PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Brown University is working on a reboot of its closely watched Rhode Island political polling operation, WPRI.com has learned.
James Morone, a political science professor who took over from Marion Orr this month as director of Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy & American Institutions, confirmed that he is working to hire one or more new staff members to conduct the polls.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A pending lawsuit by a group of retirees over changes to Providence’s pension system could cost the city more than $11 million over 10 years if the retirees prevail, according to data reviewed by the Target 12 Investigators.
All week we’ve been talking about a cold front slowing down as it moved off the southern New England coast today… well, there’s some good news! Instead of the front pestering us with lingering clouds and showers… it looks like it will move just far enough away for the dry air to win out. That means a pretty nice Thursday. It won’t be as hot or as humid with partly sunny skies. There’s just a small chance of a brief shower, but most of us should stay dry through the day. I hope you can get out and enjoy the day.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Journal’s new owner is likely to cut jobs while boosting revenue through a service that helps local small businesses with online marketing, analysts said Wednesday.
There was widespread agreement among analysts Wednesday that GateHouse will probably cut jobs at The Journal once the deal closes, which is expected to happen by Sept. 30. But they said employees who work in back-office operations are at more risk than reporters.
You may have already heard about the cool air moving in next week. It is likely that much of the mid-west, northern plains, and even parts of the northeast will be affected by this cool plunge. However, for our viewing area here in southern New England, the cool-down might not be quite as extreme.
As projected by the European model, here is a look at surface temperatures next Tuesday afternoon/evening.
Image Courtesy accuweather.com
Note the temperatures in the 50s and 60s around the Great Lakes region. That’s pretty cool stuff for a summer afternoon in that part of the country. Also note the 70s showing up for Southern New England. Because of the time zone difference, this actually represents Tuesday evening on the east coast…so 70s on the east coast is really not that unusual.
So why will this affect out neighbors to the west more than us? A lot of it has to do with what is going on high up in the atmosphere. As projected by the European model, here is what is going on at 500 millibars next Tuesday afternoon/evening. (The height of 500 millibars varies by temperature, but it averages several miles above the surface of the earth).
Image Courtesy accuweather.com
The 500mb chart is usually a great way to show large scale weather patterns. If you think of the chart like a mountain range, the ridges often represent the warmer weather and the dips often represent the cooler weather. Notice the major dip from Canada all the way down into the Tennessee Valley…but also notice that New England is more on the edge of the dip than the center of the dip. This suggests that the cold plunge will be more of a “glancing blow” than a direct hit for southern New England.
That being said, we are still almost a week away from the event, and the computer models can sometimes underestimate these cool air invasions. We will keep you posted! -Pete Mangione
There’s a new media giant in town: New Media Investment Group, GateHouse Media’s parent company, is buying The Providence Journal for roughly $46 million. The deal instantly gives GateHouse, a major force in Massachusetts newspapering, a huge foothold in Rhode Island less than a year after the company exited bankruptcy.
Jon Chesto is managing editor of the Boston Business Journal and a former business editor at the Patriot-Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts, which GateHouse owns. A close follower of GateHouse, Chesto wrote a perceptive analysis of the Journal deal Tuesday night. He spoke with WPRI.com on Wednesday about the deal and what it means for the paper’s future. The conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Let’s start with the basics for people down here in Rhode Island. What is New Media Investment Group? What’s its relationship with GateHouse?
New Media Investment Group is a publicly traded company that’s an umbrella group that includes GateHouse and a number of companies that have been acquired by Fortress [Investment Group]. Prior to that it was an affiliate of Fortress that bought the Dow Jones community papers formerly known as Ottaway, and those were sort of the original New Media papers. There have been several papers since.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Democratic candidates for Providence mayor said Tuesday they want to hold the line on property taxes, grow the police force and find a way to make use of the vacant “Superman” building in downtown without completely bailing out its owners.
The comments from City Council President Michael Solomon, Jorge Elorza, Brett Smiley and Chris Young came during a candidate forum held at the Summit Commons on Hillside Avenue Tuesday evening. The two-hour event was hosted by the Summit Neighborhood Association and moderated by Rhode Island College professor Thomas Schmeling.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The gloves are coming off in the Providence mayor’s race. And it has nothing to do with Buddy Cianci.
After Michael Solomon unveiled his public safety plan Wednesday, Democratic primary opponent Brett Smiley criticized Solomon for not doing enough to address crime during his two terms on the City Council.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Journal has been sold to GateHouse Media parent company New Media Investment Group Inc. for approximately $46 million, Journal owner A.H. Belo announced late Tuesday afternoon.
