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Thursday, January 24, 2019

State reps punished for dissent

Speaker Mattiello retaliates against Reform Caucus members with committee assignments
Related imageRhode Island Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston) said he would not retaliate against the members of the Reform Caucus for opposing his election to Speaker and challenging him on the House rules, but the committee appointments he made say otherwise. 

In a petty and vindictive display of power, members of the Reform Caucus were stripped of their positions of authority, and removed from committees they have long served on.

Committee chairs who are members of the Reform Caucus have not only lost their positions, they have been moved to other committees. 

One person who is not a member of the Reform Caucus, Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence), has suffered the same punishment as caucus members. 

Representative Carol Hagan McEntee (Democrat, District 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), who left the Reform Caucus, perhaps in a deal to get some legislation fast-tracked, has kept her committee assignments.

House Republicans, who also defied the Speaker and advocated for Rules Reforms, were not punished but rewarded with multiple plum committee assignments.

The first committee to meet will be the House Committee on Judiciary. Though Committee Chairs are supposed to set the agenda, the agenda for this meeting was set days before committee assignments were announced.

Not one member of the Reform Caucus was placed on the new House Committee on Conduct, charged with dealing with issues of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Representatives Justine Caldwell (Democrat, District 30, East Greenwich) and Katherine Kazarian (Democrat, District 63, East Providence) have been place on the House Committee on Corporations.

Representative David Bennett (Democrat, District 20, Warwick) has replaced Arthur Handy(Democrat, District 18, Cranston) as chair of the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources

Representatives Raymond Hull (Democrat, District 6, Providence), Ranglin-Vassell and Moira Walsh (Democrat, District 3, Providence) are on the committee, Handy is not.

No members of the Reform Caucus are on the House Committee on Finance. Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown) has been removed.

Representative Susan Donovan (Democrat, District 69, Bristol) is on the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare (HEW).

Representative Robert Craven (Democrat, District 32, North Kingstown) is now the chair of the House Committee on Judiciary. Representative Evan Shanley (Democrat, District 24, Warwick) has replaced Edith Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence) as one of the two vice-chairs on that committee. 

Ajello is no longer on the committee she once chaired. Jason Knight (Democrat, District 67, Barrington, Warren) has been removed from that committee. Joseph Almeida (Democrat, District 12, Providence) is the only member of the Reform Caucus on House Judiciary.

Representative Anastasia Williams (Democrat, District 9, Providence) is now the Chair of the House Committee on LaborMary Messier (Democrat, District 62, Pawtucket) is the only member of the Reform Caucus on House Labor.

Representative Rebecca Kislak (Democrat, District 4, Providence) is on the House Committee on Municipal Government.

As was seen earlier, no member of the Reform Caucus was placed on the House Committee on Rules.
Ajello and Handy are on the House Committee on Oversight.

Representatives Lauren Carson (Democrat, District 75, Newport), Liana Cassar (Democrat, District 66, Barrington, East Providence) and Terri-Denise Cortvriend (Democrat, District 72, Portsmouth) are on the House Committee on Small Business.

Representatives Kathleen Fogarty (Democrat, District 35, South Kingstown), Knight, John Lombardi (Democrat, District 8, Providence), Tanzi and Deborah Ruggiero (Democrat, District 74, Jamestown) are on the House Committee on Special Legislation.

No members of the Reform Caucus are on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

The nine Republican members of the House, on the other hand, are sitting pretty with plum Committee assignments, thanks to Speaker Mattiello.

Representative Michael Chippendale (Republican, District 40, Coventry, Foster Glocester) has been assigned to four House Committees: Conduct, Corporations, Oversight and Rules.

Representative John Lyle Jr (Republican, District 46, Lincoln) has been assigned to four House Committees: Environment, HEW, Labor and Special Legislation.

Representative Brian Newberry (Republican, District 48, North Smithfield) has been assigned to two House Committees: Labor and Oversight.

Representative Sherry Roberts (Republican, District 29, Coventry) has been assigned to three House Committees Environment, HEW, and Judiciary.

Representative David Place (Republican, District 47, Burrillville, Glocester) has been assigned to three House Committees: Judiciary, Municipal Gouvernment and Veterans’ Affairs.

Representative Justin Price (Republican, District 39, Richmond, Exeter, Hopkinton) has been assigned to two House Committees: Finance and Veterans’ Affairs.

Representative Robert Quattrocchi (Republican, District 41, Scituate) has been assigned to two House Committees: Finance and Small Business.

As House Minority Leads, Representative Blake Filippi (Republican, District 36, Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly) sits ex officio on all committees.

The Reform Caucus consists of Representatives Edith Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence), Moira Walsh (Democrat, District 3, Providence), Rebecca Kislak (Democrat, District 4, Providence), Raymond Hull (Democrat, District 6, Providence), John Lombardi (Democrat, District 8, Providence), Joseph Almeida (Democrat, District 12, Providence), Arthur Handy (Democrat, District 18, Cranston), Justine Caldwell (Democrat, District 30, East Greenwich), Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Kathleen Fogarty (Democrat, District 35, South Kingstown), Mary Messier (Democrat, District 62, Pawtucket), Katherine Kazarian (Democrat, District 63, East Providence), Liana Cassar (Democrat, District 66, Barrington, East Providence), Jason Knight (Democrat, District 67, Barrington, Warren), Susan Donovan (Democrat, District 69, Bristol), Terri-Denise Cortvriend (Democrat, District 72, Portsmouth), Deborah Ruggiero (Democrat, District 74, Jamestown) and Lauren Carson (Democrat, District 75, Newport).

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading.