| | Advanced Search


TONIGHT: Fund for Community Progress Honors GoLocalProv + ACLU—Recognizing outstanding contributions to the RI community

Deadline for newportFILM’s Ripple Effect Video Contest is Friday—Drawing attention to RI's coastline + waterways

Patriots’ 2014 Schedule Released—Patriots' 2014 Schedule Released

John Perilli: Battle Heats Up to Succeed Fox in House District 4—Keep an eye on this one...

Newport Goes Daffy with Weeklong Daffodil Celebration—Over 250,000 blooming daffodils on display

B’s Dominate Wings, Take Game 3—shut out Detroit 3-0 to take 2-1 series…

Organize + Energize: 4 Ways Getting Organized Will Save You Money—Stop wasting time and money

Dear John: Single Dad - How Do I Handle Daughter’s Adolescence?—How to support your daughter through puberty

State Report: Marijuana Tax + Bill Targets Prostitutes and Pimps—Plus increased sentences for gang crimes

John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud—JR's column on the sports stories and personalities…


Don Roach: 5 Big Stories Facing RI in 2014

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


Happy New Year! It’s 2014 and doesn’t it feel like we were partying like it was 1999 just a few years ago? Time flies when you’re having fun or languishing in an economic malaise as we are in Rhode Island.

I’ve decided to take a look at the top 5 stories in 2014. At the end of 2014, we’ll take a look back and see if I was right or if other stories dominated the headlines.


Governor Chafee has had three years to proactively help the economy or create an environment where businesses want to come to Rhode Island. In my opinion, he has done neither in three years. The latest unemployment figures show that RI Unemployment is at 9.0%. When Chafee took office RI unemployment was at 11.4 percent so should we consider a 2.4 percentage point movement (about a 20 percent decrease) a victory? Well compared to national numbers we’ve pretty much moved with the trend, if not a little behind. In January 2011, national unemployment was at 9.1 percent and as of November 2013 it was at 7.0 percent . That is about a 23 percent decrease.

That says to me, nothing our Governor has done, nothing our General Assembly has done, has affected our local economy above and beyond the national movement of jobs. That’s not good enough, and it’s my hope that in 2014 someone will make the economy a priority. I will say this to as many people who will listen, our government needs to talk to buisinesses as ask what we can do to create a pro-business environment . Check out what the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and others released last month as Rhode Island’s advantages for the business community. We’ve got to do a better job in bringing jobs to RI so the 5,000 people who are about to lose their unemployment benefits can go back to work .

Our economic progress or not will be a huge story in 2014. Huge.

Governor’s race

The 2014 Governor’s race will be one of the most interesting races we’ve been in a part of in decades. In the race, you have a who’s who of RI political talent. From Gina Raimondo to Ken Block, choices – viable choices – abound for us. While I think the choices and candidates in 2014 represent one of the strongest fields in recent memory, the story in 2014 will be who is best able to get their message out to Rhode Islanders in a way that connects with voters. Each of the major candidates – and Ken Block, I’ll include you as a major candidate – has their supporters and their detractors. On the GOP side, will Ken Block be able to lure Republican voters from Allan Fung? How will he answer the questions around his commitment to be a Republican when you might remember this commercial from his 2010 campaign? Will Rhode Islanders care as our sitting governor has been a Republican, Independent, and Democrat within the last 10 years. Next week, Block & Fung will be presenting their case to the Cranston Republican city committee. I’ll be providing some analysis of that event in next week’s column.

On the Democratic side, both Taveras and Raimondo have made major moves – Taveras moved the city away from bankruptcy (thank you again, David Cicilline) while Raimondo led pension reform. However, each candidate has a growing group of disaffected Rhode Islanders who no longer trust them. I suspect that during the 2014 primary, each will swing hard at the other and that may damage both of them in the general election.

This is going to be fun.


Education has been and will continue to be a significant issue in 2014. I’m going to do my best to keep it at the forefront with “My Education Crusade” series as I go across the state speaking with with parents, students, teachers, and administrators. But like the economy, I believe many Rhode Islanders feel helpless to do anything about education for whatever reason.

I’m going to keep this one short as I hope we step up in Rhode Island and really make this one of the feel-good stories of 2014.

The GOP Renaissance

I’ve been waiting to use “GOP Renaissance” for a long time. If you’d asked me in 2006 would we ever see the day when GOPers could seriously impact General Assembly/local races, I’d have said that day would never come. But, one of the stories in 2014 will be that Republicans became relevant in Rhode Island again. Maybe “again” is the wrong word. Perhaps better would be that Republicans will become relevant for the first time in Rhode Island in 2014.

