Political news

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.


Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is defending his decision to have a child out of wedlock.

At an anti-crime rally in the city's Armory district yesterday (Sunday), Providence Mayor Angel Taveras received congratulations over his imminent fatherhood and got some practice in communicating with one-year-olds.

"How are you?" asks Taveras. "Oh he's happy. He's happy here because he's got a bottle. He's drooling. He's having a good time here."

PROVIDENCE, RI – It's been five days since Governor Lincoln Chafee signed a law making civil unions legal in Rhode Island, but as of Wednesday morning only three people had requested civil union license applications statewide.The interested parties were in Burrillville, Smithfield and Newport.

The lack of interest stands in stark contrast to the experience of Vermont which in 2000 became the first state in the nation to allow any type of same sex unions.

Photo by: Ryan Conaty

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Lincoln Chafee says a cash infusion wasn't put into the state budget is because lawmakers thought the receiver's office wasn't moving fast enough.

Three different receivers have been running Central Falls for a little more than a year. The current one, Robert Flanders, begged the state for a nearly $7 million cash infusion to help fill budget gaps, which the state refused.

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Providence firefighters union says it will sit down with the city Wednesday to continue negotiations. The city is looking for a 10 percent cut from the fire department. And if a deal isn't reached by Friday, the city says it will start looking to let go of 92 firefighters.

Paul Doughty, President of the Providence firefighters union, says firefighters want to do their part but they also want the city to factor in recent negotiations that saved Providence more than $2 million.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Although the state doesn't own Twin River, it gets 60 percent of the money gambled there - about 270 million dollars each year.

Robert Walsh of the National Education Association Rhode Island says that revenue stream could be sold to a private bidder for billions of dollars.

Under Walsh's concept, those billions would be applied to the state's estimated seven billion to nine billion dollars in unfunded pension liability.

Providence, RI – Providence's top two Democrats are non-committal about whether they'll back the reelection next year of Congressman David Cicilline.

In separate interviews, Mayor Angel Taveras and City Council President Michael Solomon say they remain undecided about backing Cicilline.

Taveras says he usually supports fellow Democrats, but has also backed Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican. When asked about the possibility of Cicilline winning another term in office, Taveras said the elections are too far off.

Photo by: Ian Donnis

Providence, RI – More than 200 people were on hand yesterday, when former State Police Superintendent Brendan Doherty launched his campaign for the Congressional seat held by Democrat David Cicilline.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox says same-sex marriage legislation is dead for the year.

Fox, who is openly gay and a strong backer of same-sex marriage, says there is insuperable opposition in the Senate. He's sponsoring civil union legislation instead.

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, a powerful opponent of gay marriage legislation, says she will support the civil union bill and predicts it will pass.

Photo by: Ian Donnis.

PROVIDENCE, RI – House Minority Leader Robert Watson is disputing the account offered by East Haven, Connecticut, police of his arrest last Friday.

During a speech on the House floor, Watson accused the police of orchestrating his arrest after realizing he was a state representative. Police say Watson smelled of marijuana and had trouble with field sobriety tests.

Watson says he did not smoke marijuana that day and was not under the influence.

Credit: East Haven Police Department.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – House minority leader Robert Watson says he "vehemently" denies driving under the influence last Friday night in Connecticut. Watson was arrested at a DWI checkpoint in East Haven, Connecticut.

Watson was arrested at 10 pm Friday at a DWI checkpoint where all motorists were stopped. According to an East Haven, Connecticut police report, Watson smelled of alcohol and admitted to drinking two-and-a-half beers at a friend's house.