Ted Nesi

Elorza wants school contracts tied to performance

August 13th, 2014 at 12:15 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Contracts awarded by the Providence school department would be tied to performance and the city would move quickly to turn over control of hiring, budgets and instruction to school principals, under a proposal released Tuesday by mayoral candidate Jorge Elorza.

The Democrat making his first run for public office also pledged to improve professional development for teachers and have the school department focus more on grant writing so it can “aggressively pursue” outside funding to support many of the initiatives he has proposed.

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Clay Pell’s résumé comes under closer scrutiny

August 12th, 2014 at 10:40 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Clay Pell has compiled a lengthy résumé in the nine years since he received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, an employment history that is drawing more scrutiny as it comes under fire from one of his rivals.

Pell has actually had only two full-time permanent jobs since finishing law school, according to a WPRI.com review of public information, statements made by Pell and details provided by his campaign.

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Watch Executive Suite: Blount Fine Foods; Lisa Ranglin

August 11th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


It’s Victory Day, an only-in-Rhode Island institution since 1975

August 11th, 2014 at 12:01 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Like Del’s, Victory Day is a uniquely Rhode Island tradition.

Rhode Island is the only state that still observes an official holiday marking Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. It’s been that way since 1975, when Arkansas dropped the holiday – having already rechristened it “World War II Memorial Day” – and reportedly gave state workers their birthdays off as a consolation.

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De Ramel mostly mum on why he hired Gordon Fox

August 10th, 2014 at 12:57 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Guillaume de Ramel, a Democratic candidate for secretary of state, isn’t saying much when it comes to why a business he helped to start briefly employed former House Speaker Gordon Fox to do legal work back in 2011.

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Watch Newsmakers: Catherine Taylor; John Carlevale

August 10th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


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

August 9th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post

I’m back! Happy Saturday. Here’s another edition of the weekend column here on WPRI.com - thank you to Dan McGowan for ably manning it in my absence. As always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to tnesi@wpri.com, and follow @tednesi on Twitter.

1. With less than a month left before voters go to the polls, the Democratic primary for governor shifted to a new phase this week as Angel Taveras went on the attack against Clay Pell, a major strategic shift by a candidate who spent the last month decrying negative campaigning by Gina Raimondo. It’s the strongest evidence yet that Pell’s largely self-funded campaign is indeed getting traction and becoming a real problem for the mayor. Taveras now has to put forward three messages at once: the case against Raimondo, the case against Pell, and the case for himself. That’s not easy to do, especially with the smallest budget of the three – perhaps Taveras needs a signature issue that will set him apart. (On Friday his campaign highlighted education, also a key focus for Pell.) To the extent it reinforces the idea that he’s a viable candidate, Pell supporters actually seemed pleased to see their candidate taking fire; Pell booster Bob Walsh of NEARI went so far as to suggest Taveras is now the spoiler, which surely made Taveras backers’ heads explode. The question of spoilers, though, isn’t going to go away as Gina Raimondo floats above the Taveras-Pell fight with her new positive ad. If Pell overtakes Taveras as Raimondo’s main rival, how high is he ceiling of support? Could he actually woo enough voters to win outright – or only enough to help the treasurer secure victory?

2. One reason Clay Pell has become a force in the Democratic primary: his spending on TV and radio advertising through mid-August will total $1.4 million, slightly more than the $1.3 million that Gina Raimondo will spend and way more than the $641,000 that Angel Taveras has booked, according to tracking figures from one of the campaigns. Taveras has also already booked another $255,000 between Aug. 19 and Sept. 9. All told the three Democrats have booked $3.6 million in commercial time on broadcast TV, cable and radio so far – and that’s before Pell or Raimondo buy anything after Aug. 18, as they surely will. Those dollar figures don’t tell the whole story, though, because the candidates are paying different amounts for the ads. By another metric – gross rating points – Raimondo is tops with 11,654 points through Aug. 18, compared with 8,534 points for Pell and 6,589 points for Taveras.

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Elorza eyes end to social promotion in Providence schools

August 8th, 2014 at 6:57 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic mayoral candidate Jorge Elorza said Friday he wants Providence schools to put an end to social promotion, the commonly used but rarely acknowledged practice of allowing struggling students to advance to the next grade to keep them on track with their peers.

