Ted Nesi

Watch Executive Suite: Joe Paolino; Beaudoin and Kishfy

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


Violent crime in Providence fell 45% between 1991 and 2012

July 14th, 2014 at 3:13 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Violent crime in Rhode Island’s capital city was nearly slashed in half between 1991 and 2012, mirroring a national trend that saw a significant reduction in the number of homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults over the last two decades.

A WPRI.com review of Uniform Crime Reports published by the FBI shows Providence reported 2,049 violent crimes in 1991, the year Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. began his second go-around in City Hall. By 2012, current Mayor Angel Taveras’s second year in office, the city reported 1,133 violent crimes, a 45% swing.

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Watch Newsmakers: Almonte, Caprio and Magaziner debate

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


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

July 12th, 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 here on WPRI.com – as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to tnesi@wpri.com, and follow @tednesi on Twitter.

1. The three candidates running for general treasurer – Ernie Almonte, Frank Caprio and Seth Magaziner – squared off Friday in the first of this month’s pre-primary debates on Newsmakers, and the hour-long exchange gave a clear indication of how Caprio and Magaziner are pitching themselves to Democratic primary voters. Caprio, a familiar face, touted his record during his previous term in the treasurer’s office, casting himself as not only more experienced than Magaziner but also wiser today than he was when he made his botched run for governor. Even though he’s not technically the incumbent, in many ways Caprio is really running a re-election campaign, with all the advantages and challenges that implies. Magaziner is keeping a tight focus on the pension fund’s investment returns, and the need for the state to start matching the national average. (Cate Long might approve.) The 30-year-old is also trying to use his youth to his advantage by arguing the State House needs new faces, and to cast Caprio as a fair-weather Democrat who isn’t loyal to the party. Waiting in the wings is Almonte, a Democrat until last month who now has tacit GOP support for his independent bid. He emphasized his background as an accountant, suggesting the treasurer should be focused on math and money rather than partisan politics. That message could resonate in a state where one in two voters are registered independents, though non-party bids are always uphill battles.

2. Both Frank Caprio and Seth Magaziner are trying to navigate political tightropes in their campaigns. Caprio’s political profile was long that of a moderate or even conservative Democrat, and he’s acknowledged flirting with the Republican Party. Yet in his comeback bid for treasurer he’s striking a populist tone critical of Wall Street and high finance that wouldn’t be out of place with the party’s Elizabeth Warren wing: he strongly opposed the rehiring of the state’s longtime financial advisers at First Southwest, suggested the state is wasting money with hedge funds, and raised doubts about paying the 38 Studios bonds. All that sounds like an appeal to voters who dislike Gina Raimondo – but when asked to judge Raimondo’s work as treasurer, Caprio gave her an “A” grade. Magaziner, though, has challenges of his own. He is strongly supported by some progressives, who bonded with him while he was serving on the Marriage Equality Rhode Island board, and has won the endorsement of unions such as the National Education Association Rhode Island. Yet he’s also backed by some pro-Raimondo types who see him as the best option to protect her pension law, he is open to investing with hedge funds, and he supports paying the 38 Studios bonds. Meanwhile, a huge question remains unanswered: what will Bill and Hillary Clinton do to help Magaziner, the son of their old friend Ira?

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RI Treasurer candidates back pension overhaul, settlement

July 11th, 2014 at 5:24 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The three candidates for Rhode Island general treasurer all agreed Friday that the state’s landmark pension overhaul was necessary and pledged to negotiate a settlement to a lawsuit filed by public employee unions in order to avoid years of costly legal battles over the 2011 law.

Democrats Frank Caprio and Seth Magaziner as well as independent Ernest Almonte made their comments in an hour-long debate during a special taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. There is no Republican candidate in the race to replace incumbent Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who is running in the Democratic primary for governor this year.

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Caprio’s campaign ineligible for public matching funds

July 11th, 2014 at 4:26 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democrat Frank Caprio’s comeback campaign won’t be getting public matching funds after all.

Caprio filed paperwork with the R.I. Board of Elections on June 23 saying he would participate this year in the state’s matching funds system, which provide money to help fund campaigns on a sliding scale based on how much the candidate raises, but a state official said Friday he isn’t allowed to get the money.

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Stokes withdraws 38 Studios lawsuit against lawyers

July 11th, 2014 at 1:07 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The former director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation has voluntarily withdrawn from a lawsuit against two of the agency’s former lawyers.

