The Providence Phoenix has given RI Future great press as of late. Last week, the profiled me as the new owner of this progressive news website and this week they profile Matt Jerzyk, a senior policy adviser to Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and the founding father of RI Future whom they dub the state’s “blogfather.” The article dedicates no small amount of ink to the early days of the site he formally named Rhode Island’s Future.
Over the course of his four years running the site, Jerzyk pulled no punches, handing out his annual DINO (Democrat in Name Only) of the Year award while criticizing the likes of State Representative Arthur Corvese, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, Woonsocket Mayor Susan Menard, former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci, and former gubernatorial candidate Myrth York. In a state dominated by one party, Rhode Islanders flocked to the site for a mix of political gossip, policy analysis, and the occasional Jerzyk hissy fit.
Jerzyk, of course, is important to the local leftist community for far more reasons than simply launching this site – he’s an important adviser to the state’s most popular and powerful progressive politician, and he’s largely responsible for helping some of the more progressive members of the state legislature win their seats. I’ll always remember his crusade to get Ralph Papitto’s name removed from the Roger Williams law school after the chairman of the school made a racist statement at a meeting.
Both for creating RI Future, and all his efforts in building a better Rhode Island, I’d like to offer Jerzyk a big giant thank you. While this site, and Rhode Island, for that matter, have changed a lot since Matt Jerzyk first launched a blog called more formally and, we think, very fittingly, Rhode Island’s Future, we strive to build upon the great work Jerzyk and others have poured into it over the years. Here’s what Jerzyk told the Phoenix back in 2008 when he first sold this site:
I wanted to build a Daily Kos blog for Rhode Island: an online news source that could build a progressive media to compete with the vast right-wing talk radio operation. I think the blog has become a tremendous success because of the community we have created. With tens of thousands of readers and over a dozen writers, we are not only debating important political issues, we have also provided an online clearinghouse for people to get involved in the political system, from the 2006 US Senate race to the Rhode Island for Obama campaign in 2008 . . . . We are also pushing people to walk the walk because, at the end of the day, a healthy democracy requires people to engage it: by holding elected officials accountable or going to city or town council meetings or running for office directly.