Rhode Island public employee unions filed a lawsuit today seeking to overturn last year's big pension overhaul. The outcome, of course, will have a big impact on workers' retirement and the state's long-term fiscal health. But what of the political ramifications?
Treasurer Gina Raimondo was the architect of the overhaul, of course.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition and, I'm told, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are joing the chorus of local groups urging Governor Chafee to sign the public records legislation approved by the General Assembly late Tuesday night.
A letter from Kenneth F. Bunting, executive director of NFOIC, notes that the measure does not include all the reforms sought by local open government advocates.
Governor Chafee is making his final push for a municipal financial rescue package with a nifty new video called "Momentum." But the latest word on Smith Hill is that the package doesn't have much momentum at all: only a few of the less controversial measures are expected to pass.
Is this a sign of the governor's weakness? Sure.
The Rhode Island House and Senate are both poised to approve legislation tomorrow that would decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
The long-term prospects of the legislation always seemed good. The House and Senate bills enjoy broad support in their respective chambers. And a January poll commissioned by the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project showed 65 percent of Rhode Island voters backing the measures.
Curt Schilling, in his interview with the Providence Journal, suggests Governor Lincoln Chafee was acting irresponsibly when he publicly declared that the state was working to keep 38 Studios "solvent" and later said the company's first game was an "abject failure."
He also attacks Chafee for revealing two of the company's closely held secrets - that it was spending $4 million per month and that its next game, code-named Project Copernicus, wasn't scheduled for release until June 2013.
Governor Lincoln Chafee, who's had a tough go of it since taking office on a crisp day in January 2011, has looked more statesmanlike this week than at any point in his tenure.
That is due, in part, to the nature of crisis. When something big and troubling happens in a state, all eyes turn to the chief executive. Think of Governor Carcieri after the Station nightclub fire.
Lincoln Chafee's post-Senate indictment of a Republican Party gone off the rails, Against the Tide, gets new life in a book from Geoffrey Kabaservice on the demise of the GOP's moderate wing. Here, Kabaservice writes of (recently ousted) Senator Richard Lugar:
Angry as the Tea Party became with him, Lugar had also been disowned by
the moderate faction of which he was once a part.
Governor Lincoln Chafee, who has made the on-line video a go-to medium, is at it again with a well-produced pitch for his legislative package aimed at rescuing the state's floundering cities and towns. Dramatic music, a ticking clock, who knew Linc could be an action movie star?
Still, as I noted in this space a couple of days ago, he faces an uphill climb in a General Assembly loathe to hit organized labor hard for the second year in a row: last year, it was sweeping pension reform for workers in the state-run system; Chafee's package could mean cuts in pay and pensions for municipal workers.
It was two weeks ago that Governor Chafee unveiled a legislative package, during a press conference at Pawtucket City Hall, that aims to help cities and town cut costs and pull back from the brink of fiscal crisis.
Some of the most controversial measures would allow "severely distressed" communities to bypass parts of employee contracts, like salary hikes for teachers, and suspend annual cost-of-living hikes for retirees.
The new Brown University poll is out this morning and here's the topline: voters are, not surprisingly, opposed to the tax hikes and spending cuts Governor Chafee is proposing in his budget. And their already dim view of Congressman David Cicilline has taken a turn for the worse.
The poll, of 514 registered voters February 16-18, shows 68 percent opposed to $30 hikes in driver's license and registration fees, 57 percent opposed to tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge, and 80 percent against hiking the meals and beverage tax from 7 to 10 percent.
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling will be at a Game Stop in Bellingham, Massachusetts at midnight tonight for the release of his video game company 38 Studios' highly anticipated first title, "Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning."
The game has won positive early reviews and, as the Providence Journal reported this weekend, industry analysts are expecting sales of at least 1 million, which would make the game a moderate success.
I've got a cover story in today's Phoenix about Rhode Island's tricky shift to what I call Medical Marijuana 2.0.
After a threatened federal crackdown, Governor Lincoln Chafee put the kibosh on three planned pot dispensaries in September. Since then, medical marijuana advocates have been trying to figure out the shape of the next phase - and it's just started to come together in recent days.
Governor Chafee, his approval rating at 27 percent, has taken a beating in the end-of-2011 reviews. You've heard the list: failures on the sales tax and gay marriage, a liberal base angry about the voter ID bill he signed, little credit for the state's pension overhaul.
Well, in case you missed it - and you probably did, the video had just 371 views on YouTube at last count - here's the spin Chafee's office is putting on the past year.
As the year comes to a close, the media is filled with the inevitable retrospectives. And Lincoln Chafee gets the full treatment in the Wall Street Journal today with a piece titled "Gov. Chafee Learns the Price of Independence."
The only political independent serving as a governor could use a few friends.Rhode Island Gov.
The only political independent serving as a governor could use a few friends.
Rhode Island Gov.
Lincoln Chafee's new choice for chief of staff, George Zainyeh, is a well-regarded figure in Rhode Island political circles. And the selection underscores one of the governor's strengths: a willingness to reach across the aisle, to make peace.
Chafee, after all, did battle with Zainyeh for the Warwick mayoralty years ago.