This is Eli Sherman, filling in for Ted on his weekend column while he’s spending some well-deserved time on paternity leave with his 10-month-old daughter — you can send your takes, tips and trial balloons to and follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

1. The relationship between R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha and Gov. Dan McKee has been frosty for a long time. But the hostility has mostly played out behind the scenes or through thinly veiled critiques tucked into public statements. That’s beginning to change – fast – as the state’s top prosecutor goes after the governor for not supporting a $2 million boost to his department’s $41 million budget. He argues the funding would allow him to hire several new lawyers to help defend the state in lawsuits, stand up a cold case unit and attack some of Rhode Island’s biggest challenges in health care, climate change and consumer protection. “I can’t speak to why the governor didn’t put it in the budget,” Neronha told Tim White on this week’s Newsmakers. “We don’t speak.” A McKee spokesperson insists not including the extra money is simply the byproduct of not wanting to support “any significant expansionary initiatives in any agency at this time.” But it’s no secret McKee has become increasingly frustrated with Neronha in recent years, especially after the state’s top prosecutor launched a probe into whether McKee’s administration broke the law when awarding a lucrative state education contract to the politically connected consulting firm ILO Group immediately after he took office in 2021. The FBI later joined the investigation. While no charges have been brought against anyone tied to the deal so far, the investigation has loomed over McKee politically and he hasn’t been able to shake it off. Yet Neronha’s criticism of the governor goes far beyond ILO — he’s become increasingly vocal in his concerns about how the McKee administration is leading the state. “I’m term limited, and I don’t intend to spend the next two years not speaking out,” he said. “There’s some things I can’t control and I’m worried about it.”

2. Don’t expect AG Neronha to take Governor McKee’s funding refusal lying down. He’s already gone to House Speaker Joe Shekarchi, who has significant influence over the governor’s $13.7 billion budget proposal. “Speaker Shekarchi said he had an excellent meeting with Attorney General Neronha and he made a strong case for the funding that the governor did not include in the budget submission,” Shekarchi spokesperson Larry Berman said. “However, the speaker said he can’t commit to any items in the budget until after the May revenue projections are completed.” House and Senate fiscal staff are scheduled to start the state’s biannual revenue and caseload estimating conference Monday. The process is expected to run until May 10, when lawmakers will learn what level of funding they’re working with. Revenue was off by $59 million through February.

3. The race to replace Congressman David Cicilline continues to heat up in the 1st Congressional District, with at least 15 Democrats announcing they’re seeking the job. The latest candidates to join the race include former White House staffer Gabe Amo, Jamestown businessman Donald Carlson and former Navy intelligence officer Walter Berbrick. (A full list of who’s in and who’s out can be found here.) While the number may continue to grow, 12 News political analyst Joe Fleming says he expects at least a few hopefuls will ultimately decide against returning filing papers in June if they aren’t able to garner the financial support necessary to run a competitive race. “Money will play a factor, because you have to distinguish yourself from the field,” Fleming told me Friday. Still, he expects there could be eight to 10 Democrats still fighting for the nomination when primary voters go to the polls on Sept. 5, and is expecting turnout will likely total 30,000 to 40,000. By that math, a candidate could theoretically squeak out a win with as few as 5,000 votes, although Fleming says it’s more likely to take 10,000 to 15,000. “The people who can raise the money will get an advantage,” he said.

