February, 2012

NP mayor’s memo tells DPW workers which bathrooms to use

February 24th, 2012 at 5:49 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – You would think it was a joke if someone didn’t tell you it was real.

Allow me: it’s real.

In a memo dated Feb. 22, the North Providence Department of Public Works director instructed his employees to find the nearest and most convenient bathroom, rather than drive all the way back to the DPW’s headquarters to take care of business.

Here is the order, in full:

Per the Mayor, any DPW Employee needing to make a Rest Room Stop in the course of their daily assigned duties shall use the facilities at the nearest Fire Station in town or any venue with public rest rooms available rather than returning to the DPW facility.

Read the rest of this story »

Municipal bankruptcy bustin’ out all over, California edition

February 24th, 2012 at 1:13 pm by under Nesi's Notes

If it’s any consultation to Providence, the city isn’t alone in weighing a Chapter 9 filing, Bloomberg reports:

The City Council of Stockton, California, will be asked to vote next week to default on bonds and take the first steps toward bankruptcy, according to a person familiar with the council’s agenda.

City Manager Bob Deis has told council members that he intends to put an item on their agenda for a Feb. 28 meeting that would ask them to approve mediation with creditors as the first step required under a new state law before the city can seek bankruptcy ….

Deis also will ask the council to agree to stop making payments on municipal bonds beginning March 1, to suspend cash payouts to employees for unused vacation and sick leave, and to begin an investigation into the causes of the city’s fiscal crisis ….

Stockton, an agricultural center of about 292,000, is fighting to avert California’s biggest bankruptcy since Vallejo in 2008. The city has shrunk its payroll, including a quarter of the roughly 425-member police force. Twice since 2010 it has declared a state of fiscal emergency to force cuts on public employees.

• Related: Prof: Providence retirees may face 73% haircut in bankruptcy (Feb. 22)

US Supreme Court Justice Sheldon Whitehouse? Biden likes it

February 24th, 2012 at 11:46 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

As I mentioned on Twitter, the buzz after Vice President Biden’s fundraiser last night was about the possibility of U.S. Sheldon Whitehouse being elevated to the nation’s highest court.

During his lengthy stump speech Thursday night Biden told those at the fundraiser “he had approached Whitehouse to be a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court,” according to a pool report.

Whitehouse declined, saying he had a “commitment to the people of Rhode Island,” Biden said.

It’s not the first time Whitehouse’s name has been floated for the high court – both The Washington Post and The Huffington Post suggested him when Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010. But Biden’s disclosure that he actually approached Whitehouse about the job certainly qualifies as news.

• Related: Chafee endorses ex-rival Whitehouse as Biltmore boots press for Biden (Feb. 23)

Why Brown University graduates go take jobs on Wall Street

February 24th, 2012 at 9:45 am by under Nesi's Notes

In my Saturday column (you read it, right?) I highlighted a recent Ezra Klein piece that argued Wall Street, Teach for America, the law and management consulting are all “taking advantage of the weakness of liberal arts education” to recruit Ivy League Millennials into their professions.

Well, not one but two of Klein’s readers who described themselves as Brown University graduates emailed him after the piece was published and made points he thought were worth follow-up posts of their own. Here’s the first response:

I’ve seen these stats thrown around a lot, but I would love it if someone would investigate what percent of all grads go into finance — not just those who have a job before graduation!

I’m sure mine is a skewed sample, but the majority of people I knew at Brown did not have a job lined up at graduation. I suspect those going into finance are far more likely to have that settled, considering the very ordered, systematic recruitment process of big finance (and consulting) companies. Those going into, say, journalism, are more likely to figure that out in the months following graduation.

So the story here could just as well be: College grads going into finance figure it out earlier.