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Buddy Cianci to run campaign out of former Hillary Clinton office

July 10th, 2014 at 5:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – What do Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. and Hillary Clinton have in common?

A campaign headquarters.

Cianci, the six-time former mayor of Providence who is again running to lead Rhode Island’s capital city, plans to open his campaign’s central office at 175 Broad St., the same location that housed Clinton’s Rhode Island office during her unsuccessful 2008 campaign for president.

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Judge hears settlement arguments in 38 Studios suit

July 8th, 2014 at 4:39 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Rhode Island Superior Court judge heard arguments Tuesday on a proposed settlement by two of the defendants in the state’s lawsuit against the architects of the failed 38 Studios loan deal, but did not issue a ruling on the matter.

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Chart: 23% of Rhode Island workers are now age 55 or older

July 8th, 2014 at 2:26 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Rhode Island’s work force is getting older and older in the wake of the Great Recession.

The total number of Rhode Island workers ages 16 to 54 dropped by 55,000 between 2006 and 2013, while the number of workers ages 55 and older rose by 31,000, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey. Those totals include both employed and unemployed workers.

A total of 23% of Rhode Island workers were at least 55 years old in 2013, compared with 17% in 2006.

Here’s a chart comparing the number of workers in each age group in 2006 versus 2013:

RI labor force by ageWhile the growth in Rhode Island’s 55-plus labor force wasn’t enough to offset the decline in its 16-to-54-year-old one, the opposite was true across the broader population. The state’s civilian non-institutional population ages 16 and older grew by 7,000 between 2006 and 2013, thanks to a net gain of 54,000 residents ages 55 and up.

Rhode Island’s population losses between 2006 and 2013 were concentrated in one age group: 35- to 54-year-olds, whose overall number fell by 47,000 during that period – a 14% drop. That decline suggests middle-aged residents either left the state, aged out of the group but weren’t replaced by younger residents, or some combination of the two.

Adults between the ages of 25 and 54 are referred to by economists as “prime-age” workers because they are in the prime of their working lives – focusing on their careers, raising their families and saving for retirement.

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi


Jorge Elorza wants to build Providence broadband network

July 8th, 2014 at 11:03 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic mayoral candidate Jorge Elorza said Tuesday he wants Providence to try its hand at the broadband business, proposing a multi-million dollar plan to build a public network that would compete with existing Internet service providers.

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Mayoral candidate Adrain backs landlord tax cut; others opposed

July 7th, 2014 at 3:13 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Mayoral candidate Lorne Adrain said Monday he supports a city ordinance that reduces the tax rate for rental property owners, while the other leading candidates in the crowded race backed Mayor Taveras’s decision to veto the law.

Adrain, an East Side businessman who originally planned to run as a Democrat before declaring as an independent, called the ordinance an opportunity “to think differently” and pledged to “review and restructure the Providence tax code” if he’s elected mayor in November.

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Q&A: John Sides on what really matters in Campaign 2014

July 7th, 2014 at 9:09 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

john SidesWho says political scientists are stuck in the ivory tower? In recent years, blogs like The Monkey Cage have helped popularize poli sci research, taking an academic approach to the 24-hour news cycle and debunking long-held myths about government and elections.

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, a Monkey Cage contributor and the co-author (with Lynn Vavreck) of a fascinating new book, “The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election.” Via email, Sides talked with me about what his research shows will really impact this year’s election in Rhode Island.

There are always books published soon after a major election that try to tell the story of how one side won and one side lost. What’s different about “The Gamble” from other campaign postmortems like “Game Change” or “Collision 2012″?

Other campaign postmortems do an excellent job using their access to campaigns to tell us why campaigns made the decisions they did. I think “The Gamble” helps to answer a different question, which is whether those decisions actually affected voters. To answer that question, you need the tools of social science, such as quantitative data and the ability to test hypotheses and rule out alternative explanations.

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Watch Executive Suite: Foolproof Brewing; Kevin Wilbur

July 7th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Watch Newsmakers: House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello

July 6th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


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

July 5th, 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 here on WPRI.com – as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to tnesi@wpri.com, and follow @tednesi on Twitter.

1. I hope all of you had a safe and happy Independence Day! (Rhode Island, of course, effectively declared its independence on May 4, 1776. Is a second holiday in order?)

2. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is hoping an uptick in Rhode Island’s economic growth – spurred in part by the tax cuts he just pushed through the General Assembly – will be enough to wash away the budget deficits currently projected for the coming years, which are set to rise from more than $100 million in 2015-16 to more than $400 million in 2018-19. If growth alone isn’t enough, though, don’t expect Mattiello to raise taxes to fill the gap. “I’m not looking to raise taxes in the future,” Mattiello said on this week’s Newsmakers. “My goal is to continue to create a better economic environment and atmosphere and to grow our economy. I think the way we work on reducing that structural deficit is to do things differently, and this budget was the first budget to do things differently and move in a different direction, to create that better economic environment, that better economic activity.” When pressed on what spending cuts he might consider if tax increases are off the table, however, Mattiello sounded a note of caution: “The reality is, even though it’s an $8-plus-billion budget, a lot of the spending is fixed and there’s not a lot of areas to look at anymore. But we will always look at efficiencies and making cuts where appropriate.”

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Mayor Taveras vetoes Providence landlord tax break

July 3rd, 2014 at 11:03 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The mayor of Rhode Island’s capital city has vetoed an ordinance that would lower taxes for rental property owners across the city beginning next year, in part because he believes it will force the next mayor to raise taxes for more than 19,000 homeowners.

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Mollis investigating lobbyist Rickman’s loan to Gordon Fox

July 2nd, 2014 at 5:37 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis said Wednesday his office is investigating whether former state Rep. Ray Rickman violated Rhode Island’s lobbying laws by extending a personal loan to former House Speaker Gordon Fox.

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McKee: Mollis should step back from 38 Studios probe

July 2nd, 2014 at 5:29 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee is demanding that his primary opponent in the race for lieutenant governor – Secretary of State Ralph Mollis – step down from an investigation into possible lobbying violations in the 38 Studios deal.

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38 Studios lobby violation hearings begin, delay requested

July 1st, 2014 at 5:33 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A hearing into possible lobbying violations by a key figure in the 38 Studios deal was continued for a week, but a lawyer for the state said he wants the proceedings completed “as soon as possible.”

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Providence admits actuary questioned its pension math

July 1st, 2014 at 12:54 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Lawyers for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras have rewritten bond documents to acknowledge that its actuary disagrees with the way the city reported how much money is in its cash-strapped pension fund.

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Taveras, Raimondo, Cliffwater trade barbs over hedge funds

June 30th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Angel Taveras’s campaign on Monday slammed his rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, for retaining an adviser recently replaced in Massachusetts – then got criticized for getting the facts wrong.

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Cianci campaign fund grew by $175K early in prison sentence

June 30th, 2014 at 1:39 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr.’s old campaign war chest grew by nearly $200,000 during his first two years in federal prison, according to campaign finance records reviewed by WPRI.com.

The campaign fund would eventually be scuttled and the account drained following a court-ordered forfeiture and a massive donation to a nonprofit created by Cianci.

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Watch Executive Suite: Scott Wolf; Stephen Boyle, Mark Gray

June 30th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Watch Newsmakers: Political roundtable on Cianci, 2014

June 29th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


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

June 28th, 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. Quite a week in Rhode Island politics, eh?

2. Here’s some news WPRI 12 broke late Friday that you might have missed – the state has reached a 38 Studios legal settlement with Moses Afonso Ryan and Tony Afonso. “I hope this is going to be the first in a series,” state attorney Max Wistow tells me.

3. If you’re wondering whom to thank – or blame – for the improbable comeback campaign of Buddy Cianci, put the Great Recession near the top of the list. The economic meltdown that began in 2007 was a body blow to Rhode Island and its capital city, one whose effects are still being felt seven years later. The downturn’s cascading financial fallout nearly drove Providence into bankruptcy, and although Angel Taveras avoided that drastic step, the city is still stuck with high unemployment, high taxes, too many potholes and too few prospects. Voters are looking for a savior – and Cianci thinks he’s well-positioned to play the part. His checkered past is real, but so is his love for Providence, and his name is synonymous with the happier days of the 1990s. The ironies here are numerous. For one thing, as Tim White reported Thursday night, some of Providence’s biggest financial problems have their roots in the Cianci days – as his opponents will remind voters in the coming months. For another, the stage for Cianci’s comeback was partly set by the actions of his successor and nemesis, David Cicilline, whose East Side allies are appalled at the prospect of his return to City Hall. To the extent that the Cicilline administration mismanaged the city’s finances in 2009 and 2010 – and then misled voters about the situation – they undercut their own case that post-Cianci Providence is better than what came before.

