Friday, December 16, 2016

Proposed Fire Department Consolidation

From Councilman Sam Zurier's December 11 Ward Letter

The administration has presented a tentative agreement with the fire fighters for the City Council to review.  It would produce an unprecedented five-year contract.  According to the Internal Auditor, the contract would produce between $9 million and $11 million in savings over its five-year  term, or between 2% and 3%.  The principal source of savings is the removal of two engine companies and one ladder company.  You can learn more about the contract and the financial and service issues at a Web page I have compiled.  The two engine companies designated for removal are currently deployed to serve our neighborhood; therefore, I have asked Stephen Pare, the Public Safety Commissioner and Robin Muksian, the Director of Administration to come to our neighborhood to describe the impacts of the changes.  The meeting will  take place at the Nathan Bishop Middle School Cafeteria on Wednesday, December 21, at 6:30 p.m.  The doors will open at 6:00 p.m.  

If time permits, we also will discuss the administration’s plans for improving the City’s infrastructure after the voters’ overwhelming approval of a $40 million bond on Election Day which was rendered invalid by a decision by the City Council majority to withhold approval because they were not allowed individual authority to decide how to spend the bond proceeds.  Please try to attend this meeting so you can ask questions about this proposed change.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Providence

By Paul Edward Parker Providence Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — It’s been moved twice, but has remained a fixture in the square in front of City Hall since 1871, and now there’s a drive to give it a face-lift.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, honoring the 1,727 Rhode Islanders who gave their lives in the Civil War, is showing signs of age, according to the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, which is leading the effort to raise $300,000 to pay for restoration of the monument and improved landscaping of the area around it.

Photo essay

Health Insurers List Demands if Affordable Care Act Is Killed

The New York Times
DECEMBER 6, 2016

The nation’s health insurers, resigned to the idea that Republicans will repeal the Affordable Care Act, on Tuesday publicly outlined for the first time what the industry wants to stay in the state marketplaces, which have provided millions of Americans with insurance under the law...

The demands are a sort of warning shot to Republicans. While the party is eager to repeal the law as quickly as possible, and many have promised a replacement, its members are sharply divided over what shape any new plan should take. If they do not come up with an alternative, more than 22 million people would be left uninsured, including the more than 10 million who have bought individual plans on state marketplaces...

While insurers say they do not plan to fight the Republicans’ efforts to repeal the law, they are in no hurry to see it unwound. And Ms. Tavenner said the industry would support a delay so it could prepare for the changes...

Ms. Tavenner said the industry wanted to know more about what the Republicans were planning, including information on the fate of the Medicaid expansion under the law. “We still have more questions than answers,” she said. “We don’t want to disrupt individuals who are relying on our coverage,” she said.

Full Story

Neighborhood Meeting Concerning Proposed Fire Department Consolidation

From Councilman Sam Zurier:

The administration has negotiated a tentative agreement with Local 799 of the fire fighters' union which would consolidate the deployment of fire engines in our neighborhood.  More specifically, the agreement proposes taking Engine Companies 4 and 5 out of service.  Engine Company 4 is currently located at the Rochambeau Avenue fire station, while Engine Company 5 is currently located at the Humboldt Avenue fire station.  The tentative agreement is before the City Council for review.

Because these two engine companies serve our neighborhood, I have invited Steven Pare, the Commissioner of Public Safety and Robin Muksian, the Director of Administration, to come to our neighborhood to explain the consolidation and how fire protection in our neighborhood can be maintained if the tentative agreement is approved. The meeting will take place on Wednesday, December 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the Nathan Bishop Middle School Cafeteria.  The doors will open at 6:00.  Please make every effort to come to ask questions and express your concerns.

From David Kolsky (Blackstone and Wayland Sq. Neighborhood Associations)

It appears from this that with its only apparatus (Engine 4) removed from service, the Rochambeau Avenue fire station would seem to have little or no reason to stay open.

The Humboldt Avenue fire station (at the junction with Irving and Cole Avenues) is only losing Engine 5, which would leave Air Supply 1. Until I had to move to Federal Hill last June, our family had lived opposite that station since 1961 (55 years ago) but I can’t verify now if Air Supply 1 is still operating from Humboldt. It isn’t listed in the Fire Dept’s own web pages, but both Wikipedia (current as of May 2015) and the site of the Firefighters’ union (I.A.F.F.) do list it at Humboldt.

