January, 2013

New graduation requirements concern Providence officials

January 31st, 2013 at 2:42 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – New graduation standards that require students to show partial proficiency in math and reading on a statewide standardized test has Providence school officials scrambling to address the city’s historically low test scores, according to a memo obtained by WPRI.com.

​Read the rest of this story »

Chafee raised $92,000 for re-election bid in fourth quarter

January 31st, 2013 at 12:25 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Gov. Lincoln Chafee frequently says that the clearest sign he’s running for re-election is the fact that he continues to raise money for his campaign war chest. That makes his final campaign-finance report for 2012 another indication that he plans to stay in the race.

Chafee posted his second-best fundraising quarter since taking office, raising $92,287 from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 and boosting his campaign’s cash on hand to $315,902 at the close of the year, according to a report filed Thursday with the R.I. Board of Elections. The vast majority of Chafee’s donations – $88,402 – came from individuals.

Chafee’s donors for the fourth quarter included $1,000 from former Republican Party Chairman and Lieutenant Governor Bernard Jackvony; $1,000 from Barrington resident Alison Townsend; $1,000 from Providence Police Union lawyer Joe Rodio; and $1,000 from RDW Group partner Phillip Loscoe. (more…)

Poll: Raimondo is favorite for gov; Chafee does best as a Dem

January 31st, 2013 at 9:22 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Democrat Gina Raimondo is the early favorite to win the 2014 governor’s race, according to a new poll released Thursday morning to WPRI.com.

The Public Policy Polling survey [pdf] shows Raimondo would win anywhere from 32% to 46% of the vote depending on which hypothetical opponents she faces. She is the only candidate to crack 40% support in any of 10 ballot tests conducted by PPP.

If Raimondo is out of the picture, however, there’s no clear frontrunner: the leading candidates in non-Raimondo scenarios shift between Republican Brendan Doherty, Republican Allan Fung and Democrat Angel Taveras depending on the match-up. Moderate Party founder Ken Block starts out with double-digit support in most scenarios, suggesting his presence could have a major impact on the outcome.

Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee faces an unsurprisingly uphill battle to win a second term, with more than half of voters saying they don’t want him to run again. His strongest shot at re-election comes if he runs as a Democrat: running under the party banner, Chafee starts out trailing Republicans Doherty and Fung by just four points. Among voters who do want Chafee to run again, 20% say he should run as an independent and 18% say he should run as a Democrat.


Wild Winds Cause Damage, Power Outages in RI

January 31st, 2013 at 8:38 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Wow! What a morning!  Torrential downpours and powerful winds knocked out power to more than 23,000 Rhode Islanders and lead to school delays and cancellations as well as numerous reports of wind damage all across New England.  It was a strong cold front moving through this morning that was responsible for the damaging winds.  Here are the latest wind gusts we’ve received as of 8:30am:

Peak Wind Gusts


And you can get the National Weather Service’s complete storm reports list here. And it looks like we’ve tied the record high for January 31, when we hit a high of 62° early this morning.  That ties the record from 1988.  Temperatures have already dropped in the 50s this morning, and we’ll be in the 40s by mid to late afternoon.



Study: Rhode Island taxes 13th-highest in the nation in 2010

January 31st, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Rhode Islanders pay the 13th-highest state and local taxes in the country compared with their incomes, according to the latest analysis of Census data by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

The $6.9 billion in state and local taxes paid by Rhode Islanders in 2009-10 totaled 11.1% of their personal income, up slightly from 11.0% the prior year, the analysis shows. Just 12 other states took more of their residents’ income in state and local taxes, according to the group.

The national average was 10.6% of income, and Massachusetts ranked 25th at 10.2% of income, the analysis shows. Three other New England states – Maine, Vermont and Connecticut – took more of their residents’ incomes in taxes than Rhode Island did, while New Hampshire took the least.

The left-leaning Massachusetts think tank said it looks at taxes as a share of personal income rather than per capita because it “allows for a meaningful comparison among states.” Another group, the right-leaning Tax Foundation, ranks Rhode Island’s tax burden higher after making adjustments to the data.

• Related: Charts: Regressive RI taxes getting (slightly) more progressive (Jan. 30)

(chart: Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center modified by WPRI.com)

Update On Strong Winds….

