Nesi’s Notes

Brown University shaking up its political polling operation

July 24th, 2014 at 11:39 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Brown University is working on a reboot of its closely watched Rhode Island political polling operation, WPRI.com has learned.

James Morone, a political science professor who took over from Marion Orr this month as director of Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy & American Institutions, confirmed that he is working to hire one or more new staff members to conduct the polls.

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Providence pension lawsuit looming, trial this fall

July 24th, 2014 at 10:09 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A pending lawsuit by a group of retirees over changes to Providence’s pension system could cost the city more than $11 million over 10 years if the retirees prevail, according to data reviewed by the Target 12 Investigators.

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New Providence Journal owner likely to cut jobs, analysts say

July 23rd, 2014 at 10:01 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Journal’s new owner is likely to cut jobs while boosting revenue through a service that helps local small businesses with online marketing, analysts said Wednesday.

There was widespread agreement among analysts Wednesday that GateHouse will probably cut jobs at The Journal once the deal closes, which is expected to happen by Sept. 30. But they said employees who work in back-office operations are at more risk than reporters.

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Q&A: Jon Chesto explains new Projo owner GateHouse Media

July 23rd, 2014 at 2:38 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Jon Chesto BBJThere’s a new media giant in town: New Media Investment Group, GateHouse Media’s parent company, is buying The Providence Journal for roughly $46 million. The deal instantly gives GateHouse, a major force in Massachusetts newspapering, a huge foothold in Rhode Island less than a year after the company exited bankruptcy.

Jon Chesto is managing editor of the Boston Business Journal and a former business editor at the Patriot-Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts, which GateHouse owns. A close follower of GateHouse, Chesto wrote a perceptive analysis of the Journal deal Tuesday night. He spoke with WPRI.com on Wednesday about the deal and what it means for the paper’s future. The conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Let’s start with the basics for people down here in Rhode Island. What is New Media Investment Group? What’s its relationship with GateHouse?

New Media Investment Group is a publicly traded company that’s an umbrella group that includes GateHouse and a number of companies that have been acquired by Fortress [Investment Group]. Prior to that it was an affiliate of Fortress that bought the Dow Jones community papers formerly known as Ottaway, and those were sort of the original New Media papers. There have been several papers since.

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Providence mayoral candidates talk taxes, ‘Superman’ building at forum

July 23rd, 2014 at 2:18 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Democratic candidates for Providence mayor said Tuesday they want to hold the line on property taxes, grow the police force and find a way to make use of the vacant “Superman” building in downtown without completely bailing out its owners.

The comments from City Council President Michael Solomon, Jorge Elorza, Brett Smiley and Chris Young came during a candidate forum held at the Summit Commons on Hillside Avenue Tuesday evening. The two-hour event was hosted by the Summit Neighborhood Association and moderated by Rhode Island College professor Thomas Schmeling.

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Providence mayoral hopefuls Solomon, Smiley at odds on crime

July 23rd, 2014 at 1:22 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The gloves are coming off in the Providence mayor’s race. And it has nothing to do with Buddy Cianci.

After Michael Solomon unveiled his public safety plan Wednesday, Democratic primary opponent Brett Smiley criticized Solomon for not doing enough to address crime during his two terms on the City Council.

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Providence Journal sold to GateHouse parent for $46M

July 22nd, 2014 at 6:55 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Journal has been sold to GateHouse Media parent company New Media Investment Group Inc. for approximately $46 million, Journal owner A.H. Belo announced late Tuesday afternoon.

The newspaper was put up for sale in December by A.H. Belo, which bought it in 1997. In addition to GateHouse, which emerged from bankruptcy last year and owns a number of papers in Massachusetts and other states, New Media’s other divisions are Local Media Group Inc. and Propel Marketing.

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Eastside Marketplace sold to Stop & Shop’s owner

July 22nd, 2014 at 10:41 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Scott Laurans, the longtime owner of Eastside Marketplace, told WPRI.com on Tuesday that Ahold USA, the American division of Royal Ahold NV, has bought the local grocery store’s holding company, ESM Inc.