Believe it!

Voter ID Law or something else

We haven’t heard too much about the Voter ID law that passed in 2011 since its passage. Just kidding! Since 2011, many on the left have been trying to get this law repealed, amended, and have tried to tell us all how bad it is for poor people and minorities. Side note - I’m beginning to think that the left believes any action that has any hint of individual responsibility attached to it is bad for minorities and poor people. I’m really offended by that notion. Nevertheless, the Secretary of State website lists the valid ID’s that will be accepted at polling locations beginning in 2014. But just yesterday, Speaker Fox said he supports repealing the law so we’ll see if anything happens during the 2014 legislative season to change the law.

If the General Assembly makes an issue of this it’ll be a significant story in 2014 and how the gubernatorial candidates address the issue will be interesting as well considering the position of each candidate’s base with respect to Voter ID.

Or…something else will be a major story in 2014.

Call me chicken, but I figured I couldn’t do worse than one outta five if I included an “or something else” that will dominate the headlines in 2014. It’s my column so I can do that. In the comments section below, what you can do is say what you think we’ll be talking about in 2014?

We’ll check in at the end of 2014 to see who was right.

Don Roach can be reached at don@donroach.org . Feel free to follow him on Twitter @donroach34

Related Slideshow:
13 Best MINDSETTER™ Columns of 2013

Prev Next

LOOKOUT: Rhode Island Needs to Talk Twin River

By John Hazen White

Demand for table games at Twin River casino has prompted the Lottery Commission to grant the facility additional gaming tables, and the state’s take from the combination of video slot machines and table games is going up each month as a direct result of the tables in place.

The 14 new tables to be added will make for a grand total of 80. More gaming tables will surely be added down the road.

I suppose we should all be cheering about this because of the enhanced revenue stream the state will enjoy, which it desperately needs, but it begs a larger and more troubling question: what will happen to Twin River – and more importantly to the state – when Massachusetts’ three casinos and its single racino slot parlor come on line?

Read More

Prev Next

Climate Change On the Table… Finally!

By Rob Horowitz

A leaked draft of a major report expected to be released in the Fall by the International Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), an international group of scientists under the auspices of the United Nations, landed on the front page of The New York Times last week. The report, a comprehensive and consensus analysis of the latest scientific research on climate change, finds that if greenhouse gas emissions continue apace a sea level rise of as much as 100 feet by the end of the century is a real possibility. It characterizes the assertion that human activity is the cause of most of global warming as a “near certainty.”

Read More

Prev Next

Trying To Make Sense Of The Zimmerman Verdict

By Don Roach

I’m struggling to make sense of the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case as I’m sure many people are. I have a number of gut reactions at war with my respect of the justice system. And it’s a battle. So, what I decided to do Sunday was investigate as much of the public facts as possible in order to piece together why in the world a 17-year-old boy is dead.

Read More

Prev Next

In US Schools, Incorrect Answers Are ‘Un-American’

By Julia Steiny

Back in the 1990s, circumstances so maddened Dr. Matthias Felleisen, he felt forced to create Program by Design (PxD) to bring life back to computer science and algebra, both. Since then, thousands of students have used it to learn the elements of programming, with or without a teacher. Even I could understand its free, online textbook. The PxD target audience were first-year college students, but Felleisen's team wanted it to be accessible to clever 10-year-olds. The NSF and other major funders continue to be impressed.

Read More

Prev Next

Big Labor Wants To Shuffle The Deck On Obamacare

By Lisa Blais

While the beat goes on across Rhode Island to trumpet information about HealthSourceRI, the health insurance exchange created as a result of Governor Chafee’s Executive Order in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the AFL-CIO has been pleading with the Obama Administration to waive some requirements of the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare, for members of their multi-employer health and welfare plans.

Read More

Prev Next

3 Ways to Restore Confidence in RI’s Government

By Gary Sasse

In the late 1960’s when I was in graduate school many of my classmates sought careers in government and not on Wall Street. They believed that public service could make a difference in the lives of Americans. This positive view that government was part of the solution has been replaced by a more cynical view of government at all levels. This should not be surprising because too many times government has been ineffective in providing essential public services. Earlier this year the Pew Center for the People and the Press found that “trust in the federal government remains mired near an historic low and frustration with government remains high.”