Elorza’s plan to build a “competency-based educational system” is part of a larger vision for city schools that also includes offering dual enrollment to students who wish to take college courses in high school; increasing the number of Advance Placement courses; expanding outside-the-classroom learning opportunities; and giving teachers “more freedom and flexibility.”

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Taveras wants to spend $42M on new education programs by 2019

August 8th, 2014 at 6:54 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras wants to spend $42 million on new education programs by 2019, including creating a college fund for all newborn babies, expanding the widely-acclaimed Providence Talks initiative and providing “last dollar” scholarships to college students.

Taveras, who is leaving Providence after one term as mayor, said his 10-point “Rhode Island Achieves” proposal seeks to map out how “we can give our children a chance at a better life.” He kicked off his campaign for governor last fall by calling for universal pre-K for Rhode Island children.

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Clay Pell launching new ad to blunt Taveras attack

August 7th, 2014 at 10:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell is moving quickly to try and blunt a TV attack ad that’s being aired in heavy rotation by his rival, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, with his own spot arguing the campaign should stay policy-focused.

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CVS has mulled moving its HQ overseas due to taxes

August 7th, 2014 at 5:48 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – Drugstore giant CVS Caremark Corp., Rhode Island’s largest for-profit company, confirmed Thursday that it has examined moving its corporate headquarters overseas to avoid the nation’s high corporate tax rate.

“We have an obligation to our employees, our shareholders and our customers to understand all of our potential options,” Carolyn Castel, CVS Caremark’s vice president of corporate communications, told WPRI.com in an email.

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Bill Clinton to campaign in Providence for Seth Magaziner

August 6th, 2014 at 10:30 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former President Bill Clinton is set to visit Rhode Island later this month to campaign for Democratic general-treasurer candidate Seth Magaziner, WPRI.com has learned.

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Angel Taveras slams Clay Pell in new TV attack ad

August 5th, 2014 at 10:36 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Angel Taveras late Tuesday launched a frontal assault against his Democratic gubernatorial rival Clay Pell, debuting a new TV ad that criticizes the political newcomer as “inexperienced and out of touch.”

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At fundraiser, Buddy Cianci warns of ‘negative campaign’

August 5th, 2014 at 5:54 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. told a group of supporters Monday that he’s expecting a long, “negative campaign” from well-funded opponents in the coming months as he seeks a return to City Hall.

Cianci’s comments came during a $1,000-a-head fundraiser at Al Forno Restaurant on South Main Street. The 73-year-old independent drew applause from several dozen donors and supporters as he laid out his vision for Providence during an 11-minute speech, but he also warned that an independent expenditure group is preparing to “go against us big time.”

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Cianci lists income sources, real estate portfolio in new filing

August 4th, 2014 at 5:48 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. drew income from commentary gigs with WPRO-AM and WLNE-TV as well as various speaking engagements in 2013, according to his first public financial disclosure filing since he left office in 2002.

The new filing with the state Ethics Commission also shows Cianci owns two lucrative pieces of commercial real estate in Providence and Warwick – he leases one to Women and Infants Hospital – as well as a residential property on Chalkstone Avenue.

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Mayoral candidates Smiley, Elorza at odds over municipal income tax

August 4th, 2014 at 3:49 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic mayoral candidate Jorge Elorza said Monday a new YouTube video that shows him expressing support for a municipal income tax in Providence “was intentionally edited to mislead voters.”

The 44-second video, released Sunday by primary opponent Brett Smiley, shows Elorza telling the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America that he is “very much in support of a municipal income tax.” The group later endorsed Elorza’s bid for mayor.

