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GoLocalProv’s 2015 Man of the Year

Friday, January 01, 2016

 

He is inarguably the most powerful political figure in the State of Rhode Island. The Speaker of the House is at the center of it all.  He is the lightning rod, the decider, the extolled, and the maligned. 

He dominated the political scene in 2015.  Whereas his predecessor Gordon Fox wielded his power in a much more low-key manner, his underhanded way got the best of him, as evidenced by his current incarceration in federal prison. Like him — or loathe him — Mattiello doesn’t shirk from the press or the public eye, unlike some other politicians in the state.  

The Rhode Island Republican Party and others continue to press Mattiello on ethics oversight of the General Assembly, which he should take heed to listen to.  The public's faith in national and local politics continues to be at an all-time low.  

Mattiello took some preliminary steps moving forward the General Assembly investigation of 38 Studios and signed off on subpoenas for Curt Schilling, Steven Costantino, and Michael Corso.  But Rhode Islanders want and deserve more. GoLocal and others have called for an independent, out-of-state special prosecutor to be appointed.  If taxpayers feel that they’ve been swindled (once again) by a powerless General Assembly investigation, their patience is running thin.

PawSox, Tolls, and More

Last fall, Mattiello got begrudging approval for some — but not all - of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget approved in June. 

“Listen, in the last session, he put the brakes on tolls.  Granted, I wouldn't have voted for the budget, but it was the minimum that Republicans could tolerate,” GOP Chair Brandon Bell told GoLocalProv in October. “There was a corporate tax reduction, the social security exemption, and I give him credit for punting on the Taylor Swift tax.  But it was no where near enough.  The tax on vacation property and medical insurance policies were very business unfriendly.”

Mattiello maneuvered around a major political mine field in 2015 with the attempt by the new Pawtucket Red Sox ownership to broker a deal with the state for a new stadium in Providence.  The group of wealthy business owners — many big backers of Governor Gina Raimondo — pressed for over $120 million in state aid to subsidize the project. 

When PawSox leader Jim Skeffington passed away in May, Mattiello said it was “tragic that he did not live long enough to see his vision for the Pawtucket Red Sox come to fruition,” indicating that he was committed to seeing through the project that he deemed in August would be “revenue-positive.”  But continued public and political pressure to not give public assistance to the collective group of millionaires proved to be a tipping point, and in the fall Mattiello made public that negotiations had ceased.   

Transparency

Now, he must manuever the very controversial proposal by Governor Gaimondo to fund nearly half-a-billion of infrastructure improvements through a muddled and undisclosed truck toll fee. In an unusual situation it has been the Speaker joining with good government groups and the media prodding to Raimondo to reveal more details -- which she has yet to do.

Mattiello has passed a budget unanimously, successfully fought for improvement's in the state's business climate and been an advocate for transparency -- all unheard of by a Speaker in Rhode Island.

For it all, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is GoLocal’s Man of the Year.

 

Related Slideshow: GoLocal’s Top 15 Stories of 2015

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#15

Johnston Blocks Black Church Says Reverend, City Official Calls Him “F___ing Black Owner”

In a video tape exclusively obtained by GoLocalProv, a Johnston town official is heard making a racially charged statement regarding a church pastor’s attempts to rehabilitate a historic church in town — and the reverend is calling the town’s treatment of his efforts racist. (Starting at the 2:25 mark of the video).

In a meeting with his supervisor and the contractor on the project that was taped, Johnston building inspector Ben Nascenzi can be heard referring to Reverend Dr. Chris Abhulime as “the fucking black owner” of the former historic Belknap Church.

Read the story here.

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#14

Top 20 Salaries in Governor Raimondo's Office

Here are the salaries for the top twenty paid staffers in Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo's office.  

In total, a recent Access to Public Records Act (APRA) request shows that the recently selected staff of 30 has a salary range between $35,756 and $167,118.

See the salaries here.

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#13

EXCLUSIVE: New PawSox Stadium Location Emerges in Providence

A new stadium location in Providence emerged as an alternative to the proposed 195 Commission land, GoLocalProv exclusively learned.

The eight-acre parcel at the location of the former Victory Plating company offers a number of potential benefits over the park land proposed by the new ownership group of the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Jim Skeffington,

President of the PawSox, has been asking for state for highly valuable land as part of $120 million in concessions the PawSox are demanding from the state of Rhode Island and the City of Providence.

Read the story here.

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#12

Prov. Municipal Judge Caprio's Cars Registered in Narragansett

Frank Caprio, the Chief of Providence’s Municipal Court, registers six luxury cars to his home in Narragansett at a fraction of the tax payments of registering them in Providence where he claims to live.

The six vehicles include: two Mercedes, two Lincolns, and Infinity G37 and a Toyota Highlander and all of the vehicles are late model. 

Combined, Caprio’s vehicles are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and by registering them in Narragansett versus his claimed home in Providence he has saved tens of thousands of dollars over the past few years.

Read the story here. 

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#11

EXCLUSIVE: President's Daughter Malia is Scheduled to Tour Brown Next Week

GoLocalProv has exclusively learned that Barack and Michelle Obama’s oldest daughter was visiting Brown University k as part of her college tour.

