| | Advanced Search


Gronkowski “Good to Go” Week 1—Rob Gronkowski told reporters at Gillette Stadium that…

Russell Moore: Experience Makes Caprio a No-Brainer for Treasurer—Let's face it: politics is strange business.

Smart Benefits: Two Regs Issued on Contraceptive Coverage—Two regulations on contraceptive coverage were recently issued…

Peace Flag Project to Host Rhode Island Month of Peace in September—The Peace Flag Project will host over 30…

Don’t Miss: Fall Newport Secret Garden Tours—The Benefactors of the Arts will present a…

Fall Activities for the Whole Family—Mark your calendars for the best activities of…

Skywatching: Seagrave Memorial Observatory Centennial (1914-2014)—Skyscrapers, Inc., the Amateur Astronomical Society of Rhode…

Friday Financial Five - August 29, 2014—The Tax Foundation has put together a helpful…

RI Resource Recovery Collected 6K Pounds of Clothes—RI Resource Recovery has received more than 6,000…

5 Live Music Musts - August 29, 2014—We’ve got Rhythm and Roots and a whole…


NEW: Candidate for AG Hodgson Proposes Action Plan for Google Fund

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


State Senator Dawson Hodgson, Republican candidate for Attorney General, released a plan of action for how to best utility the $60 million dollar settlement awarded to the state by Google.

"The Justice Department distributes resources like this to law enforcement organizations in order to meet pressing justice and safety needs of their jurisdiction," said Senator Hodgson. "Rhode Island has longstanding and neglected needs in this area. It is important to have a plan in place to put these resources to use in an effective, timely, transparent, and responsible way. The framework I have assembled and will implement when I am elected Attorney General will make a strong and immediate impact on justice and safety for Rhode Island."

The settlement was won by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Nehrona in 2012 following his successful prosecution of Google for advertising illegal prescription drugs online.

"Safety and Justice"

Hodgson's priority is to put the funds towards "safety and justice." To this end, he proposes a number of active strategies to improve health and wellbeing in Rhode Island.

Foremost among them, Hodgson proposes committing $6 million dollars over the next five years to the Department of Health to address the current Overdose Epidemic (for more on the scourge of drug overdose in RI, check out GoLocalProv's coverage here), as well as to address backlogs in the analysis of medical and DNA evidence. Hodgson also proposes an influx of $4 million over five years to the RI State Crime Lab to clear the backlog of firearms examinations and support accreditation.

Hodgson's largest proposed commitments are $12.5 million for the construction of a unified justice training center for Rhode Island and $13.5 million to establish a Rhode Island Justice Trust Fund.

In addition to these larger-scale projects, Hodgson's proposals also include millions of dollars for various already existing programs. Hodgson would direct $5 million of from the Google settlement funds to the Providence Police Department over the next five years, to be used for firearms and gang enforcement. This would compliment $3 million in the next five years for Domestic Violence Initiatives, $1.5 million over the next five years for Human Trafficking Initiatives and $1.5 million to administer an Enhanced Sex Offender Registration Database.

The rest of the proposals are directed towards training and education. $3 million over the next five years would go to the Department of Corrections to administer job training, work release and apprenticeships. $1.5 million over five years would go towards nonviolence training programs, $2 million over five years would go towards mental health training for police officers, $1.5 million over five years for prosecutor professional development, and $3 million over five years to information and technical upgrades to the Department of the Attorney General.

For more on Senator Hodgson's proposals be sure to visit his campaign website, at http://www.dawsonhodgson.com/


Related Slideshow: The Ten Biggest Issues Facing the RI General Assembly in 2014

Prev Next


The Budget

The latest report by the House Finance Committee illustrates that Rhode Island will start the next fiscal year, which starts in July 2014, with an estimated deficit of $149 million. The report shows the FY 2014 Budget contains numerous overspending problems—meaning that the General Assembly will have to cut costs somewhere.