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RI, law firm reach $4.4M settlement in 38 Studios suit

June 27th, 2014 at 8:14 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Chafee administration has reached a tentative settlement with two of the parties the state has sued for their role in putting together the controversial 38 Studios deal, WPRI.com has confirmed.

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RI Republicans endorse Fung for governor over Block

June 26th, 2014 at 10:25 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Republican Party voted Thursday to endorse Cranston Mayor Allan Fung as the party’s favored candidate for governor this year, choosing him over Barrington businessman Ken Block, a newcomer to the GOP.

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Cianci defends 1991 decision that ballooned pension debt

June 26th, 2014 at 9:45 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence mayoral candidate Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. on Thursday defended a decision he made during his second administration that resulted in generous pension benefits for hundreds of municipal retirees.

Read the rest of this story »

• Related: How ‘comedy of errors’ torpedoed Providence pension fund (Nov. 28, 2011)


The lucky 47 who’ve already ‘won’ their General Assembly races

June 26th, 2014 at 10:55 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

RI_Statehouse_SouthDozens of General Assembly races are effectively over before a single ballot is cast because only one candidate filed for the seat by Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline, according to a WPRI.com analysis of information posted by the secretary of state’s office.

That includes 45% of all senators and 40% of all House lawmakers – approaching half of each chamber.

Here’s who is currently listed as running unopposed in both the primary and the general election and therefore probably won’t have to campaign to win re-election (or, in one case, a first election) this fall:

  1. Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D), District 1
  2. Sen. Dominick Ruggerio (D), District 4
  3. Sen. Paul Jabour (D), District 5
  4. Sen. James Doyle (D), District 8
  5. Sen. Walter Felag (D), District 10
  6. Sen. Lou DiPalma (D), District 12
  7. Sen. Dan DaPonte (D), District 14
  8. Sen. William Conley (D), District 18
  9. Sen. Ryan Pearson (D), District 19
  10. Sen. Roger Picard (D), District 20
  11. Sen. Frank Lombardo (D), District 25
  12. Sen. Frank Lombardi (D), District 26
  13. Sen. Joshua Miller (D), District 28
  14. Sen. Michael McCaffrey (D), District 29
  15. Sen. James Sheehan (D), District 36
  16. Sen. Susan Sosnowski (D), District 37
  17. Sen. Dennis Algiere (R), District 38

  1. Rep. Chris Blazejewski (D), District 2
  2. Rep. Thomas Palangio (D), District 3
  3. Rep. John DeSimone (D), District 5
  4. Rep. Raymond Hull (D), District 6
  5. Rep. John Lombardi (D), District 8
  6. Rep. John Carnevale (D), District 13
  7. Rep. Nicholas Mattiello (D), District 15
  8. Rep. Robert Jacquard (D), District 17
  9. Rep. Joseph McNamara (D), District 19
  10. Rep. David Bennett (D), District 20
  11. Rep. Joseph Shekarchi (D), District 23
  12. Rep. Joseph Trillo (R), District 24
  13. Rep. Jared Nunes (D), District 25
  14. Rep. Patricia Serpa (D), District 27
  15. Rep. Donald Lally (D), District 33
  16. Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D), District 38
  17. Rep. Stephen Ucci (D), District 42
  18. Rep. Cale Keable (D), District 47
  19. Rep. Michael Morin (D), District 49
  20. Rep. Robert Phillips (D), District 51
  21. Rep. William O’Brien (D), District 54
  22. Rep. Arthur Corvese (D), District 55
  23. David Coughlin (D), District 60 (incumbent Rep. Elaine Coderre is retiring)
  24. Rep. Raymond Johnston (D), District 61
  25. Rep. Gregg Amore (D), District 65
  26. Rep. Jan Mailk (D), District 67
  27. Rep. Raymond Gallison (D), District 69
  28. Rep. Jay Edwards (D), District 70
  29. Rep. Marvin Abney (D), District 73
  30. Rep. Deborah Ruggerio (D), District 74

It’s always possible someone could mount a write-in campaign against one of these candidates, but defeating an incumbent without your own name on the ballot is a very, very tall order. On the other hand, it’s also possible the number of uncontested races will actually grow if some of the individuals currently listed as challengers in various races don’t return enough signatures by the July 11 deadline.

One other thing that could change: political parties also have until the end of Thursday to nominate their own candidates in races where they don’t have a candidate yet, WPRI 12 political analyst Joe Fleming notes. There are currently 39 Republicans and 25 independents listed as running (including incumbents).

This post has been updated twice to reflect additional filings.