Side of the Rhode: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in RI Politics?

Friday, March 07, 2014
Dan Lawlor, GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™

HOT: Anna Cano Morales of the Latino Policy Institute
Every Friday, Dan Lawlor breaks down who's rising and who's falling in the world of Rhode Island politics. Check out who made the lists this week.


Satchell Ramos - Satchell Ramos, a 22 year old New Haven native, died after being stabbed on Federal Hill while breaking up a fight to protect a couple. Rebecca Gratz, principal of Ramos' high school, told the New Haven Register, "seeing the other piece that he died trying to help someone speaks volumes to his character. He was quick-witted...He was one of the funniest students I ever had the pleasure to teach.... He was really bright and always had a positive attitude."

Anna Cano Morales/Latino Policy Institute (LPI) - "If we can address housing affordability for Latinos, this young and fast growing demographic can play an even larger role in Rhode Island's economic growth," Cano Morales noted on the release of a joint LPI and Housing Works RI infographic detailing the reality of the reality of Latino income versus the income needed to be homeowners in RI. Latinos are 13.2% of the RI population, of whom 25% are homeowners, compared to the state average of 60%. Among Latino homeowners, 27% are severely cost burdened.

Spencer Dickinson/General Assembly - Interesting proposal! The rabble rousing state legislator has sponsored a bill to mandate each state legislative district elect one woman and one man to office.

Steve Nardelli/RI League of Charter Schools - "All students should have the opportunity to attend an excellent public school, and whether that choice is a traditional choice or charter public school is a choice left up to each family," Nardelli recently told GoLocal. For the upcoming school year, more than 11,800 families applied to fill less than 1,300 open slots in Rhode Island Charter Schools. Demand for charter school is high, and as Nardelli argued, “serves as a reminder of the unmet demand for more valuable public school options in our state.”

Johanna Harris/Board of Licenses - Johanna Harris, a Providence lawyer and co-chair of Preserve RI, is now officially chairperson of the city's Board of Licenses. Harris replaces long term chair (and former city councilor) Andrew Annaldo. Prior to his rise as Speaker, Gordon Fox served as vice chair of the Board.

Brown University- The East Side Ivy League, originally located in Warren and called Rhode Island College, kicks off its 250th birthday celebrations this weekend. More than 250 public middle schoolers will arrive on campus for a tour today to start off the event. Featured speakers over the weekend include Brown alums active in politics and government, including World Bank President Jim Yong Kim , US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and governors Lincoln Chafee (RI), Maggie Hassan (NH), Jack Markel (DE), and Peter Shumlin (VT). All events are free and open to the public, but you must register online for tickets.

Lynn McCormack/City of Providence - What is a hopeful vision for Providence in 2034? Imagine a city where artists work in hospitals, schools celebrate their neighborhoods, elderly high rises employ musicians, and soup kitchens (and city council meetings) double as theater space. The City's Department of Art, Culture and Tourism held its Sixth Annual Senator Claiborne Pell Lecture on Arts and Humanities, with visions from Everett Dance Company's Sokeo Ros, Playwright and Professor Erik Ehn and Urban Pond Procession Director Holly Ewald. Writer and Activist Arlene Goldbard was the lead facilitator. Mayor Angel Taveras and Gubernatorial Candidate Clay Pell and wife Michelle Kwan, were spotted in the crowd, among many others.

NOT: Providence Mayor and Candidate for Governor, Angel Taveras

Angel Taveras - "The Providence Mayor in three years has seen turnover in every senior staff position at least once and in some cases twice," as GoLocal recently reported. Former Taveras staffers Matt Jerzyk and Peter Baptista are now consulting for Michael Solomon's Mayoral campaign. Another revolving door includes a growing list of former supporters. Just this week, the City Council voted by a two-third majority to override the Mayor's veto of an affordable housing ordinance, and Myrth York, one of the Mayor's earliest supporters, switched to endorse Gina Raimondo for Governor. This follows recent news that Victor Capellan, the Mayor's 2010 deputy campaign manager, endorsed Clay Pell.

Crime Stats - Overall crime, including robbery, in the capital city is down. However, according to the Providence Police, homicide is up. As Teny Gross of the Institute for Nonviolence recently told Kate Nagle , "We've made progress with group-driven violence. There's still a lot of individuals, without hope -- but with access to guns. It's a bit hard to identify those individuals, it's different than a group dynamic."