The newspaper was put up for sale in December by A.H. Belo, which bought it in 1997. In addition to GateHouse, which emerged from bankruptcy last year and owns a number of papers in Massachusetts and other states, New Media’s other divisions are Local Media Group Inc. and Propel Marketing.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Scott Laurans, the longtime owner of Eastside Marketplace, told WPRI.com on Tuesday that Ahold USA, the American division of Royal Ahold NV, has bought the local grocery store’s holding company, ESM Inc.
Eastside Marketplace will retain its name and be operated as a separate division of Ahold USA, he said.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Nearly two months after Lincoln Chafee launched his campaign for governor in 2010, he sat in the Central Falls High School auditorium and watched as the city’s school board called out the names of 93 teachers, specialists and guidance counselors. All of them were fired.
Chafee still recalls the tears shed by students as they watched their teachers lose their jobs and the angry union protesters who loudly opposed the board’s decision, one that made the one-square-mile city a national battleground over school reform on that February evening. He promised himself things would be different if he won the state’s top job.
Now, as he enters the final months of his one and only term as governor of Rhode Island, Chafee says he has put a halt to the “divisive labor warfare” he inherited thanks to compromises on both sides. And while a large achievement gap between poor and affluent students still exists, Chafee argues the investments he’s made in education have put the state on a path toward producing better outcomes.
The system has become better organized with thunderstorms organizing around the center of circulation. TD #2 is expected to continue to move west-northwestward with minimal development. The National Hurricane Center said that it will be moving over an area of unfavorable water temperatures in the next 2 days. Also, drier air near the Caribbean Sea will also hinder its development. Still, it’s a system to watch closely in the coming days.
In the central Atlantic Ocean, there is an area of low pressure which could soon become the next tropical storm. If sustained winds strengthen to at least 39mph, it would be named Bertha. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said there is a 70% chance that this area becomes a tropical depression. Conditions are favorable for strengthening in the next couple of days.
It’s about 1250miles east of the Caribbean. It’s days away from affecting any land, but it is certainly something to watch as it continues to move westward.
The visible satellite image shows a well defined circulation, and in my opinion, it is probably already a tropical depression and close to a tropical storm. There are no plans for Hurricane Hunter aircraft to investigate this area (it’s still pretty far away). Nonetheless, the National Hurricane Center is advising people in the eastern Caribbean to monitor the situation closely.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Could Clay Pell win the Democratic nomination for governor on Sept. 9?
No small number of people have scoffed at that suggestion. But with 50 days to go before the primary – and more than $1 million in Pell TV ads saturating the airwaves – there’s reason to think the 32-year-old political newcomer has a real, if still unlikely, shot at victory.
Happy Saturday! Here’s another edition of my weekend column here on WPRI.com – as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow @tednesi on Twitter.
1. The Democratic lieutenant-governor primary between Frank Ferri, Dan McKee and Ralph Mollis isn’t exactly the hottest race in town, but it’s still a feisty fight. And it could matter: as Tim White points out, a lieutenant governor became governor 22 times between 2000 and 2010 alone. The three candidates met Friday for the second of this month’s pre-primary debates on Newsmakers to make their pitch for the votes – and attention – of viewers at home. The conventional wisdom has Mollis as the frontrunner in the race, and the debate will reinforce that thinking. The two-term secretary of state stayed calm and collected throughout, and kept his cool in the face of a blistering series of attacks on his record by McKee. The man had done his homework. McKee was on the offensive throughout the debate, jabbing Mollis – and occasionally Ferri too – about everything from 38 Studios to North Providence’s bond rating; he also spoke passionately about education policy. Ferri, a latecomer to the race, was understandably nervous and sometimes spoke haltingly in his first major debate with the other two. He eschewed attacks – other than one on Don Carcieri – and drew clear distinctions on issues such as health care, marijuana and immigration that could play well with progressives. Right now, though, it looks like Rhode Island could be in for a rematch between Mollis and Republican Catherine Taylor.
