PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s top lawmakers unveiled a proposed state budget Tuesday evening that would boost funding for education significantly without increasing broad-based taxes or fees, though they rejected a proposal by Gov. Lincoln Chafee to lower the corporate tax. It passed the House Finance Committee 12-0.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – City officials are calling on residents to assist police as they investigate a recent rash of shootings across several neighborhoods – including the one that took the life of a young girl over the weekend.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Officials in Rhode Island’s capital city are accusing the court-appointed receiver of Providence’s largest public welfare agency of overbilling for his services, WPRI.com has learned.
What an evening… from stormy skies to vibrant rainbows we had a changing and beautiful show in southern New England at the end of the day Monday… we were lucky that most of the thunderstorms were dying out as the made their way into southeastern New England and we missed the damaging winds and hail that CT and central MA had. Instead, we were graced with gorgeous double rainbows that were visible for most of our area… and the pictures flew in to WPRI. One of my favorites was this shot from Erin Stevens of the rainbow over Providence.
from Erin Stevens
We have a gallery of rainbow photos on our website here.
There will be a cold front slowly sliding across southern New England again today that will lead to another round of showers and thunderstorms… mostly between 4-8pm. With extra clouds and cooler temperatures the risk of widespread severe storms is lower that yesterday… however, there could be some isolated strong storms with heavy rain and dangerous lightning. As the front slides south the risk of showers will come to an end through the night with lingering clouds. Behind the front will come a stretch of refreshing air with low humidity and comfortable temperatures for Wednesday into Friday.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Wall Street gave Rhode Island a sharp rebuke Monday as Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its rating on the bonds sold to benefit Curt Schilling’s defunct 38 Studios, citing a growing resistance among lawmakers toward paying back the bondholders.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is swinging his support behind Treasurer Gina Raimondo as she prepares to run for governor, three years after the billionaire leader backed incumbent Gov. Lincoln Chafee, because of his admiration for her as well as his differences with Chafee.
East Side Monthly’s Steve Triedman has a great story in the latest edition about an apparent boom in retail on the East Side of Providence – a nice antidote to the endless drumbeat of bad news about the capital city’s economy.
A sample of Triedman’s most interesting nuggets:
There are over 400 stores, restaurants and coffee shops to choose from, with more on the way. Retail occupancy on the East Side is well above the national rate of 93%. …
An unnamed national retailer is close to inking a deal on the recently vacated Gabrielle store in Wayland Square. …
On North Main Street, a major fitness chain is opening a 40,000 SF facility in the old Sears building, which has been partially occupied or vacant for 15 years. The old Ethan Allen store has been demolished and the rumor mill has narrowed the new tenant down to either a CVS, auto parts store or a bank. The Shaw’s Plaza, below North Main Street, which makes up the majority of the vacant retail space on the East Side, has been sold to Ocean State Job Lot, which is a major draw and will likely change the complexion of the plaza.
Slate’s Matt Yglesias frequently writes that we are witnessing “the end of retail” in America, but the situation on the East Side suggests we may be seeing the end – or at least the decline – of big-box stores; maybe the right smaller establishments located in dense urban environments can still thrive.
June has been a very wet month! Much of it came from the remnants of Andrea which dumped over 4 inches of rain on the Capital City. This was followed by a couple of big rain storms within the next week.
The all-time Junerecord for Providence recorded rainfall is 11.08 inches. This was set in 1982. So far this month we have received 8.99 inches of rain. This means we are just over 2 inches of rain away from beating the June record! Keep in mind at the time of this blog post, it is only June 16.
You have heard the expression “records are meant to be broken”, but it might not be such a bad thing if we don’t break this one. The water levels for the Pawtuxet River and Pawcatuck River are slowly sinking again, but at the time of this writing they are still above flood stage. We could use another week without any major rainstorms to give the rivers more breathing room. Keep in mind, even gardens and crops can be negatively affected by too much rain.
Here is the recent observation and forecast for the Pawtuxet River. The blue line represents where the river levels have actually been, and the purple line is a forecast for future river levels. Notice how the forecast brings it below flood stage (9 feet) by Monday Morning.
The next chance of getting a decent soaking would be on Tuesday. At this point, it does not look like we will get enough to cause major river problems. However, if we end up getting more rain than I am currently anticipating, that purple “forecast” line would have to be adjusted. Stay tuned. -Pete Mangione
Welcome to another edition of my weekend column – as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to email@example.com. For quick hits all week long, follow me on Twitter: @tednesi.