January 30th, 2013 at 7:04 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Good Evening From Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca…

Latest data I have been analyzing last several hours still pointing to several hours of very strong wind gusts late Tonight thru early Thursday morning. Wind gust this evening will average 35-45 mph….but then really ramp up after 1am thru about 8am Thursday. Still looks like gusts to 60+ mph will occur.  Winds of that magnitude can take down limbs and power lines, and in some cases uproot whole trees. This scenario will be scattered BUT significant. Isolated power “flickers” or outages are likely later on. …

The map below shows wind speeds at a few 1000 feet above at around 2AM Thursday. (This is data from one of the high resolution computer models we use.) The colors represent wind speeds with the area of light brown approaching from Long Island New York being the core of strongest winds. Even those these speed are at 2500 feet up, some of that wind energy can be brought down the the ground…this is why we are forecasting gusts to 60+ mph late Tonight thru the early part of Thursday morning’s commute

Map courtesy of WeatherBell Analytics

As far as rain…scattered showers and brief downpours this evening…a steadier more widespread rain overnight. Even an isolated thunderstorm is likely later at night…

After 10am Thursday the wind speeds will come down a little bit, but still strong all day long. I expect gusts in the 45-50 mph range along with drier air and some sunshine.



Charts: Regressive RI taxes getting (slightly) more progressive

January 30th, 2013 at 12:35 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

For more than a decade, state and local taxes in Rhode Island have been among the nation’s most regressive – meaning they’re structured to take a larger share of income from the poor than they do from the wealthy.

That said, a WPRI.com analysis of the last decade’s “Who Pays?” studies from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows the richest Rhode Islanders are paying slightly more of their incomes in state and local taxes than they were in 2002, while the poorest are paying a bit less.

That doesn’t necessarily contradict progressives’ argument that wealthier Rhode Islanders have gotten a tax cut: the studies show the share of income paid by the top 1% in income taxes fell from 5.8% in 2002 to 4.8% in 2013. But that reduction was offset by an increase in how much the top 1% paid in property taxes, which rose from 2% to 3.1%. Here’s how the tax mix for the top 1% has changed over the last decade:


Study: RI taxes take most from poorest, least from the top 1%

January 30th, 2013 at 12:01 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy is out with its latest look at how much of their incomes different Rhode Islanders pay in state and local taxes, and the big headline hasn’t changed: the state’s tax structure takes almost twice as much from the poorest 20% of residents as it does from the top 1%.

Rhode Island families making less than $18,000 a year will pay 12.1% of their 2010 income in state and local taxes under current law, according to the study by ITEP, a Washington-based research group that is affiliated with the labor-backed nonprofit Citizens for Tax Justice.

At the other end of the spectrum, Rhode Island families making $378,000 or more a year will pay 6.4% of their 2010 income in state and local taxes when the federal deduction for those taxes is taken into account. An analysis by WPRI.com of ITEP’s reports shows that since 2002, state and local taxes have gone up or stayed steady for the top 60% of taxpayers while decreasing slightly for the bottom 40%:

(The 2010 income for the lowest 20% was less than $16,000; for second 20%, $16,000-$27,000; for middle 20%, $27,000-$42,000; for fourth 20%, $42,000-$72,000; for the next 15%, $72,000-$141,000; for the next 4%, $141,000-$328,000; and for the top 1%, $328,000 or more.)

Rhode Island is among 10 states that levy the highest taxes on the poor and is the only New England state in that group, according to the study. It is also one of only three states in the U.S. where the Earned Income Tax Credit isn’t fully refundable, which means Rhode Island families with no income tax liability cannot receive the benefit of the credit, the study says.


High Wind Watch Weds. Night.

January 29th, 2013 at 6:37 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Good Evening From Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca

A Spring-like storm currently in the Midwest will approach our area on Wednesday. We will see a dramatic rise in temperatures as well as the winds. Some light rain showers Wednesday afternoon, but the heaviest of the rain (even some thunder) will arrive at night. A High Wind Watch is in effect Weds Night. Winds will gusts to 50-60 mph, especially after Midnight. Gusts of that magnitude may cause some isolated damage.


Here’s my favorite part of Taveras’s State of the City speech

January 29th, 2013 at 6:22 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

From the prepared text of Mayor Taveras’s State of the City speech Tuesday:

Often, City employees – our neighbors, friends and family members – go above and beyond to render extraordinary service. I recently learned of one example that I would like to share with you.