That’s possible, though I remember frantically and unfruitfully searching for journalism jobs throughout the second semester of my senior year. Here’s the second response:

I graduated from Brown last year and jumped right into law school back home after a couple of internships here and there over the summers. I quickly became disillusioned when I learned about the starting salaries in every other industry. It just never made mathematical sense for me to choose a career pathway that wasn’t going to help me reap the returns of my family’s financial investment, at least in the near future.Every Brown grad feels the need to try out consulting (Bain takes like apps from one of every three or four graduating seniors), whilst the rest of us will most definitely shoot our resume over to Goldman and Morgan Stanley even if we spent our college lives condemning Wall Street (as Brown kids are naturally inclined to do, despite the fact our President was on GS’s Board of Directors). All my friends are in investment banks/consulting/law/medicine.

Having said that, I think you might be reading TFA the wrong way. As much as I think there is something great about the scheme, I think TFA is not very different from banking. While it doesn’t have such great returns early, I honestly feel that TFA is just a way for most talented college grads to try to grab hold of something that’ll improve their chances of making bank in the future. I might be totally wrong, and I’m sure there are some wonderful people in TFA, but I wouldn’t say they were all motivated by the fact that it’s a more “socially-responsible” choice. Leaving this here for your perusal: http://www.laprogressive.com/teach-america/

I know there are a number of current and former Brown students among the regular readers here – what do you think?

Wintry Mix Winding Down this Morning

February 24th, 2012 at 7:36 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

After a burst of heavy snow, sleet and rain early this morning the precipitation will both taper off and transition to all rain as the morning continues.  Accumulations have been between a slushy coating to 1″ for most areas, but we have seen some isolated 2-3″ totals.  Rain, drizzle and raw conditions expected to continue this afternoon, evening and first part of tonight before dry skies and strong winds take over after midnight.  Dry and windy Saturday with a wind advisory in effect all day for west-northwest gusts up to 45mph.

Census: RI lags rest of US in HS diplomas, less for bachelor’s

February 24th, 2012 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Rhode Island is near the bottom of the list when it comes to how many residents finished high school, according to new Census data released Thursday.

The Census reported 83.5% of Rhode Islanders had a high school diploma in 2010, which ranked ninth from the bottom among the 50 states. Wyoming was No. 1 at 92.3% and Massachusetts ranked 18th at 89.1%. California and Texas tied for last place at 80.7%.

The share of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 30.2% in Rhode Island, which ranked 13th. Massachusetts was No. 1, with 39% of residents holding a bachelor’s or more. West Virginia was last at 17.5%.

Educational attainment is even lower across the broader Providence metropolitan area, which includes 1.6 million residents in Rhode Island and Bristol County, Mass.

The Census said 82.6% of Providence area residents were high school graduates in 2010, which was fifth from the bottom among the nation’s 50 most populous metropolitan areas. But 28.5% of the region’s residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher, which ranked 33rd. The Boston area ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.

(map: U.S. Census Bureau)

Wet Snow Early Friday Morning…

February 23rd, 2012 at 11:13 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

New data in…going with coating to 1 inch inland….1-2 far Northwest corner of  RI



Big Changes Next 18-24 Hours

February 23rd, 2012 at 6:50 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Good Evening…

After getting close to 60 degrees this afternoon, cooler to colder air will move in overnight along with some moisture from the Midwest. The net result will be some wet snow and sleet arriving after 3AM.  I do expected a transition to all rain by 8am Friday. As far as accumulations….little if any. Right now just a slushy coating on non paved surfaces (car tops, grassy areas, decks), mostly in our inland suburbs north and west of Providence.  Friday looks like a raw cool wet day with periods of rain and drizzzle.

If you have travel plans along and north of the Mass Pike, better chances for several inches of snow in the higher elevations there.

Tony Petrarca

Chafee endorses ex-rival Whitehouse as top Dems await Biden

February 23rd, 2012 at 6:13 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Apparently Gov. Lincoln Chafee doesn’t hold a grudge.

Chafee told reporters on Thursday night he will support the re-election bid of U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the man who took his Senate seat in a hard-fought 2006 election battle.

