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Metro Roundup, Oct. 1

State and local candidates form progressive coalition

Former gubernatorial candidate Matt Brown is co-chairing a new progressive coalition to elect at least 25 new progressive candidates to the Rhode Island Legislature and unseat incumbent Democrats in the process.

According to its website, “the RI Political Cooperative is building a statewide grassroots movement to elect a government in 2020 that will work for the people of our state – not for corporations or the connected.”

The group aims to elect enough new state legislators to replace the current House Speaker and Senate President.

Thus far, twelve candidates running for state office and three running for local office have joined the group. In doing so, they commit to supporting a $15/hour minimum wage, a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, “common sense gun control” and tuition-free public college. Candidates within the cooperative also pledged not to accept donations from corporate PACs, corporate lobbyists or the fossil fuel industry.

Candidates who have joined include Jeanine Calkin, a former Democratic state senator for Warwick, and Monica Huertas, a candidate for Providence City Council Ward 10. Huertas was also the coordinator for the No LNG in PVD campaign, an unsuccessful attempt to prevent a liquefied natural gas plant from being built in the port of Providence.

Governor argues for $1 billion lottery contract

Last Tuesday, Gov. Gina Raimondo testified before the House Finance Committee in favor of a $1 billion, 20-year extension of the contract between the state and International Gaming Technology. She supports the company’s bid to continue to oversee the Ocean State’s lottery, which it has done since 2003.

Since the company already controls over 1,000 jobs in Rhode Island, Raimondo argued that switching to another company would risk destabilizing the local economy. The contract constitutes the state’s third-largest revenue source — last fiscal year, it generated almost $400 million

Other lawmakers, including House GOP Leader Blake Filippi, voiced concerns about the premium paid to the company, since IGT is based out of the United Kingdom and managed by an Italian-based group. The state would pay $25 million up front to IGT, while the company would invest $150 million in the state over 20 years. Twin River Worldwide Holdings and Camelot Lottery solutions both also vied for the contract with the state.

Other members of the governor’s administration also spoke in favor of extending the contract in front of the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.  The hearings will continue on Oct. 3.

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular begins Thursday

Beginning this Thursday, the Roger Williams Park Zoo will once again host the annual month-long Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular fundraiser. Until Nov. 3, visitors will be able to peruse about 5,000 pumpkins whose interiors twinkle from LED lights along a quarter-mile trail through the park.

This year, attendees are being encouraged to protect themselves from the mosquito-borne illness eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), which caused a death in West Warwick this year. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular takes place in the evening, a time when mosquitos tend to be active. The pumpkin-carving company Passion for Pumpkins holds the show each year. The company spends $75,000 on about 20,000 pumpkins, most of which are grown on a farm in Connecticut, since organizers must replace pumpkins on display regularly throughout the month-long exhibition. Individual carvers create a variety of designs, including carvings inspired by famous paintings, and may carve hundreds in a day.

Between 115,000 to 140,000 people attend the show each year. The zoo channels funds toward “animal care, environmental education, and conservation efforts both locally and around the globe,” according to its website. The event raised $1.8 million last year.



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