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TGIF: 15 Things To Know About Rhode Island Politics & Media

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Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column -- a little extra breezy this week due to a hectic Friday. As usual your tips and thoughts are welcome via...

Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column -- a little extra breezy this week due to a hectic Friday. As usual your tips and thoughts are welcome via email, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

1. Senator Jack Reed calls attacks like the one in San Bernardino, California, "probably the most significant threat that we face, which is individuals who have no obvious public sort of statements, no contact continuously with other outside people, and yet have within their minds and hearts these very malign thoughts about attacking." The female assailant pledged allegiance to ISIS on Facebook around the time of the attack, although there are not yet signs that ISIS directed the attack. In an interview at RI Public Radio on Friday, Reed said, One of the things that was very disturbing about this situation was even their closest relatives had no indication, no suspicion .... not the typical signs of someone who is radicalized and will act on that radicalization, but this is what we have to be concerned about: good intelligence and I think, just as importantly, very open communication with all the communities in the United States, and getting their advice and their input as to individuals or situations which might be problematic." 

2. Another interesting week for Governor Gina Raimondo. Her team got a jump on year-in-review pieces by offering their own look-back, branding #ItsWorking with a video and four-page PDF touting different efforts to build skills, cut taxes, and improve government. The RI GOP wasn't impressed, responding with the hash tags #It'sASham and #ItsNotTransparent. Yet for a real surprise, consider how the exclusion of GOP lawmakers from Raimondo's education funding formula panel led the characteristically laid-back House Minority Leader Brian Newberry (R-North Smithfield) to brand the governor's tactics "bizarre."

3. Guns, guns and more guns. Washington Post: No week since 2013 without a mass shooting; Fortune: Washington won't do anything on gun laws. Meanwhile, self-protection has climbed over the last 15 years as the top reason why people buy guns, even though crime has dropped over the same period.

4. Congressman David Cicilline is hosting a roundtable discussion at 2 pm, Saturday, December 5, at the Rhode Island Foundation, to discuss campaign finance reform. Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, who has a campaign finance proposal based on small-dollar contributions -- providing a six-to-one matching contribution for donations up to $150 -- will among those attending. Back in 2005, Common Cause of RI tried advancing a similar concept meant to counter the influence of money in politics, but it got undone by Citizens United-era court decisions.

5. ProJo executive editor David Butler went on WPRI-TV Newsmakers this week to talk about Rhode Island's statewide daily. That's in sharp contrast to Butler's predecessors, who almost always declined to talk with reporters from outside Fountain Street. "The world continues to change, and we have to do that," Butler said, speaking more broadly about the Journal's future, during his interview, voicing a commitment to the paper's print product. As far as new investment in RI's statewide daily. "It's still budget time and we're still working on it," Butler said, adding that GateHouse CEO Kirk Davis has high aspirations for the paper.

6. Curt Schilling is the headliner at an event at the Port 305 Restaurant in Quincy, Massachusetts, on Monday, December 7, honoring Pearl Harbor survivor William Keith. According to an email promoting the event, tickets ($150) will benefit a nonprofit WWII Foundation.

7. Count state Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Providence) among those concerned about the capital city's financial condition. "It's worrying," Regunberg said on this week's RI Public Radio Bonus Q+A. "Providence has a lot of structural issues. As someone who's in the state legislature, I think a lot of those issues are tied to the General Assembly. Our state needs to give greater support to Providence. Things like PILOT [payment in lieu of taxes] funding; states like Connecticut have much higher rates of PILOT funding to their cities than Rhode Island. We've been cutting aid to cities and towns previously. We've started increasing it, but it hasn't made up for that. So for me, my focus is really focusing on the General Assembly and making the case that so goes Providence, so goes Rhode Island -- we need to invest in our capital city."  

8. Connecticut officials say they believe the Nutmeg State is competing only with New York and Massachusetts in the high-stakes battle over the location of General Electric's corporate headquarters.

9. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello's request for the location of truck-toll gantries "is an old issue that has been lingering" says spokesman Larry Berman. He said the proposed toll sites are among the questions expected to be taken up by House Finance in January.

10. The Southern New England Association of Black Journalists is staging a forum on race and media on Saturday, December 5, at 4 pm, at Brown's Rites and Reason Theatre, 155 Angell Street, Providence. Byron Pitts, chief national correspondent and anchor for ABC News' Nightline, is is the keynote speaker. NBC10's Barbara Morse Silva is the moderator for the panel. The Panelists include: Jemele Hill, ESPN.com columnist; Michael Eaves, ESPN anchor; NESN news director Larry Lawson; WBZ assistant news director Johnny Green; and Providence College director of black studies, Dr. Julia Jordan-Zachery.

11. More Representative Regunberg;  Listen to his take, via our Political Roundtable, on mass shootings, judicial selection, and truck tolls.

12. This just in from colleague Scott MacKay: Jack Casey, longtime aide and friend of Senator Reed, is retiring after 15 years with the senator. Casey is well-liked and respected, a true jack-of-all trades for the Rhode Island Democrat. Casey, 70, is always at Reed’s side during the senator’s frequent forays back to Rhode Island. Casey is known for his intimate knowledge of the Ocean State’s people and our highways and byways. He’s a guy who has never needed a GPS to find his way around our cozy state. Before linking up with Reed, Casey was a math teacher in Coventry’s public schools and a union activist with the AFT. In retirement Casey plans to spend more time following his beloved Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Florida, and working on charitable endeavors. His dream job is to be an usher at JetBlue Park, spring training home to the Red Sox. Casey leaves at the end of the month, and there's no word yet on who will take his place. "Maybe I’ll have to drive myself," quipped Reed Friday after an interview at RIPR.

13. Colleen Conley, founder of the RI Tea Party and someone who always gave as good as she got in fighting for her conservative beliefs, is leaving Rhode Island for South Carolina. As she wrote on FB, "I’ll once again be living amongst people who think like I do." Best wishes to Colleen as she sets off on her new adventure.

14. Former ProJo reporter Dan Barry has a good read on the push into Cuban baseball by Lou Schwechheimer, ex of the PawSox.

15. Welcome to Sox Nation, David Price.

TGIF: 15 Things To Know About Rhode Island Politics & Media
TGIF: 15 Things To Know About Rhode Island Politics & Media