March, 2013

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

March 23rd, 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 For quick hits all week long, follow me on Twitter: @tednesi.

1. Friday’s ominous news about coming cuts at Lifespan should make Rhode Island leaders think again about banking on the “meds and eds” to power the state’s economy in the years ahead. There is growing pressure from regulators and insurers for the health-care industry to tighten its belt, a push that got new support from Steve Brill‘s big exposé on hospital prices. The story is similar in higher education (though Brown University could probably charge as much as it wants and still fill the dorms). Down in Washington, apparently the debate is over about whether the federal government should cut back – the only question now is how much austerity and how soon, with health a top target for savings. Researchers in Providence’s vaunted Knowledge District are heavily dependent on the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, both of which are being cut by the sequester; Rhode Island stands to lose nearly $8 million in funding from the NIH. It all presents a huge challenge, one which Margot Sanger-Katz nailed in a must-read National Journal article about Pittsburgh, a city often held up as an eds-and-meds model for Providence. “The health care boom that is propping up the American economy could eventually come back to haunt us,” she warns. Does Rhode Island have a Plan B?

2. Another reason to worry about the meds-and-eds model: it’s not clear it helps the less educated Rhode Islanders who’ve been hit hard by the recession. Aaron Renn suggested recently, “there’s no flow-through to people who aren’t directly tapped into the knowledge economy itself. … [T]he majority of residents are missing out.” What to do? Harvard’s Ed Glaeser thinks the answer is simple: ”The best policy for local economic development is to attract and train smart people and then get out of their way.”


Red ink at RI Hospital parent Lifespan causing concern on jobs

March 22nd, 2013 at 1:33 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Concern is growing about potential job losses at Lifespan, the nonprofit parent of major medical facilities including Rhode Island Hospital that is the state’s largest private employer, has learned.

A Lifespan spokeswoman confirmed Friday morning that the hospital chain is experiencing a financial shortfall, saying its finances ran “significantly below budget” during the first five months of its current fiscal year.

Read the rest of this story »

Reed, Whitehouse vote to repeal tax on medical-device makers

March 22nd, 2013 at 9:46 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse were among the 79 senators who voted Thursday night to get rid of a tax on sales of medical devices passed in 2010 to help fund President Obama’s health reform law.

The two Rhode Island senators joined 31 of their fellow Democrats and all 45 Republicans in voting to repeal the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices, which took effect Jan. 1. Getting rid of it would cost the federal government $29 billion from 2013 to 2022, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning Washington think-tank that opposed repealing it.

Whitehouse and another stalwart liberal, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, were among those who sided with the device industry on the repeal measure, which was introduced by Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah and has been the subject of a heavy lobbying effort.

Stephen Lane, chairman and chief venture officer of the Providence-based medical-device firm Ximedica, said at a manufacturing forum last year co-hosted by Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin that the tax was causing his industry to move production to Asia. Cicilline and Langevin voted to keep the tax, and Cicilline clashed over the question with his Republican opponent Brendan Doherty in a WPRI 12 debate last fall.

When Will Spring Warmth Arrive???

March 22nd, 2013 at 9:24 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Every where I go I’m getting asked, “when is it going to warm up”.  It has been a long, hard winter in southern New England and some coastal communities were forced to break out the shovels once again this morning.  That overnight snow event was a case of “have” and “have nots”… with Providence, Warwick, NW RI with little more than a dusting of snow and Aquidneck Island, SE MA, Cape Cod picking up more than a half of a foot in spots!  Check out this ReportIt photo that was sent in to our newsroom from Rhonda in Fairhaven, MA:   temp 2

Here’s a look at some of the snowfall totals we received from last night’s storm.  It was highly localized heavier bands of snow, so even from one part of a town or city to the other there were differences in the accumulations. temp 1

So when will it finally start to feel like Spring?  We’re hopeful it will be in early April.  Our computer models showing more cold, unsettled weather through Easter Sunday,  but check out this update from the Climate Prediction Center about how the month of April is setting up.  It calls for warmer than average temperatures in New England.  Yippee!!

April Temperature Probability

April Temperature Probability

Mid Afternoon Update

March 21st, 2013 at 1:58 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

A mixed bag of weather so far on this Thursday afternoon….some have seen sun, others have seen snow, and many have seen both sun and snow at the same time!

Let’s break down the rest of today and tonight:

THIS AFTERNOON: Off and on light snow or rain showers.  Most of this will not stick to roads; there might be a few exceptions along and north and west of 295 where temperatures have been hanging around the freezing mark.  There is also a potential of a few isolated steadier bands of snow, especially by late afternoon.

THIS EVENING: Better chance of some steadier snow, although it’s not snowing the entire time.  As temperatures drop, snow will start to stick.  Therefore, we will give you the YELLOW light on the evening commute because of the potential of slick roads and periods of poor visibility. Most likely locations to pick up isolated heavier snow bands would be the southeast RI shore into eastern Mass.

OVERNIGHT: Chance of snow….what falls will stick…so use caution driving. 

Because there will be “skinny” snow bands moving through, many areas will end up with only a coating to about an inch. However, you may have a neighbor that lives just a few miles away that gets several inches.  This is important to keep in mind when looking at our 1-3″ shaded blue area below; most areas will be closer to the 1″ amount. 

We have to watch this closely….any skinny band of snow that sets up has the potential of producing even 4″ + inches of snow.  I am not saying this is going to happen but the potential is there….these are always very tough forecasts! Please see our summary and forecast graphics below. -Pete Mangione





By Friday Morning

By Friday Morning


What’s behind the Raimondo-Fox plan to fix roads and bridges

March 21st, 2013 at 10:21 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

RICWFA_logo• Update: Fox, Raimondo pitch $70M loan fund for repairs (March 21)

The Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency’s motto declares, “Clean Water for Rhode Island is Our Only Business.” But that won’t be true for much longer if Treasurer Gina Raimondo and House Speaker Gordon Fox have their way.

Raimondo and Fox will hold a press conference Thursday morning where they’ll propose adding a new Municipal Road and Bridge Revolving Fund to the water agency’s portfolio of programs. They’ll be joined by Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed and municipal leaders, making this as close to a sure thing as any new legislative proposal can be.

So, you ask, what is the R.I. Clean Water Finance Agency?

The short answer: RICWFA is a quasi-public state agency, similar to better-known entities like the R.I. Economic Development Corporation and the R.I. Airport Corporation. While the Clean Water Finance Agency has a relatively low profile, it plays a key part in financing the maintenance of Rhode Island’s water system. Its basic role is to provide subsidized and low-interest loans to local governments that they use to fund water-infrastructure projects of all sizes.


Who’s supporting who in the race for RIGOP chair?

March 21st, 2013 at 9:44 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

A former Providence mayoral candidate will square off with the head of the state’s Republican Chair’s Caucus on Thursday as the R.I. Republican Party prepares to elect its third chairman in two years.

Dan Harrop, a doctor who was trounced by incumbent Mayor David Cicilline in 2006, and Mark Smiley, who is viewed as a leader within the more conservative faction of the state GOP, are running to replace Mark Zaccaria, who announced his plans to step down following an election season that saw the party lose seven seats in the General Assembly and all three of its federal races.

So who is the favorite? After the jump, read the major endorsements for each candidate. (more…)

Worcester Snowiest City in US this Winter

March 21st, 2013 at 8:55 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Snow. Snow. Snow.  It’s a word many of us have grown tired of hearing/saying/seeing in southern New England.  It’s the winter that just keeps going, with more light snow in the forecast for today… and even a few inches of accumulating snow for some tonight. And now, there are at least some accolades to go along with this incessant winter weather pattern.  The National Weather Service says Worcester, MA was  the snowiest city in the US for the winter of 2012-13 with 108.9″ of snow.  This is for cities with more than 100, 000 inhabitants.  Not Anchorage, Alaska,  Syracuse, New York, Erie, PA or even Denver, Colorado could top Worcester’s total this year.

We’ve seen less than half of the amount of Worcester’s snow at TF Green Airport where RI’s official weather records are kept. Our total for the season is 46.3″, which doesn’t even place in the top 10 snowiest winters.  However; it’s still a stark contrast to last year’s less than 18″ of snow and 76° High on March 21.

I haven’t made any signifant changes to the forecast that Tony had last night… other than to adjust the higher snow band westward slightly to include parts of southern RI.  It still looks like a narrow band of 2-3″ snow fall totals will occur somewhere in our area with an isolated 4-5″ total possible…. there will be little to no accumulation on either side of that band.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on the radar this evening and tonight, to see where exactly the bursts of snow are and may have to make some additional adjustments to the forecast.

By Friday Morning

By Friday Morning

While most of the snow will melt as it hits the pavement before sunset this evening, the arrival of heavier bursts of snow may coincide with the evening commute and slow the trip home from work.  In addition, tomorrow morning’s commute could feature some slick spots as showers taper off before 8am for most and skies turn partly sunny.

This Evening's Commute

This Evening’s Commute

Snow Thursday Evening..

March 21st, 2013 at 12:32 am by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Good morning from Chief Meteorologist Tony R Petrarca:

The map below shows our weather set up for a narrow band of snow Thursday Evening/Night. While the 2nd map below this text may look confusing, I will walk you thru what we are analyzing and make it simple.     So….here we go with weather lesson 101:

This map is a “streamline” map. It shows how the air near the surface is flowing and in what direction.  Notice how the air flow converges into one narrow zone over Southern New England. The red dot represents Providence. The zone or axis of where the air meets or collides is called a “NorLun Trough”  (the “Lun” in that word is short for Lundestedt, the last name of my roommate in weather school who actually coined this word many years ago)

Converging air is forced to rise….the faster moist air rises in the atmosphere, the more conducive it is in creating rain, or in this case snow. Here is the tricky part. Usually with Norlun situations, the zone of snow is very narrow in width. The exact location and duration of this weather feature will determine how much snow will fall. I have seen NorLun cases where one town may get 6″ of snow while a town only 10-15 miles away gets only a dusting.  The likely zone of snow from this on Thursday evening will be south  and east of Providence and especially across Southeast Massachusetts.

The other map below is an early call on snow fall accumulations Thursday Night….keep in mind how difficult pinpointing the exact location of the narrow snow band, so stay tuned to forecasts. The snowfall rates may be heavy, but at the same times localized in nature, covering only a small area.

THu snow



norlun 3

Mayor Taveras vetoes disability pension request; council considers override

March 20th, 2013 at 5:50 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Mayor Angel Taveras has vetoed a city ordinance that would grant an accidental disability pension waiver to a former Providence Water Supply Board employee who was injured on the job, has learned.

Read the rest of this story »

First Day of Spring: A Look Back at Past 5 Years

March 20th, 2013 at 4:56 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Welcome to the first day of Spring! If you are a fan of mild weather, it’s probably not the kind of start you were hoping for.  The start of spring brings the potential of a HUGE range of temperatures.  We can still be affected by winter air masses from the north, but warm air masses from the south also can make their way into New England.   

Here is a look back at the first day of spring for the past 5 years; data is from TF Green Airport. 

2008    High Temp: 56     Low Temp: 35         Rain: 0.34”         Snow: 0.00”

2009     High Temp: 42     Low Temp: 28         Rain: 0.00”         Snow: 0.00”

2010      High Temp: 73     Low Temp: 39          Rain: 0.00”        Snow: 0.00”

2011       High Temp: 46     Low Temp: 28          Rain: 0.00″         Snow: 0.00″

2012      High Temp: 78    Low Temp: 44          Rain: 0.00″         Snow: 0.00″

Notice how it only rained once.  Also, notice how temperatures reached the 70s on 2 of the 5 days! (Sorry, not even close this year). -Pete Mangione



Chafee: ‘Body language of the CIA’ made him an Iraq skeptic

March 20th, 2013 at 11:40 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

To market the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, HuffPo caught up with the handful of Republicans who voted against the war a decade ago – including Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Here’s what he had to say:

“To me, it was about growing up in the Vietnam era and not wanting to go through that again,” said Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who, in 2002, was the only GOP senator to vote against invading Iraq. “I remember the difficulty the soldiers had coming back here after Vietnam. They had the same issues: PTSD, re-immersion, alcoholism. You have to be prepared to take all that on.”

Chafee also didn’t believe CIA officials who showed him photos of metal tubes in Iraq and said they were being used to make weapons of mass destruction. He recalled thinking those tubes could have been purchased at a local hardware store and used for a multitude of things.