So where will the cuts come from? Lawmakers will have to examine the state's costliest programs. According to the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, the most expensive government programs in Rhode Island are Elementary and Secondary Education, Public Welfare, Pensions, Higher Education, and Interest on Debt. Click here to view a comprehensive list of the state's costliest government programs.

Prev Next


Bankrupt Communities

The state may be two years removed from Central Falls filing for bankruptcy, but 2014 could be the year that other financially strapped Rhode Island communities follow suit—most notably Woonsocket and West Warwick.

With bankruptcy on the table in both 2012 and 2013, this year poses more financial uncertainty for the cash-strapped city of Woonsocket. Earlier this year, the city's bond rating was downgraded due to the city's numerous financial issues—including a growing deficit, increasing unfunded pension liability, and a severe cash crunch.

Similarly, the embattled town of West Warwick faces a variety of financial questions in 2014. With its pension fund set to run out by 2017, the town must address its unfunded liabilities this year if it hopes to regain financial stability. That, coupled with an increasing school department deficit, make West Warwick a contender for bankruptcy.

Look for Woonsocket and West Warwick's elected state officials to address their respective cities' financial issues in the upcoming legislative session.

Prev Next


Sales Tax

With the Special Joint Legislative Commission to Study the Sales Tax Repeal set to report their findings to the General Assembly in February, the possibility of sales tax repeal in Rhode Island could become a reality in 2014.

"Our sales tax is killing small businesses, especially those in border communities," said Rep. Jan P. Malik (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren), the commission's chair. "How can Rhode Island continue to compete at 7 percent, with Massachusetts already lower than us and considering reducing its sales tax even farther? How can Rhode Island restaurants compete at 8 percent? They can’t. We need to find a way to fix this, and a serious discussion of our sales tax is a discussion we need to have, now, before more small stores close their doors."

In addition to Malik, proponents of sales tax elimination include the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity and Forbes Magazine.

Prev Next


EDC Reorganization to Commerce Corporation

On January 1, 2014, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation will be replaced with the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation—a move which has the potential to impact to adversely affect recipients of federal funding contracts made possible currently through the EDC.

This could include the state's Broadband Initiative, Brownfields program, and other contracts made through the EDC. As a result, recipients will now be required to re-apply for federal funding as of January 1st.

The massive overhaul of the EDC was prompted by the 38 Studios debacle, which is projected to cost Rhode Island taxpayers $102 million. 38 Studios, the now defunct video game company, filed bankruptcy in May 2012 just months after securing a $75 million loan from the EDC.

Prev Next


Marijuana Legalization

With the state's marijuana decriminalization law going into effect this past April, Rhode Island may be a candidate for marijuana legalization in 2014.

Legislation to legalize marijuana has been introduced in each of the last three years, but has never been voted on. Earlier this year, Rep. Edith Ajello (D-Dist. 3, Providence), who is chair of the Judiciary Committee, introduced the bill in the House. Roughly half of the Judiciary Committee supports the measure.

The bill also has the support of the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization focusing on drug policy reform, which hopes to legalize marijuana in ten states, including Rhode Island.

Approximately 52 percent of Rhode Island voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted in January.

Marijuana is currently legal in Colorado and Washington.

Prev Next


Constitutional Convention

Come November 2014, Rhode Island voters will likely be asked whether they wish to convene a constitutional convention, which involves individuals gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising the existing one.

Every 10 years, Rhode Island voters are asked whether they wish to amend or revise the constitution. Voters rejected this opportunity in 1994 and 2004. Although rare, Rhode Islanders can vote to hold a constitutional convention and in effect, take control over the state government.

If approved, a special election is held to elect 75 delegates, who then convene to propose amendments to the Rhode Island Constitution. These amendments are then voted on in the next general election.

The likelihood of this occurring highly depends on if the General Assembly does its job to ensure residents that the state is heading in the right direction financially and structurally.

Rhode Island’s last constitutional convention took place in 1986. It proposed 14 amendments—eight of which were adopted by voters.

