Political news

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.


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.