- Associated Press - Friday, December 25, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A failed campaign to build a minor league baseball stadium in downtown Providence. Prison time for a man who once held one of the most powerful seats in state government. An unexpected run for president. Rhode Island’s top stories for 2015 happened in Providence, on the campaign trail and everywhere in between:

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PAWSOX STADIUM PUSH

The new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox came in with a bang. The ownership group headlined by then-Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino announced it would move the Triple-A team to Providence after building a new stadium on riverfront land. But opposition to the idea mounted after the owners announced they wanted $120 million from taxpayers to subsidize it. The plan ultimately died because of significant hurdles, including the millions it would cost to buy the land. Lucchino later put Pawtucket back on the table as a future home for the team. He has given no timetable for a decision.

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RAIMONDO’S FIRST YEAR

Gov. Gina Raimondo was sworn in as Rhode Island’s first female governor in January. After tackling some major storms weeks into her tenure, she turned to jobs, the budget and infrastructure. Raimondo pushed through proposals to encourage job creation, including a tax credit to spur real estate development. She proposed but later withdrew her support for a luxury tax for pricey second homes, dubbed the “Taylor Swift tax” after the pop star, who has a mansion in Westerly. And while the Senate approved her plan to put a toll on large trucks, it never got a vote in the House after it ran into opposition from Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

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FOX’S CORRUPTION

Former House Speaker Gordon Fox admitted he was corrupt, striking a plea deal with federal prosecutors in which he acknowledged taking more than $50,000 in bribe money and using more than $100,000 in campaign funds on himself. Fox explained that he had been driven by greed, a desire to keep up with the Joneses and “just plain stupidity.” He was sent to prison for three years and is due to be released in 2018.

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CHAFEE’S FAILED RUN FOR PRESIDENT

Former Gov. Lincoln Chafee surprised the political world, and many of his closest allies, when he announced he was exploring a Democratic run for president. He went after Hillary Clinton for her vote authorizing the war in Iraq, but also spent time pushing an unusual proposal to move the U.S. to the metric system. Chafee made few efforts to raise money and ran his campaign on a shoestring, driving himself to campaign events in far flung places in New Hampshire and Iowa. He gained no traction among voters and his run fell apart after his widely panned performance in the first Democratic debate in October. Chafee dropped out the next week.

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38 STUDIOS, STILL

Fallout continues over the state’s $75 million deal with the video game company started by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. A criminal investigation is ongoing, with no one yet charged. A lawsuit has now netted nearly $17 million in settlements and remains pending. It also resulted in the release of nearly 40,000 pages of documents that shed light on how the deal came to pass. At the Statehouse, lawmakers convened hearings on what happened. Schilling was subpoenaed by the House, but it wasn’t valid outside the state, and he didn’t show. The deal also infected debates on unconnected issues such as tolls and the PawSox stadium, called “38 Stadium” by detractors.


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