On the Friday before Christmas, Joe Elliott and Bill Newell – inspectors in the Office of Inspections and Standards – learned that an elderly woman in our City was living without heat. Inspecting the property, they found out that the problem wasn’t just a lack of oil or an unpaid gas bill, but that the woman’s home required significant mechanical work that would cost thousands of dollars.

Mr. Elliott and Mr. Newell thought that without some kind of intervention, the City might need to condemn this woman’s house and relocate her in order to prevent her from suffering. So they worked around the clock Friday, and kept working when they were off duty on Saturday and Sunday to make sure this resident’s heating problem was fixed.

They coordinated with National Grid and with contractors who volunteered their time and expertise to have the heating problem fixed at no charge. They weren’t being paid, and they weren’t even asked to do it. They did it because it was the right thing to do for this woman and for our City.

Mr. Elliott and Mr. Newell are here with us tonight, and I’d like to ask them to stand for a moment so we can thank them for their service to our City.

Well, that is just heartwarming. Dan McGowan has a full rundown of the speech here.

Taveras set to outline vision for city after tough two years

January 29th, 2013 at 2:39 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

​By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Nearly two years after he compared the city’s financial condition to a Category 5 hurricane, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras will likely offer a more optimistic forecast Tuesday evening in his State of the City address.

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Former Congressman Bob Weygand mulling run for governor

January 29th, 2013 at 12:40 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

You can add former Congressman Bob Weygand to the list of Rhode Island Democrats who may run for governor next year.

Weygand, who represented the 2nd Congressional District from 1997 to 2001, confirmed Tuesday that multiple people have approached him to suggest he should jump into the 2014 race, and said it’s “very flattering.”

“I think anybody who’s been in office often thinks about whether they should run again, and so to answer your question very candidly, of course I would love to consider serving in a public sector role in some way,” Weygand, 64, told WPRI.com.

The biggest question may be whether Weygand could raise enough money to compete; he estimated a candidate would need at least $3 million to be viable. “Any legitimate candidate has to be able to put the finances behind it,” he said. “That’s certainly a big consideration.” Weygand’s campaign account is currently empty and inactive.


Study: Rhode Island No. 5 in the US for cigarette smuggling

January 29th, 2013 at 11:11 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Nearly 40% of the cigarettes sold in Rhode Island are illegally smuggled in from other states, according to a report released by the Washington-based Tax Foundation.

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Sen. Juan Pichardo won’t run for secretary of state in 2014

January 29th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The list of Democratic candidates for secretary of state just got a little shorter.

Providence Sen. Juan Pichardo, who’s been on the short list of likely candidates for more than a year, says he’s decided he won’t throw his hat into the ring in the competition to succeed Ralph Mollis, who’s barred by term limits from running again.

“I’m not running,” Pichardo told WPRI.com last week. “There’s a lot of work to be done in the Senate, and I’m concentrating there. … I think I provide some leadership there, and I think there’s a lot to be done.”

Guillaume de Ramel, a Newport Democrat who lost the 2006 primary to Mollis, became the first official candidate for secretary of state last week when he told WPRI.com he’s planning to run. R.I. Democratic Party Chairman Ed Pacheco is also expected to do so. On the Republican side, Catherine Taylor says she’s considering another bid after nearly beating Mollis in 2010.

Pichardo, 46, is a Dominican-American who was elected Rhode Island’s first Latino state senator in 2002. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed recently named him chairman of the  Senate Committee on Housing and Municipal Government. He had $2,592 in his campaign war chest as of Oct. 29.

• Related: Newport Dem Guillaume de Ramel will run for secretary of state (Jan. 24)

Its Not Just The Temperature Where Your Standing….

January 28th, 2013 at 7:09 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Good Evening From Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca

What determines precipitation type are the temperatures from the ground to several 1000 feet up into the clouds. Normally the higher up in the sky you go, the temperature falls. However, Tonight, the air in the clouds is warming faster than the air near the ground.  The result…”warm” clouds are now producing light rain and drizzle. The problem…the ground temperatures where we are standing are still below freezing…as the rain  and drizzle drops fall to the ground they freeze….this will create a light icy glaze on surfaces. Untreated areas will get slippery. The bulk of the accumulating snow is done…only a coating to an inch in most areas…….Tony

…………………….Very Little Accumulation Expected

Study: Outdated state personnel system needs fix

January 28th, 2013 at 1:06 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – State procedures for recruiting and hiring personnel are outdated and flawed compensation structures lead to the inability to retain skilled employees, according to a 104-page report released by Governor Lincoln Chafee’s office Monday.