Eastside Marketplace will retain its name and be operated as a separate division of Ahold USA, he said.

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As term nears end, Gov. Chafee sees ‘progress’ on education

July 22nd, 2014 at 8:14 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Nearly two months after Lincoln Chafee launched his campaign for governor in 2010, he sat in the Central Falls High School auditorium and watched as the city’s school board called out the names of 93 teachers, specialists and guidance counselors. All of them were fired.

Chafee still recalls the tears shed by students as they watched their teachers lose their jobs and the angry union protesters who loudly opposed the board’s decision, one that made the one-square-mile city a national battleground over school reform on that February evening. He promised himself things would be different if he won the state’s top job.

Now, as he enters the final months of his one and only term as governor of Rhode Island, Chafee says he has put a halt to the “divisive labor warfare” he inherited thanks to compromises on both sides. And while a large achievement gap between poor and affluent students still exists, Chafee argues the investments he’s made in education have put the state on a path toward producing better outcomes.

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Clay Pell getting traction in Democratic gov primary

July 21st, 2014 at 1:48 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Could Clay Pell win the Democratic nomination for governor on Sept. 9?

No small number of people have scoffed at that suggestion. But with 50 days to go before the primary – and more than $1 million in Pell TV ads saturating the airwaves – there’s reason to think the 32-year-old political newcomer has a real, if still unlikely, shot at victory.

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Watch Executive Suite: WaterFire creator Barnaby Evans

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


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

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

1. The Democratic lieutenant-governor primary between Frank Ferri, Dan McKee and Ralph Mollis isn’t exactly the hottest race in town, but it’s still a feisty fight. And it could matter: as Tim White points out, a lieutenant governor became governor 22 times between 2000 and 2010 alone. The three candidates met Friday for the second of this month’s pre-primary debates on Newsmakers to make their pitch for the votes – and attention – of viewers at home. The conventional wisdom has Mollis as the frontrunner in the race, and the debate will reinforce that thinking. The two-term secretary of state stayed calm and collected throughout, and kept his cool in the face of a blistering series of attacks on his record by McKee. The man had done his homework. McKee was on the offensive throughout the debate, jabbing Mollis – and occasionally Ferri too – about everything from 38 Studios to North Providence’s bond rating; he also spoke passionately about education policy. Ferri, a latecomer to the race, was understandably nervous and sometimes spoke haltingly in his first major debate with the other two. He eschewed attacks – other than one on Don Carcieri – and drew clear distinctions on issues such as health care, marijuana and immigration that could play well with progressives. Right now, though, it looks like Rhode Island could be in for a rematch between Mollis and Republican Catherine Taylor.

2. Frank Ferri has represented Warwick in the Rhode Island House since 2007, and he made some interesting comments during the debate when he expressed regret about his vote for the 2011 pension law championed by Gina Raimondo. “When we were presented with a pension reform, we thought we had the best offer on the table. We thought that was the best that we could get,” he said. “I know I worked hard on trying to lower the [retirement] age and a little more consideration to COLAs. But now we learn – after the court ordered that they go back into negotiations – there was a better deal. So knowing that there was a better deal, knowing now that not everybody that should have been at the table was at the table, I’m not sure how I would have voted back then.” In fact, he continued: “Now that I know there was a better deal for the workers I probably would have not voted for it back then.”

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Democratic lieutenant governor hopefuls spar in fiery debate

July 18th, 2014 at 3:17 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The three Democratic candidates for Rhode Island lieutenant governor aggressively defended the office they’re seeking Friday, arguing that voters statewide should elect the person who is first in line to take over if the governor is unable to complete his term.

Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee and state Rep. Frank Ferri also sparred over 38 Studios, corruption and education while lobbing criticism at one another regarding their respective tenures in public office, during a fiery debate on a special edition of WPRI 12′s Newsmakers.

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• Related: Watch the full Democratic lieutenant governor debate on Newsmakers (July 18)


GOP’s Harrop wants Providence to enter receivership

July 18th, 2014 at 10:03 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – His message: “Vote for me and we’ll put Providence into receivership.”