2. Frank Ferri has represented Warwick in the Rhode Island House since 2007, and he made some interesting comments during the debate when he expressed regret about his vote for the 2011 pension law championed by Gina Raimondo. “When we were presented with a pension reform, we thought we had the best offer on the table. We thought that was the best that we could get,” he said. “I know I worked hard on trying to lower the [retirement] age and a little more consideration to COLAs. But now we learn – after the court ordered that they go back into negotiations – there was a better deal. So knowing that there was a better deal, knowing now that not everybody that should have been at the table was at the table, I’m not sure how I would have voted back then.” In fact, he continued: “Now that I know there was a better deal for the workers I probably would have not voted for it back then.”
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The three Democratic candidates for Rhode Island lieutenant governor aggressively defended the office they’re seeking Friday, arguing that voters statewide should elect the person who is first in line to take over if the governor is unable to complete his term.
Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee and state Rep. Frank Ferri also sparred over 38 Studios, corruption and education while lobbing criticism at one another regarding their respective tenures in public office, during a fiery debate on a special edition of WPRI 12′s Newsmakers.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – His message: “Vote for me and we’ll put Providence into receivership.”
It’s not the most conventional campaign slogan, but Republican mayoral candidate Daniel Harrop claims it’s the only cure for a city facing a massive unfunded pension liability, crippling tax rates and a crumbling infrastructure because of “Buddy Cianci’s incompetence and Democratic inaction.”
Good Evening from chief meteorologist Tony R Petrarca…
Still some uncertainty with Sunday’s Forecast. We continue to see indications of an offshore storm passing south of our area. Our forecast so far has been for dry weather but with extra clouds. Some new model data has been trending the rain closer to us. We will wait for more data overnight, but should this trend continue, we will need to lean more towards a wetter Sunday….stay tuned for updates
Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell to 7.9% in June, the lowest level in six years, and employers have added nearly 6,000 jobs since January. But not all industries have fared equally well in the recovery.
On the positive side, employment in the arts/entertainment/recreation industry has jumped by 21% since December 2006, the last month before the downturn began in Rhode Island, to 9,400. For raw jobs added, the leader is health care/social assistance, which has added 5,300 positions since the end of 2006.
On the negative side, two historically blue-collar occupations – construction and manufacturing – continue to struggle. Construction employment is still down by an eye-watering 27% compared with December 2006; there were 6,300 fewer people working in construction in June compared with back then. In raw numbers, the manufacturing sector has been hardest hit, down by 10,900 jobs since the end of 2006.
The public sector hasn’t been immune, either: local government employment is down 11% since 2006.
Here’s a look at how employment changed in each industry from December 2006 to June 2014 as defined and tracked by the R.I. Department of Labor and Training. They are in order from most jobs added (health/social assistance) on the left to most jobs lost (manufacturing) on the right:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Recipients of special tax breaks in Rhode Island’s capital city would be required to pay employees at least 125% of the state’s minimum wage, under an ordinance set to be introduced at a City Council meeting Thursday night.
Rhode Island’s minimum wage will grow to $9 an hour beginning Jan. 1, meaning developers or businesses seeking tax stabilization agreements from the city would be required to pay workers at least $11.25 to qualify for a reduced tax rate, according to City Councilman John Igliozzi. Wages would increase as the minimum wage goes up.
Good Evening from chief meteorologist Tony Petrarca…
Latest radar continues to show heaviest rain and thunder offshore and moving away. Flash flood watch is canceled in Rhode Island….it will expire in southeast Massachusetts at 8pm…Despite teh heaviest rain moving away..there is still the chance of a few showers this evening….major improvements start Thursday
Good Afternoon from chief meteorologist Tony Petrarca..
Still tracking rain offshore that continues to move into our area…but the heaviest of rain is still aimed towards southeastern Massachusetts from roughly Newport to New Bedford where flooding was occuring earlier. Still looks like the bulk of the rain will move away by this evening as drier, less humid air arrives Tonight. Still the chance of brief flash flooding, but “isolated “…..not all areas will see street flooding. Stay tuned to Eyewitness News startingf at 5pm….we will show you some of Today’s minor to moderate flooding along with lightning damage which knocked down some large trees……Tony Petrarca
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence mayoral candidate Brett Smiley picked up his first significant endorsement outside of the city’s East Side Wednesday, winning the support of State Rep. Ray Hull, who represents part of the vote-rich 5th ward in Mount Pleasant and Elmhurst.
Flash Flood warning has been issued for parts of RI and SE MA for much of RI and into parts of Bristol County in MA. A Flash flood warning means that flash flooding is occuring or imminent. This line of strong thunderstorms has brought torrential rainfall with rates of 2-3″/hr. Street and poor drainage flooding is likely along with some smaller stream flooding.