When former Republican turned Independent Joe Trillo, castigated Starbucks CEO for scheduling “racial-bias education” seminars he not only drew the ire of the local NAACP, but was called out by Democrat gubernatorial hopeful Paul Roselli, and many legislators.

Roselli, in a Facebook post, called on his fellow gubernatorial candidates to reject what he characterized as racist comments.

Joe Trillo’s remarks have no place in our society,” Roselli wrote. “I call on all candidates running for office to dismiss and condemn those remarks. I reject the words and vitriol of his letter.”


State Sen. Dawn Euer, D-Newport/Jamestown tweeted that “twisting facts, using divisive and offensive rhetoric, pushing a fear-based narrative to promote personal political aspirations. We’ve seen this playbook before and RIers rejected it. Most importantly, in 2018 it shouldn’t be a partisan value to stand opposed to racism.”

Roselli and Euer were responding to what Trillo had written in a press release last week.

“I am so sick of hearing people scream the word racism every time a minority gets arrested for something unlawful,” Trillo wrote. “Sorry folks if you’re asked to leave a business’s premises you leave. It’s not racism, it’s what happens when you break the law.”


The problem is the two men who were arrested at the Philadelphia Starbucks were not breaking the law. The charges have been dropped, Philadelphia police, the mayor, and Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson have since apologized.

The men were waiting at the Starbucks to meet someone for a business meeting, went to use the restroom, instigating a phone call from the store’s manager – now former manager – to police claiming the men were trespassing. Police arrived, placed them in handcuffs, and the white individual with whom the men were to meet also arrived, outraged at what was going on.

Johnson has scheduled a “racial-bias education” seminar for the chain’s nearly 8,000 stores on May 29, a day in which the stores will close.

Trillo accused Johnson of pandering to the “far-left progressive insanity.”

James Vincent, president of the Rhode Island branch of the NAACP, called Trillo’s remarks “regretful,” and called Johnson’s response a “smart business decision.”

On Facebook, Michael Van Leesten called Trillo “out of touch with reality, Providence Representative Marcia Rangin-Vassell called on all candidates to “denounce and repudiate Trillo’s racist remarks.”

Several other legislators weighed in with similar comments on Facebook and Twitter.

Trillo’s response, or campaign strategy, is reminiscent of the presidential campaign for which he chaired in Rhode Island – Donald Trump.

Campaign Finance

With Gov. Gina Raimondo slated for out-of-state campaign trips to bolster a campaign fund of more than $3.4 million as of the beginning of the year, candidates were preparing to file their next reports to the state Board of Elections. Reports are due by April 30, covering the 2018 first quarter reporting period. Raimondo’s $3.4 million does not include first quarter contributions, which are likely to take her past the $4 million mark.

Two gubernatorial candidates have filed their first quarter reports – Democrat Paul Roselli and Republican Giovanni Feroce. Roselli raised $2,637 during the first quarter to add to his beginning balance of $1,405.03, and expended $2,471.65, leaving him with a balance of $1,570.38. Feroce, who had zero balance coming into the quarter, had one donation of $500.

Those running for federal office filed at the end of March. Here are their results: Rep. James Langevin has a balance of $896,939 in his campaign account; Rep. David Cicilline has a campaign balance of $1,203,109, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s campaign account totals $2,803,434. Sen. Jack Reed, who is not up for reelections this year has $1,571,518 in his campaign account.

Among the challengers, former state Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders has $344,656 in his campaign account, and his Republican challenger, state Rep. Robert Nardolillo has $44,071 in his federal campaign account and $5,565.99 in his state campaign fund.

Income Tax

Meanwhile, several politicians have released their income tax returns, or reported on them … and some didn’t. There is no requirement to release the returns. The Providence Journal reported on most of the candidates but failed to contact two of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates – Spencer Dickinson and Paul Roselli.

Dickinson, who said he was never contacted by the Journal, also said he would not release his returns, feeling that requiring candidates to release returns discourages some people from running. Also refusing to release returns were Independent gubernatorial candidate Joseph Trillo, who was Donald Trump’s campaign chair in Rhode Island. Like Trump he would not release his return, claiming it isn’t “anybody’s business.” U.S. Rep. James Langevin also declined to release his returns to keep private his medical expenses and personal care. Langevin was paralyzed in a shooting accident when he was 17 and a police cadet in Warwick. Lt. Gov. Dan McKee also did not release his tax return,

U.S. Senate Candidate Robert Flanders declined to make public his returns but provided the Journal with highlights.

Roselli could not be reached for comment.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.