Iannuccilli: Time for Hot Chocolate

Monday, January 07, 2019

 

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Dr. Ed Iannuccilli, Columnist

Last week, because it was thirty degrees with a howling wind, it became hot chocolate weather.  It was not with any deductive reasoning like, “Gee, it’s the first cold day, and I need a hot chocolate,” that I felt the need.  No, it just happened.

I was meeting someone at The Seven Stars Bakery with coffee in mind when the young woman asked what I wanted. I blurted, “A hot chocolate, please.” With that, it became winter.

A young man made one of the best hot chocolates I have had. As a first step toward banishing the winter chill, I sat and wrapped my hands around the mug letting the pure warmth flow through my fingers and palms.  I gazed at the frothy foam floating at the top and then sinking to iceberg depth as it melted into the chocolate. It was time for the first sip. Anything frothy must be good.

The dark chocolate, tinged with sweet, milky foam singed my lips. Its rich flavor coated my tongue as I swirled and swallowed. I was warmed from within.   A bit of foam mustached my upper lip. I looked around the bakery and then let it sit a while before licking it off. The cocoa was as good as my mother’s and reminded me of the days when she made it for me after a cold day of sledding.

Mom called it cocoa. With a tablespoon, she scooped the powder from the box of Hershey’s and turned it into the milk heating on the stove. She stirred patiently and when done, she poured the cocoa into my cup and topped it with a marshmallow. I was careful to be sure the heat passed my sensitive tongue quickly as I had temporarily stuck it (and removed it painfully) on the rim of my cold sled while waiting to slide at the top of the hill. Once by my tongue, the drink’s warmth trickled to my toes.

I have made hot chocolate at home by adding hot water to a prescribed mix. Though good, it hardly matched that of Mom’s or Seven Stars’. So, I got in touch with Brian, the Seven’s beverage manager who was so kind to share their recipe. They use cocoa powder, cane sugar and a pinch of salt, adding the mix and milk to a small saucepan. They whisk it over low heat.

Once warmed, surely with love, they gradually add more milk and whisk again until hot, taking care not to boil.  Vanilla extract and whipped cream seals the deal.  Brian added that a pinch of cinnamon or peppermint extract instead of vanilla is also quite good.

Most of the time, we don’t fuss like that with our hot chocolate because we’re too busy.  It’s okay but every now and then, someone must fuss for us. It is a winter special. Some things are too good to have just once.

Ed Iannuccilli is the author of "Growing up Italian" and "What Ever Happened to Sunday Dinner?" and both books can be found here.

 

Related Slideshow: 18 Biggest Blunders of 2018

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#18

Senator Nick Kettle

In January, Rhode Island Senator Nick Kettle resigned, following charges of extortion and voyeurism -- and a Senate resolution was filed calling for his expulsion. 

Court documents tied to the prosecution of Kettle, the Republican who represents Coventry, paint a disturbing pattern of behavior tied to voyeurism.

WARNING GRAPHIC DETAILS

According to a State Police Affidavit, Kettle and his lifelong friend Zachary Brennan engaged in secretly photographing women without their knowledge and texting them to one another.

One of the women was Kettle's girlfriend, another was Brennan's wife and there were also photos of a third unidentified woman.

In addition according to the document, Kettle and Brennan sent each other photos of their own genitalia to one another.

The Office of Senate President Dominick Ruggerio released the following statement regarding Kettle's resignation from the Senate.

“I believe that the decision Mr. Kettle made today is in the best interests of the Senate and the state. I certainly respect his right to due process, and the proceedings contemplated in the Senate were not being taken lightly. At the same time, the Senate has an obligation to ensure a safe working environment for all who are employed here. The extremely serious allegations against Mr. Kettle, including sexual exploitation of a minor in the Senate page program, are unlike any I have witnessed during my time in the Senate. I am grateful that Mr. Kettle has chosen a path that avoids requiring his colleagues to consider expulsion.”

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#17

Witman's Delays and Refusals to Pay Campaign Workers

Dianne "Dee Dee" Witman's campaign started too late, never developed a message, and took a beating at the polls.

But, the post-election failure to pay campaign workers is simply embarrassing. She repaid herself $300,000 according to a campaign finance report filed on December 27, 2018, and the account still holds a balance of more than $60,000.

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#16

State Representative Keable's Career

State Representative Cale Keable was a Harvard educated attorney, working at a top Providence law firm and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, but it all unraveled after it was finally disclosed that he had been sexually harassing a female state legislator.

Keable was suspended from his top post on the judiciary committee, and in November he lost his District 47 seat to Republican David Place. 

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#15

Globe's Kevin Cullen

The Boston Globe suspended their star columnist Kevin Cullen for falsely reporting his location and role during the Boston Marathon bombing. His writing clearly claimed that he was at the scene of the Boston Marathon bombings when he was not.