“Six years is a long time in some ways,” Chafee said outside the Providence Biltmore hotel as he prepared to head inside for a Whitehouse fundraiser headlined by Vice President Joe Biden. “Senator Whitehouse has been an ally on issues I care about.”

Whitehouse arrived a short time later and said he was pleased to have Chafee’s support, arguing it demonstrates the Republican Party has moved “far to the right” since the governor’s days in the GOP. Asked if he now regretted defeating Chafee in 2006, Whitehouse shot a look and replied: “Not quite.”


Analysis: Why Chafee can find solace in the new Brown U. poll

February 23rd, 2012 at 2:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The headline numbers in the new Brown University poll are bad – really bad – for Congressman Cicilline and Governor Chafee. But there are other ways to analyze the results that look slightly better, though still pretty bad, for the two incumbents.

Political practitioners have long complained about “the science” of surveys that generate job approval ratings by asking voters to rate an official’s job performance as either “excellent,” “good,” “fair”/”only fair” or “poor.” Their argument is that while “only fair” isn’t a huge vote of confidence, it’s not necessarily a sign of out-and-out disapproval, either.

Evidently, Brown disagrees – the university lumps together “excellent” and “good” to create the metric it calls an approval rating. But by digging into the detailed breakdown of the poll, we can take another look at the numbers and what they say about local leaders’ standing among voters.

One way to do that is to strip out three of the four ratings and just look at the share of voters who describe each politician’s job performance as “poor,” which is clearly negative. While that probably understates the level of disapproval, perhaps Chafee (45%) and Cicilline (43%) can take solace that a majority don’t think they’re doing a poor job:


Pawtucket panel plans 6-week sprint to solve pension problem

February 23rd, 2012 at 12:32 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Pawtucket joined the pension parade on Thursday as Mayor Don Grebien’s new ad hoc panel said it would deliver recommendations for fixing the city’s underfunded pension and retiree health plans by April.

“It’s bad,” former Auditor General Ernie Almonte, who is chairing the committee, said at its first meeting this morning. “It’s a bad situation, and everyone has to give something up.” The group will likely draft a report outlining the situation and suggesting potential solutions.

Almonte said he wants to ensure Pawtucket avoids the “rather disgusting” outcome in Central Falls, where pension were cut up to 55% after the city declared bankruptcy. ”There should have been a better plan on how to deal with that,” he said. “But there should have a plan 20 years ago on having the money that wasn’t there.”

“Many of our urban areas are on the brink of bankruptcy,” warned Gary Sasse, another panel member, who was former Gov. Don Carcieri’s director of administration.


Cicilline, Chafee approval ratings now worse than Nixon in 1974

February 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Analysis: Poll’s possible silver lining for Chafee

Hard as it is to imagine, Congressman David Cicilline and Gov. Lincoln Chafee have managed to lose even more public support.

Cicilline’s job approval rating has sunk to just 15% among all Rhode Island voters, down from 24% in December, according to a new Brown University poll released Thursday morning. Chafee’s approval rating isn’t much higher at 22%, down from 27%.

To put those numbers in perspective, President Richard Nixon’s approval rating was 24% a week before he resigned over Watergate in 1974. Slightly more voters rated Chafee’s job performance as poor (45%) than said so about Cicilline’s (43%).

Cicilline’s successor, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, is the most popular elected official in Rhode Island based on Brown’s polling. The mayor’s statewide job approval rating is up to 60%. Treasurer Gina Raimondo comes next with 58% approving of her job performance.


Poll: Liberals, young people like RI; most Americans not sure

February 23rd, 2012 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Most Americans don’t have an opinion about Rhode Island, but those who do are more likely to have a good impression than a bad one, a new poll shows.

The Public Policy Polling survey found 26% of Americans have a favorable view of Rhode Island, while 16% have an unfavorable view, for a net positive rating of 10 points. Hawaii was most popular by far (54% favorable) and California the least-liked (44% unfavorable). Massachusetts was 35% favorable and 27% unfavorable.

