Ted Nesi

Gov candidate Fung wants to scrap education board

April 24th, 2014 at 9:49 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung on Thursday pledged to make sweeping changes to Rhode Island’s education system, unveiling a plan that would scrap the state’s two-year-old Board of Education and require the education commissioner to report directly to him.

Read the rest of this story »


Dem gov hopeful Clay Pell unveils economic plan

April 23rd, 2014 at 11:52 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell on Wednesday rolled out his first major policy proposal of the campaign, offering a laundry list of ideas on what he would do to improve the Rhode Island economy if he’s elected in November.

Read the rest of this story »

• PDF: Read the full text of Clay Pell’s economic proposal


3 charts that show how construction has collapsed in RI

April 22nd, 2014 at 4:06 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The Rhode Island Construction Coalition, a newly formed industry group, released a short paper today put together by Bryant economics professor Ed Tebaldi examining the challenges facing Rhode Island’s construction sector four years after the official end of the Great Recession.

“The widespread difficulties in the housing market and weak construction outlook in the nation makes the short term a difficult time for the construction industry in Rhode Island,” Tebaldi concludes.

While Tebaldi’s findings won’t be a surprise to anyone who’s been tracking Rhode Island’s economy in recent years, the paper includes a few striking charts that demonstrate just how hard-hit the construction sector has been – and hints at why it was set up for such a hard fall.

(more…)


Moody’s: Failure of RI pension settlement a ‘credit negative’

April 21st, 2014 at 12:31 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A top Wall Street ratings agency is ringing an alarm bell over the recent rejection of a proposed pension settlement that Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Treasurer Gina Raimondo had hammered out with the state’s labor unions.

Read the rest of this story »


Gordon Fox puts his East Side home on the market

April 21st, 2014 at 11:52 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former House Speaker Gordon Fox has put his Gorton Street home on the market and is looking to get $615,000 for it.

Read the rest of this story »


Watch Newsmakers: NEARI’s Robert Walsh

April 21st, 2014 at 10:30 am by under Nesi's Notes


Watch Executive Suite: Andera CEO Charlie Kroll

April 21st, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


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

April 19th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post

Happy Saturday! Here’s 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 @tednesi.

1. Happy Easter!

2. Tim White, Dan McGowan and I spent a lot of time reporting on the Gordon Fox investigation over the past five days, and we know a good deal more today than we did a week ago. As we reported Tuesday and Wednesday, just before the March 21 raids investigators visited longtime Fox aide Ruth Desmarais in search of campaign-finance documents, and they also sought information from the R.I. Board of Elections. (“They were not searching my house,” Desmarais told Tim in an interview, “but that is all I will tell you.”) Fox has been the treasurer of his own campaign-finance account for the last 10 years, giving him responsibility for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash (though he’d designated Desmarais as his point person with elections officials). Just this week, as we reported Thursday, investigators sought additional information about Fox from the Providence city treasurer’s office; Fox has earned money from the city on and off since 1996. Put it all together and this is looking more and more like a classic “follow the money” case. What we don’t know, of course, is where the money leads. It’s important to reiterate that Fox has not been charged or even identified as the target of all this activity; that said, he and his lawyer have said nothing to counter the widespread impression that he’s in a jam.

(more…)


Weightlifting ex-firefighter plans to sue for $7M over pension

April 18th, 2014 at 6:22 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Retired Providence firefighter John Sauro – who was collecting a tax-free disability pension when he was seen in Target 12 undercover video lifting weights – has filed a notice with city officials that he intends to sue the city for $7 million for taking away his pension.

Read the rest of this story »


Ahead of Easter, RI governor hopefuls discuss their faiths

April 18th, 2014 at 12:01 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – It’s Holy Week and Passover for Christians and Jews around the world, and among those commemorating the solemn religious periods will be the five major candidates for Rhode Island governor, all but one of whom say they’re Christians.

Read the rest of this story »


Rhode Island jobless rate falls to 8.7% in March

April 17th, 2014 at 2:13 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.7% in March, new data released Thursday shows.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 8.7% from 9% the prior month and is now at the lowest level since September 2008, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training said in a statement. By comparison, last month’s unemployment rate was 6.7% nationwide and 6.3% in Massachusetts.

Read the rest of this story »


Target 12: City records subpoenaed on Gordon Fox

April 17th, 2014 at 11:09 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Add the city of Providence to the list of those contacted by law enforcement officials regarding former House Speaker Gordon Fox.

A spokesperson for the city told Target 12 federal investigators on Wednesday “subpoenaed city documents related to Gordon Fox,” but declined to say what records were requested. He said the city is “fully cooperating” with law enforcement officials.

Read the rest of this story »


Judge Taft-Carter: RI pension lawsuit can move forward

April 16th, 2014 at 12:26 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s public-sector unions and retirees have won another court victory in the battle over the 2011 pension law.

Read the rest of this story »


Investigators contacted elections board about Gordon Fox

April 16th, 2014 at 10:37 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The director of campaign finance at the R.I. Board of Elections said Wednesday his office has been contacted by investigators seeking information about former House Speaker Gordon Fox, whose home and State House office were raided by state and federal law enforcement officials last month.

“I can confirm that the board has been contacted by law enforcement officials regarding Rep. Fox,” Richard Thornton wrote in an email to WPRI.com. “However, the board does not disclose the nature or substance of any communications with law enforcement officials concerning any ongoing investigation being conducted by either the board or law enforcement agencies.”

Read the rest of this story »


Gordon Fox’s campaign finance records sought in probe

April 15th, 2014 at 5:59 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White and Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Investigators visited former House Speaker Gordon Fox’s longtime executive assistant at her home in search of campaign finance records just before last month’s stunning raids on the Providence Democrat’s home and office, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

The new revelations about investigators’ contact with Ruth Desmarais and their interest in campaign finance offer the first clues after nearly a month of speculation about why Fox was in their crosshairs March 21.

Read the rest of this story »


Taveras agenda backs pension, weapons bills

April 15th, 2014 at 5:09 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Criminals serving life sentences would be ineligible for pensions, cops would have an easier time seizing weapons and litterers would face stiffer penalties under a variety of state legislation backed by Providence mayor and gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras.

Taveras is scheduled to testify Tuesday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of ten bills that comprise the city’s legislative agenda for 2014, according to Meaghan McCabe, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

Read the rest of this story »


RI income tax revenue 26% below forecast in March

April 15th, 2014 at 2:53 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island officials warned Tuesday that state tax revenue for the current budget year may come in below forecasts after income tax revenue came in far below expectations for March.

Read the rest of this story »

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 2.59.20 PM


Cost of soaring Medicaid enrollment in RI is still a mystery

April 15th, 2014 at 1:28 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Obamacare will likely cost Rhode Island more money than state leaders expected. But nobody knows exactly how much yet.

Figures obtained from the Chafee administration by WPRI.com show 34% of the 64,590 Rhode Islanders who signed up for Medicaid from October through March using the state’s new Obamacare marketplace, HealthSource RI, were eligible before the new law expanded the rules for who could sign up.

Read the rest of this story »


Blogger Hull hired for top City Hall post

April 14th, 2014 at 3:22 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Brian Hull, a former owner and editor of the left-leaning Rhode Island’s Future blog, has landed a job in Providence City Hall.

Hull will serve as Mayor Angel Taveras’ director of municipal and intergovernmental affairs, a position that has been vacant since Will Farrell left the administration earlier this year to start a lobbying firm.

Read the rest of this story »


Watch Executive Suite: Ayars, Dadekian on RI food, farms

April 14th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Watch Newsmakers: Cranston Mayor Allan Fung

April 13th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


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

April 12th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, The Saturday Morning Post

By Dan McGowan

Even Batman takes vacations, so I’m fillingdan in for Ted while he’s living large in Washington, D.C. As always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to dmcgowan@wpri.com and tnesi@wpri.com. For quick hits all week long, follow @danmcgowan and @tednesi.

1. Friday afternoon’s announcement that mediation has failed and the Rhode Island pension law will go to trial Sept. 15 all but guarantees the process will continue when a new governor takes office in January, but how long could it go? Former R.I. Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders believes it could be more than a year before the dust finally settles. Flanders told WPRI.com Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter could render a decision before the end of this year, but that the case will ultimately head to the state’s highest court. “That court can move relatively quickly when it wants,” Flanders said. As it currently stands, the trial will begin a week after the Sept. 9 Democratic gubernatorial primary that includes Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Clay Pell. While Raimondo will probably take the brunt of the criticism from union members, a trial will also likely force Taveras and Pell to take a position on the 2011 pension law once and for all. Flanders said he believes the state will ultimately prevail. “My view all along has been the state has the better case here,” he said.