“More than anything, it was the body language of the CIA that told me it wasn’t true,” he said. …

Chafee said he took heat from his GOP colleagues, but was “adamant” in his position. …

“You would think after Vietnam, people would be hesitant, but it happened,” Chafee said. “Any time you get these emotions of fear and anger, it’s always possible. It’s groupthink.”

RI General Assembly launches new site with video of sessions

March 20th, 2013 at 10:50 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Capitol TV aficionados, get ready to feast.

Rhode Island’s General Assembly has added a new website that offers live Web streaming of its sessions and hearings, as well as an archive with videos of past proceedings – becoming the last state in the nation to do so.

In addition to Capitol TV live Web channels that can stream up to four committee hearings simultaneously, the website features a Capitol TV Video on Demand site that offers an archive of floor proceedings, committee hearings and other footage.

“Currently, Capitol TV airs a live House session and tapes the Senate session to broadcast after,” the Assembly’s leaders explained in a statement. “Without web-streaming, the channel could only broadcast one live committee meeting at a time.”

The launch comes just in time to provide a Web broadcast of Thursday afternoon’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where the panel will consider legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill has already passed the House, but top Senate Democrats are opposed to it. reported last month that House Speaker Gordon Fox’s staff was in the final stages of adding streaming capability. The legislative video site is at

• Related: RI to stream legislative sessions online, joining other 49 states (Feb. 27)

CVS CEO Larry Merlo’s pay jumps to more than $18 million

March 20th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – CVS Caremark CEO Larry Merlo’s pay package jumped by a third to total more than $18 million in 2012, up from $12 million the previous year, according to an SEC filing.

Read the rest of this story »

• The Saturday Morning Post: CVS Caremark is on a hot streak (Feb. 23)

70% of roads in RI are poor or mediocre quality, new study says

March 19th, 2013 at 4:17 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The American Society of Civil Engineers is out with its latest report card on the nation’s infrastructure (the country got a D+) and as part of the release has created web pages with facts and figures about the infrastructure in each of the 50 states. Click the infographic for much more about Rhode Island:


‘Superman building’ lobbyist ran Speaker Fox’s re-election campaign

March 19th, 2013 at 2:57 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) –  The 26-year-old lawyer who helped House Speaker Gordon Fox survive a brutal re-election campaign last fall is now lobbying to secure millions of dollars in tax credits to turn Providence’s tallest building into apartments, has learned.

Read the rest of this story »

Moody’s: Providence retirement liabilities still huge after deal

March 19th, 2013 at 1:08 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Moody’s Investors Service says Providence will benefit from winning approval of its deal with retirees to reduce pension and health care costs, but warns the agreement will still leave the capital city facing huge unfunded retirement liabilities.

“Providence’s total unfunded liability for pension and OPEB will be reduced to $2.1 billion, or 20.7% of its property tax base, still one of the largest unfunded liabilities in the state, exceeding those of the financially distressed cities of Central Falls and Woonsocket,” Moody’s analysts Vito Galluccio and Geordie Thompson write in a report Tuesday. (OPEB stands for other post-employment benefits, primarily retiree health care.)

To demonstrate their point, Galluccio and Thompson put together this chart:


R.I. Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter’s March 11 ruling on the fairness of the deal “is a credit positive for Providence because it signals that the court is likely to approve the pending agreement,” Galluccio and Thompson write. If the deal wins final approval on April 12, it will reduce Providence’s unfunded pension liability by $196 million and its unfunded OPEB liability by $400 million, according to Moody’s.

Providence spent more than a quarter of its budget on pension contributions, retiree health benefits and debt payments in the 2011-12 fiscal year, Moody’s notes.

• Related: Chart: The decline and fall of the Providence pension system (Jan. 25, 2012)

Watch: Walt Buteau on the alarming trend of soldier suicides

March 19th, 2013 at 12:33 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Kinch ‘strongly considering’ run for mayor of Pawtucket in ’14

March 19th, 2013 at 10:35 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Pawtucket_City_Hall_Marc_N_BelangerProvidence may not be the only city with a hotly contested mayoral campaign next year.

Former Pawtucket City Council President Henry Kinch Jr. told on Tuesday he’s “strongly considering” running for mayor of Rhode Island’s fourth-largest city in 2014. The Democrat is currently clerk of the Providence County Superior Court.