More than half of those polled – 58% – said they weren’t sure what they thought about Rhode Island, tying it with Kansas and Idaho as one of the country’s most unknown states. Only West Virginia (62%) and Nebraska (60%) had higher shares without opinions.

The automated telephone survey of 700 U.S. voters was conducted Oct. 7 to 10 by PPP, a Democratic-affiliated firm in Raleigh, N.C. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. It was one of four polls conducted to get favorability ratings for all 50 states.


Warm Front Passage Friday..Perhaps Not

February 22nd, 2012 at 10:33 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Good Evening..

Significant changes to forecast  Late Thursday Night Thru Friday Morning…Colder

While it looks like we will get one more very mild day on Thursday, some changes in store for Friday. Initially it looked like a warm front would pass thru by early Friday afternoon producing a mild southwest breeze along with hazy sunshine. That frontal passage may not happen now until evening,  meaning we will keep a damp raw northeast breeze instead...I have lowered Friday’s temps into the mid to upper 40s. Infact the mildest part of Friday may be early at night rather than during the day..Enjoy Thursday with afternoon highs of 55-60 !!

Another interesting note…new data has also trended much colder late Thursday Night…will need to consider whether to add wet snow to forecast late Thursday Night ??

Tony Petrarca

‘Baby Shacks’ pleads guilty, but ‘Eddie’ Lato backs out of deal

February 22nd, 2012 at 5:26 pm by under Nesi's Notes

A surprise turn of events in court today - read all about it via Tim White. Don’t miss Manocchio’s response to the judge asking whether he was threatened into doing a plea deal.

Chafee: Iraq, high court made me back Senate gym pal Obama

February 22nd, 2012 at 4:14 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Governor Chafee says it was an easy call for him to sign on as co-chair of President Obama’s re-election campaign, particularly in light of the president’s foreign policy and his appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We go way back,” Chafee told WPRI.com on Wednesday.

The pair served in the U.S. Senate together in 2005 and 2006 and often saw each other at the private gym for senators on Capitol Hill. ”We had similar workout hours,” Chafee said. “Often it was just us, on the treadmills, stretching.” They were on the Senate Environment and Public Works and Foreign Relations committees, as well.

“He’s been kind to me since,” Chafee continued. The then-governor-elect and his wife, Stephanie, sat at the president’s table in December 2010 when they attended a meeting of incoming governors at the White House.

“And of course, he helped me in the campaign by not endorsing,” Chafee added, referring to Obama’s decision not to back Democrat Frank Caprio in their 2010 gubernatorial contest. “So this is natural.”


Watch: Michelle Obama surprises RI students at White House

February 22nd, 2012 at 1:44 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Although many Rhode Islanders have probably taken a White House tour, it’s doubtful many have gotten a personal welcome from the first lady.

But that’s just what happened to a few lucky students from Providence’s Wheeler School. They were in Washington last week for a Model UN competition, and U.S. Sen. Jack Reed’s office set up a White House tour for them – without letting on that Michelle Obama would be waiting when they arrived in the Blue Room.

Here’s the video (via the White House) of the first lady – and the Obama’s dog Bo – surprising them:

(We’ll assume the first lady is saying “Oh, from Rhode Island!” and not “Oh, from Road Island!”)

• Related: Photo: Jack Reed’s daughter a little shy with President Obama (Jan. 5)

Chafee is national co-chair of Obama’s re-election campaign

February 22nd, 2012 at 9:13 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

New: Chafee-Obama bond forged at gym (Feb. 22)

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - President Obama on Wednesday named independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee a national co-chair of his re-election campaign.

The two have been political allies since 2008, when the former Republican U.S. senator endorsed his one-time colleague from Illinois for the presidency, even though Obama’s eventual opponent John McCain had campaigned for Chafee in 2006. Chafee has made multiple visits to the White House since Obama took office.

In 2010, Obama quietly gave Chafee’s gubernatorial campaign a boost by staying neutral in the race between him and Democrat Frank Caprio, which famously led Caprio to say the president could take his endorsement and “shove it.” Md. Gov. Martin O’Malley has since suggested Chafee should join the Democratic Party.