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Messy Evening Commute on the Way

January 28th, 2013 at 9:19 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

A warm front is heading our way… and it WILL bring milder weather for the middle of the work week.  But before that happens,  it’s going to be responsible for the messy weather heading our way this afternoon and evening.

We are expecting poor travel conditions for the evening commute as moderate snowfall and sleet will lead to reduced visibility and slick roads.  Timing is everything… and the snowfall amounts will be light, but the impacts may be high.

Here’s what we’re looking at for today with the first flakes arriving after 1pm in RI and spreading east:

Snow Timing

As temperatures warm this evening and tonight, the snow will eventually mix with and change to sleet, freezing rain and rain before tapering to drizzle after midnight.  The changeover will occur first at the coast and then spread inland.  Temperatures tonight are expected to hold steady or even rise a few degrees so that most areas are above freezing by 5am tomorrow.  Prior to the change to rain/freezing rain, an inch or two of snow can be expected for most, with lighter amounts at the coast.  On top of the snow will be a thin layer of glaze, adding to the slick conditions. Be careful this evening!!

Snowfall Accums

Once the warm front moves through, temperatures will respond by climbing into the 40s by Tuesday afternoon and then well into the 50s by Wednesday afternoon!  The warm-up doesn’t last long… a strong cold front will sweep through New England by Thursday morning and will bring back winter’s chill.

Watch Executive Suite with Aaron Renn of Urbanophile.com

January 28th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Not Great Timing for Next Pontential Snow

January 27th, 2013 at 8:11 am by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Snow will likely overspread our area Monday afternoon into Monday evening.  We won’t see major accumulations, but it will have an impact because most of the snow will fall during the Monday afternoon and evening commute.  By late evening, the snow should mix with sleet, and then eventually rain. 

Mixing to rain is good news if you want to avoid major snow accumulations.  However, it’s often not great for shoveling.  Snow that mixes to sleet/rain tends to be wet and heavy.  Therefore, removing even 2 inches can be a lot of work if you have to shovel an entire driveway! -Pete Mangione


Watch Newsmakers with Brendan Doherty

January 27th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

In Search of Mild Air

January 26th, 2013 at 8:19 am by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Cold air sticks around this weekend, then look for a BIG change in our weather pattern next week.  As is often the case, the temperature change will come with precipitaiton (this will give us rain/snow showers Monday into Tuesday).   

A front with gusty winds and rain showers will arrive at some point on Wednesday.  The timing is still uncertain, but early signs tell me that the showers hold off until after dark.  If this scenario holds up…that would make for a pretty nice Wednesday.  -Pete Mangione

The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RI

January 26th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post

Welcome to another edition of my weekend column – as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to tnesi@wpri.com. For quick hits all week long, follow me on Twitter: @tednesi.

1. Rhode Island’s flavor-of-the-week in economic development is brain science. On Thursday the Providence Chamber’s ​Laurie White​ pitched a public-private brain science research center to state senators, and ​Governor Chafeequickly embraced the idea. If the proposed center is going to be globally competitive, White and Chafee will need to come up with a lot of money: in recent month​s Columbia University secured $200 million to endow a new Mind Brain Behavior Institute, a UTexas-Baylor-MIT group is putting together $50 million for a Neurodegeneration Consortium, and Connecticut’s governor plans to invest $200 million in bioscience. Even with John Donoghue​, can Brown University and the Lifespan hospitals compete on that scale? And is it affordable or viable in an era when the “meds and eds” are facing unprecedented pressure to clamp down on costs? The answers to these questions may be yes, but it’s important they get asked. The 38 Studios debacle was the product of economic desperation and a lack of rigor; if a huge amount of money is about to be put on the line, Rhode Island should try to avoid making the same mistakes.

2. ​If you’ve never watched Executive Suite, this is the week to tune in: Aaron Renn’s​ interview (already online) will change how you think about economic development in Rhode Island – starting with the fact that you’ll no longer think about it happening “in Rhode Island.” Renn offers a great antidote to the platitudes that often pass for bold thinking locally; when you’re done watching the show, check out his articles about Providence, too.