This is the current alignment of East Side fire stations as best I could gather from the sites above:

10 Branch Avenue
Engine 2
Ladder 7
Rescue 3
Battalion 3 chief

223 Brook Street
Engine 9 *
Ladder 8
Marine 1

155 Humboldt Avenue
Engine 5
Air Supply Unit 1

270 Rochambeau Avenue
Engine 4

151 North Main Street
Engine 7
Ladder 4 *
Rescue 5

* The 2015 Wikipedia article says these apparatus had been temporarily disabled by staffing shortages. I don’t know if they were later remanned and reactivated.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

WPRI: Audit: Providence City Council has given $171K in grants since ‘07

By Dan McGowan, Reporter and Walt Buteau
Published: October 11, 2016, 5:42 pm  Updated: October 11, 2016, 7:32 pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence City Council has given $171,000 in taxpayer-funded grants to 96 organizations since the 2006-07 fiscal year, according to a report released by the city’s internal auditor last week.

The council passed a resolution asking internal auditor Matt Clarkin to review every grant it has awarded over 10 years following the May arrest of Councilman Kevin Jackson, who prosecutors say embezzled $127,000 from a youth track-and-field team that was partially funded by the city.

Clarkin’s review shows that 96 different organizations received 139 donations during the 10-year period. He said 71% of the organizations responded to his inquiries, while 6% did not respond. Letters to the rest of the organizations were returned due to invalid mailing addresses.

Read: The full audit | See each grant

Full story

Citywide Conversation 12/13

Please join Mayor Jorge O. Elorza for a Citywide Conversation.

Tuesday, December 13 at 6 PM - 7:30 PM
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School
35 Camp St, Providence, Rhode Island 02906

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Still not registered to vote?

There will be same-day voter registration available for those who only want to participate in the presidential election.

Same day registration is not available at all polls. Check your local Board of Canvassers for locations.

Tell your friends.

Monday, October 31, 2016

WPRI: Mayor Elorza: Providence posted $9.5M surplus last fiscal year

By Dan McGowan, Reporter
Published: October 31, 2016, 11:44 am  Updated: October 31, 2016, 12:17 pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Calling it Providence’s largest operating surplus in at least 20 years, Mayor Jorge Elorza announced Monday Rhode Island’s capital city ended the 2015-16 fiscal year $9.5 million in the black...

[However] Providence is still facing a $3.9-million cumulative shortfall...

Unlike an operating deficit, which only accounts for a shortfall that occurs within any one fiscal year, a cumulative deficit includes all deficits incurred in previous years. In Providence’s case, that means shortfalls during the 2011, 2012 and 2015 fiscal years...

Elorza has warned the city still faces massive out-year deficits, thanks in part to growing pension and healthcare obligations to retirees. As it stands now, Providence’s unfunded pension liability is hovering around $900 million and its other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liability is projected to be $1 billion...

Full Story

Friday, October 28, 2016

WPRI: HealthSource RI refused to sell 2 low-cost insurance plans

By Ted Nesi and Susan Campbell
Published: October 26, 2016, 4:53 pm  Updated: October 26, 2016, 6:10 pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Health insurance premiums on Rhode Island’s Obamacare marketplace will dip slightly next year, but they’d be going down even more if state regulators hadn’t rejected two low-cost options Neighborhood Health Plan wanted to offer...

But HealthSource officials said their decision was driven by the federal formula for premium subsidies, which are provided to about 90% of the Rhode Islanders who buy insurance through the marketplace.

The amount of those premium subsidies – which are technically tax credits – is tied to average costs across all plans in a state’s marketplace. Adding the two low-cost Neighborhood plans “would have the effect of making all of the plans that we offer less affordable,” Sherman said, because it would have pulled down the amount of tax credits provided by the federal government to subsidize every plan.

Full Story

Providence Symposium, Nov. 3-4

The Providence Preservation Society's 2016 Providence Symposium, Why Preserve?, on November 3-4, will bring together experts from across the nation as well as local stakeholders to examine why historic preservation matters to Providence and all communities. To be held at the iconic but threatened Industrial Trust Building, the Symposium will launch a year of community-based conversations around these foundational preservation questions: Why do we preserve? What do we preserve? Who decides what we preserve – that is, who are “we”? What are the costs of preservation? Who bears them?

