scott mackay

So Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza wants to build a trolley system. RIPR Political analyst Scott MacKay says this is a great idea, but can the city afford it?

Sure, it would  be wonderful to jump on a Providence  trolley system and ride from Brown University, down historic College Hill, to Rhode Island Hospital..

One can even imagine taking the trolley to a spanking new retro baseball stadium along the Providence River to watch the Boston Red Sox top minor league team.

David Axelrod’s fine and quite well-written new political memoir entitled `Believer: My Forty Years In Politics’ has some interesting insights on Patrick Kennedy’s early career, in which Axelrod had a role.

In 1994, Axelrod, who would later become Barack Obama’s political consigliere, was the media consultant for Kennedy’s first campaign for Congress in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District. Kennedy, just 26, had served five years in the RI House of Representatives as a rep from Providence’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

Providence’s rich baseball history is on display at City Hall in a new exhibit to be formally unveiled tomorrow (May 7) at City Hall.

The exhibit, which features memorabilia, baseball cards and photographs of the city’s long and florid baseball history, is located on the third floor of City Hall.

A reception introducing the exhibit will be held at 6  p.m. tomorrow on the third floor at City Hall. It will be hosted by City Council President Luis Aponte, a Ward 10 Democrat, and City Archivist Paul Campbell, a noted Rhode Island historian.

Rhode Island motorists will see a small increase of one-cent in the gasoline tax on July 1, 2015 to account for inflation, according to the state Department of Revenue.

This tax, known commonly as the state "gas tax" will increase from 32 to 33 cents per gallon, based on calculations from the state Division of Taxation. This adjustment is required under state law.

The Red Bandana Fund, which honors the legacy of social activist and journalist Richard Walton, has chosen to bestow the annual Red Bandana awards to Providence College Professor Eric Hirsch and workers at the Renaissance Hotel in Providence.

Hirsch, a sociology prosessor, is that rare academic who translates his research into action. A tireless advocate for the poor and homeless, Hirsch has worked with the RI Coalition for the Homeless, in the classroom and at the Rhode Island Statehouse, helping the less fortunate in our community.

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Rhode Island state government has asked a state Superior Court judge to open to the public records related to the state’s civil suit against several financial companies and law firms in the long-running case to recover damages from those involved in the ill-fated 38 Studios bond deal.

    

Federal Wildlife Service

A push to legalize marijuana – once again – has returned to the Statehouse.  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses what has become a perennial issue.

Except for speeding on Rhode Island’s roads, is there a law more frequently scoffed at by citizens than the ban on recreational use of marijuana?
As the General Assembly again tackles the prickly issue of legalizing marijuana, it is well beyond the time for rigorous study of a policy that too often devolves into cliché and anecdotal opinion.

Love, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member and star in the Academy-Award winning documentary, 20 feet from stardom, will deliver the commencement address at Providence College’s 79th graduation exercises on Sunday, May 17. The event will be held  at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Love’s musical career began at age 10, when she sang in a gospel choir at a church where her father was a preacher. She has credited her gospel beginnings as having a big influence on her carer. In the 1950s, Love joined a group called the Blossoms and quickly became the lead singer.

Bernard Sanders, Vermont’s independent, left-leaning U.S. Senator,  is preparing to launch a longshot campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign on Thursday, according to sources close to the senator.

A Sanders entry would provide Democratic primary voters with a liberal alternative to presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, who once served with Sanders in the Senate. Bernie Sanders, as he is universally known, is widely popular in Vermont, a state he has represented in the U.S. House and Senate since his first election to the House in 1990.

The old Rhode Island cliché is that only the best families in our state can trace their lineage all the way back to a slave trader or rum-runner. One of those families, the DeWolfs of Bristol, have dug deep into their family’s dark past as the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history.

RIPR FILE

So Twin River’s parent company wants to build a new casino in Tiverton.   The idea is likely to raise a few eyebrows, but RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it  has to be done.

There are many Rhode Islanders who don’t believe that state government should be in the business of promoting gambling. Those critics point out the lottery games and slot-machine emporiums that speckle New England like daffodils these days are little more than cheap taxes on the poor.

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  The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island is honoring RI Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, with the organization’s Susan L. Farmer Award.

The award will honor Paiva Weed for her leadership role as the first female Senate president and for her support for the state’s Temporary Caregivers Insurance program, which was a top priority of the Women’s Fund of RI.

Paiva Weed became the first women to hold the post of Senate president in 2009. She is a lawyer and Providence College graduate.

RIPR file photo

  The 195 Redevelopment Commission has decided to open to the public Monday’s meeting with the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox, who want to move the team from McCoy Stadium to a new ballpark that would be built on about 9 acres of former 195 land on the Providence riverfront.

Principal owners Larry Lucchino and James Skeffington are scheduled to discuss the stadium plans with commission members. The meeting was originally scheduled as an executive session that was to have been closed to the public.

The debate over Rhode Island taxpayer support for a new stadium for the PawSox in Providence has started. RIPR Political Analyst Scott MacKay talks about state government’s next move.

Listening to the opening salvos in the Providence stadium debate reminds one of William Faulkner’s dictum about the American South: "The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.’’

The last budget crafted by former Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s administration and the General Assembly seems to be holding up fairly well, according to the latest revenue assessment by the Rhode Island  Department of Revenue.

The official state bean-counters say that adjusted total general revenues are up about $61 million more than expected in the current budget year, which ends on June 30. This is good news for a state that has been slowly emerging from the recession.

The 2.6 percent increase in revenues is fueled by increases in the personal income tax and the corporate tax.

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