supporters can attend the fundraiser. Add another zero and the tab for a private reception with Romney is $2500. State GOP chairman Ken McKay says it's too early for him to endorse a candidate, but he likes what he sees in Romney.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Former Governor Bruce Sundlun was laid to rest after a funeral service at Temple Beth-El in Providence. A former aide, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, called Sundlun one of the most accomplished leaders in Rhode Island history.

Providence, RI – WRNI's Scott Mackay speaks with Morning Edition Anchor Dave Fallon on the life of former Governor Bruce Sundlun.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@wrni.org.

PROVIDENCE, RI – A new scientific report has given Senator Sheldon Whitehouse new ammunition for his push for a National Endowment for the Oceans.

Whitehouse says a report by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean supplies irrefutable evidence that the world's oceans are in danger of irreversible damage.

"In short, things for the ocean are worse than we thought and getting worse faster than expected," he says.

PROVIDENCE, RI – A coalition of 15 civil rights groups is denouncing the state's new voter ID law. It requires voters to present a photo ID starting in 2014. But both the Governor and the Speaker of the House are defending the legislation.

The NAACP, the Coalition for the Homeless, Progreso Latino, and the ACLU are among 15 groups who have written a letter to the Governor calling the voter ID law a, "significant and shameful step backward".

PROVIDENCE, RI – General Treasurer Gina Raimondo says she was surprised by the magnitude of the problems found in an audit of the state's disability pension. Auditors found that for years there was either little or no documentation on whether workers were still disabled or working other jobs.

Auditors went through the files back to 1977 and found no documentation of a disability - such as a medical exam signed by a doctor or medical report - from 1990 to 2000 and again in 2003 and 2005.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Earlier this year Providence Mayor Angel Taveras tried unsuccessfully to withdraw the capital city from the secure communities program. It's a federal program that requires police to check the immigration status of people arrested against a federal database to see whether they are in the country illegally.