Featured in the program will be special guests whose work has had monumental impact on countless cities, communities and historic buildings, including: Keynote Speaker Curtis G. Viebranz, President & CEO of Mount Vernon; Carl R. Nold, President & CEO of Historic New England; and Dr. Max Page, MS Design Program Director and Director of Historic Preservation Initiatives with the Department of Architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as author of the newly-published book, Why Preservation Matters.

Join PPS to find out just what we mean when we say preservation matters! Learn more and register at Thursday's keynote session is free; Friday's program is just $5 for students ($60 public/$45 for PPS members and university/non-profit affiliates).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A fast track to ruin? Amtrak opponents fear high-speed plans

Wednesday, October 26th 2016

OLD LYME, Conn. (AP) — This quaint shoreline community, proud of its role as a nursery of American Impressionist art, fears the destruction of its heritage if a federal proposal to someday run an East Coast high-speed rail line through its historic center becomes reality.

Full Story

Providence may seek to borrow funds for infrastructure projects without voter approval

By Dan McGowan, Reporter
Published: October 26, 2016, 1:10 am  Updated: October 26, 2016, 10:44 am

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – With Providence’s proposed $40-million infrastructure bond all but dead, Elorza administration officials now say they are considering borrowing funds through an obscure city agency that does not require voter approval to issue a bond.

It remains unclear how much money the city would seek to borrow through a revenue bond issued by the Providence Public Buildings Authority (PBA), but the administration considers the agency a “viable alternative” to obtain funding for infrastructure projects, according to Emily Crowell, a spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza.

Full Story

Voter Information Handbook

By now everyone should have recieved their Voter Information Handbook: A Guide to State Referenda and Voting Procedures in Rhode Island from the RI Secretary of State.

The Handbook which is available in English and Spanish has a lot of useful information about each of the Referenda:

  • Explanation and purpose
  • How much money will be borrowed?
  • Project time table
  • Useful life
  • Total cost

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

RIDE schedules 5 community forums on Every Student Succeeds Act

From: Commissioner's Memo to Friends of Education
October 26, 2016

As we prepare to transition to the new federal law - the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) - RIDE will hold community forums next month to collect public feedback and input about how we can fulfill our vision for every student. Students, parents, teachers, community members, and community leaders across the state: You are invited to share experiences to help inform the ESSA implementation plan for Rhode Island.

We will hold five forums at locations across Rhode Island:

  • Providence Area: Wednesday, November 2, at Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex, 182 Thurbers Ave., Providence  (Spanish language interpretation services are available.)
  • Northern Rhode Island: Wednesday, November 9, at Lincoln Middle School, 152 Jenckes Hill Rd.
  • West Bay: Monday, November 14, at Coventry High School, 40 Reservoir Rd.
  • East Bay: Thursday, November 17, at Portsmouth High School, 120 Education Lane
  • Southern Rhode Island: Monday, November 21 at South Kingstown High School, 215 Columbia St., Wakefield 

All forums will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

These forums will be open to everyone. All are welcome, but to reserve a spot at any of the forums you can use this link:

Come lend your voice to advance Rhode Island schools!

Printable and shareable flyers about these forums can be found at For more information about these community forums, please contact or 222-8182.

New Stories on the Tiverton Casino Referendum

GoLocal Providence has posted 2 new stories on the Tiverton casino (see Question 1 blog entry)

WPRI: 12 key things to know about Providence’s proposed firefighter deal

By Dan McGowan, Reporter
Published: October 19, 2016, 3:40 pm  Updated: October 19, 2016, 7:08 pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The dispute between Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and the city’s firefighters’ union is finally nearing a resolution as the two sides have signed off on a tentative agreement for a new contract.

So what exactly is included in the proposed five-year contract?

Here’s an overview.

Monday, October 24, 2016

State Referendum Question 7: HOUSING OPPORTUNITY BONDS – $50,000,000

For affordable housing, urban revitalization, and blight remediation, to be allocated as follows:
 (a) Affordable Housing Development $40,000,000
 (b) Urban Revitalization and Blight Remediation $10,000,000

In Support:
Vote Yes On 7!
For Homes. For Jobs. For Rhode Island.