Read More

Prev Next

Time for a Bold, New Budget Process

By Donna Perry

Governor Chafee’s State of the State blueprint is not yet 24 hours old and so the reactions and assessments of it are still pouring in. However, before the battles begin over spending, borrowing, cuts, labor provisions, and whether or not there will be any meaningful changes to spur economic development, both the Governor and General Assembly members should pause, take a deep breath, and consider a proposal from a wise and truly independent voice in the State Senate.

Read More

Prev Next

Rhode Island’s Gina Raimondo Turns Opaque

By Russell Moore

Gina Raimondo was all about transparency—during her first year in office. Apparently, sunlight was so 2011. The General Treasurer, who admirably took up the fight for pension reform after her predecessor—Frank Caprio—lost his campaign for governor thanks to his leadership on the issue, named her report describing the need for pension reform “Truth in Numbers”. It was a brilliant move, as she successfully separated the issue from emotional politics over the promises made to retirees that the state couldn’t keep.

Read More

Prev Next

CITY/STATE: How White Providence Really Is

By Aaron Renn

The city of Providence is a very diverse place. In fact, it’s over 62% minority, making it a so-called “minority majority” city. However, the city of Providence is only a very small part of the overall state and region. 

Metropolitan Providence is one of the whitest major regions in America. Looking at metro areas with more than one million people, Providence ranks third in the country for the total non-minority population. The percentage of the population that is “white only, non-hispanic” – Hispanic people can be of any race – is nearly 80%. Only Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are higher.

Read More

Prev Next

What Politicians Can Learn From the Pope

By Carol Ann Costa

In less than a month since Jorge Mario Bergoglio emerged as Francis the 1st , this new Pope has through his decisions and actions gained my full attention and respect. What he has shown us is that you rarely go wrong when you return to your mission. Perhaps Francis’ undeniable devotion to the works of Mercy, both corporal and spiritual, can provide a teachable moment for each of us— and our politicians in particular.

Read More

Prev Next

Corporate ‘Reform’ Alienating Teachers/Principals

By Aaron Regunberg

Want Better Schools? Stop Making Educators Miserable.

The Metlife Survey of the American Teacher recently released a report from their 2012 investigation into the state of U.S. educators. The annual survey, which was conducted among 1,000 K-12 public school teachers and 500 K-12 public school principals, offers an invaluable snapshot of the condition of those professionals to whom we entrust the educating of our nation’s youth. This year’s results continue a disturbing—and an escalating—trend that should have all of us seriously reconsidering what kinds of strategies will actually, positively reform our education system.

Read More

Prev Next

Helen Glover, Keith Olbermann + Broadcast Brutality

By Andrew Gobeil

"The television business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."

The quote above is often attributed to Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who frequently denied he was a journalist at all. Whether or not he said it isn’t necessarily the point; whether or not it was said to describe the television business, or music business, or radio business isn’t necessarily the point either. Hell, you could be nodding in affirmation as you read it at your desk in the finance world, or the world of politics or sales or law or….well, now you do get the point.

Read More

Prev Next

Lessons From Boston’s Post-Bombing Lockdown

By Travis Rowley

In the midst of the ongoing debate over the 2nd Amendment, I discovered lessons to be learned from the events in Boston this week.

Let me start with this: Owning a gun is not a natural right. After all, how can a firearm be a natural right if man had to invent and manufacture it?

But the right to defend oneself is a natural right...

Read More


Related Articles


Enjoy this post? Share it with others.


George McDonald

Mr. Roach, for all of our futures, I hope that Republican party becomes relevant again. I have been very impressed with the Young Republicans this year, and the girl who heads them up. I forget her name, but I believe she is dating Mayor Fung. We always knew it would take a revolution from the next generation to get the GOP back in order.

G Godot

I think a good story the Belo only touched upon is the firing of
Ms. Corrigan from Rhode Island Housing because she DARED question how the Urban League used some grant money. Tusk tusk, some things, appear to be off limits.

G Godot

Also interesting is the apparent collision in the making between "Leader" Foxey and the Public Service Unions. "How DARE the courts make us reconsider what we did" says Foxey. The unions have a penchant for getting out votes in democrat primary fights. Be fun to watch.

Art West

G Godot,

Interesting point about the unions targeting Fox. What a trip that would be if, for example, the NEARI unleashes another John Leidecker to commit some primary election email fraud and abuse to discredit the man at the top of the GA heap.

Write your comment...

You must be logged in to post comments.