providence

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.

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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.

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‘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.

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Education activist Regunberg to run for Fox’s House seat

April 3rd, 2014 at 12:02 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Young liberals have found the candidate they want to replace former Speaker Gordon Fox in the R.I. House of Representatives.

Aaron Regunberg, a 24-year-old community organizer known best for launching the Providence Student Union activist group, said Thursday he plans to run for the House District 4 seat left open by Fox, who resigned as speaker and announced his plans to retire after law enforcement officials raided his Gorton Street home and State House office two weeks ago.

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PEDP board to meet in private Wednesday

April 1st, 2014 at 5:01 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Board members for the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP) are scheduled to meet behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss potential litigation involving the troubled city lending agency.

A spokesman for Mayor Angel Taveras said he could not confirm the matter that will be discussed when the board enters executive session, but Target 12 reported last month that the FBI subpoenaed records related to a 2009 loan approved by the PEDP.

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Mayoral candidates want to hire minorities, fix schools

April 1st, 2014 at 6:05 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Five mayoral hopefuls outlined their vision for Rhode Island’s capital city Monday, promising to hire more minorities and women, improve the school system and build a more diverse police force during a candidate forum at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on Cranston Street.

The forum was moderated by Brown University political science professor Marion Orr and hosted by the Rhode Island Black Business Association, a 501(c)6 nonprofit founded in 2010. The candidates included Democrats City Council President Michael Solomon, former Housing Court Judge Jorge Elorza, former Water Supply Board Chairman Brett Smiley, East Side businessman Lorne Adrain and Republican Daniel Harrop.

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Read the Big East story that launched Mike Stanton’s investigative reporting career

March 17th, 2014 at 5:11 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

If you caught ESPN 30 for 30’s excellent “Requiem for the Big East” last night, you know Providence has always played a central role in the conference than transformed college basketball into what it is today.

But you probably didn’t know that a four-part series on the Big East in March of 1989 also helped catapult recently retired Providence Journal reporter Mike Stanton to a legendary career as one of Rhode Island’s top watchdogs.

Stanton’s expose on the league’s finances uncovered just how much colleges and universities – particularly coaches – were raking in thanks to exploding endorsement deals and television contracts. That series, Stanton said on Twitter last night, “led to my move to news.” The rest is history.

After the jump, read the Stanton article that got some airtime about 91 minutes into the two-hour ESPN documentary.

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Watch Executive Suite: I-195 Commission’s Kane, Brodie

March 17th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under General Talk


Target 12: FBI reviewing PEDP records from 2009 loan

March 14th, 2014 at 5:45 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Federal investigators are scrutinizing a taxpayer-funded loan that was issued by the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP) in 2009 as part of a FBI probe, sources tell the Target 12 investigators.

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Feds subpoena Providence for PEDP records

March 13th, 2014 at 6:12 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Federal investigators have subpoenaed records from the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP), a troubled quasi-public agency that loans money to businesses, but city officials say it’s not the focus of the probe.

“Last week, the PEDP was issued a subpoena for records that predated the Taveras administration,” David Ortiz, a spokesman for Mayor Angel Taveras, told Target 12 on Thursday. “The PEDP is cooperating fully. The PEDP is not a target of the investigation.”

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Map: These are the 19 acres of I-195 land RI is trying to sell

March 12th, 2014 at 2:44 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Everyone talks a lot about “the 195 land,” referring to the roughly 27 acres of property in downtown Providence that were freed up when Rhode Island moved the former highway; 19 of the acres are ready for private development, while the other eight are being preserved for park land and open space.

Here’s where those parcels of land actually are, and how they’ve been split up:

I-195 land parcels March 2014 large

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Projo revenue slid 4% in 2013; advertising losses hit $96M

March 12th, 2014 at 10:08 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Projo annual revenue 2005 to 2013By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Journal’s revenue declined at a faster pace in 2013 as continued growth in its contracts for printing and distribution failed to offset falling circulation and another double-digit drop in advertising sales.

The Journal’s revenue totaled $90.1 million in 2013, a Securities & Exchange Commission filing by its parent company A.H. Belo shows. That was a 4% decrease in revenue compared with 2012, more than the prior year’s 1% drop but less than the declines of the five years from 2007 to 2011.

