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Sen. Pagliarini represented trucking firm while opposing toll
I am writing to express my concern over my opponent's voting record as our senator this past session. Sen. John Pagliarini boasts in his political ads that he “voted 'no' 109 times,” but doesn't say what it was he was voting against. Let me provide some detail on several of the more significant measures he voted “no” on:
◆ Prohibiting sale of powdered caffeine to minors. It's very toxic, easy to overdose, will kill you, and is available on the internet (S2056).
◆ On-line voter registration (S2513).
◆ Expansion/extension of renewable/alternative energy use (S2152, S2450, S2181, S2185).
◆ Requiring insurance carriers to cover online doctor's appointments (S2756), and to expand prescription drug coverage for life-threatening disease (S2499).
◆ School policy to establish internet filtering processes to protect school children (S2172).
◆ Improve speeding enforcement in school zones using automated systems (S2254).
◆ Prohibit advertising of unhealthy food and beverage products in our schools (S2015).
◆ Establish a domestic violence prevention fund (S2900).
There are numerous other examples of good, commonsense legislation that help people. He voted against them as well, as he boasts. Fortunately, all of these measures passed overwhelmingly.
There is one Pagliarini “no” vote I agree with - the toll on trucks - but for different reasons. I believe there's a better answer in how we allocate and scale fuel fees for large vehicles. Sen. Pagliarinisimply asserts “never tolls” and “cars will be next.” He has never suggested an alternativeplan. One other important point on this issue: Sen. Pagliarini would likely not be able to take any other position because he represents a major trucking-industry client in western Rhode Island, and has for several years - throughout the entire toll debate over the past year, including the Senate session where he voted against S2246A. How do I know? It's public record posted online in West Greenwich Planning Board meeting minutes.
I participated in the candidate forums, attended the Senate hearings and never once heard him disclose this fact.
I'm not a lawyer, but I believe he should have told someone he represents a client with potentially much at stake over this issue. Was this a conflict of interest? I don't know, but I urge everyone to vote “yes” on Question 2 and restore Ethics Commission oversight on the General Assembly.
The Senate District 11 voters have a clear choice on Nov. 8. I believe in representing the interests of our hardworking families, to try to give them a voice in the process.
And I will always act with full transparency in everything.
I don't know who Sen. Pagliarini thinks he's representing, but it isn't us back here in the East Bay.
Jim Seveney, Portsmouth Town Council vice president
The writer is a Democratic candidate for Senate District 11.
To the editor:
Sen. Pagliarini’s letter about Portsmouth’s tax stabilization bill is more than revisionist history — it’s pure fiction. Here’s what really happened.
In November 2015, the Town Council voted to seek enabling legislation to ensure we could continue our enterprise zone program. When the legislature convened in January, our new senator, Mr. Pagliarini, refused to introduce this bill for the town. In fact he submitted his own bill (S2289) to rescind all local tax incentive programs. Fortunately, Sen. DiPalma from Middletown stepped up and introduced S2268, which was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and scheduled for hearing on Tuesday May 17.
At that hearing Sen. Pagliarini vehemently opposed any enabling authority for Portsmouth. He latched onto PCC leader Larry Fitzmorris’ bogus legal argument that it would violate the R.I. Constitution for the legislature to authorize any tax exemption program without a local referendum. I had to inform Sen. Pagliarini (a lawyer) that the R.I. Supreme Court rejected that very same legal argument 20 years ago (apparently this was news to him).
The committee chairman suggested we model our bill on recent legislation passed for other communities. That was fine with us, since the exact form or language wasn’t the point. The committee held the bill so we could make the changes.
The next day (Wednesday, May 18) our solicitor drafted and emailed Sen. DiPalma a proposed S2268 “SubA” modeled after a 2012 bill passed for West Greenwich. I put this matter on the Monday, May 23 council agenda to approve the SubA. On Friday, May 19, the Senate Finance Committee scheduled S2268 for further hearing on Tuesday, May 24, to consider the SubA. All this happened without involvement from Sen. Pagliarini. He never communicated with the council, as far as we knew he still opposed any enabling legislation.
At the May 23 council meeting, Sen. Pagliarini, not on the agenda, showed up and tried to hijack the legislation. He presented a draft of a “new” bill with his name on it. His new bill essentially mimicked the proposed S2268 SubA —except he added language to exclude farmers and other businesses from participating in the program. The council voted to approve Sen. DiPalma’s SubA, which was on the agenda, with minor language changes.
The next day, the Senate Finance Committee approved S2268 SubA (with minor corrections). On June 1, the Senate passed S2268 SubA, as amended. No bill was ever introduced by Sen. Pagliarini.
It seems Sen. Pagliarini had a last-minute epiphany and reversed his months-long opposition to the enabling legislation. His letter is a “damage control” attempt to rewrite history to look like he’s supporting the town. He doesn’t, and should be honest with us about what really happened.
Vice president, Portsmouth Town Council
72 Macomber Lane
Although the difference came down to just around 100 votes, with the final results from the Board of Elections, it’s clear that we did not prevail. I congratulate John Pagliarini, our new senator from District 11, and look forward to working with him over the next months.
I want to thank all the voters of Portsmouth, Bristol, and Tiverton who turned out on a cold January day to exercise their right to vote. You are what makes democracy work. I especially want to thank the 1,200 voters who supported me and made this race so close. I deeply appreciate the trust you placed in me and I will continue to do everything I can to live up to your expectations.
I also want to thank the many people and groups who supported my campaign. My wife, Val, first and foremost. My campaign team. The RI Progressive Democrats and the Providence Young Democrats who helped us so much with calling and knocking doors. Rhode Island’s organized labor, including the AFL-CIO, the NEA, the RI Federation of teachers and all their affiliates, the Rhode Island Democratic Party, especially Annie Pease’s expert problem solving. Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed, Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, and Whip Maryellen Goodwin who provided support and advice. My friends Sen. Lou DiPalma, Rep. Ray Gallison, Rep. Jay Edwards, and Rep. Dennis Canario. And many thanks to RI Senator Jack Reed and Governor Gina Raimondo for their efforts on my behalf.
While this was not the result we hoped for, this is just a a speed bump. With a race this close, I feel that it’s important to give the voters of District 11 another opportunity to look at both candidates in an election not conducted right in the middle of the holidays. Our campaign begins today. If you’d like to stay in touch, please sign up for my e-mail list here.
Thank you again, to all the voters of District 11, and all the best for the New Year.
© 2015 Friends of James A Seveney. All Rights Reserved. Paid for by "Friends of James A. Seveney," Val Seveney, Treasurer.