Prev Next


Education Board Structure

Less than a year after the General Assembly created the 11-member Rhode Island Board of Education to replace the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Governors for Higher Education, there are multiple questions surrounding the structure of this newly consolidated agency.

Although lawmakers voted to merge the state's two education boards in June, the Board of Education now wants to split its agency to create two separate councils—one with the statutory authority over kindergarten to grade 12 and another governing higher education.

The Board of Education will present its proposal to the General Assembly during its next legislative session and lawmakers will once again determine how the agency should be structured.

The Board of Education currently governs all public education in Rhode Island.

Prev Next


Sakonnet Bridge Tolls

Rhode Island may have implemented tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge this past year, but they could be gone by 2014.

On January 15, the East Bay Bridge Commission—which was established to allow lawmakers and officials investigate various funding plans, potentially eliminating the need for tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge—will report its findings to the General Assembly. The General Assembly is then required to vote on the issue by April 1.

The commission was established in July following the General Assembly's approval of the 10-cent toll.

Prev Next


Superman Building

Located on Westminster Street in Downtown Providence, the former Bank of America Building (commonly referred to as the Superman Building) may be the tallest building in the state, but as of right now, it's just a vacant piece of property.

The building's current owner, High Rock Westminster LLC, was most recently looking for a total of $75 million to rehabilitate the skyscraper—$39 million of which would come from the state.

With the sting of the 38 Studios deal still fresh in the minds of lawmakers, a $39 million tax credit appears unlikely.

The question of what will become of the Superman Building remains to be seen. 

Prev Next


Master Lever

Championed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block (while head of the RI Moderate Party), the movement to eliminate the Master Level, which allows voters to vote for all candidates of one political party with a stroke of the pen, is poised to heat up in 2014.

Despite Block's strong push to repeal the 1939 law, the measure did not get a vote in the General Assembly last session.

In October, Block told GoLocal that he believes that House Speaker Gordon Fox is responsible for the General Assembly not voting on the proposal.

“Despite the support of a majority of 42 state Representatives, thousands of emails from concerned RI voters and unanimous testimony of more than 100 people who came to the State House in person to testify that the Master Lever had to go, the Speaker personally killed the bill in the most unaccountable way possible—he did not allow the House Judiciary Committee to vote on the bill,” Block told GoLocal.

Speaker Fox has stated on multiple occasions that he believes the Master Level is a legitimate tool that many voters use.


Related Articles


Enjoy this post? Share it with others.


I'm not saying those aren't all worthy causes but should one individual decide how to spend 60 million dollars in the heat of a campaign? Shouldn't a responsible manager study these issues and dedicate some of it to long-term planning instead of promising it all away and squandering opportunities?

Promising to spend 60 million all at once is the same type of thinking that got us into the 38 Studios mess. We can't simply throw money around and hope it solves the issues of the day (whether it is the economy or crime.)

The AG handling a 60 million dollar settlement or any other settlement for that matter has to be responsible and not play politics with it. I would think they also have to line up with what the settlement actually allows.

This PR stunt shows Dawson as an opportunist--not ready for primetime

Comment #1 by Thomas Ryan on 2014 02 26

Any information on what he means by this: "$12.5 million for the construction of a unified justice training center for Rhode Island and $13.5 million to establish a Rhode Island Justice Trust Fund." Sounds like an incredible waste of money.

Good luck getting approval to give $5 million to Providence when they weren't part of the settlement:

Comment #2 by Thomas Ryan on 2014 02 26

Absolute amateur hour with this guy. This guy is going to commit $1.5 million to his gang banger friends at the Institute for Non-Violence. What a joke.

Comment #3 by Kendrick Jones on 2014 02 26

Senator Hodgson must have failed math. This article says the settlement paid to the AG's office was $60 million. Just adding each item in this article, gets the price tag of the Hodgson Google plan at $58 million.

Meanwhile, WPRO's coverage states that AG Kilmartin has spent approximately 6.5 million.
Add 6.5 million to Hodgson's proposed 58 million and you get 64.5 million.

