Aaron Regunberg named senior advisor on policy to Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza

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From a press release:

Mayor Jorge Elorza today announced that former State Representative Aaron Regunberg will serve as Providence’s Senior Advisor on Policy, where he will collaborate with community partners to support cradle-to-career and universal pre-K education initiatives while advancing work related to equitable and affordable housing opportunities here in the city.

“Aaron has proved a committed advocate for critical issues impacting folks throughout Providence and the entire State of Rhode Island,” said Mayor Elorza. “I look forward to working with Aaron as we develop progressive and inclusive policies that make Providence a city that works for and invests in every single resident.”

Most recently, Regunberg served two terms as a State Representative for Rhode Island House District 4 from 2015 – 2019 during which he championed a progressive agenda that successfully guaranteed paid sick leave for over 100,000 Rhode Islanders, raised the state’s tipped minimum wage for the first time in two decades, secured online voter registration and expanded renewable energy programs, among other legislative accomplishments.

“I’m very excited to begin working with the Elorza Administration to advance bold progressive initiatives around affordable housing and universal pre-K. I have spent years fighting for these priorities at the state level and I am looking forward to bringing that passion to city government,” said Regunberg. “I believe deeply in the promise of Providence – that we can build a capital city that does right by all its residents and that is a shining star for our state. I am thankful to Mayor Elorza for his exciting vision and for providing this opportunity to continue the work that I love.”

A resident of Providence’s Mount Hope neighborhood, Regunberg earned a B.A. from Brown University, magna cum laude. In addition to his service as a State Representative, Regunberg previously served as the Founding Executive Director of the Providence Student Union, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the power of students in influencing education outcomes.

Regunberg will transition into his new role on Tuesday, January 15th and continue full-time with the Elorza Administration until he begins law school this fall.

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  1. Why no mention of how much he will be paid? Is this a position we need in a city ready to sell its water rights with the excuse being used that we’re so very cash strapped we have no alternatives? Couldn’t he find a summer job somewhere else?

  2. The city has much larger problems than possibly selling its water rights, which I hope won’t happen. We need key ppl with big brains, big hearts and big know-how. We need Aaron because he gets big things done. And, btw, we also need fewer progressives and semi-Dems eating their own.

  3. “Privatization limits public accountability. Multinational water corporations are primarily accountable to their stockholders, not to the people they serve.

    Loss of public input. Because water service is a natural monopoly that lacks a true market, consumers can exercise choice only at the ballot box through the election of the public officials who oversee their utility. They don’t have a vote in the corporate boardroom. With public ownership, residents can visit their elected officials and directly express their opinions about the operation of their water systems. If the officials fail to respond, the community can vote them out of office. The public lacks similar mechanisms to address their concerns with private utilities and appointed state regulators, and long-term complex contracts can tie the hands of local governments.

    Loss of transparency. Private operators usually restrict public access to information and do not have the same level of openness as the public sector.”


    Sorry to differ with the previous commenter but the bids are in. It seems we’re pretty close to a done deal. Maybe “water rights”, as the term is used colloquially, is not the best term to use but the quote from Food and Water Watch indicates a loss of rights to have our what is now a public water supply controlled privately. Democratic control will be ceded.

    The Elorza government is, clearly, a neoliberal regime. A deal had to be cut with the person who headed up the Providence Water Supply Board in order for Elorza to prevail against Cianci in 2014. Only a neoliberal regime would employ a “Chief Executive Officer” to run a small city, or even a large city. That the CEO was chair of the Providence Water Board doesn’t seem merely ironic. Elorza’s “Economic Development Corporation” head, after working out a sweetheart deal to get the Wexford project all the tax breaks they got, has now walked through the revolving door into a job with the Wexford’s anchor tenant, Cambridge Innovation Center.

    I was enthusiastic about Regunberg, at first. How many private charters has Providence now? Is Elorza any less enthusiastic than McKee about private charters? Without union pressure I think Elorza would do the same to the school system as he’s going to do with the water system and what he has done and is still doing with the city’s property tax structure. Regunberg seems to go beyond tacitly endorsing Elorza’s neoliberal regime. I’ve lost any enthusiasm for him I might have had. I might vote against someone who might run against him, as I voted against Witman. I certainly do not support what Elorza has done.

    If Veolia gets the water contract I would ask anyone to consider their track record in Pittsburg, or the fact they were the company involved with the Flint Water crisis, or have a look at the way the Troika forced them onto Ireland, the controversy involving them taking over the water system in Lagos, Nigeria, which was opposed by the Black Congressional Caucus, which issued this statement, ““Privatisation also introduces significant governance challenges that can erode democratic control and oversight, including the government’s ability to regulate in the public interest.”

    One of the excuses used by the Troika and the International Monetary Fund for Veolia and other water/sewer privatization firms to come in and take over Irish Water was the solvency of the pension system. The outcry in Ireland was huge. There are still reverberations today.

    As far as progressives “eating their own”. The term “progressive” is an empty one. It reminds me of “progressive rock”, whatever that was. I think it’s called “classic rock”, now. Yeah, sure.

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