4. Where does fundraising stand as of now in the 1st District? According to the official first-quarter campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos is leading the pack with $124,000 cash on hand. She’s followed by state Sen. Sandra Cano ($121,000), former state official Nick Autiello ($102,000), Providence City Councilor John Goncalves ($38,000) and Nathan Biah ($305). The other candidates have either reported zero dollars or joined the race after the first quarter deadline of March 31. However, two of the newer candidates have publicly announced sizable hauls since then — former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg says he took in $154,000 during the first 10 days of April, and Gabe Amo says he secured $105,000 in his first day as a candidate. (Both also say those amounts are all donations, not padded with personal cash.) Here’s what the picture looked like among the candidates as of March 31:

5. The congressional race has already begun to stir up some political hay, as a faction of progressive Democrats distributed an op-ed this week taking aim at Aaron Regunberg, also a progressive Democrat. The group – mostly made up of former elected officials – included former state senator and unsuccessful lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Mendes, who criticized not only Regunberg but also her former running mate, Matt Brown. “They are not poor leaders because they have trust funds and reckless ambition,” Mendes wrote. “They are terrible leaders because they are utterly disconnected from impacted communities (the ones they supposedly will save), feel entitled to power, their egos far outweigh their values, and they consistently use people to get what they want.” The full op-ed says a lot more and can be found here. Regunberg, who has already been endorsed by several prominent progressive elected officials, pushed back on the criticism, telling me, “Many of these statements are inaccurate, and I was particularly surprised considering one of the authors was actively seeking employment on my campaign as recently as last week. What’s true is that I didn’t endorse these candidates in their most recent campaigns, and it’s not been a secret that I have at times disagreed with the approach of some members of the RI Political Cooperative. I’ve worked to build broad coalitions to pass policies that help everyday Rhode Islanders, like paid sick days, higher wages, and access to clean energy. Though we may have political disagreements, I am not going to fight other progressives. My focus is on taking the fight to Big Pharma, Big Oil, and the gun industry, and addressing the climate crisis with the urgency it requires.” Brown did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

6. Tim White and I had an investigative report this week revealing that the FBI is investigating whether an accused drug ring leader benefited any way from his family ties to Providence Police Sgt. Andres Perez and Police Chief Col. Oscar Perez. The alleged drug dealer, Jasdrual “Josh” Perez, is the nephew of the two sworn lawmen, and federal investigators say he was running a large-scale fentanyl ring based in Providence that pumped the deadly narcotics onto the streets of multiple states. The nephew never became a target of the Providence Police Department, drawing federal scrutiny. Mayor Brett Smiley, who picked Oscar Perez to lead the department earlier this year, is standing by his officers for now, saying the police chief told him about his nephew and the FBI investigation before getting appointed. “It was the first thing that helped build trust between us,” Smiley told us.

7. Speaking of Mayor Smiley, here’s a dispatch from my colleague Steph Machado: “Mayor Smiley will make his first budget address of his administration on Tuesday, laying out his priorities for the upcoming year. (There was no ‘State of the City’ address in February this year, since he had just made his inaugural address in January.) Folks at City Hall are already signaling that homeowners should expect a tax increase, though the exact numbers — which will be subject to City Council approval — are still being nailed down. (Last year the residential rate was lowered and the commercial rate increased, but due to the triennial property revaluation many homeowners still saw a tax hike.) Smiley is also expected to talk about his plans for many of the issues he campaigned on such as sidewalk repairs, improving the 311 system and other basic city services. In addition to the regular municipal budget, Smiley will present a new plan for the city’s remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds. A spending plan for all the ARPA money had already been approved by the previous mayor and City Council — and some has been spent — but city leaders can amend the plan for the rest of the COVID cash. Smiley’s speech in the City Council chambers is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday.”

8. Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss penned an opinion piece in the Boston Globe last week, arguing too many young men are failing into a culture of “immaturity and hate” online. “Over the last decade, too many young men have retreated from work, education, and family obligations while exhibiting antisocial behaviors. Instead, they are forging their identities online,” he wrote. “Their avatars veer into perversity and extremism, with women and minority groups often the target of their conspiracies and bile.” The piece comes after the FBI arrest earlier this month of Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old Dighton man accused of leaking highly classified documents about U.S. support of the Ukraine government in its war against Russia. Auchincloss represents Dighton in Congress.