Kinch ran in the 2010 Democratic primary to replace retiring Mayor James Doyle, losing to Don Grebien 64% to 37%. Grebien was unopposed for re-election last year.

Grebien spokesman Doug Hadden declined to say if the incumbent will seek a third term. “The city faces a lot of daunting contractual and budget challenges,” Hadden told “He’s focused on that. He has not made a statement at this time one way or another. He’s focused on working hard for the residents of Pawtucket.”

Grebien had $6,065 in his campaign war chest as of Dec. 31, while Kinch’s old campaign account was inactive.

Kinch’s father, Henry Kinch, was mayor of Pawtucket from 1981 to 1987.

Update: In a follow-up email, Grebien told he’ll definitely be in the race:

I will be running for re-election as mayor of Pawtucket in 2014. The city’s problems are bigger and more extensive than anyone could have anticipated and I am committed to staying and getting the job done. We have already made significant financial progress but much remains to be done. As a parent of two young children, I am committed to a better future for them and for our city.

(photo: Marc N. Belanger/Wikipedia)

Where Does This Winter Stand in Our History

March 19th, 2013 at 8:48 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

The National Weather Service sent out a nice tweet yesterday (saving me a few minutes of work for this blog which I had planned to do anyway this morning).  They listed the Top 10 Snowiest Winters of the major cities in Southern New England.  Here are the Top Snowiest Winters for Providence:

  1. 1995-96:         106.1″
  2. 1947-1948:      75.6″
  3. 2004-2005:     72.2″
  4. 1906-1907:      71.4″
  5. 1977-1978:     70.2″
  6. 1993-1994:      63.5″
  7. 1960-1961:      62.7″
  8. 1966-1967:      58.1″
  9. 1944-1945:      56.7″
  10. 1989-1990:      56.2″
2" of snow fell in East Providence between March 18th and March 19th.

2″ of snow fell in East Providence between March 18th and March 19th.




A short time ago, TF Green Airport reported 2.6″ of snow with this storm, bringing the total up to 46.3″ of snow on the season.  That’s about 10″ short of cracking the Top 10 Snowiest Seasons in Providence.   As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post today, Winter’s Staying Put!   We will likely have at least 2 or 3 more chances of snow this year….picking up another 10″ is not impossible!

-T.J. Del Santo

Updated Snowfall Reports

March 19th, 2013 at 8:01 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog
Latest reports...a mix of National Weather Service reports 
and what we have received here at WPRI.  

Let us know how much fell in your driveway!


   BARRINGTON             2.5   604 AM  3/19  HAM RADIO
   BRISTOL                2.0   545 AM  3/19  HAM RADIO

   WEST WARWICK           4.0   630 AM  3/19  HAM RADIO
   COVENTRY               3.0   349 AM  3/19  HAM RADIO
   COVENTRY               2.0   700 AM 

   PORTSMOUTH             2.7   644 AM  3/19  TRAINED SPOTTER

   WEST GLOCESTER         4.0   643 AM  3/19  
   HOPE                   3.0   345 AM  3/19 
   GREENVILLE             3.0   635 AM  3/19  GENERAL PUBLIC
   WOONSOCKET             2.4   700 AM  3/19  MEDIA

   SOUTH KINGSTOWN        3.0   209 AM  3/19  TRAINED SPOTTER

   TAUNTON                3.0   700 AM  3/19  NWS OFFICE
   REHOBOTH               2.0   708 AM  3/19  COCORAHS
   SWANSEA                2.0   707 AM  3/19  TRAINED SPOTTER
   TAUNTON 2NW            2.0   458 AM  3/19  NWS EMPLOYEE
   NEW BEDFORD            1.5   403 AM  3/19  HAM RADIO

-T.J. Del Santo

Winter’s Staying Put…

March 19th, 2013 at 7:15 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

In 24 hours, it will officially be spring in the Northern Hemisphere.  At 7:02am on Wednesday, the sun’s direct rays will be shining on the equator.  Mother nature didn’t get the memo about the beginning of Meteorological Spring (March 1st) or Astronomical Spring.  Instead, long range computer models indicate we will see this pattern of cold weather continue for awhile. 

We have the potential for more snow on Thursday/Friday.  Below is the latest European computer model.  The American GFS computer model is similar to this solution with a trof of low pressure hanging over Southern New England.   As far as how much, it’s possible another few inches are possible in Providence (maybe higher amounts over Southeaster Massachusetts). 