Chafee is one of 35 Obama campaign co-chairs, a list that also includes Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick and two of the president’s former chiefs of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley. Another co-chair with local ties is Attleboro native Joe Solmonese, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign.


Prof: Providence retirees may face 73% haircut in bankruptcy

February 22nd, 2012 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and city retirees don’t agree on much, but they’d probably both acknowledge that Providence’s pension system has a sizable long-term shortfall.

The math is pretty simple. Providence has promised its workers and retirees $1.32 billion in pension benefits, but it’s saved only $362 million to pay them. Thus, the city pension fund was short $958 million as of June 30 (based on market value).

As is often pointed out, there’s no immediate crisis there. The city must pay that $1.32 billion over decades – it’s not about to receive a bill for the other $958 million, an amount that’s far more than this year’s entire $614 million city budget.

But a more immediate crisis – a bankruptcy filing by the city – could force the question sooner. And if that happens, the retirees may discover their unfunded pension promises are worthless IOUs.


Hints Of Spring…

February 21st, 2012 at 6:51 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Good Evening…

Still dont see any significant Winter weather over the next 5-7 days. Infact starting tomorrow afternoon thru Friday, temperatures will be unseasonably mild, along with several chance for rain showers, Gusty and much cooler air returns for the weekend. Best rain shower chances will be Tonight, Wednesday Night, Thursday Night, Friday Morning…


Tony Petrarca


Taveras, retirees to meet March 3 at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet

February 21st, 2012 at 4:05 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has invited city retirees to a forum early next month where he’s set to ask them to accept cuts in their pension benefits.

Taveras’s office sent an invitation on Feb. 15 to the event, described as “The Mayor’s Town Hall with Providence City Retirees.” The forum will be held Saturday, March 3 at 10 a.m. at the Rhodes on the Pawtuxet banquet hall in Cranston. The event will also be streamed online.

The invitation says Taveras and Michael D’Amico, his director of administration and acting chief of staff, will first deliver a half-hour presentation on Providence’s financial situation; the deep cuts in pension benefits made in Central Falls; “proposed reforms”; and “how you can help.” Taveras will then answer questions for an hour.

The city will spend about $6,500 to rent Rhodes on the Pawtuxet for the retiree forum, an amount that includes $2,000 to rent the room, about $2,500 to rent chairs and nearly $2,000 to pay for a police and fire detail in Cranston, Taveras spokesman Michael Raia told WPRI.com.


A.H. Belo execs silent on Projo’s lagging ad sales, new website

February 21st, 2012 at 3:22 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

A.H. Belo executives gave no explanation Tuesday for why The Providence Journal’s sales trailed those of its two sister papers in 2011 and didn’t say if they’re satisfied with the response to its new website.

In a short conference call with investors, A.H. Belo CEO Robert Decherd and his management team outlined no plans for the Providence paper and didn’t indicate when the company expects to start charging Web and iPad readers for its new electronic edition created by Olive Software. The company’s Dallas Morning News flagship started charging last March.

Only one investor asked A.H. Belo executives questions during Tuesday’s call. Chief Financial Officer Alison Engel promised “a robust update” about its “subscriber content strategy” on its next investor call, which will likely happen in April or May. An executive said in November The Journal will launch its paywall this year.

The Journal suffered the largest year-over-year drop in advertising revenue during the fourth quarter among A.H. Belo’s three papers, the company said. Ad sales surpassed expectations at the Morning News and Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif., during the three months ended Dec. 31, Decherd said.


Deadspin: ‘Worst College Basketball In America Is Played’ in RI

February 21st, 2012 at 2:04 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The headline kind of says it all. Deadspin was none too kind to WJAR a few months back, either.

But hey, at least they spelled “Rhode Island” right.

