Welcome to another edition of my weekend column. Keep sending your takes, tips and trial balloons to tnesi (at) wpri (dot) com.
1. With growing speculation that Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras could face off in the 2014 Democratic primary for governor, it’s notable that two major events a week ago Friday set the stage for a contrast between them on the pension issue that could benefit the Providence mayor. That morning, Rhode Island’s public sector unions filed a sweeping legal challenge to the landmark state pension law Raimondo championed last year, arguing it violates the state constitution. Hours later, Providence’s retired police officers and firefighters overwhelmingly approved a deal negotiated with Taveras to voluntarily scale back their retirement benefits. While Raimondo spent much of her time last year reaching out directly to pensioners and workers, they never got a vote on the final deal as their brethren in Providence did. Taveras can tell voters (and union leaders): “I fixed a pension problem, too, and I did it by dealmaking, not by dictat – all while running a city.” Raimondo allies, though, can counter that the climate for Taveras to get a deal approved might not have existed without her year of barnstorming.
2. A programming note – I’ll be off most of next week and part of the following week, but Nesi’s Notes will not go dark. Once again a number of terrific writers have kindly agreed to contribute guest posts – op-eds, really – that will run while I’m away, so you’ll have something new to read each day. And there’ll still be a Saturday Morning Post next weekend. Happy Fourth of July!
3. Don’t miss this 1,800-word articleTim White and I dropped last night featuring House Speaker Gordon Fox‘s first extended explanation of what he knew when on 38 Studios. Some of the new revelations include Fox’s contention the EDC didn’t tell him the whole $75 million would go to Schilling, his description of a crucial April meeting he attended with Governor Chafee and Curt Schilling, and his surprising comments about whether state might consider defaulting on the 38 Studios bonds. And wait till you see how fired up he was when you watch the full TV interview.
4. Raimondo appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” earlier this week to defend the new pension law and discuss the lawsuit against it that the unions have filed. Watch the treasurer’s appearance here.
5. The Times’ David Leonhardt had a fascinating article last weekend about the growing divide between young and old Americans, both economically and politically: “This year, polls suggest that Mitt Romney will win a landslide among the over-65 crowd and that President Obama will do likewise among those under 40.” I’ve noticed the same thing in polling in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District. Our February WPRI 12 poll showed Democrat David Cicilline winning 55% of the under-40 vote but just 27% among those 60 and older. Put another way, Cicilline’s support among young voters is double his support among seniors, a 28-point spread. The Pew Center has more.
6. Johnson & Wales University’s Culinary Arts Museum is one of the great hidden gems in Providence, as I was reminded once again while attending Jim Langevin‘s forum for tech companies this week. “Culinary Arts” makes the museum sound a bit high-falutin’, but the real appeal is all the kitschy Americana on display. Check the place out any day but Mondays on JWU’s Harborside campus.
7. “A lack of discipline is apparent these days in just about every aspect of American society.” That’s Elizabeth Kolbert of The New Yorker, in an interesting article about why American kids are so spoiled.
8. And speaking of great writing in national magazines, everyone should read the new Atlantic article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” by Anne-Marie Slaughter, the Princeton University professor and former top aide to Hillary Clinton. And there’s always a Rhode Island connection – when Slaughter went to work for Clinton, she was succeeded as dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School by ChristinaPaxson, who’s taking over this summer as the new president of Brown University.
9. A fond farewell to Westerly native Graham Vyse, who left Governor Chafee’s communications team this week to return to his alma mater American University and study for a master’s degree in journalism and public affairs. Graham, who volunteered on the governor’s campaign, impressed me as soon as I found out he’d already interned for Slate. His most inspired work for Chafee has to be his summer-blockbuster-esque YouTube videos about the municipal pension crisis. Best of luck, Graham.
11. This week on Newsmakers – House Speaker Gordon Fox. Watch Sunday at 10 a.m. on Fox Providence. This week on Executive Suite – NuLabel Technologies’ Max Winograd and The Corporate Marketplace’s Chris Crawford discuss the Job Creation Guaranty Program (which funded 38 Studios, too). Watch Sunday at 6 p.m. on myRITV. See you back here next Saturday morning.