Word came, today, that Mayor Angel Taveras won a $5 million prize from Bloomberg Philanthropies for a clever approach to improving childhood literacy. I wrote about the idea back in November. Here's the piece:
all know, on some level, that impoverished kids face long odds. But
quantification has a way of casting a problem like this in stark relief.
But listen closely to the mayor, and it's clear that his passion lies elsewhere - in education.
I spoke with him for my new cover story on the push to turn around Providence's failing schools.
WPRI superblogger Ted Nesi delivered new Public Policy Polling figures on the nascent Rhode Island gubernatorial race this morning. And the headlines were not entirely surprising: Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, is the early frontrunner and Governor Lincoln Chafee, an independent, faces a tough road to re-election.
My new cover story, sizing up the 2014 gubernatorial race, discusses the early jockeying for labor's support, among other topics. And my basic conclusion is this: public employee unions have no "fair-haired child" in the race, as one Chafee aide put it.
All the leading contenders have ticked off union leaders in one way or another in the last couple of years.
My new cover story, gaming out the 2014 governor's race, lands today. What struck me most, in reporting the piece, was the fluidity of the contest.
Many have already written off Governor Chafee, whose approval ratings are stuck in the 20s. But his team made a reasonably convincing case for the power of incumbency. If he can articulate a compelling economic development message and sign a gay marriage bill, his stock could rise.
The New Year will mark the de facto start of the 2014 governor's race. And while much of the nascent campaign will be about fundraising, the public policy fights waged by the would-be candidates will have no small bearing on their evolving images.
We're already getting glimpses of what the bold-faced names might pursue in the coming months.
For the sick, small tribe obsessed with Rhode Island politics, it's hard not to be preoccupied with the 2014 governor's race. The story lines are just too irresistible: Governor Chafee's uphill fight for re-election; the increasingly personal schism between the independent governor and a likely opponent, Democratic Treasurer Gina Raimondo; a possible clash of the titans in the Democratic primary, between Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras; the intriguing potential of Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican whose friendship with Taveras goes back years.
Well this is pretty cool.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has named Providence one of 20 finalists in its "Mayor's Challenge," which will dole out $9 million in grants to five cities with innovative ideas for tackling big problems.
The Providence proposal, one of 305 submitted this fall, aims to tackle the "vocabulary deficit."
As Dan McGowan at GoLocalProv reported earlier today, Providence City Councilman John Igliozzi has been ousted from his position as chairman of the panel's finance committee a day after he and Councilman Terry Hassett voiced second thoughts about the sweeping pension reform package they recently approved alongside the rest of the council.
Actually, there's nothing criminal about Matt Jerzyk. Not since he cut off that ponytail, anyway. I was just smooshing together our two main features in this week's Phoenix.
Jerzyk is a (formerly ponytailed) activist-turned-insider: a lefty bomb thrower and shrewd political organizer who now holds a key post in Providence Mayor Angel Taveras' administration.
There are, clearly, rewards for bold, blunt leadership in times of crisis.
Last year, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras declared a "category 5 hurricane" on the city's books and was able to wrangle significant savings from municipal unions and push through a tax hike.
Treasurer Gina Raimondo, meanwhile, made a very methodical case for an unsustainable state pension system and won an overhaul that landed her breathless national press.
A new poll out of Brown's Taubman Center reinforces an ironclad rule of politics: it's the economy.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has received glowing press for attacking the city's budget woes head-on. And that has certainly insulated him, to some degree, from the slings and arrows of economic misfortune. But he still gets middling reviews from voters.
Running for higher office from the mayor's chair is always a difficult proposition. City Hall comes with baggage.
That made former Mayor David Cicilline's triumph in the Congressional election of this past fall all the more impressive. And as he settled into his Capitol Hill offices, the ugliness of urban politics was supposed to fade rather quickly.
Steve Smith, president of the Providence Teachers Union, has been a pivotal figure in Rhode Island's education reform movement. He has joined with Providence Superintendent Tom Brady in a unique labor-management partnership to turn around failing schools - a model that has won national attention. And he provided a key bit of support in the state's successful, reform-minded application for $75 million in federal Race to the Top dollars.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has named Jeffrey Padwa, who co-chaired Barack Obama's Rhode Island presidential campaign, his city solicitor.
Padwa, who has been serving as treasurer for the state Democratic Party, fits the reformist image the Taveras administration has been crafting.