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McKee starts to shake up the convention center board

His first two targets are the father of Helena Foulkes, his political rival last fall, and someone who supported her campaign

Rhode Island Governor Daniel J. McKee and former CVS executive Helena B. Foulkes at a gubernatorial candidates forum last year.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Changes are coming to the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority, the board that oversees the convention center, Amica Mutual Pavilion, and Veterans Memorial Auditorium, all in Providence.

Governor Dan McKee has named Ernie Almonte, who runs the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, to replace Bernard Buonanno Jr. as chairman. Buonanno Jr., whose daughter Helena Foulkes finished second in a heated Democratic primary against McKee last fall, announced his resignation in January.

McKee has also named Stephen Iannazzi, a former chief of staff to Senate President Dominick Ruggerio who is now director of government affairs at Cox Communications, to the convention center’s board. He is replacing attorney John Hooper, a Foulkes donor.


The Senate Commerce Committee gave its blessing to Almonte and Iannazzi on Thursday, and the full Senate is likely to confirm them next week.

The governor controls eight of the 11 positions on the board, the mayor of Providence gets two appointees, and the City Council president gets one. All appointees go before the Senate for advice and consent.

More changes are expected in the coming weeks. And Council President Rachel Miller hasn’t yet named her pick.

This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, links to interesting stories, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.

Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.