GoLocal should update their article with this simple arithmetic. Now more than ever, our elected officials should be held accountable. Simply reckless to offer a plan that literally does't add up.

Here's the WPRO link:

Comment #4 by Thomas Ryan on 2014 02 26

A unified justice training center is an exceptionally good idea, although it has been discussed for a while by others. The idea would be to create a state of the art training facility that would combine the municipal police academy and the State Police academy into one, much needed training facility.

As for approval for spend in Providence or elsehwere, you may want to reaad up - the money can spent in many ways, even on municipalities and departments not invovled in the settlement. For example, Corrections will be benefitting from the settlement.

Any use would be better than empire building by buying another building to house the AG's office...

Comment #5 by David Allen on 2014 02 26

"This guy is going to commit $1.5 million to his gang banger friends at the Institute for Non-Violence."

Would like to see the source of that information.

Comment #6 by David Allen on 2014 02 26


Look at permissible use and then the "windfall" provision.

Comment #7 by David Allen on 2014 02 26

@David aka Dawson

Dawson Tweeted on Jan 20

Important conversations today w/ the future leaders of PVD and RI at Nonviolence Institute, well moderated by @IanDon & @BillMalinowski

Dawson loves the Institute and the gang bangers it employs.

Apparently, you didn't read the ProJo article about the lack of space in the AG's office with lawyers sitting in tiny cubicles. Glad to see Dawson cares so much about the people he use to work with. I bet you the attorney's who worked on the JOINT venture with Peter Nerhona sure are happy that Dawson insulted them once again. Great way to build up support from dedicated public servants...

Also, Dawson's going to pork the taxpayer for more money once the Google money is dried up to continue his crappy plan. He said it on Cianci yesterday.

Comment #8 by Kendrick Jones on 2014 02 26

Kendrick, reading is FUNdamental. Again, where was it said that the Institute for Non-Violence is getting $1.5 million. You seem to be assuming facts not yet in evidence.

As for the lack of space in the AG's office, does that mean spending millions on a second office for the AG's? Amazing how they made it all these years without. Amazing.

Another big leap to say buying a second building is not a good use of funds = not having any respect for attorneys in the office. Big leap... Glad to see that the AG and his spokesperson have no issue spending bucks on real estate.

Comment #9 by David Allen on 2014 02 26

You clearly have no respect for the attorney's in this office when the attorney's themselves are saying they are in need of more space. For Dawson to be an attorney who use to work at the AG's office to turn to his colleagues and say "sorry guys, you're not worth the extra space" is a complete slap in the face. Crime morphs and evolve. Did you ever think that the AG's office handles a larger caseload now than it ever did before?

Also, Dawson has diminished the his former colleagues role in the Google settlement, another disrespect. Dawson's plan calls for reckless spending of things he doesn't even understand. How are you going to make blank statements like directing money for IT upgrades when he doesn't even know what the problems are? That's why you do what AG Kilmartin did and hire a company like Ernest & Young who specializes in finding weaknesses in IT.

The Institute portion of my comment was just poking fun at Dawson attending an event by a guy quoted in the projo as someone who would not turn a gun in that was used in a crime.

Good to see you are supporting someone with no ability to lead...

Comment #10 by Kendrick Jones on 2014 02 26

Kendrick, you are begining to sound as defensive as the AG's $130,000 "spokesperson" herself. I guess I dont understand what you mean by "attorney's in this office"? Does that mean you are wasting taxpayer dollars in your AG provided office to respond to Yoohoos like me?

Regarding diminishing anyone's role, Hodgson's plan does no such thing and I said no such thing. I said buying a second building since he has been in office is stupid and frivilous and amounts to empire building. You are defending him like his spokesperson does on Twitter and to the press... I bet you are one and the same.

Comment #11 by David Allen on 2014 02 26

"The settlement was won by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Nehrona ????????