It’s not the most conventional campaign slogan, but Republican mayoral candidate Daniel Harrop claims it’s the only cure for a city facing a massive unfunded pension liability, crippling tax rates and a crumbling infrastructure because of “Buddy Cianci’s incompetence and Democratic inaction.”

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Chart: Here are the industries that added (or cut) jobs in RI

July 17th, 2014 at 6:07 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell to 7.9% in June, the lowest level in six years, and employers have added nearly 6,000 jobs since January. But not all industries have fared equally well in the recovery.

On the positive side, employment in the arts/entertainment/recreation industry has jumped by 21% since December 2006, the last month before the downturn began in Rhode Island, to 9,400. For raw jobs added, the leader is health care/social assistance, which has added 5,300 positions since the end of 2006.

On the negative side, two historically blue-collar occupations – construction and manufacturing – continue to struggle. Construction employment is still down by an eye-watering 27% compared with December 2006; there were 6,300 fewer people working in construction in June compared with back then. In raw numbers, the manufacturing sector has been hardest hit, down by 10,900 jobs since the end of 2006.

The public sector hasn’t been immune, either: local government employment is down 11% since 2006.

Here’s a look at how employment changed in each industry from December 2006 to June 2014 as defined and tracked by the R.I. Department of Labor and Training. They are in order from most jobs added (health/social assistance) on the left to most jobs lost (manufacturing) on the right:

RI employment by sector 2006 vs 2014 crop 2


RI unemployment below 8% for first time since 2008

July 17th, 2014 at 2:56 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s unemployment rate has hit a new post-recession low.

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Providence council could tie tax breaks to minimum wage increase

July 17th, 2014 at 2:09 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Recipients of special tax breaks in Rhode Island’s capital city would be required to pay employees at least 125% of the state’s minimum wage, under an ordinance set to be introduced at a City Council meeting Thursday night.

Rhode Island’s minimum wage will grow to $9 an hour beginning Jan. 1, meaning developers or businesses seeking tax stabilization agreements from the city would be required to pay workers at least $11.25 to qualify for a reduced tax rate, according to City Councilman John Igliozzi. Wages would increase as the minimum wage goes up.

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Rep. Hull backs Smiley in Providence mayor’s race

July 16th, 2014 at 12:05 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence mayoral candidate Brett Smiley picked up his first significant endorsement outside of the city’s East Side Wednesday, winning the support of State Rep. Ray Hull, who represents part of the vote-rich 5th ward in Mount Pleasant and Elmhurst.

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Raytheon lays off workers in Rhode Island, Mass.

July 15th, 2014 at 4:18 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Defense giant Raytheon Co. has laid off an undisclosed number of workers at its facilities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, a company spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

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City Council overrides Taveras veto of landlord tax cut

July 14th, 2014 at 6:37 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Landlords in Rhode Island’s capital city will get their tax break, after all.

The Providence City Council voted Monday to override Mayor Angel Taveras’s veto of an ordinance that reduces the tax rate for rental property owners, but could force the next mayor to raise taxes on homeowners across the city to pay for it.

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RI governor hopefuls have already spent $2M on TV ads

July 14th, 2014 at 5:27 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The campaign to become Rhode Island’s next governor is already getting quite expensive.

The five major candidates for governor have bought $2.1 million worth of television advertising since mid-May, according to an internal campaign tracking document obtained by WPRI.com. The lion’s share of that money – $1.9 million – has been spent by the three Democrats: Gina Raimondo, Clay Pell and Angel Taveras.

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Lorne Adrain drops out of Providence mayor’s race

July 14th, 2014 at 1:29 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The race for Providence mayor is shrinking.

Lorne Adrain, who considered running for the city’s top job as a Democrat before making a last-minute decision to run as an independent, said Monday he is pulling out of race, the clearest sign yet that liberal-minded Providence residents could attempt to rally behind one candidate in the race against former Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr.

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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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