Editorial: Vote yes on Question 7
Providence Journal
Posted Nov 1, 2016 at 6:10 PM
Updated Nov 1, 2016 at 6:10 PM

Opposed: RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity
REJECT QUESTIONS #4-7 over Debt Concerns

Related Story:
R.I. Housing projects don’t come cheap
The Valley Breeze

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Question 5. PORT INFRASTRUCTURE BONDS – $70,000,000

For port infrastructure projects, to be allocated as follows:
 (a) Port of Davisville Infrastructure at Quonset $50,000,000
 (b) Port of Providence Infrastructure $20,000,000

Articles concerning:
Providence Journal: 
Question 5: Should state borrow $70 million to expand Davisville, ProvPort?
By Patrick Anderson
Journal Staff Writer

Political Scene: Waves of contributions rolling in for R.I. ports expansion
Posted Sep 4, 2016 at 5:04 PM 
Updated Sep 4, 2016 at 5:04 PM

In support:
R.I. Ports Coalition

Vote yes on Question 5

RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity
REJECT QUESTIONS #4-7 over Debt Concerns

Vote NO on Rhode Island Ballot Question #5, MINDSETTER™ Ken Block
Friday, November 04, 2016

EDITORIAL: Question #5, It Smells Like Low Tide
Sunday, November 06, 2016


To make capital investments in higher education related projects, to be allocated as follows:
(a) University of Rhode Island College of Engineering $25,500,000
(b) University of Rhode Island Affiliated Innovation Campus Program $20,000,000

In support:
Friends of Question 4
Vote Yes on Question 4
Approving Question 4 will attract businesses and create the high-paying, high-skilled jobs Rhode Island needs by authorizing $45.5 million in bonds to expand the University of Rhode Island's College of Engineering and create a URI-affiliated innovation campus program that will pair cutting edge research with private sector investments to create the jobs of the future.

Providence Journal Editorial: Vote yes on Question 4
Posted Oct 21, 2016 at 5:53 PM 
Updated Oct 21, 2016 at 5:53 PM

RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity
REJECT QUESTIONS #4-7 over Debt Concerns

Question 3: VETERANS HOME BONDS – $27,000,000

For the construction of a new Veterans Home and renovations of existing facilities.

Stories concerning the Veterans Home Bonds

Question 3 seeks $27 million for RI Veterans Home
Friday, October 14th 2016

The Herald News, Fall River, MA
R.I. Question 3 seeks funds to complete veterans home
By G. Wayne Miller The Providence Journal
Posted Oct 3, 2016 at 9:59 AM 
Updated Oct 3, 2016 at 10:03 AM

Friday, October 21, 2016

Secretary of State: Elections 2016 Information

Elections 2016 Information

The general election is Tuesday, November 8. Below are guides and links to information for you to be a voter on Election Day.

2016 Voter Information Handbook
 A guide to State Referenda and voting procedures in Rhode Island

2016 Manual Informativo para Votantes
 Guía sobre los referendos estatales y el proceso para votar en Rhode Island

Military and Overseas Voters Information

Polling place opening hours

RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity: REJECT QUESTIONS #4-7 over Debt Concerns

RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity recommends that voters "reject" bond Questions #4-7.

The 2016 Ballot Question Voter Guide, released today by the Center, documents how the state's 'interest on debt' burden has already increased by 90% since 2005, almost four-times as much as the national average and double any other known state.

Q1 NO POSITION on the "Tiverton Casino"
Q2 APPROVE Ethics Commission "Constitutional Amendment"
Q3 NO POSITION on "Veterans Home" Bonds
Q4 REJECT Wasteful "Innovation Campus & Higher Ed" bonds
Q5 REJECT Corporate Cronyism "Infrastructure" bonds
Q6 REJECT RhodeMapRI & Property Takeover "Green Economy" bonds
Q7 REJECT RhodeMapRI "Affordable Housing" bonds

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Providence Firefighter's Contract

From Councilman Sam Zurier's October 16 Ward Letter:
As the City Council prepares to vet the City’s tentative agreement with the fire fighters, I have prepared a Web page compiling information about the some of the underlying issues I am studying.  The tentative agreement offers savings by reducing the “minimum manning” from 94 to 88.

Elorza’s Firefighter Contract is Deeply Flawed Says Finance Chair Igliozzi
 Friday, October 14, 2016
Kate Nagle, GoLocalProv News Editor

$40-million infrastructure bond question that will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot

By Dan McGowan, Reporter
 Published: October 18, 2016, 7:01 pm  |  Updated: October 18, 2016, 7:35 pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – In a stunning about-face, Providence City Council leaders on Tuesday withdrew their support for a proposed $40-million infrastructure bond question that will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot...