European Computer Model for Thursday night/Friday Morning indicating the possibility of more snow

European Computer Model for Thursday night/Friday Morning indicating the possibility of more snow

So where is the spring-like weather?  It’s definitely not here and there is no indication it will be arriving in the next 2 weeks.  The biggest reason why is something called the NAO or the North Atlantic Oscillation.  The NAO is a whether phenomenon in the North Atlantic which can fluctuate in time.  Forecasts are usually only reliable for about 2-3 weeks ahead of time.  Below is the forecast of the NAO for the next 2 weeks….notice how the redline stays negative.  Negative NAO for us means cold.  While we may get some brief reprieves from the cold during hte next few weeks, don’t expect any prolonged stretches of beautiful spring weather soon.


Graph of the observed (black line) and forecasted (red lines) of the North Atlantic Oscillation

Graph of the observed (black line) and forecasted (red lines) of the North Atlantic Oscillation


So, Easter will likely be chilly and even into April, we are likely to see some cooler than normal temps.  Notice the trend of the red line, however.  It will start headed toward a positive NAO in early April.  Keep your fingers crossed!

-T.J. Del Santo

Accumulations So Far….

March 19th, 2013 at 5:24 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

In Rhode Island and Bristol County, MA we are seeing a mixed bag of precipitation.  At 5am, there is rain and freezing rain along the south shore, and a large area of sleet (ice pellets) just inland from the coast to about Route 295.  North and west of Route 295, expect the snow to hang around longer and accumulations will be a little bit higher there. 

Snow totals so far from National Weather Service and WPRI weather spotters


    WEST WARWICK       4.0
    WEST WARWICK       3.0  
    COVENTRY                  3.0  

    HOPE                             3.0
    N. SMITHFIELD        2.5
   GREENVILLE              2.2  
   E. PROVIDENCE        2.0  

   S. KINGSTOWN        3.0  


   NEW BEDFORD         1.5   
   TAUNTON                  1.5   

-T.J. Del Santo

Tonight: White, Gregg and Donnis talk ‘Everyday Exposes’ in RI

March 19th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

There hasn’t been a playbill like this since the Rat Pack played Vegas. Join me at RIC tonight:


Winter Hangs On….

March 18th, 2013 at 6:41 pm by under Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Good Evening From Chief Meteorologist Tony R Petrarca…

I am tracking a developing storm near the Mid Atlantic Coast at this hour…it will bring snow sleet and rain next 12-18 hours. The atmosphere is plenty cold enough for all snow later this evening and overnight, however, slightly milder air will be drawn in by Tuesday morning and that will result in a transition over to sleet and then “plain rain”, first in our southern suburbs, several hours later northern Rhode Island. Before the transition to sleet and rain, snow will accumulate to 1-2″ along the shore….2-4″ inland including, Warwick, Cranston and the Providence Metro area. North and west of Providence (especially NW of Route 295), 4 to 6 inches of snow is expected by late Tuesday morning.

snow tredn

This messy weather will have a high impact on the Tuesday morning commute, especially inland areas. Allow for some extra travel time. There may be cancellations and/or delays in those areas that see mostly snow rather than rain. Precipitation will switch back briefly to snow Tuesday evening in northern suburbs before ending.

Student fees at URI soared 140% in 10 years; state aid fell 31%

March 18th, 2013 at 2:57 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

An announcement this morning was probably welcome news for students at the University of Rhode Island: the college is freezing tuition for the 2013-14 school year, keeping the cost at $10,878 for in-state residents and $26,444 for out-of-staters. The decision is a victory for Governor Chafee, who’s proposed a $6 million increase in funding for state colleges but asked their presidents to freeze tuition as the quid pro quo.

URI’s financial documents show the school is taking much more money from students than it was a decade ago – $140 million more annually as of 2012. State lawmakers often get blamed for that, which has some validity: the state’s appropriation to URI has dropped by $26 million over the same period. Put another way, taxpayer dollars matched 84% of URI’s net student fees in 2002 but only 24% in 2012. Here’s a chart:


That said, it’s not an open-and-shut case that the General Assembly is totally to blame for the skyrocketing cost of attending URI – the increase in net student fees is more than five times larger than the decrease in the state appropriation, and the largest year-over-year hike was actually back in 2004, when net revenue from student fees jumped 17% even as the taxpayer subsidy stayed basically flat.