9. Senator Whitehouse met last week with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin to discuss how the United States can support efforts to hold Russian war criminals accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity. “My message to Prosecutor General Kostin was this: rest assured that America’s bipartisan support for Ukrainian victory is unwavering, and that Congress will help ensure these heinous crimes will not go unpunished,” Whitehouse said in a statement.

10. Over in the House, Congressman Magaziner, was slated to join a group of fellow Democrats on Friday to visit the Mexican border in McAllen, Texas. The visit was also to include meetings with border protection agents and to have “a discussion of border security and immigration issues with local officials and also include tours of DHS border facilities and technologies in McAllen and Brownsville, Texas,” according to a news release.

11. The New York Times’s Mark Landler has an interesting write-up about Joe Kennedy III and his gig as an American diplomat in Northern Ireland. The 42-year-old former Massachusetts congressman traveled there on Air Force One with President Biden, who appointed him, and Kennedy’s job to forge a working relationship with the country’s leaders comes at a time when “its politics are paralyzed by deeply rooted sectarian divides.” As Landler put it, “The dysfunction could complicate Mr. Kennedy’s mission to drum up American investment in the North. And his circumscribed job title will make it difficult for him even to weigh in on the impasse, which began last year when the territory’s power-sharing government collapsed in a dispute over post-Brexit trade rules.”

12. The State House experienced a major loss last week with the death of Maryellen Goodwin, the Providence senator who broke barriers for women over her nearly four decades in public office. Goodwin learned politics at the family dinner table. Her father was the late state Sen. Thomas Goodwin, who served five terms in the same seat his daughter would later hold. “She lit up every room she entered with an infectious smile and razor-sharp wit,” Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said. “Our lives are richer for having known her.” As my colleague Alexandra Leslie reported , there was a massive turnout for Goodwin’s funeral Mass on Friday and she took a final ride past the State House on the way to her burial later that day. Goodwin was 58. She will be missed.

13. An ugly scare in Woonsocket last week when Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt collapsed during a news conference at City Hall. As my colleagues Shaun Towne and Adriana Rozas Rivera reported, the mayor was speaking at a Donate Life Month event when she became lightheaded and fainted. She was taken to Landmark Medical Center and was reportedly conscious. Public Works Director Steve D’Agostino said she was in good spirits and hoped she back to work on Monday. Per the city charter, City Council President Christopher Beauchamp served as interim mayor in Baldelli-Hunt’s absence.

14. The R.I. Department of Children, Youth and Families is finally poised to get a permanent leader. Governor McKee has appointed Ashley Deckert to head the state’s child welfare agency, which hasn’t had a permanent leader since former director Trista Piccola resigned under a cloud in 2019. If confirmed by the R.I. Senate, Deckert will replace Kevin Aucoin, who has served as interim director since Piccola stepped down.

15. Steph Machado and I had a follow-up this week to an ongoing crisis we uncovered in early childhood special education where dozens of young children with special needs aren’t receiving services required by federal law. The good news: A young boy we profiled named Juju finally got to go to school after waiting months for the services. The bad news: The problem has worsened over the past month and a half.

16. The 46th Boston-New England Emmy Award nominees were announced last week, and 12 News received nine. The nominations included two Target 12 investigations, including one that examined a trail of hidden debts and dubious business dealings belonging to former state Rep. Carlos Tobon, who was subsequently stripped of his leadership positions and ultimately opted against running for re-election. The other uncovered former R.I. House aide John Conti’s ties to a mob associate and illegal marijuana startup, resulting in him resigning from his State House post. Congrats to all my colleagues and nominees.

17. Set your DVRs: This week on Newsmakers — Attorney General Peter Neronha. Watch Sunday at 5:30 a.m. on WPRI 12 and 10 a.m. on Fox Providence, or listen on the radio Sunday at 6 p.m. on WPRO. You can also subscribe to Newsmakers as a podcast on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts). See you back here next Saturday morning.

Eli Sherman ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.