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Watch Newsmakers: Cormick Lynch, Stan Tran

August 3rd, 2014 at 12:58 pm by under Nesi's Notes


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

August 2nd, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

By danDan McGowan

Thanks for reading the Saturday Morning Post while Ted was away. He’s back in action next week and like you, I couldn’t be happier. 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. While the $3.1 million Clay Pell has already loaned his campaign is nearly as much as incumbent Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Republican Gov. Don Carcieri combined to spend on themselves for elections in 2002, 2006 and 2010, he hasn’t quite cracked the top of the list for campaign loans in Rhode Island. That honor goes to former state Sen. Myrth York, who spent just a shade under $4 million on herself during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2002. (York did win Democratic primaries in 1994, 1998 and 2002.) Although Pell’s personal fortune is the biggest story of the latest round of campaign finance reports – he’s up with yet another new commercial today – it’s worth noting that Gina Raimondo has now raised more than $5.66 million since launching her 2010 campaign for state treasurer. Put another way, Raimondo’s war chest has collected $18,099 in interest since 2010; that’s more than nine members of the Providence City Council currently have in their campaign accounts. The third contender in this year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, is no slouch himself when it comes to fundraising. Taveras still finished the second quarter with more than $1.3 million in the bank, but with two better-funded opponents, you have to wonder if he’s kicking himself for pushing so hard to ban outside spending in the race.

2. On the Republican side, businessman Ken Block and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung know they’ll likely be outspent by the Democratic nominee, but all they have to do is call John Robitaille to learn how to run a competitive general election race. At the same point in 2010, the $40,190 in Robitaille’s campaign account was 43 times less than the amount held by Democrat Frank Caprio, who didn’t even have a primary. Robitaille went on to benefit from matching funds and some outside help from the Republican Governors Association, which you have to assume will happen for either Block or Fung again this time around. Block ended the quarter with $584,995 cash on hand, while Fung finished with $364,141.

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Pell campaign loans top $3M as gov candidates spend big

August 1st, 2014 at 6:35 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gubernatorial hopeful Clay Pell loaned himself another $1 million and spent $1 million between April and June, while fellow Democrats Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras racked up expenses following large media buys ahead of their Sept. 9 primary showdown.

Pell has now loaned himself $3.07 million since last fall, according to his latest campaign finance report filed with the state Board of Elections. Most statewide and local candidates were required to file their quarterly report by midnight Thursday.

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Myrth York leaves Smiley’s campaign; will stay involved in mayor’s race

July 31st, 2014 at 6:24 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Myrth York, a former state senator and three-time Democratic candidate for governor, has stepped down as co-chairwoman of Brett Smiley’s mayoral campaign to “focus my attention on efforts to highlight what’s at stake for Providence in this coming election.”

York, who introduced Smiley when he launched his campaign for mayor last December, told WPRI.com she remains of “fervent supporter” of the East Side Democrat, but said she will spend the coming weeks “speaking with friends, neighbors and other Rhode Islanders who recognize the importance of keeping Providence free of the policies and practices that once plagued its past.”

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Providence police union blasts Taveras on cop staffing

July 31st, 2014 at 4:01 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The police union in Rhode Island’s capital city said Thursday it is protesting the Taveras administration “for their lack of foresight with the Providence Police Department manpower shortages.”

In a letter written by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 president Taft Manzotti and four other officials, the union said the force “has been diminished to numbers that have not been seen since the late 1970s.” The letter goes on to criticize Taveras for not purchasing any new vehicles during his tenure until April and handicapping the force with an outdated computer system.

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Cianci allies paid for poll; may have violated campaign finance law

July 31st, 2014 at 3:08 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A group of allies to former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. contributed nearly $9,000 to a political action committee that polled the mayor’s race earlier this year.

Former Mayor Joseph Paolino, City Councilman John Igliozzi and Artin Coloian, Cianci’s former chief of staff, were among nine individuals who contributed $8,700 to the 7th Ward PAC, according to a report filed with the Rhode Island Board of Elections Thursday.

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David Caprio resigns as RI Democratic Party chairman

July 29th, 2014 at 5:09 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – After less than a year on the job, the chairman of the state Democratic Party is stepping down.

David Caprio, a lawyer and former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called the unpaid post “demanding and time consuming, especially in an election year.”

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Elorza wants schools open longer, more social services

July 28th, 2014 at 2:23 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Schools in Rhode Island’s capital city would stay open longer and on weekends and students would have more access to social services, under a proposal released Monday by Democratic mayoral candidate Jorge Elorza.

