Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. It's Memorial Day weekend, so it's a good time to remember the sacrifices of others. As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. This week's column is shorter than usual due to a long day at the office. Here we go.
1. As she approaches the mid-point in her term, Governor Gina Raimondo is ruling out accepting a position in a Clinton administration if Hillary Clinton wins election in November. "No, I'm committed to Rhode Island," the governor said, when asked during this week's RI Public Radio Bonus Q&A if there was any chance of her taking a job in a Clinton White House. There's been no shortage of speculation about Raimondo's political future, and a possible move to DC. But, she said: "I'm only a year and change into this job. We're getting a lot done and I want to serve the people, and this is where I want to be, and this is what I'm going to do. I hope she wins, but I'm staying where I am." The last few months have been somewhat bumpy for Raimondo, with the disastrous rollout of the state's tourism campaign and her flagging approval rating. For her part, the governor said she remains focused on delivering results (see #2) and plans to seek re-election in 2018.
2. Related: When Raimondo announced her campaign in December 2013, she said it was time for Rhode Island to finally turn the page. With an economy that remains short of robust and more outbreaks of politicians behaving badly, the recent time frame has seemed like deja vu all over again. "In many ways we have" turned the page, the governor said, "although certainly when you pick up the paper and you see Representative Gallison, and you know, Councilman Jackson, it's a huge step back. But in many ways we are turning a page. We also have created an awful lot of jobs this past year. Last year, I had terrific cooperation with the Assembly and we accomplished a great deal for Rhode Island. We're working together to get things done. It's an ongoing process, but I'm of the view I think we just have to stay at it and show people results. The people deserve results. They deserve good schools, good roads, good jobs, so let's stay at it. My job and the Assembly's job is to work together to do the work of the people and over time, we'll show results, and I think that's the only way to gain people's trust." Raimondo indicated, meanwhile, that some staff changes could follow the end of the legislative session.
3. Wexford Science & Technology's proposed development for the former I-195 land is the kind of big tangible project that could lend Rhode Islanders a greater sense of confidence about the economy. That said, things on the Wexford front have been quiet since the Baltimore-based company signed a purchase and sale agreement in January. "It's the first big project that we're trying to get done on the 195 land, and the first one does take a good deal of time," Raimondo said during our Bonus Q&A interview. While Wexford is expected to apply for incentives, the governor said the core issue is the need for an anchor tenant or two to move the proposal beyond conception. Via statement, Richard Galvin, president of Wexford's partner in the project, CV Properties, said, “Securing the right tenants to make the proposed a 1.2 million square foot life sciences complex a reality is a major undertaking. CV Properties and Wexford continue to work diligently on this front and appreciate the state’s continuing commitment to bring this project to fruition.”
4. The scrap that flared this week between the Providence Journal's editorial page and the House of Representatives is perhaps the most memorable political/media blowups in recent state history. Things began when the ProJo used a sharply worded front-page Sunday editorial to excoriate House hearings on legislative community service grants as a dog and pony show. (The opinion piece featured the stylistic hallmarks of editorial page editor Edward Achorn, whose acute wariness about public officials has long been clear; Back in 2004, when John DeSimone challenged then-Speaker William Murphy, Achorn wrote, "It’s a little like the Iran-Iraq war. You almost want no one to win.") Lawmakers, including House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, were indignant. They argued they had been unfairly tarred, and that the editorial didn't take into account all the nuances of legislative life. Representative Anastasia Williams (D-Providence) then launched a broader attack on the media, blaming technology and reporters who came to Rhode Island from other states, among other questionable concerns. The ProJo blew out coverage of the story with top A1 billing the next day, the editorial board returned fire with another editorial, and the controversy seemed to generate renewed appreciation for Rhode Island's statewide daily. It was enough to make you briefly forget we're in 2016, a time when newspapers (and other media sources) face an uncertain future. There's a lot in this battle to tease out. Suffice it to say for now that both sides can claim victory. In calling out the Journal, Speaker Mattiello was speaking mostly to his membership, where he's seen as defending the institution of the House. The ProJo, meanwhile, raised its profile, reasserting its place in the ongoing conversation of Rhode Islanders.
5. During a visit to East Providence earlier Friday, Vice President Joe Biden examined some of the wooden structures holding up sections of highway over Warren Avenue. (He dubbed the woodwork "Lincoln Logs") Biden praised Rhode Island's investment in infrastructure as a key for economic growth, and said it will have a spin-off effect in spreading money throughout the state. Critics, of course, remain upset, predicting that new tolls on big trucks will raise consumer costs, among other adverse outcomes. Meanwhile, the ongoing debate over RhodeWorks remains one of the wild cards for fall legislative races.
6. Arianne Corrente, district director for Congressman David Cicilline, is headed to a new job as communications director for the Rhode Island Foundation.
7. Watch for the House version of the budget to hit the Finance Committee in the coming week.
9. Rhode Islanders who want to consider running for office have an opportunity to learn about the process at Operation Clean Government's Candidate School on June 4. I spoke about the session with OCG head Margaret Kane. As she notes, given the level of griping in Rhode Island, the number of uncontested legislative elections is striking. (Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea offers her own guidebook on running for office.)
10. Who knew? The founder of the Tribeca Film Festival was once a page in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.