Job Gap - According to the latest data from the Latino Policy Institute and Housing Works RI, the unemployment rate for RI Latinos is 15.6%, compared to the state average of 9.4%. We need to move forward.

Gordon Fox and Teresa Paiva Weed- “(Gambling) is our number three revenue source. If we take a hit to our number three, how are we going to make that up? ... Nobody is going to accuse Rhode Island of rapid economic growth,” Leonard Lardaro, an economics professor at URI, told GoLocalProv on reports that RI state revenues are forecast to drop off $422.1 million over a five year period, beginning next year with the opening of gambling facilities in Massachusetts. The Assembly needs to act to improve the economy and support the schools, or more people will suffer.

Frank Anzeveno- Frank Anzeveno has been chief of staff for the RI Speaker of the House since John Harwood's tenure. While Taveras has struggled with change at the top, on the state level, especially given our economic rut, a key question is, "How long is too long?"

  • J.R. Pagliarini

    Role: Chief of Staff; Senior Executive Advisor

    Left: December 18, 2012

    Pagliarini served as Taveras' Chief of Staff before transitioning to Senior Executive Advisor. He left the Mayor's staff to accept a position at the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

    See more of GoLocal's coverage of Pagliarini's resignation here. 

  • Michael Raia

    Role: Communications Director

    Left: December 17, 2012

    Just before Pagliarini's departure, Michael Raia resigned as Taveras' Director of Communications. Raia left to assume the position of director of media relations and marketing for WGBH, the Boston-based public broadcasting station.

    See more from GoLocalProv on Raia's departure here.

  • Arianne Lynch

    Role: Deputy Chief of Staff

    Left: November 30, 2013

    Lynch tendered her resignation in October 2013, after she served as spokeswoman for Taveras' transition team during the interim between his election and inauguration. Lynch began her work with Taveras during his mayoral campaign. Previous to her recent work in city politics, Lynch was a managing director at the lobbying and PR firm Advocacy Solutions.

  • Melissa Withers

    Role: Communications Director

    Left: September 10, 2011

    Melissa Withers was one of Taveras' earliest appointments, as communications director in December 2010. A former director of communications for the RI Economic Development Corporation, Withers resigned only nine months into her tenure.

  • Matt Jerzyk

    Role: Deputy City Solicitor, Director of Policy and Municipal Affairs, Director of Government Relations and Senior Counsel to the Mayor

    Left: January, 2014

    Jerzyk resigned his position along with colleague Arianne Lynch in October of 2013, staying on at City Hall until the year's end. Jerzyk was a key staff member during Taveras' successful mayoral run, and was soon appointed as part of the mayoral staff. Jerzyk is currently consulting for The Hamilton Group, which is consulting with mayoral candidate Michael Solomon. 

    Editor's Note: Matt Jerzyk used to write GoLocalProv's Side of the Rhode: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Rhode Island Politics column. 

  • Will Farrell

    Role: City Council and Statehouse Relations

    Left: January 31, 2014

    Farrell, a key staffer, was charged with wrangling with the City Council on behalf of the Taveras Administration. Farrell said that he departed to "pursue other opportunities in government relations," though he voiced his "strong support" for Taveras' ongoing gubernatorial effort.

  • Angela Romans

    Role: Senior Education Advisor

    Left: May 20, 2013

    Romans, who once took the helm of the Taveras administration's school policy, assumed a new role in May of last year when she joined the Annenberg Institute for Social Reform at Brown University. Romans joined AISR’s District Redesign & Leadership (DR&L) as a principal associate. She had worked 11 years at Brown as Associate Director of Admission.

  • Peter Baptista

    Role: Finance Director

    Left: November 15, 2013

    Soon after resigning his position as Finance Director, for Taveras' gubernatorial campaign, Peter Baptista has signed on with The Hamilton Group, a Democratic consulting organization that he helped to found before joining the Providence mayor's staff. The Hamilton Group has signed on to work with mayoral hopeful Michael Solomon

  • Liz White

    Role: Deputy Director of Communications & Media Relations

    Left: February 2014

    White is the latest in the Taveras adminstration's string of outgoing staffers. Her resignation was confirmed Thursday, February 27th, adding to the long list of political talent who have departed from City Hall since last winter began.

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