1. You probably haven’t heard much about what may be Rhode Island’s biggest policy undertaking this year: the local rollout of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In a basement office, a small staff of true believers and outside consultants led by Christine Ferguson are working around the clock to set up the state’s new health insurance exchange – the marketplace where individuals and small businesses can buy coverage under the law – in time for enrollment to start Oct. 1. The exchange’s insurance costs should be finalized before mid-July, with announcements about its brand name and new call center, plus a big marketing push, to follow. (Policymakers also need to figure out how to fund the exchange’s operating costs locally once federal money runs out in 2015.) The Chafee administration is focusing more on business users than some states; unlike the federal government, Rhode Island’s exchange will let workers whose employers use the new Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) buy any insurance plan they want with their premium money. Ferguson is envisioning more than an Expedia for insurance – she wants the exchange to drive changes in how health care gets delivered in Rhode Island, with an eye on reducing costs and improving quality. The stakes are high: health care costs are strangling small businesses in Rhode Island, as elsewhere, yet health care also has been one of the only sectors of the state’s economy adding jobs.
2. Here’s something that may surprise you: Rhode Island’s economy grew faster than the New England average last year, expanding 1.4% to $43.8 billion, after barely treading water in 2011. The only state in the region that performed better was Massachusetts (up 2.2%), while the one often held up as a model for Rhode Island to emulate – New Hampshire – managed to grow just 0.5%. (Connecticut’s economy actually shrank.) Some of the outperformance, then, is the soft bigotry of low expectations for growth in New England: Rhode Island’s 1.4% expansion only placed 34th nationally. Also interesting is which three sectors were responsible for much of Rhode Island’s 2012 growth: real estate, finance and wholesale trade. Notably – and perhaps ominously – the biggest drag on the state economy was actually health care and social assistance, which had been growing steadily in recent years. Rhode Island’s real GDP was $41,678 per capita last year, just below the national average.
Even though the rain has ended an additional slight rise in water levels will continue to due runnoff. While most rivers will experience “minor” flooding, the Pawtuxet will range a flood range as “Moderate” Tonight into Saturday. Stay tuned for updates
THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE BLACKSTONE RIVER AT WOONSOCKET. * FROM THIS EVENING TO SATURDAY MORNING…OR UNTIL THE WARNING IS CANCELLED. * AT 4:16 PM FRIDAY THE STAGE WAS 8.4 FEET. * FLOOD STAGE IS 9.0 FEET. * MINOR FLOODING IS FORECAST. * FORECAST…THE RIVER WILL RISE ABOVE FLOOD STAGE BY TONIGHT AND CONTINUE TO RISE TO NEAR 9.1 FEET AFTER MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. THE RIVER WILL FALL BELOW FLOOD STAGE BY EARLY TOMORROW. * IMPACT…AT 9.0 FEET…FLOODING MAY BEGIN TO AFFECT THE LOWER PARKING AREA TO THE ALBION MILL APARTMENTS. LOWER LYING RESIDENTIAL AREAS ALONG THE RHODE ISLAND AND MASSACHUSETTS LINE…INCLUDING THE LOWER LEVEL OF THE RIVER ISLAND CONDOMINIUMS IN WOONSOCKET…MAY BEGIN TO EXPERIENCE FLOODING. BUSINESSES ALONG THE RIVER SHOULD TAKE THE NECESSARY ACTIONS TO PROTECT PROPERTY.
THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE PAWTUXET RIVER AT CRANSTON. * UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE…OR UNTIL THE WARNING IS CANCELLED. * AT 3:45 PM FRIDAY THE STAGE WAS 11.0 FEET. * FLOOD STAGE IS 9.0 FEET. * MODERATE FLOODING IS OCCURRING AND MODERATE FLOODING IS FORECAST. * FORECAST…THE RIVER WILL CONTINUE RISING TO NEAR 11.2 FEET AFTER MIDNIGHT TONIGHT THEN BEGIN FALLING ON SUNDAY BUT STILL REMAIN ABOVE FLOOD STAGE. * IMPACT…AT 11.0 FEET…STRUCTURES AND HOMES ARE IMPACTED IN LOW LYING SECTIONS OF WARWICK. AFFECTED AREAS INCLUDE HOMES AND BUSINESSES ON WELLINGTON AVENUE AND AVERY ROAD IN CRANSTON…AS WELL AS PIONEER AVENUE…BELLOWS STREET…VENTURI AVENUE AND A PORTION OF RIVER STREET IN WARWICK.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said the state recommended that changes be made at the Birch Vocational School in Providence a year before a federal investigation found it was operating a so-called “sheltered workshop” for developmentally disabled students.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – When Rhode Island stops paying for the New England Common Assessment Program test in 2017, it will have spent more than $48 million over the course of 14 years on the controversial exam that is now tied to a high school diploma, WPRI.com has learned.