WEEI’s morning host Kirk Minihane first reported on Thursday that Cullen’s writings were misleading.

Cullen was part of the team that was recognized by a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the Marathon bombing. The award was bestowed to the Globe, “For its exhaustive and empathetic coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing manhunt that enveloped the city, using photography and a range of digital tools to capture the full impact of the tragedy.”

Sports talk radio station WEEI reported that Cullen's claims were false. They said he wrote:

“I can smell Patriots Day, 2013. I can hear it. God, can I hear it, whenever multiple fire engines or ambulances are racing to a scene.”

That was part of the lede from longtime Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen’s piece this past Saturday on the fifth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, titled “Five years later, we feel the grief like a sixth sense.”

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#14

Fung's Debate Strategy

The debates for Governor turned into a verbal battle between GOP candidate Allan Fung and Independent candidate Joe Trillo with Raimondo looking like the Cheshire Cat.

Fung got suckered into Trillo's trap and used most of his time and political oxygen dueling with Trillo.

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#13

Regunberg, Part #1

A campaign email from Lt. Governor candidate Aaron Regunberg claimed he would not accept any money from the “NRA and gun lobby” and he wanted to “turn New Mexico blue” a reference to making New Mexico a Democratic state. 

Regunberg hails from Chicago, Illinois and came to Rhode Island to attend Brown University. He ran against incumbent Democratic Lt. Governor Dan McKee in the primary. Jake London from Regunberg's campaign said the error was inadvertent. "We copied over as part of our fundraising software and it did not get caught," he told GoLocal. 

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#12

Superman Building

The city of Providence's largest building will celebrate its sixth anniversary of being vacant in just 4 months.

When she first ran for Governor in 2014, a Gina Raimondo ad claimed she would resurrect the then-one year vacant building. 

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#11

GOP's Election Strategy

The GOP had no message, raised little money, the GOP Chair ran for State Representative and lost, and the party lost almost every race in the state.

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#10

RI Ethics Commission Chair Says Online Disclosure Not Necessary

A GoLocal request for a copy of the-then Town Manager of Coventry’s financial disclosure form unveiled that Graham Waters had not filed a report with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission -- and no one there could explain the missing disclosure form for three days. It sparked a deeper dive into the agency’s transparency and procedures.

In a phone interview with GoLocal, Waters said he knew nothing of the form and did not know he needed to complete it. He subsequently submitted the form -- more than one year late.

In February, when Ross Cheit, Chairman of the Ethics Commission, was asked why the annual disclosure forms are not available online, he said that the agency does not have the funding available to be able to post the documents.

“We have looked into online system that could be searchable and it would actually cost money that isn't in our budget," said Cheit. "It also poses questions about staff time and redaction to make sure confidential information isn't posted. Once that is added, it's not sealer that any money is saved.”

After Speaker Nick Mattiello, Governor Gina Raimondo, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung all weighed in, the agency reverse course. By November the forms were available online for just the most recent year.

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#9

Raimondo Takes Donations from NRA Lobbyist

GoLocal broke the story last February:

Governor Gina Raimondo is claiming she has not and will not accept campaign donations from gun lobbyists, but state records are clear that she has received donations from one of the most influential lobbyists who represents gun interests.

“Governor Raimondo has never and will never accept a dime from the gun lobby. She signed the bill that takes guns away from abusers and wants to ban military-style weapons and high capacity magazines. She’ll work with any willing partner to make that happen,” David Ortiz, Raimondo’s press secretary told GoLocal in an email on Monday.

When Ortiz was forwarded information about multiple donations from former Democratic Speaker of the House William Murphy, who lobbies for the RI 2nd Amendment Coalition/NRA State Association by GoLocal, Ortiz stopped responding to repeated follow-up questions, including whether Raimondo would return the donations.

According to Rhode Island campaign finance reports, Murphy, who at the time was the registered lobbyist for the NRA affiliate, made two donations totaling $500 in 2014, donated $500 to Raimondo on September 28, 2016, and then followed up with a $350 donation on October 1, 2017. Murphy has given a total of four donations totaling $1,350 to Raimondo while lobbying for gun interests.  

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#8

Closing Memorial Hospital Emergency Room

It can be argued that Rhode Island has too many hospital beds, but one thing for sure is the state does not have enough emergency room capacity.

Health regulators chose the easy path by allowing Care New England (under pressure from suitor Partners HealthCare) to close the emergency room along with the rest of Memorial Hospital.

The result was painful waiting times at hospitals through the metro area last winter and another blow to the CIty of Pawtucket. 