Even if voters do approve the bond question, Muksian-Schutt said the city will not be able to borrow the money because a spending plan is not in place.

Full Story

Death By Chain? New England's endangered local retail and small businesses

Thursday, October 20 | 5:00 to 8:00pm

 Aurora Providence
 276 Westminster Street
 Providence, Rhode Island

CNU New England is proud to partner with R Street, The American Conservative, and Brown University Urban Studies to address the barriers to nurturing small business and creating vibrant retail in New England towns and cities. CNU-NE is proud to announce a new addition to the panel, Anne Haynes, Director of Transformative Development for MassDevelopment. The dialogue features additional panelists Cliff Wood, Executive Director of Downtown Providence Parks Commission, Kip Bergstrom, former Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, and Margaret Bodell, a Connecticut-based art center consultant with experience repurposing storefronts. Moderated by Jonathan Coppage of R Street. 

To Register

Friday, October 14, 2016

Providence Citizen Guides - City Council

The following citizen guides are meant to answer your questions about important city processes and procedures. Each topic is summarized for easy reading and comprehension.  New topics will be added as they are created.

Budget Process
Guide to Budget Process
City Budget Timeline

WPRI: 5 members of the Providence City Council refuse to support $40M bond plan

By Dan McGowan, Reporter
 Published: October 13, 2016, 11:26 pm  |  Updated: October 13, 2016, 11:35 pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Five members of the Providence City Council are calling for city residents to vote against a proposed $40-million infrastructure bond unless a “clean” spending plan is released within the next week...

The councilors’ statement came a week after Mayor Jorge Elorza threatened to veto a proposal from Council President Luis Aponte that would give individual councilors more of a say over how $20 million of the proceeds should be spent. Elorza called the proposal a “slush fund.”
Full Story

Thursday, September 29, 2016

State Referendum: Question 1: STATE CONSTITUTIONAL APPROVAL - Tiverton Casino

Approval of an act authorizing state-operated casino gaming at “Twin River-Tiverton” in the Town of Tiverton
 Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution

Pro: Yes on the Tiverton Casino

Con: No Tiverton Casino!
         Save Tiverton
         No Casino RI
         R.I. Progressive Democrats

Pros and Cons for the Tiverton Casino - What Each Side Says
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
GoLocalProv News Team

Five Big Issues Being Debated About the Tiverton Casino
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
GoLocalProv Business Team

Rhody Votes '16: Tiverton Residents Consider Twin River Casino Proposal
By JOHN BENDER • NOV 2, 2016
Rhode Island Public Radio

EDITORIAL: Question #1, Expansion of Gambling is a Business Decision
Sunday, November 06, 2016

Related Stories
What would a third Conn. casino mean for Mass.?
By Sean P. Murphy Globe Staff  April 25, 2016

Massachusetts Casinos Latest Updates
500 Nations

State Referendum: Question 2: AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE - Ethics Commission

Restoration of ethics commission jurisdiction over General Assembly members
 Section 8 of Article III and Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution

Approval of Question 2 would restore ethics panel oversight of R.I. Assembly
By Alisha A. Pina
Journal State House Bureau
Posted Sep 25, 2016 at 11:41 PM 
Updated Sep 25, 2016 at 11:41 PM

Pro: Yes on 2 - Coalition for Ethics Reform

Con: ACLU of Rhode Island Position Paper on Question 2, the Ethics Commission Constitutional Amendment

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

From the Commissioner's Memo to Friends of Education 9/28/2016

RI-CAN issues annual report on R.I. education

For your information, RI-CAN has issued its annual report, The State of R.I. Public Education, which contains information on student demographics, the teaching corps, K-12 achievement, postsecondary education, finances, and other aspects of public education in Rhode Island.