Kennedy isn’t the first Rhode Island politician to appear on Maher’s show: Lincoln Chafee was a guest on the program in October 2006 and again in October 2009, shortly before he kicked off his run for governor. (He got paid less than $1,000 for the ’09 spot.)
The revelation isn’t a big surprise. Brown announced Sept. 12 – the day after the Benghazi attack, as it happens - that Widmer would become a senior adviser to Clinton, who was then finishing up as secretary of state. He is continuing at Brown as a special assistant to President Christina Paxson, too.
Widmer’s ties to Rhode Island are longstanding; his father, Eric Widmer, was on the Brown faculty and served as dean of students for a time. The younger Widmer has also quietly aided Lincoln Chafee on some of the governor’s key speeches.
With more rain Tonight, rivers and streams continue to rise. However any flooding is expected to be minor to boderline moderate. Ofcourse, there will always be comparisons to the historic floods of 2010. This current flood threat is no where close to being a repeat of 2010. In this current situation, the forecast for the Pawtuxet is 1-2 feet above floodstage. Back in 2010 it was a staggering 12 feet above flood stage, making it one of the worst floods in 100 years. Bottomline, history will not repeat itself. Nonetheless even minor flooding is still too much water . Low lying residents along the Pawtuxet, Pawcatuck and other rivers should monitor weather forecasts next 24 hours.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – More than 85% of the fines issued for illegal dumping, uncontained trash and excessive sidewalk debris in the city of Providence since July 2011 have gone unpaid, WPRI.com has learned.
This rain storm has basically turned into 2 different rounds. Round one came through early this afternoon and is now (as of 3PM) starting to exit our area. Round 2 will arrive this evening and overnight. Here is how the timing breaks down:
THIS AFTERNOON: Mostly rain free, a few showers possible.
EVENING COMMUTE (5-8PM): A few showers, downpours, or thunderstorms are possible but we may end up avoiding any major flooding problems on the roads.
8PM to 12AM: More widespread rain with the chance of showers and thunderstorms. Some street flooding is possible.
Friday 12AM to 8AM: Rain, heavy at times, with gusty winds and thunderstorms possible. Some street flooding is possible.
Rest of Friday: Rain will clear out, but rivers may rise leading to the potential of additional flooding.
SATURDAY: Beautiful weather, but rising rivers will still have to be watched for potential flooding.
On the satellite picture below, you can almost see the 2 “rounds” of the storm. Round 1 is the blob sitting in eastern New England, Round 2 is moving towards the mid-Atlantic. -Pete Mangione
That we’re now more inclined to question the national security state should not surprise anyone. “In the period immediately after the attacks of 9/11, the American people were willing to give the government broad power to keep them safe,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), one of Congress’s most thoughtful voices on national security, said in an interview. “Now, more than a decade later, it’s entirely appropriate that Americans are asking about the balance between security and privacy.”
Reed believes that we still need extensive surveillance programs. But he was also in the minority last December in supporting an earlier version of the Merkley proposal on the FISA court decisions. He also favored another amendment, proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), that would have required the director of national intelligence to submit a report to Congress and the public on the impact of the revised FISA law on the privacy of U.S. citizens.
This is a rare issue that divides Reed and his junior colleague, Sheldon Whitehouse.
Reed voted yes but Whitehouse voted no on the two measures from December that Dionne references – the Merkley amendment to disclose legal justification for surveillance and the Wyden amendment to require a privacy report. As I wrote in Saturday’s column, Whitehouse’s views may relate to his past service on the Intelligence Committee, his time in law enforcement and his general trust in the federal government.
Our parade of storms continues with another round of soaking rain on the way for today into Friday. We’re getting used to–and sick of this–another FLOOD WATCH issued for all of RI and most of SE MA through Saturday morning.