Elorza’s plan would provide “wrap-around programming” to students on nights, weekends and during school vacations, turning schools into “one stop hubs for students, families, and neighborhoods.” He said the goal would be to leverage existing community partnerships to create more full-service community schools.

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As primary nears, mayoral hopefuls target Buddy Cianci

July 28th, 2014 at 7:51 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Jorge Elorza says it’s about building a diverse coalition of city residents. Brett Smiley says it’s about having the courage to stand up and fight. Michael Solomon says experience is everything.

They’ve got different talking points, but the three leading Democratic candidates for Providence mayor have adopted similar campaign strategies as the clock ticks before their Sept. 9 primary: each is making the case that he is the only one who can defeat former Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. in the general election.

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Watch Executive Suite: rVotes founder Steve Adler

July 28th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Watch Newsmakers: De Ramel, Gorbea debate for SoS

July 27th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


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

July 26th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, The Saturday Morning Post

Compdanmcgowanany policy dictates that you get a week off for every award you win, so after Ted’s performance at the Best of Rhode Island party this week, you’re stuck with me for the foreseeable future. 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. Here’s one thing we learned from Democratic secretary of state candidates Nellie Gorbea and Guillaume De Ramel during their 30-minute debate on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers: what they lack in policy differences between one another, they more than make up for in delivery. Facing a steep financial disadvantage in the race, Gorbea came out swinging, attacking her opponent for his connection to Ray Rickman, the former state representative and lobbyist who failed to disclose a $10,000 loan he gave to then-House Majority Leader Gordon Fox in 2009. “It’s not just about policy ideas, but also what are you going to do in the line of fire,” she said. For his part, De Ramel, the perceived favorite thanks to his personal wealth and a stack of endorsements, stayed on message. He agreed that the loan to Fox was inappropriate, but said Rickman is entitled to due process in the probe. De Ramel never quite engaged with Gorbea, except to suggest that one difference between the two is “I’ve never roamed the halls of the State House as a staffer.”

2. Friday’s forum wrapped up a month of debates for all of the statewide races that have a significant primary. If you missed any of them, here’s a breakdown: Democratic governor; Republican governor; lieutenant governor; general treasurer; secretary of state. We’ll be back in action next month with more gubernatorial debates.

3. He may be using Hillary Clinton’s old campaign office, but former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci is hoping the technology used by conservative upstart David Brat will help build his ground game as he seeks to win back his old job. Cianci, the 73-year-old independent who hasn’t run a competitive race since 1994 – he ran unopposed in ’98 – has signed on to use the well-respected rVotes software to help modernize his campaign, company founder Steve Adler said this week during a taping of myRITV’s Executive Suite. Adler, a Providence native who helped launch the campaign technology that put the Democrats years ahead of their rivals when it came to fundraising and field efforts, has now switched sides and developed a similar program for the GOP. Although Adler’s biggest win came last month when Brat shocked the political world by defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary, it’s worth noting that former Rhode Island GOP Chairman Ken McKay embraced the program several years ago. McKay is now political director for the Republican Governors Association. It’s too early to know what rVotes will mean for Cianci in November, but it is a sign that the former mayor understands what it takes to win a race in 2014. Now all he needs is a functioning website.

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Providence pension investments beat state’s again

July 25th, 2014 at 5:02 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence pension fund’s investment performance beat the state’s once again in the fiscal year that just ended, and it wasn’t particularly close.

The City of Providence Employee Retirement System’s roughly $272-million portfolio earned 17.5% during the 12-month fiscal year that ended June 30. The Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island’s roughly $8.2-billion portfolio earned 15.1% over the same period.

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Dem sec. of state candidates oppose voter ID law in debate

July 25th, 2014 at 2:40 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Democratic candidates for secretary of state said Friday they support bringing in an independent investigator for an active inquiry into Rhode Island’s failed 38 Studios deal and each expressed opposition to the state’s voter identification law.

Guillaume De Ramel and Nellie Gorbea largely agreed on ways the $109,000-a-year state office can oversee elections, regulate lobbyists and create a more efficient system to register businesses during a 30-minute debate on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers.

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