Education Week Research Center issues report on teachers' perspectives

The Education Week Research Center has issued a report, Mindset in the Classroom: A National Study of K-12 Teachers. The report is based on a survey that was designed to examine teachers' perspectives, professional development and training, and classroom practices.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

State Referendum: Question 6: GREEN ECONOMY BONDS – $35,000,000

For environmental and recreational purposes, to be allocated as follows:
 (a) Historic State Park Development Program $4,000,000
 (b) State Land Acquisition Program $4,000,000
 (c) State Bikeway Development Program $10,000,000
 (d) Brownfield Remediation and Economic Development $5,000,000
 (e) Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program $3,000,000
 (f) Local Recreation Development Matching Grant Program $5,000,000
 (g) Local Land Acquisition Matching Grant Program $4,000,000

For information in support of The Green Economy Bond:

Green space could sprout in R.I. cities
Green Economy Bond would clean up brownfields, create bike paths, parks  
  By Alex Kuffner Journal Staff Writer

Information against: RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity

WPRI: Here are the lowest-scoring bridges in the state

By Tim White
Published: September 22, 2016, 9:55 pm  |  Updated: September 23, 2016, 4:59 pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — There are 18 bridges across Rhode Island that have a lower “sufficiency rating” than the Huntington Avenue Viaduct Bridge, which state officials have declared needs urgent and immediate repairs, a Target 12 review of state transportation data found...

Target 12 requested the sufficiency rating of all bridges statewide and found there were 19 spans – including the Huntington – that scored a 19 or below...

Full Story

Watch the Providence City Council

All meetings of the Providence City Council are live streamed

All meetings of the Providence City Council are also taped and later shown on PEG Access Channels 17 on Cox and 39 on Verizon Thursday from 7-9pm and Sunday from 5-7pm.

Or viewed on Vimeo:

For meeting dates and agendas

Monday, September 12, 2016

New Voting Machines!

Voting equipment is Democracy’s infrastructure and tomorrow you will see new voting machines at your polling location. As seen in this video, the process of voting will be the same. You will still cast your vote using a paper ballot. The only difference is that instead of connecting an arrow, you will fill in an oval.

When you are finished filling out your ballot, you will insert it into the new ballot tabulator and be notified instantly that your vote was counted


September 13, 2016 is primary day in Rhode Island!

Rhode Island Voter Information Center

Register to vote, check your voter registration information, contact your local board of canvassers, view sample ballots for upcoming elections, find out where your polling place is located and find out who your elected officials are.

GoLocalProvidence: Providence Schools’ Million Dollar Bus Battle

Monday, September 12, 2016
Kate Nagle, GoLocal News Editor

Providence schools currently spend over $1.5 million annually on RIPTA bus passes for students - now parents and officials are questioning recent route changes. 

The Providence Public School District (PPSD) pays more than $1.5 million a year for RIPTA passes for high school students living more than two miles from their school  -- and parents and officials are calling out RIPTA for cutting bus routes in the new school year with earlier start times.

Currently, PPSD has a memorandum-of-understanding (MOU) with RIPTA in which it purchases 2,500 monthly passes for students for a non-discounted rate of $70 a month. Now, following route reductions to Classical High School, Providence City Councilman Sam Zurier is submitting a resolution which alleges that RIPTA is in violation of its agreement with PPSD.
Full Story

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Reminder:Council seeks public comment on proposed regulations on educator certification; hearing scheduled for September 22

The Council on Elementary and Secondary Education is seeking public comment on amended regulations intended to provide more flexibility to school districts as well as to eliminate barriers when school districts are seeking qualified teachers for school-district positions. On June 28, the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education approved for public comment for the proposed draft revisions to the Board of Education Regulations governing the certification for educators in Rhode Island.   

The proposed changes would:
  • eliminate the Substitute Permit and the accompanying yearly fee, which would make the process more feasible for those interested in working in districts as substitute teachers. The revenue lost would be at the expense of the General Fund, not RIDE;
  • eliminate the Athletic Coach Permit, which would not lower the standards for coaches being hired by school districts. The Interscholastic League requires that coaches hold valid CPR and First Aid certification and that they complete the Foundations of Coaching and concussion courses. RIDE would require the same process for Athletic Coach Permit eligibility. This change would move the responsibility to the district, ensuring that Athletic Coaches meet the eligibility requirements set by the Interscholastic League, and this change would remove the redundancy of coaches' having to repeat these assurances to RIDE, the Interscholastic League, and the school district; and
  • change the Career and Technical Certification, which would move the current one-year preliminary certificate to a six-year preliminary certificate. This change would allow the Career-Technical Education (CTE) experts and CTE professionals to transition into the field of teaching and work toward full certification over a six-year period of time, without coming to RIDE on a yearly basis. This requirement has been a barrier for many who are moving from their technical fields in to the field of education.
The proposed draft regulations are available for public inspection in person at the RIDE, 255 Westminster Street, Providence, you can request a copy by contacting at or 222-8435.

