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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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