Total Journal revenue has plummeted 46% since 2005, when the newspaper pulled in $165.6 million. A.H. Belo is now in the process of trying to sell the local daily, a process that Chief Financial Officer Alison Engel recently said could be completed by April or May. It’s unclear who the buyer would be.

The Journal remains profitable, according to Engel. Howard Sutton, The Journal’s longtime publisher, and Karen Bordeleau, the paper’s executive editor, did not respond to a request for comment.

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Smiley wants overhaul of Providence loan program

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

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The mayor of Providence would have no say over a controversial taxpayer-funded small business loan program controlled by the city, under a proposal released by mayoral candidate Brett Smiley Tuesday.

Smiley, an East Side resident and former chairman of the city’s Water Supply Board, is calling for the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP) to establish an independent program that would place “loan-making decisions in the hands of qualified underwriters” rather than the agency’s current 15-member board.

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Taveras, council clash over affordable housing

March 3rd, 2014 at 6:24 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence City Council is seeking to override Mayor Angel Taveras’s veto of an affordable housing ordinance that he claims would put Rhode Island’s capital city at “substantial risk.”

The ordinance would provide a tax rate for new and rehabilitated affordable residential housing units at 8% of the previous year’s gross rental income, a policy council members say has already been on the books thanks to a state law that was passed in 1995.

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Moody’s downgrades Our Lady of Fatima Hospital parent

March 3rd, 2014 at 1:43 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A major Wall Street ratings agency has downgraded the financial outlook for St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island, warning the hospital group’s dwindling cash and large pension liabilities may force it to default on its bonds.

St. Joseph, which owns Our Lady of Fatima Hospital, is part of the nonprofit CharterCARE Health Partners and Affiliates group; CharterCARE is currently working to win state approval for its proposed merger with Prospect Medical Holdings Inc., a private-equity-backed for-profit California hospital group.

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• Related: Q&A: Why RI hospitals are struggling financially, and how to fix it (Dec. 18)


Prov Councilman Zurier wants review of city snow removal

March 3rd, 2014 at 10:42 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence City Councilman Sam Zurier has introduced a resolution asking the city’s Department of Public Works to submit a report detailing the cost, amount of materials used and number of lane miles plowed for the last three winters in an attempt to create a more efficient, data-driven system for removing snow in Rhode Island’s capital city.

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Taveras chief of staff leaving to launch consulting firm

February 27th, 2014 at 5:28 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The man largely credited with helping save Providence from bankruptcy is leaving City Hall.

Michael D’Amico, who served as the city’s director of administration since Mayor Angel Taveras took office in 2011, plans to launch a consulting firm that will specialize in finance and accounting, union contracts, and labor and government relations.

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Solomon hires Taveras aide as campaign manager

February 27th, 2014 at 12:29 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Another top aide to Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is leaving City Hall, but she isn’t going too far.

Liz White, who has served as Taveras’s deputy director of communications since last year, is departing to manage City Council President Michael Solomon’s campaign for Providence’s top job. Taveras, a first-term Democrat, is running for governor.

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Moody’s backs RI pension settlement as ‘credit positive’

February 24th, 2014 at 12:51 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Moodys RI pension settlement cropBy Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A top Wall Street ratings agency is throwing its support behind the proposed pension settlement deal reached earlier this month by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Treasurer Gina Raimondo and the state’s labor unions.

The analysts from Moody’s Investors Service acknowledged, however, that some of Rhode Island’s more cash-strapped local governments could struggle to fund the higher costs called for under the pension settlement, singling out Woonsocket and Providence.

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• Related: 10 ways to look at the proposed RI pension settlement (Feb. 20)

(chart: Moody’s Investors Service)


Prov students: Transportation policy spurs absenteeism

February 24th, 2014 at 12:02 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Through rain, sleet, snow and heat, they just want to get to school.

That was the message members of the Providence Student Union youth activist group sent early Monday morning when they gave policymakers and politicians a firsthand glimpse of just how far some students have to walk to school if they do not have bus pass.

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City suspends rec center boxing; several ‘violations’ found

February 20th, 2014 at 11:02 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence officials say they suspended a boxing program at a South Side recreation center after an internal investigation found the program violated “several city policies and procedures.”