Italy follows Providence’s lead, squeezes Vatican for revenue

February 21st, 2012 at 9:51 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

If you thought Providence’s fight with Brown University was tough, look across the pond. Italy is trying to squeeze more revenue out the most powerful tax-exempt of all – the Vatican:

The government of Prime Minister Mario Monti … [said] it would change Italian law to ensure that the church pays property tax on the parts of its buildings used for commercial ends.

The church owns vast amounts of property in Italy, and the move is aimed at making sure that convents that offer bed-and-breakfast services or church buildings that rent space to shops pay their share of taxes.

The change — once it is formally drafted and approved by Parliament — could result in revenues of $650 million to $2.6 billion annually, according to municipal government associations. It could also set an example for other European countries that are struggling with debt — notably Greece and Spain — and where there is growing popular resentment over tax breaks for the church. …

Many church buildings fall into a gray area, taking advantage of a tax exemption for religious organizations’ buildings even if they are largely used for commercial purposes.

Sound familiar?

In Providence, $602.5 million worth of property owned by religious institutions is exempt from taxation, according to city documents. That’s equal to a little less than 9% of the city’s $6.7 billion in total exemptions.

(photo: Enrique Cornejo/Wikipedia)

Chafee slams Obama’s medical pot crackdown: ‘Utter chaos’

February 21st, 2012 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Governor Chafee is under fire in Rhode Island for blocking three medical-marijuana dispensaries authorized in 2009 and selected in 2011 from starting operations. But he thinks the real problem is the inconsistent policy of the president he endorsed in 2008.

Asked by Rolling Stone magazine what the result has been from the Obama administration moving to prevent states from carrying out laws allowing the distribution of medical pot, Chafee replied: “Utter chaos.” The governor has faced protests and legal threats since suspending Rhode Island’s dispensary program in May.

Chafee offered his take in a new article published online last week that reports on “a shocking about-face” by the administration, which in 2009 gave the green light on medical marijuana to states but last year launched a widespread crackdown involving the DEA, the DoJ, the ATF, the IRS and U.S. attorneys nationwide:

The sharpest and most surprising rebuke to the administration has come from centrist governors who are fed up with the war on medicinal pot. In November, Gregoire and Chafee issued a bipartisan petition to the DEA, asking the agency to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, the same as cocaine and meth – one with a recognized medicinal value, despite its high potential for abuse. “It’s time to show compassion, and it’s time to show common sense,” says Gregoire. “We call on the federal government to end the confusion and the unsafe burden on patients.”

A petition by two sitting governors is historic – but it’s unlikely to shift federal policy. Last June, after a nine-year delay, the Obama administration denied a similar petition. An official at the Department of Health and Human Services left little hope for reclassification, reiterating the Bush-era position that there is “no accepted medical use for marijuana in the United States.”

The DEA says it’s reviewing the petition from Chafee and Gregoire, though it’s unclear when and how the agency will respond. For a longer look at the state of play for medical marijuana in Rhode Island, read David Scharfenberg’s January article in The Providence Phoenix.

On a meta note, this is the second time in recent months Chafee has provided a crucial soundbite to Rolling Stone political correspondent Tim Dickinson. The governor offered some choice words on Republican economic policies in the magazine last November.

VP Biden’s staff says he’s coming to ‘Road Island’ on Thursday

February 20th, 2012 at 4:03 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

No respect:

Joe Biden’s camp might be overly-reliant on spell-check.

The White House recently announced that the Vice President would be attending campaign events in “Road Island.”

The glaring misspelling of the Ocean State showed up in a widely-distributed press release detailing Biden’s upcoming travel plans.

After spending the holiday weekend in Wilmington, Del., the VP will make stops on Thursday in Boston, Mass., Manchester, New Hampshire, and finally, Providence, Rhode Island.

Biden is visiting “Road Island” to campaign for U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse at the “Built More” hotel in Providence. RIPR’s Ian Donnis has more on that. We’ll see what Whitehouse’s office has to say.


