The Saturday Morning Post: Aug. 8

News

Happy Saturday. Ted will make his full return next week, but you’re stuck with me one more time. As always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to dmcgowan@wpri.com or tnesi@wpri.com, and follow @danmcgowan and @tednesi on Twitter.

1. Let’s begin with a dispatch from Ted Nesi: “The 182-page Rhode Island State Police assessment of the Cranston Police Department is a shocking document, not only for its allegations of misconduct by police officers but for its frontal assault on a sitting elected leader, Allan Fung. Less than a year ago Fung was nearly elected Rhode Island governor; now it’s not even clear whether he can get re-elected as Cranston mayor in 2016. It will take time to determine how significant the political damage from the police scandal has been, but at the very least Cranston Democrats aren’t going to give Fung a pass again next year the way they did in 2012. The mayor responded to the assessment about as well as he could — first apologizing, which ensured headlines about his contrition, and then recasting his secret deal with Ticketgate instigator Stephen Antonucci as a bid to protect taxpayers. But would those taxpayers really have preferred Fung’s idea, to give Antonucci his old job back at full rank over the opposition of the new police chief? And as Republican City Councilman Don Botts asked, how does the taxpayer-protection angle square with Fung’s long inaction in the expensive case of Todd Patalano, particularly once Fung heard audio tapes that supported Patalano? What a mess. As our political analyst Joe Fleming noted on Newsmakers, something to watch now is what the Democratic-dominated City Council does. How difficult will they make life for Fung going forward? Can Fung move on, or will the police scandal consume the rest of his term? Will there be an effort to recall him? And will the Cranston GOP stand by him or attempt to ease him out?”

2. If you missed Mayor Fung’s press conference, you can watch it in its entirety here.

3. As the owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox put the final touches on an updated offer to convince the state to help them build a new ballpark in downtown Providence, here’s something some state lawmakers are talking about behind the scenes: the General Assembly will likely need more than just a simple majority of members in the House and Senate to move the deal forward. Article 6, section 11 of the state constitution states, “the assent of two-thirds of the members elected to each house of the general assembly shall be required to every bill appropriating the public money or property for local or private purposes.” That means 50 state representatives and 25 senators – not just the members present at the time of the vote – would be required to vote in favor of the proposal in order to send it to Governor Raimondo’s desk. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said this week he is looking at a special session for both the governor’s toll proposal and the PawSox stadium in late September or early October. In the other chamber, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed maintains she’s not interested in calling her members back in the fall.

4. Speaking of the PawSox, the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley suggests Larry Lucchino’s role with the team may have led to his departure from the Red Sox.

5. Another Friday, another Providence news dump. City officials and the firefighters’ union have agreed to go to mediation in an attempt to reach a deal on how much to pay workers for Mayor Jorge Elorza’s overhaul of the fire department, which took effect this week. The decision to go to mediation came after both sides left Judge Jeffrey Lanphear’s court room earlier in the week uncertain about where he may fall on the union’s request to go to arbitration on the matter. As expected, the judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have put the brakes on the Elorza’s already-implemented changes. But his tone in the court room – namely repeated statements that implied he believes a valid collective bargaining agreement remains in place – left the union feeling as though there was a strong chance he might side with them. Rather than take a chance, each side has now agreed to another round of settlement talks, this time with a third party to monitor the process. For the time being, the new three-platoon structure remains in place.

6. Here’s another dispatch from Ted Nesi: “When most people think of RISD, they think painters and sculptors. But when new RISD president Rosanne Somersontalks about the school, she focuses as much if not more on commerce. (That’s not just talk, either: the hot startup Airbnb was founded by two RISD graduates.) Asked on this week’s Executive Suite if she sees RISD playing a role in Rhode Island’s economic development going forward, Somerson told me: ‘Absolutely. I think there are 180 new businesses started by RISD alums in the area, and more and more of our alumni are coming back to our region because of the capacity of designers and manufacturers and artists to work together.’ Somerson, who’ll be formally inaugurated in October, said she doesn’t expect any major expansion of RISD’s College Hill footprint in the next few years, though she does see room for ongoing renovations to its existing buildings. Paying for those, of course, will likely require a new capital campaign before long; a feasibility study on that topic is already under way. ‘Anytime that you’re trying to advance an institution you need funding beyond what is internally in the sustainability model of a higher educational academic institution,’ Somerson said. ‘There’s always a need for fundraising.'”

7. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse hasn’t made up his mind on the proposal to build a new 900-megawatt power plant in Burrillville.

8. The Boston Globe’s report that Boston officials have failed to track tax breaks for developers served as an important reminder that Providence is by no means the only city that has had lackluster oversight over these special deals. When I first started tracking the city’s tax-stabilization agreements in 2013, I was forced to sift through dozens of old ordinances stuffed into a file cabinet in the tax assessor’s office in order to determine how much each tax deal was worth. Months later, the city’s internal auditor released a report that showed some recipients missed required payments to city and others fell behind on taxes. The good news is that Providence leaders have become much more diligent about keeping an eye on the deals. They now even maintain a working document that shows what each recipient is expected to pay per year and when their agreement expires.

9. More national love for Governor Raimondo: Bloomberg Business has dubbed her, “the governor who has figure out how to fix bridges and pensions.”

10. Football fans, did you know the Pittsburgh Steelers used to hold training camps at the University of Rhode Island?

11. The founders of Providence-based Sproutel got to meet President Obama this week when they were invited the Washington D.C. for White House Demo Day, a showcase for some of the country’s top female- and minority-led startups. Sproutel, of course, is the creator of a teddy bear that helps kids build healthy habits by coming equipped with education apps. Aaron Horowitz, one of the company’s co-founders, was a guest on Executive Suite in June.

12. With Victory Day coming Monday, the Boston Globe’s Gareth Cook takes a look at why World War II really ended.

13. House Spokesman Larry Berman reports that about 100 people filled the LaChapelle Funeral Home in Pawtucket for a memorial tribute to Capitol TV’s Dave Barber, who died earlier this summer. Among those speaking at ceremony were Reps. Deb Ruggiero, Dennis Canario and Deborah Fellela, former ABC 6 reporter Mark Curtis and WHJJ-AM talk show host Ron St. Pierre.

14. This may be hard to believe, but Central Falls Mayor James Diossa turns 30 next week. He’ll celebrate by hosting a small fundraiser on Friday night at La Casona Restaurant as he seeks to build his war chest ahead of his reelection campaign next year. (Diossa is currently sitting on $10,157, according to the R.I. Board of Elections.) Diossa took office at the age of 27 and has earned praise for helping his tiny city emerge from bankruptcy. Because it’s never too soon to think about the future, it’s worth noting that if he goes on to win reelection, he’ll be term-limited in 2020. Oh, and he’ll be 35.

15. This man has stolen more than 1,000 cars in his life … Overdosing on Donald Trump … Awesome profile on one of America’s best sportswritersTinder is weird … Democrats and racial politics … A profile on the former police officer who shot Michael Brown … A look at the man who defends police officers when they shoot … Co-living has become super trendy … Cell phones made this woman a billionaire … A lobster thief is murdered … A journey to extreme fringe of international basketballDoes school busing work? … The Republican presidential debate was big for Twitter.

16. Set your DVRs: This week on Newsmakers– New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and a roundtable discussion on Cranston Mayor Allan Fung’s future. Watch Sunday at 10 a.m. on Fox Providence. This week on Executive Suite – Rhode Island School of Design President Rosanne Somerson. Watch Saturday at 10:30 p.m. or Sunday at 6 p.m. on myRITV (or Sunday at 6 a.m. on Fox). You can catch both shows back-to-back on your radio, too: Sunday nights at 6 on WPRO-AM 630 and WEAN-FM 99.7. And you can subscribe to both shows as iTunes podcasts – click here for Executive Suite and click here for Newsmakers. See you back here next Saturday morning.Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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