The shuttered boxing program was hosted at the Davey Lopes Recreation Center on Dudley Street, the same facility that nearly had its pool demolished last summer after the city’s 2013-14 fiscal year budget didn’t provide funding for the pool.

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Chart: Comparing Raimondo, Fung and Taveras on pensions

February 18th, 2014 at 12:39 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Three of Rhode Island’s major candidates for governor this year – Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras – have all struck deals with union members and retirees over the last two years to reduce the shortfalls in the pension funds for which they’re responsible.

So how much did they save?

In dollar terms, Raimondo obviously achieved the highest savings: a $3.9 billion cut in the state’s unfunded liability under the terms of last week’s proposed settlement, compared with a $186.4 million reduction from Taveras’s settlement and a $37.4 million reduction from Fung’s settlement. But that’s not really a fair comparison, since the two mayors were dealing with significantly smaller total liabilities.

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New WPRI/Projo Poll: 46% of primary voters back pension law

February 11th, 2014 at 5:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Fewer than half of Democratic primary voters in Rhode Island support the 2011 pension overhaul championed by one of the party’s leading candidates for governor, Treasurer Gina Raimondo, an exclusive WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll released Tuesday shows.

The new survey of 503 likely Democratic primary voters also shows 70% of them think it’s important that a candidate for governor has prior elective experience, a key question for Raimondo rival Clay Pell, while 55% think Providence’s financial problems have been only somewhat solved by Mayor Angel Taveras, another Democratic candidate for governor, since he took office in 2011.

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• Interactive: Dig into the full results and crosstabs for the new WPRI/Journal poll

Tomorrow at 5 a.m. – find out whether Raimondo, Taveras or Pell holds the lead among primary voters.


Taveras touts accomplishments in final State of the City

February 11th, 2014 at 4:59 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras said during his final State of the City address Tuesday he will leave the city better than he found it when he took office three years ago.

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Buddy Cianci looms large over Providence mayor’s race

February 10th, 2014 at 1:23 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A year ago, it was a whisper. Six months ago, a growing rumor. Now it’s the talk of the town.

Former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. said he isn’t ready to publicly discuss whether he’ll make a third political comeback later this year, but the 72-year-old acknowledged he is aware that his name has appeared in several polls linked to the mayor’s race in Rhode Island’s capital city.

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Watch Newsmakers: Michael Solomon; Ralph Mollis

February 9th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Lawmakers propose 10% sales tax for guns

February 6th, 2014 at 2:21 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Two state lawmakers from Rhode Island’s capital city have introduced legislation that would impose a 10% supplemental sales tax on all gun and ammunition sales in the state to fund anti-violence programs.

State Sen. Gayle Goldin and Rep. Maria Cimini submitted the bill on behalf of Providence mayoral candidate Brett Smiley, who proposed the tax as part of a larger public safety plan that includes growing the city’s police force and securing additional federal funding to combat crime.

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Providence GOP wants absent councilmen penalized

February 6th, 2014 at 2:20 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Republican City Committee is calling for the city to reduce the pay of City Council members who are absent for too many meetings.

The proposal comes days after a Target 12 review of three years of attendance records revealed that several City Council members were absent from more than 50% of some subcommittee meetings, including one member who missed 100% of Education Subcommittee meetings before resigning from the panel in 2012.

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Cianci back to work after diagnosis, may run for mayor

February 4th, 2014 at 9:02 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Chris Raia

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Back at work on Monday, two weeks after being diagnosed with what he called “curable cancer,” former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci remained coy regarding the prospect of running once again for the city’s top job.

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Target 12: City Council members chronically absent

February 3rd, 2014 at 10:50 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan & Walt Buteau

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – When the Providence City Council Ways and Means Committee gathered for a meeting on the last Thursday before Christmas to discuss a special report on a multimillion-dollar tax break program, it ran into an all too familiar problem.

Despite having two lawyers from the city solicitor’s office as well as several City Council members who do not serve on the committee in attendance, three of the panel’s five sitting members were missing. Unable to reach a quorum, the meeting was canceled.

A Target 12 review of three years of attendance records from the full Providence City Council and its eight subcommittees shows a pattern of chronic absenteeism among several council members, including some who missed 62%, 85% and even 100% of the meetings scheduled by their committees.

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