Analyst: CVS Caremark should buy pharmacy rival Walgreen

February 20th, 2012 at 12:13 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Walgreen Co. and CVS Caremark are far and away the largest drugstore chains in the United States, with Rite Aid a distant third. Woonsocket-based CVS fills more prescriptions annually, while Walgreens has more stores (7,800 to CVS’s 7,300).

Most discussions of their rivalry focus on whether one should buy Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid to get a leg up on the other. But Morningstar analyst Matthew Coffina thinks the smartest move would be for the two leaders themselves to pair up – with CVS buying Walgreens to create “a retail powerhouse.”

“CVS Caremark and Walgreen would be better off together than apart,” Coffina wrote in a report issued Friday. They face the same “long-term threats” from pharmacy-benefit manager (PBM) consolidation, and by combining they’d gain bargaining power and make it harder for PBMs to exclude them from their networks, he said.


RIPR taps David Fallon as new host of ‘All Things Considered’

February 20th, 2012 at 10:35 am by under Nesi's Notes

David Fallon, a veteran local broadcaster and former PR man for the state legislature, will be the new host of “All Things Considered” on Rhode Island Public Radio, the station announced Monday.

Fallon, a 1971 Rhode Island College graduate who was already a weekend host, takes over as the full-time anchor on Monday afternoon. He replaces Robert Ames, who retired Dec. 29 after 13 years at RIPR.

Fallon’s radio career has included stints at WBZ, WPRO and WBUR. He was director of the General Assembly’s Legislative Press Bureau from 1993 to 1999. Lawmakers “know that when I put on my press hat now, it’s going to be purely objective and professional, so they’d better be ready for questions,” Fallon said.

Bakst: No Station memorial after 9 years a failure of leadership

February 20th, 2012 at 10:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

It was nine years ago today that a fast-moving inferno tore through The Station in West Warwick, killing 100 people and injuring about 200 more. The Station tragedy was one of the worst nightclub fires in American history – yet there is still no permanent memorial on the site of the disaster.

Retired Providence Journal columnist M. Charles Bakst wrote me this morning to express his frustration at the lack of progress:

A story in today’s Providence Journal about the ninth anniversary of The Station fire stirred up an old outrage of mine. Talk of creating a fitting, permanent memorial began in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and yet for a variety of reasons, including disputes between the landowner and victims’ families, it has yet to happen, and now the 10th anniversary is only a year away.

It has long been my opinion that the failure to establish this memorial is the single, most graphic illustration of Rhode Island’s shortage of political leadership. Some problems – such as making dramatic progress on the economy or achieving long-term budget stability – are massive and more understandably elude dramatic progress. By comparison, creating a fire memorial should be relatively simple. It is a small site and there is a powerful emotional need to get the job done.

And yet we have seen a succession of governors, legislators, and local officials fall short. I don’t know how much they have worked to see that the project gets done – I’m sure some have – and some might argue that creating the memorial is not primarily a function of government. But sometimes public officials need to LEAD to achieve consensus and to see that society meets the challenges that confront it.

The Station memorial presents such a situation. How much longer will Rhode Islanders accept this failure?

(photo: Dave Wiggins/WPRI)

Happy President’s Day from Nesi’s Notes – and Ike in Newport

February 20th, 2012 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

President Eisenhower in Newport, 1957

The blog will be mostly quiet today in observation of President’s Day. It’s not a day off here at WPRI 12 World Headquarters, so keep an eye on the main site for updates, but I’ve got some long-term reporting projects to work on. If there’s big news, naturally, I’ll swing into action.

Meantime, here are a few presidential posts from the vault for your reading pleasure:

George Washington and Abe Lincoln are among the many presidents who’ve visited Rhode Island.

• Yet we’re still waiting for the first Rhode Islander to get a major party presidential nomination.

• … and maybe that’s because Rhode Islanders aren’t eligible to run, according to Donald Trump.

• Chafee 2012? Washington Post readers think the governor should get a promotion.

Photos: President Obama speaking in Providence and joking with Jack Reed’s daughter.

• And what Rhode Islander will ever forget the immortal event that was Shoveitgate?

(photo: Associated Press)