Comment #12 by Sammy Arizona on 2014 02 26

By the way, ERNST & YOUNG is an accounting firm...they specialize in numbers... Their IT security practice is a blip - but I will be curious to see the bid documents that awarded them the contract. I wasn't certain the E&Y retention was public, by the way. May want to settle down before you disclose too much..!!

Comment #13 by David Allen on 2014 02 26

No I'm wasting time in between class David aka Dawson. Don't try to spin this because your candidate doesn't know what he is talking about. Like I've said before, you have a real obsession with Ms. Kempe. It's really odd. I'm pretty convinced she must have turned you down for a date or something. Every other comment you write is about her.

@Sammy Dawson doesn't know anything about joint-investigations... he gets confused.

Comment #14 by Kendrick Jones on 2014 02 26

I heard about E&Y today on WBRU during their news report actually...

Comment #15 by Kendrick Jones on 2014 02 26

Funny, you talking about spinning. Foremost, I cannot imagine, in my G-rated mind, why the AG would make the spokesperson the fifth highest person in the entire office - it makes no sense. I dont believe a PR person shoulod be paid that much and receive raises bigger than just about anyone else in the State, unless their are services being provided I am not intuned to.

Next, explain why he is buying a second office in as many years? I know they are because they toured the place last week and picked offices. So what sense does that make? Seriously? Poor planning...not a bright guy.

Comment #16 by David Allen on 2014 02 26

Not true Kendrick.... The expenditure for the IT was made in November 2013. WPRI report.

Comment #17 by David Allen on 2014 02 26

David, I was saying that I found out about E&Y today, when I heard it on the radio. I'm not in the "know" like you so I don't know when they started. Like I've pointed out to you several times, the PR salary is comparable to others in the industry. You just hate Ms. Kepme for some reason. Maybe you just don't like successful woman... some sort of disorder you have maybe.

So from what I understand, the AG's office is buying a second building because they don't have enough space. How exactly is the poor planning? I think throwing out random dollars of money your going to give out without doing any type of analysis is poor planning. Something exhibited by Dawson.

Comment #18 by Kendrick Jones on 2014 02 26

David, you just refuse to acknowledge reality. With supporters like you, Dawson is going to need a lot more help....

Comment #19 by Kendrick Jones on 2014 02 26

Kendrick - I showed you that $130,000 was equal to what the Governor is making. I showed you that four people in Mass at $50K had no boss to report to in the MASS AG. And an no time did you show me anything that indicates that $130K is a reasonable salary or that her salary progression made sense - her raises were astronomical.

Separating the AG's office into two buildings makes great sense? I see - all really effective operations are divided into multiple locations minutes from each other. Its not cheaper to own one building than two? Really Kendrick? My advice to you is "stay in school", Kendrick, stay in school.

Comment #20 by David Allen on 2014 02 26

Well David, I guess if you could build onto an existing building that would solve that. If your one building can't fit everyone in an effective and efficient capacity, what are you to do? Seeing as how the RI AG is one of 3 states int he country with criminal jurisdiction, You could probably split the civil and criminal sides between the two buildings. David, you truly are an idiot. One of the dumbest supporters I have ever come across. So four people making $50k is $200,000. Is that not more than 1 Ms. Kempe?

Like I said, you have a delusional fascination with Ms. Kempe and you cannot answer any of the faults that are all over Dawson's plan. You're a fraud and you are part of the problem in RI. Please leave.

Comment #21 by Kendrick Jones on 2014 02 26

David and Dawson Hodgson believe that it is a better investment for the AG to commit to 13.5 million to spend on a training facility for Police (how often would that be used? Once a year? Twice a year?) That is one expensive training facility...than to spend 3.5 million buying the building next door.

The AG offices are right next to the Superior Court. Newspaper accounts say prosecutors have a higher caseload than ever before. They folks over there say they are in need of more space...but spending 3.4 million (of settlement not taxpayer money) is "empire building"? But 13.5 million for some vague, unspecified training center is legitimate???