Snow…Yes Snowstorm…No

January 25th, 2013 at 7:11 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Good Evening From Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca...

Keeping an eye on the radar Tonight, showing very light snow approaching. The ground temperatures are very cold so every flake of snow will stick, meaning it wont be very difficult to get a least a dusting later Tonight. The forecast is for a dusting to 1″. Any 1 inch amounts would be confined to the south coast and Cape only. While this certainly is not a lot of snow, it is enough to create slippery travel on any untreated surfaces, so please drive with caution later Tonight. Behind this weather system will  another round of colder air thru the weekend. The much talked about warm up for next week is still a “go”…but the initial arrival of mild air will bring a mix of wet snow and rain Monday….changing to rain showers Monday Night.

Providence Council President Solomon may run for mayor

January 25th, 2013 at 5:35 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

​By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence City Council President Michael Solomon on Friday said he plans to run for Mayor in 2014, but only if current Mayor Angel Taveras pursues higher office.

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Providence retirees get deadline to opt out of pension deal

January 25th, 2013 at 1:32 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – R.I. Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter on Friday approved a timeline for Providence police and fire retirees to opt out of a settlement on pensions and healthcare benefits negotiated with the city.

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Trial over 38 Studios deal with RI may be a year away

January 25th, 2013 at 1:01 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – It could be at least a year before Rhode Island’s lawsuit against Curt Schilling and other architects of the 38 Studios deal goes to trial.

Read the rest of this story »

• Related: Target 12: EDC ignored signs of risks on 38 Studios (Nov. 20)

Whitehouse, Waxman send Obama climate change ‘wish list’

January 25th, 2013 at 9:57 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Zack Colman reports for The Hill:

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on Thursday outlined a slate of climate change actions that President Obama could execute with his own authority.

The lawmakers conveyed a bleak outlook for climate legislation this Congress, noting considerable Republican opposition in the House. But they said Obama’s climate comments during his Monday inaugural address raised the prospects for administrative action to address the issue. …

Whitehouse, Waxman and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) laid out a menu of options for executive action on climate change in a Thursday letter to Obama [pdf]. Among them were moves federal agencies could take to curb greenhouse gas emissions and enlisting national laboratories to pump out clean-energy technology. …

Whitehouse also suggested the federal government could use its procurement powers to strike deals with cleaner, sustainable contractors.

Whitehouse has made clear in the weeks since he won re-election last fall that one of his core priorities during his second term will be pushing Washington for action on climate change, as well as new efforts to protect the health of the sea through his bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus.

“I think it’s going to take some hammering to open the window [of what's possible] up a bit, but the public is now so clearly behind doing something about climate change that it puts the Republican opposition in a very different – and I think, before long, untenable – position,” Whitehouse told me during an interview in his Capitol Hill office earlier this month.

With that in mind, on Thursday Whitehouse also restarted the series of weekly floor speeches about climate change he’s been giving for the past year. The video of yesterday’s edition is here.

​(photo: Whitehouse’s office)

Light Snow Tonight

January 25th, 2013 at 9:00 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

All week we’ve been tracking the potential for wintry weather tonight.  We’ve been watching the development of an ocean storm.  What we can tell you today is that:

  1. The storm stays far out to sea and our area is only brushed by the outer edges of the storm
  2. The storm intensifies AFTER it makes it’s closest pass to SE New England, again means lighter impacts
  3. Snowfall accumulations will be small

We are looking at snow developing after 8pm and continuing into the pre-dawn hours of Saturday.  In general the snow will be light, but small accumulations can be expected when you wake up on Saturday morning.  Most of RI and Bristol County, MA will end up with a dusting to 1″ of snow.  However, closer to the coast, there’s still a chance of up to 2″ of snow.  It will be easy to clean up and should be over with before 7am on Saturday. 

RI Senate Democrats may wait months to take up gay marriage

January 24th, 2013 at 9:46 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

​By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Democrats who lead Rhode Island’s Senate say they’re in no rush to take up a bill legalizing same-sex marriage despite Thursday’s overwhelming vote in favor by the House of Representatives.

Read the rest of this story »

• Related: Poll: Only Republicans have majority against gay marriage in RI​ (Jan. 24)

Rhode Island House approves same-sex marriage bill

January 24th, 2013 at 6:16 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island took another step toward becoming the final state in New England to allow same-sex couples to marry on Thursday when the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a same-sex marriage bill.

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