2. Even when Batman is on vacation, he knows how to help out in a pinch. Here’s the first of two Nesi dispatches for the week: “Brown University is once again making jaw-dropping predictions about this year’s primary for governor. In a repeat of the methodology I noted last October, Brown’s new poll says 395 of the 600 Rhode Island voters in its general-electorate sample are likely to vote in the Democratic primary, implying a voter turnout level of roughly 66% in the upcoming Sept. 9 Democratic primary. As I said before, this would be a massive increase over the 18% of registered voters who turned out for the hard-fought 2002 Democratic primary between Myrth York, Sheldon Whitehouse and Tony Pires. Additionally, Democratic primary electorates are different from general electorates – the voters are typically more concentrated geographically in the urban core around Providence, especially in a year like this one where the capital city will also have an open mayoral race on the same ballot. So while Brown’s top-line finding – a tight race between Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras, with Clay Pell far behind – isn’t so absurd as to be dismissed out of hand, it should be treated with extreme caution for now. (As for the tiny 86-voter Republican primary survey – any result that carries a margin of error above 10% should be taken with a full can of Morton Salt.)”

(more…)


RI pension mediation ends; trial set for Sept

April 11th, 2014 at 2:44 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s landmark pension law is heading to trial.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo said Friday the state and its major labor unions have ended court-ordered mediation talks after eligible police officers voted to reject a proposed pension settlement. The two sides are now set to head to trial Sept. 15.

Read the rest of this story »


‘Superman’ owners appeal city tax bill

April 10th, 2014 at 5:42 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The owners of 111 Westminster Street is asking the city to adjust the value of the vacant skyscraper known as the Superman building – a request that would reduce the amount of taxes owed on the property.

David Sweetser, whose real estate investment firm High Rock Development owns the Superman building, has filed a property tax appeal with the Providence tax assessor’s office that would lower the taxes on the building that has been empty since last April, according to spokesman Bill Fischer.

Read the rest of this story »


Brown poll: Raimondo has slight lead over Taveras

April 10th, 2014 at 10:53 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – State treasurer and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo is clinging to a slight lead over Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, but more than a third of primary voters are still undecided, according to a Brown University poll released Thursday.

The new survey of 600 registered Rhode Island voters – including 395 Democratic primary voters – put Raimondo in the lead with 29.4%, with Taveras close behind at 25.8%. Clay Pell finished a distant third at 9.6%. More than 35% of those polled said they were still undecided.

Read the rest of this story »


‘Superman’ building owners seek $39M from taxpayers

April 9th, 2014 at 12:08 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The owner of Providence’s tallest building is again seeking $39 million in state support to help turn the vacant skyscraper into a mixed-use facility that would include office space and rental apartments, a project he says will create more than 1,000 jobs in Rhode Island’s capital city.

Read the rest of this story »


Layoffs hit storied Providence law firm Edwards Wildman

April 8th, 2014 at 1:59 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Edwards Wildman is cutting 52 jobs in 10 of its 16 offices worldwide, spokesman John Tuerck confirmed Tuesday. The targeted employees are 42 administrative staff members and 10 lawyers. Tuerck declined to disclose whether the Providence office is among the 10 affected.

Read the rest of this story »


Chafee: RI may continue pension deal without police

April 8th, 2014 at 1:44 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – R.I. Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Tuesday the state may consider moving forward with its pension settlement without the eligible police officers who voted to reject the deal.

“There are various options and that might be one,” Chafee said following a news conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office Tuesday morning.

Read the rest of this story »


Rhode Island to improve jobs for mentally disabled

April 8th, 2014 at 11:44 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Developmentally disabled Rhode Island residents who for years performed manual labor for little money will have the opportunity to secure “real jobs with real wages” under a settlement announced Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the state of Rhode Island said the ten-year agreement will require the state to provide employment and daytime services that will give approximately 3,250 developmentally disabled residents the opportunity to work in a traditional work setting rather than so-called sheltered workshops that segregate employees.

Read the rest of this story »


Police vote no on RI pension settlement; mediation restarts

April 7th, 2014 at 12:06 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The high-profile Rhode Island pension settlement was in jeopardy Monday after preliminary results showed 61% of eligible police officers had rejected it; Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter immediately ordered the two sides back into closed-door talks.

Read the rest of this story »