A public hearing on the proposed draft regulations will take place on Thursday, September 22,at 5:30 p.m., at the Shepard Building (Room 501), 80 Washington St./255 Westminster St., Providence.

Reminder: RIDE accepting comment through September 15 on Secondary School Regulations; 1 more hearing on calendar

The current draft of Secondary School Regulations, which the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education gave preliminary approval to on May 17, are now undergoing the formal process for recording public comment. Public comment will be open through September 15. All interested parties are invited to participate in the public hearings and submit written comments concerning the proposed regulations from through September 15.

You can find draft Secondary School Regulations and other supporting documents can be found at:

We have scheduled the final public hearing on the proposed regulations:
Monday (September 12), at 5:30 p.m., at the University of Rhode Island, Providence Campus, Room 501;, 80 Washington Street/255 Westminster Street
The hearing location is accessible to those with disabilities, and interpreter services for those with hearing impairment will be provided if requested 48 hours before the hearing. Requests for this service can be made in writing or by calling Sonya Barbosa, at 222- 8463 or RI Relay (800) 745-5555.

Written comments may be submitted to Sonya Barbosa, at the R.I. Department of Education, 255 Westminster Street, Providence, R.I. 02903 or at or by fax, to 222-6178.

Summit Neighborhood Association - September 21

Please join the Summit Neighborhood Association Wednesday, September 21st from 6:30-8:00 at Summit Commons.
Guest speakers:
      Diana Burdett, Executive Director of PICA, a private charitable nonprofit which runs the     largest food pantry in RI, provides intensive case management for the homeless. Diana is also part of the Downtown Improvement District
      Linda Katz, co-founder and Policy Director, Economic Progress Institute
      Rabbi Alan Flam, Executive Director Helen Hudson Foundation for Homeless America
      Jeffrey Dana, City Solicitor (City of Providence) (or another representative from the city).
 The event is hosted by Summit Neighborhood Association.
 Neighbor Gayle Gifford will moderate, with assistance from Rep. Aaron Regunberg.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Open Government Summit

The Attorney General's 18 annual  Open Government Summit will take place on Friday, July 29, 2016, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., at the Roger Williams University Law School in Bristol. For more information, click hereAgenda
To reserve your spot at the Summit,  
please contact us by email at  
or by telephone at (401) 274-4400 x2101.

"Our Open Government Summit has become a signature event for public officials and the public to attend and be trained in how to comply with the State's open government laws," said AG Kilmartin.  "I believe the event's turnout is a testament to the commitment by public bodies to ensure they are in compliance, both in the letter and the spirit of the laws.  I am proud of the work this Office does to help promote accountability and transparency in the state, and hope to see you there."
Fully embracing the principle of accessible government, AG Kilmartin is again partnering with ClerkBase to stream the presentation live through the Attorney General's website here .  The live stream will commence at 9:00 a.m. the morning of the Summit. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

WPRI: Study: Low infrastructure spending makes RI an ‘outlier state’

By Ted Nesi
 Published: July 18, 2016, 5:10 pm  |  Updated: July 19, 2016, 11:10 am

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston says Rhode Island is an “outlier” among states because it has historically spent so little on capital projects such as road and bridge repairs.

The study by Ronald Fisher and Riley Sullivan of the Boston Fed’s New England Public Policy Center concludes: “Taking all of the evidence into account, the single outlier state is Rhode Island, which is shown to have had relatively low state and local government capital expenditure by every measure.” (Study: Why Is State and Local Government Capital Spending Lower in the New England States Than in Other U.S. States? p.19)

Related story: Study: RI infrastructure spending consistently among the lowest

Monday, June 13, 2016

6 Best Fact Checking Websites

From TechNorms

6 Fact Checking Websites That Help You Know The Truth

12 things you need to know about education in the state budget

Dan McGowan, Reporter |
 Published: June 9, 2016, 1:48 am  |  Updated: June 9, 2016, 10:49 am

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – From charter school funding to free SAT exams, everyone is buzzing about the education initiatives included in the House version of the state budget.

So what does it mean for your school district?