According to press sources, she has previously visited NYU, Columbia, Stanford and Cal Berkley. 

If the first daughter selected Brown University it would be the second President’s daughter to attend Brown - Amy Carter attend in the 1980s. John Kennedy Jr., the son of John F. Kennedy, attended Brown as well.

Read the story here

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#10

Rhode Island’s 50 Wealthiest and Most Influential - 2015 Edition

GoLocalProv's 2015 Edition of the 50 Wealthiest and Most Influential Rhode Islanders looks at those individuals who combine wealth, influence, and philanthropy in our state.

This list is not of simply those with the greatest wealth. Or those with political muster - this list are those exclusive few who have the combination of both.

Represented are many of the public business leaders of Rhode Island - and some are more private - but all get their phone calls returned. 

Read the story here.

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#9

50 RI School Cafeterias with the Most Health Code Violations 

A review of over 350 cafeterias in Rhode Island by GoLocalProv has found thousands of health violations at schools and facilities across the state over the past three years. 

Inspectors noted at some cafeterias observations that included lack of adequate hand washing facilities, accumulation of food and debris on equipment, improper food storage -- and open holes in doors and flooring, which is an infraction under "insects, rodents, and animals not present."

Read the story here.

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#8

Big Radio Companies Facing Bankruptcy - WPRO and WHJY’s Parent Co’s in Financial Turmoil

Most of Rhode Island's favorite radio stations may be impacted by a building Wall Street financial meltdown in the radio industry.

The two biggest radio companies in the United States are on the verge of massive restructuring or bankruptcy, as they each have billions of dollars in debt and little chance of managing the building financial obligations.

How bad is the situation?  According to one leading radio analyst, the problem is catastrophic.  “$20.5 billion in debt for iHeart — billions more than the city of Detroit when it went bankrupt."

Read the story here.

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#7

EXCLUSIVE: Star RI Startup Nabsys Closes in Providence

Providence-based startup Nabsys -- who had raised over $40 million and was considered a rising rock star in the genome-mapping world -- has closed its downtown office.  

The company, which had been most recently located at 60 Clifford Street in Providence, was shuttered with a For Lease sign in the window. A parking lot attendant across the street said that the forty plus employees had previously parked there were gone.

Read the story here.

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#6

Vendors Claim RI Commerce Corp Board Member's Club Owes Tens of Thousands

Vendors who worked on Manchester 65, the West Warwick club owned by a Rhode Island Commerce Corporation board member, have told GoLocal that they never were paid for services they provided.

The club faced an eviction hearing as the result of a lawsuit filed by the building landlord against Manchester 65,which is owned by the Commerce Corp's Vanessa Toledo Vickers, and de facto run by her husband Jim Vickers. 

Read the story here.

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#5

Providence Pension Watchdog Riley Releases Report, Calls for More Answers

Financial analyst and GoLocal MINDSETTER Michael Riley has released a report entitled "Providence Fraudulent Accounting and Theft," following multiple columns in which he addressed a number of issues which he said pertained to city pension payments -- and what he claims was a $66 million dollar pension fund payment that was due by June 30, which the city said Tuesday will be paid instead next month.

Writes Riley in his report, "Providence, Rhode Island is misleading its municipal bond investors and has been for as many as 20 years. Misleading municipal bond Investors is a violation of Federal securities laws."

Read the story here.

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#4

EXCLUSIVE: Dunkin' Donuts Worker Writes '#BlackLivesMatter' on Police Officer's Cup

A Providence Police officer went to purchase a coffee on Friday night and his cup had a message from the Dunkin' Donuts employee writen on the cup, "#BlackLivesMattter."

The event happened at the Dunkin' Donuts located on Atwells Avenue at the corner of Bradford Street. William "Billy" O'Donnell posted a picture of the cup and a description of the events.

Read the story here.

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#3

The Top High Schools in Rhode Island 2015

The grades are in — GoLocalProv’s sixth annual Top High Schools in Rhode Island has determined that East Greenwich is head of the class for 2015.

Based on a formula developed at Babson College to assess and weight each school's latest NECAP and SAT scores, plus per pupil funding, student-teacher ratios, and graduation rates, GoLocal has provided a comprehensive performance list of the state's public, charter, and technical high schools. 

Read the story here.

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#2

Providence's Dancing Cop Denied Holiday Work Over #BlackLivesMatter Comments

Providence's Dancing Cop has been denied the chance to dance this season by the City of Providence, following his outspoken comments after a Dunkin' Donuts worker wrote "BlackLivesMatter" on a police officer's cup. 

Retired Providence Police officer Tony Lepore, Sr, who usually "dances" during the holiday season in the city, provided the following message on his Facebook page after meeting with the City. 

Photo/Flickr: Jef Nickerson

Read the story here.

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#1

Moses Brown Cancels School for Blizzard Juno with Hilarious Video

Moses Brown Head of School Matt Glendinning took to YouTube for a special message to the students of the Providence prep school to announce a school closure due to snow. Set to the tune of Frozen's "Let it Go", here's Glendinning's rendition of "School is Closed."

See the video here.

 
 

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