No consistency in those positions. Reckless decision-making that throws the office he hopes to serve under the bus. No recognition of long-term vision and strategy.

GOLOCAL: Dawson's proposal is 4.5 million over budget. Where is the article on that?

Comment #22 by Thomas Ryan on 2014 02 26

David Allen: Without resorting to the same talking points:
Answer why the training facility for police at 13.5 million is more important than a 3.5 million expansion of the AG office that is well beyond capacity. And why the AG should pay for the training facility when the State Police were also given millions in the same settlement. If its important to the State Police as Dawson suggests, wouldn't they pay for at least a part of it, if not all of it?

Also answer why Dawson is seeking to spend 4.5 million over budget. Can't believe that guy votes on the State budget when he can't get this right.

Comment #23 by Thomas Ryan on 2014 02 27

Mr. Ryan, for example, the State Polcie Headquarters first estimate was $48 million, while the final construction costs came in at around $30. The RISP - Public Safety Building is about 56,000 square feet over three floors and is at capacity. I provide that example only for scale.

What is envisioned in the State-wide training facility is a place where all law enforcement can come and be trained, receive in-service training and ultimately all seek CALEA accredidation, I would think. The facility would also serve as a training facility for Sheriffs, Marshalls, etc. In addition, the fcaility could be used for off-sites for the AG's, Police, Fire, etc. $13.5 million is pretty short money for a technologically advanced location, so my guess is RISP and perhaps a municipality [EP] would have to throw in some bucks. I dont know if you have ever been to the current academy, but upgrades are needed. The water, for example, is not drinkable.

As for the buildings, it is seemingly bad planning to go through the process of not buying A building to accomodate your organization. Two buildings is two times everything - remodelling, closing, etc... It appears as if the money is being treated as a true windfall without regard to how it is spent.

Comment #24 by David Allen on 2014 02 27

"Seeing as how the RI AG is one of 3 states in the country with criminal jurisdiction"

My word, I had always assumed that every State's AG had criminal jurisdiction. What am I missing?

As for your ill-thought out argument and raising the comparison to the MASS AG's office - your doing not mine - their office is at least three times the size, closer to four. They have four people doing four times the work. We have one person, making almost three times what one makes, and you see no issue?

As for "idiot", "dumb" and "a fraud" - how does one counter such intellectual prose like that?

Just keep yanking the D-lever... It has done wonders for us to now...

Comment #25 by David Allen on 2014 02 27

David: I think only three states in the country have an AG with exclusive felony jurisdiction. Some states have AGs with certain jurisdiction but they operate within a system with DAs. There is no DA in RI--the RIAG takes it all on.

You have nothing to support your argument about two buildings. Two buildings right next door.

No explanation why the RIAG should pay for a State Police training facility when the State Police received millions in the settlement. On top of it--the State police have a training academy. There is no need for it.

Comment #26 by Thomas Ryan on 2014 02 27

Do some research David. RI is one of 3 states where the AG is the DA. There is no District Attorney in this state. That job is done by the AG. Mass AG will have some criminal jurisdiction in some aspects but the day to day criminal prosecution is done by the AG in this state.

As for your argument about the Mass AG, true the office is bigger but you have to take into consideration the criminal aspect that Mass does not have. So add in something like Suffolk County too. Ms. Kempe is doing the job of at least 2-3 people so the pay should reflect that.

Dawson is the one treating this money as a mindful but making rash and uneducated decisions about how to spend it.

id·i·ot [id-ee-uht]
1. Informal. an utterly foolish or senseless person:

That pretty much sums up you and Dawson. When i wrote it, I meant it.

Like I've said in previous posts. I don't vote for just Democrats. I am a supporter of Fung and respect the work of Republican Councilman Donald Botts and would vote for him if I lived in his area.

It's funny how you talk about the needs of the academy but don't think the needs of the AG's office is important. By using your own logic from above, "Amazing how the state police and municipal police made it all these years without. Amazing"

Comment #27 by Kendrick Jones on 2014 02 27

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.