Here’s an overview.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

NBC 10 I-Team: Affordable housing 'out of reach'

By EMILY VOLZ, NBC 10 NEWS |Monday, May 16th 2016

The "Out of Reach" report released... by the National Low Income Housing Coalition highlights just how many local families are struggling to pay rent.

Rhode Island boasts some of the highest housing costs in the country, and in Massachusetts it's even worse.

The average Rhode Islander, making minimum wage, would need to work 79 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment. That's two full-time jobs.

Full Story

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Promise of Automatic Voter Registration‏

Automatic and Permanent Voter Registration: How It Works [Full Document]
Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law

The ultimate goal of reform is universal voter registration, where every eligible voter is on the rolls, only eligible voters are on the rolls, and the government takes responsibility to build the rolls and automatically updates voters’ records where possible. To achieve this goal, states must take concrete steps to modernize their voter registration systems. A fully modern system has the following features:
  1. Automatic Registration:  State election officials automatically register all eligible citizens who interact with government offices, using reliable information from those government lists. All are given the chance to decline registration — nobody is registered against their will. Many states have already taken one important step in this direction: adopting electronic, paperless, and seamless registration at agencies, and reaping substantial benefits. Automatic registration takes this one step further by shifting the onus of voter registration to the government.
  2. Portability: Once an eligible citizen is on a state’s voter rolls, she remains registered and her records move with her.
  3. Online Access: Voters can register, check, and update their registration records through a secure and accessible online portal.
  4. Safety Net: Eligible citizens can correct errors on the voter rolls or register before and on Election Day.
RI, HP reach deal to finish long-delayed DMV computer project [Full Story]
By Ted Nesi
 Published: November 11, 2015, 6:11 pm  |  Updated: November 11, 2015, 9:20 pm
After nearly 10 years, officials insist $16.5M system will launch in September 2016

NBC 10 I-Team: North Providence judge paid while not on the job | WJAR‏

By PARKER GAVIGAN, NBC 10 NEWS |Thursday, May 12th 2016
NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) — Forty-seven paychecks were paid out over 21 months.
The part-time job was worth $609 a month, $14,016 in total, according to payroll records obtained by the NBC 10 I-Team.

But the employee was no longer on the job.

"I will answer the questions. I will take the blame. I will take the heat, as we take all the 'attaboys' when good things happen," North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi said.

The mayor appointed Louis DeQuattro Jr. to the town's municipal court, as a judge, in August 2011. By the end of March 2014, he stopped hearing cases.

Mark Patinkin: R.I. taxpayers bankroll union training

By Mark Patinkin
Journal Columnist  
 Posted May. 14, 2016 at 8:29 PM

On the surface, many of the state's controversial community grants seem to be for good causes.
Like $18,000 to an AIDS group and $2,800 to the Samaritans.
But an odd one jumped out at me.

For decades, taxpayers have been giving big bucks to an outfit whose main mission is training union leaders...

"The Institute for Labor Studies has always considered the education of union stewards and labor leaders to be its primary mission."

They even offer classes on how to file a grievance, appeal a denied disability pension and lobby on union issues. That last one's odd since nonprofits aren't supposed to be political, but ILSR is so blatant that one of its courses teaches "collecting money for political campaigns."

Full Story

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Mayor and Council contingency accounts

Daniel McGowan
May 15 at 10:25am · Providence, RI
all expenditures from the mayor and council contingency accounts dating back to the 2006-2007 fiscal year...

Mayor's account - 2006-2013

City Council President Account - 2006-2013

City Council Finance Account - 2006-2013

Mayor & Council combined FY 2014

Mayor & Council combined FY 2015

Mayor & Council combined FY 2016

Proposed Ethics Commission Bill

House Bill 8189

The legislation, which was introduced at a press conference with leadership from both chambers at the State House on Tuesday, May 10, seeks to eliminate legislative immunity from Ethics Commission oversight through a constitutional amendment.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

LWV SK/Narraganset forum: Public Record's: A Citizen's Right - broadcasts

On March 29, 2016 the League of Women Voters of South Kingstown/Narragansett held a forum on

Public Record's: A Citizen's Right

The video of the Pubic Records Forum will be aired the following dates/time Statewide:

May 1st/Sunday@2:00pm
  Cox-channel 13
  Verizon-channel 32

May 8th/Sunday@2:00pm
  Cox-channel 13
  Verizon-channel 32