It’s low pressure moving our way that will be responsible for rain, gusty winds and unseasonably chilly temperatures. In fact, our high temperatures will be held in the 60s for the next 2 days…unseasonably chilly for mid-June. Rainfall totals again look hefty… especially considering we’ve already picked up more than 7″ this month. With saturated grounds and rivers and streams swollen it won’t take much to lead to some street, poor drainage, basement and river and stream flooding. Here’s what the RPM model is printing this morning out for rainfall from this storm system:
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few areas near 4″. Some of our local rivers–the Pawtuxet and Pawcatuck Rivers–continue to see minor flooding this morning, even before this latest rainfall, so they are expected to see additional minor flooding–perhaps moderate flooding for the Pawtuxet depending on how much rain falls over Cranston and Warwick.
The other component of this storm will be the gusty northeast winds tonight. They’ll strengthen to 20-25mph with a few gusts to 35-45mph. Gusty winds will die down on Friday, with most of the showers tapering off through the afternoon.
Please stay tuned to updates and we continue to track this system.
This incredible wet June weather pattern continues. Storm system on Thursday will bring widespread heavy rain, starting Thursday afternoon and night. It will taper to lighter showers by Friday morning (Weekend will be nice). Ofcourse the ground remains very saturated from all the rain since last Friday. Rivers remain high too. Expecting rainfall totals with this next storm to range from 1 to 3″ by Friday morning. This will more than likely create some street and urban flooding in those areas with “poor drainage” Moderate flooding will occur on some rivers by late Thursday Night iinto Friday morning. A Flood Watch has been issued again starting Thursday afternoon.
Below is a rain total forecast from one of our high resolution models called the RPM. It is indicating 1-3″ of rain. Based on data we have been looking at here in the Pinpoint Weather Center, we agree with this model output.
Stay tuned for updates over the next few days. Thanks for logging on to wpri.com weather blog
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The organization that oversees the state’s pension system is considering seeking criminal or civil action against six disabled retirees that were overpaid $559,000 by the state, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo said Tuesday.
One of the goals of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was to extend health coverage to uninsured Americans without disrupting the current system of employer-based insurance and safety-net programs. That means Rhode Island will have a patchwork of health coverage provisions starting on Jan. 1, 2014, when the law’s major policies take effect – and what you use will depend on how much you make annually.
Obamacare will largely use two programs – Medicaid, the long-established state-federal health program for the poor, and the new Health Benefits Exchanges, which I wrote about Monday – to offer subsidized coverage to most Americans who make less than 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL). This chart from a recent RIPEC study offers the clearest breakdown of who’ll qualify for what coverage in Rhode Island on Jan. 1:
(“HBE” stands for the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange, which is being created by Obamacare and will offer subsidies for insurance to roughly 83,000 people. “CHIP” is the federal-state Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers uninsured children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid.)
Of course, nobody gets paid in FPL percentages – they get paid in dollars. To help you match the chart’s top row with actual wages, here’s the 2013 federal poverty level standards, also from RIPEC:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The high school principal at the center of a months-long federal investigation into the violation of disabled students’ civil rights was on the cusp of being fired in April before an outpouring of support saved his job.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Providence school that caters to developmentally disabled students allegedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act for years by making students work manual labor for little or no pay and acting as a “pipeline” to a similar program once they graduated, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
Tony Petrarca and I have been monitoring some storms moving across Connecticut this afternoon. We’ve been seeing some occasional low-level rotation with these storms. While the risk is small, there is the chance for a t’storm producing a funnel cloud or brief tornado this evening. In fact, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK have put Eastern CT and Rhode Island in an area of elevated risk of a tornado this evening. We encourage you to be alert this evening!
These storms will likely bring at the minimum some damaging winds, torrential rain, frequent lightning and hail. -T.J.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee loves infrastructure – but he’s not ready to support Providence Mayor Angel Taveras’s ambitious request for $39 million in federal money to build a streetcar line in the city.
“The streetcar project is a promising concept but not ready to go,” Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger told WPRI.com on Tuesday.
Taveras has asked for $39 million from the federal government to fund a $114-million streetcar system in the capital. The grant would come from the competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, which has $474 million to hand out nationwide this year – meaning Providence is seeking about 8% of the national pot.
Chafee, however, wants a different Rhode Island proposal to win TIGER money this year: the state’s request for $10 million to build new bypass roads around the Apponaug Business District in Warwick, where Chafee was mayor from 1993 to 1999. Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian is also chairman of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, which is supposed to manage Providence’s proposed streetcar system.