Update: A reader points out that the direct state appropriation to URI doesn’t reflect the university’s entire taxpayer subsidy because it excludes Rhode Island Capital Plan Funds and state-contributed capital. With those included, the state’s total appropriation to URI fell from $108 million in 2002 to $93 million in 2012, for a smaller cut of 14%, according to the school’s annual audits.

• Related: RI higher-ed funding #42 in US (Jan. 23) | 44% from RI at URI, RIC; 2nd-lowest (Oct. 20, 2011)

EngageRI offers the legal case for the state pension overhaul

March 18th, 2013 at 11:45 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Engage Rhode Island, the deep-pocketed advocacy group closely tied to Treasurer Gina Raimondo, released an unsigned three-page document [pdf] on Monday that makes the case for the legality of the 2011 pension law. Here’s the core of the argument:

If the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirms Judge Taft-Carter’s Decision, it will reverse its own precedent on the unmistakability doctrine, and create new constitutional law which will differ from federal court precedent and the precedent of the majority of state courts in this country. … If the judiciary can require a legislature to bind itself forever through one legislative act, which can never be revisited, the judiciary is thereby given too much power. Thus, it is important to hold from a separation of powers perspective that, unless the legislature’s intent to create contractual rights against the state is unmistakably clear, it should be free to amend its own legislation in the future.

Read the entire PDF here. For an alternative view, check out this from RWU Law’s Michael Yelnosky.

• Related: Mediation to continue in RI pension suit after judge gets update (Feb. 28)

What A Difference a Year Makes!

March 18th, 2013 at 11:14 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

As a late season winter storm gets ready to head into New England tonight, we are reminiscing about where we were at this time last year.  It was an early taste of summer warmth March 18-23… with temperatures running 30-40° warmer than this year.  I remember taking my kids to the beach for the first time and they actually played in the water!

March 2012

March 2012


I have been getting lots of questions over the last few weeks about WHEN we are going to start to warm up.  Unfortunately, we aren’t seeing a lot of change in the weather pattern through the end of the month.  A large trough in the jet stream will continue to allow cooler than normal temperatures to flow into the eastern US, and we’ll have to keep an eye out for more late season wintry weather.

temp 1

Temperature Probability for March 25-31

Report: RI casinos rely on Mass residents

March 18th, 2013 at 8:55 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Dan McGowan

Lincoln, R.I. (WPRI) – Twin River casino is more dependent on Massachusetts residents than Rhode Island residents and could be staring at substantial revenue losses once the Bay State opens three resort-style casinos and a slot parlor, according to a poll released Monday by the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Read the rest of this story »

Winter Storm Warning Northern RI

March 18th, 2013 at 6:27 am by under General Talk, Tony's Pinpoint Weather Blog

Good Monday morning,

New data continues to flow into the Pinpoint Weather Center this morning, giving us growing confidence in a period of wintry weather from late this evening through tomorrow morning before changing to plain rain.

In fact, the National Weather Service this morning upgraded the Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Storm Warning for Northern RI, where our highest snowfall accumulations are expected—as much as 4-6″ of snow and sleet.  In addition, the Providence Metro area through Kent and South Counties, along with northern Bristol County, MA are now under a Winter Weather Advisory.  The Alerts are for 9pm this evening through 11am Tuesday.

We are most concerned about messy travel conditions for tomorrow morning’s commute.

TIMING:  Snow arrives between 8pm and 12am.

          Changing to Rain from south to north between 6am and 11am Tuesday

         Periods of Rain in the Afternoon will taper off most areas by 8pm


                                Central  RI to Northern Bristol Cty MA–2-4″

                                Coastal RI/MA–Coating to 2″

RAINFALL:  Additional 0.5″ to 1″ of  rain after the changeover

WINDS:  East winds 10-20mph with gusts to 35mph

COASTAL FLOODING:  Not an issue because tides will not be astronomically high.  We catch a break in this regard

RIVER FLOODING:  We’ll watch local rivers and streams, however, right now rainfall amounts are not expected to be heavy enough to cause flooding of our major rivers–Pawtuxet, Blackstone, Pawcatuck.