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#7

Projo Reporter Covers the Senate While Interviewing forJob

As GoLocal reported in January 2018:

One of the remaining 16 news reporters at the Providence Journal was covering the Rhode Island Senate on the proposed PawSox public financing scheme, while at the same time being considered for a $121,000 a year post --  by the Rhode Island Senate. 

GoLocal has learned that former Projo reporter Kate Bramson was negotiating for a top position working for the Senate leadership while covering the legislative action on one of the most controversial bills now being considered at the State House -- the more than $40 million in public subsidies for the new PawSox stadium.

GoLocal has learned from Speaker Nick Mattiello’s office that the job was approved for funding on January 12, 2018.  The position had been vacant since the summer of 2017.

“Speaker, as chairman of JCLS, authorized Senate President to fill the vacant position on Jan. 12. According to Senate, they will be paying her $121,340,” said the Speaker’s office on Sunday.

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#6

Regunberg Volunteer Playing Corrupt Politician in Ad About Reform Is Convicted Felon

Progressive candidate for Lt. Governor Aaron Regunberg’s television ad about insider dealing and the need to reform lobbying in Rhode Island featured volunteer Andrew Cagen playing the role of a “corrupt insider.”

Cagen was convicted by the federal government for fraud.

According to court records, Cagen was convicted of “conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

Regunberg lost to incumbent Lt. Governor Dan McKee in a heated Democratic primary. 

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#5

NYC Fundraiser for Raimondo Hosted by Tobacco CEO Who Testified Cigarettes Do Not Cause Cancer

Governor Gina Raimondo tapped one of the players in one of the most dramatic Congressional showdowns for an out-of-town fundraiser in June. 

Andrew Tisch and his wife Ann were scheduled to host a New York City fundraiser in June for Governor Gina Raimondo at their home.

However, Tisch may be best known for his dramatic testimony before Congress when he was the CEO of Lorillard Tobacco Company, when he and other leading tobacco execs shocked members of Congress and the American public in claiming that there was no link between tobacco and cancer and that nicotine was not addictive.

For Raimondo, the link to a former tobacco CEO was a political liability. After GoLocal unveiled the fundraiser's hosts controversial background -- she canceled the event

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#4

Mayor Elorza Calls Shooter at Providence Place a "Knucklehead"

In January 2018, one Providence man shot another Providence teenager inside Providence Place Mall. That night thousands were visiting the mall and thousands more were in downtown Providence attending a Providence College men's basketball game.

Later in a press conference, Elorza told reporters that the shooter was a “knucklehead.” The mall had to be evacuated during the response and investigation.

Gun violence continued to plague the city in 2018, including the shooting death of William Parsons outside of the Providence Career and Technical Academy in September. 

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#3

Providence Journal Gun Ad Placed on Top of Mass Shooting Story at Temple

The Providence Journal on Sunday featured a front-page ad for The Sporting Shoppe — a gun store that this month features sales on rifles and handguns and a “special offer” of $25 off a purchase of $500 on a handgun.

The ad for The Sporting Shoppe was a ‘post-it’ style ad and it was placed just above a front page article written by the Associated Press. On the backside of the sticker is an offer for "Free Ammo."

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#2

Trillo's Yacht, Assaulting Mattiello, Altercation with Another Rep. 

A series of incidents framed Joe Trillo's candidacy a bit of a sideshow.

The gubernatorial candidate crashed his yacht onto the rocks off of Charlestown Beach in July. The hot summer day mishap made the national news and the witnesses of the incident offered conflicting descriptions.

Then, news broke that decades earlier Trillo had had a physical alternation when now Speaker Nick Mattiello was a child.

And, it was unveiled that Mattiello was in a physical altercation one night at the State House with a fellow Republican legislator.

The Trillo incidents transformed the Governor's race into a sideshow rather than focused on issues.

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#1

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin

A series of blunders by the RI Attorney General Peter Kilmartin's office raised serious concerns about professionalism and competency of the office.

In October the receiver and special investigator in the St. Joseph pension fund collapse claimed Kilmartin failed to do his job.

“At the very least, the Attorney General failed to 'mind the store' when it came to the rights of Plan participants in 2014, and continues to oppose their assertion of their lawful rights. Apparently, it will take the zealous advocacy of the Receiver on behalf of the Plan participants to obtain for them what was rightfully theirs over four years ago,” wrote the receiver Stephen Del Sesto and the special investigator Max Wistow in the documents filed late on Friday afternoon.

So the list of blunders includes:

- Failed oversight of St. Joseph Pension Fund 

- The effort to block disclosure of key documents requested by the receiver.

- Alleged misspending of tens of thousands of Google settlement funds

- Demanding thousands of dollars in payment for an APRA request by State Representative Patricia Morgan

- Failed to file hundreds of charging documents 

 
 

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