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RI State Report: Strip Clubs, Guns + Drugs

Saturday, September 21, 2013

 

This week’s State Report centers on an interesting development in the ongoing Cheater’s strip club case—the fact that the club’s attorney is a former member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. We’ll also take a look at the newly formed Gun Safety Task Force, and a new federal grant designed to fight substance abuse in Rhode Island. Lastly, we’ll honor the passing of former Secretary of State Susan Farmer, who died on Sunday.

Former Rep. Peter Petrarca is Representing Cheaters Strip Club

GoLocal confirmed on Thursday that Peter Petrarca, a former Democratic member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, is representing the

Providence strip club Cheaters in their current Board of Licensing case.

Petrarca appeared on behalf of Cheaters at Wednesday’s Board of Licensing hearing, which will determine whether the club can reopen, according to Chairman Andrew Annaldo.

The fate of the club has been up in the air since July, when Providence Police found a missing 15-year-old girl from Boston dancing there.

Petrarca joined the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 2003 and served in that position until 2012 when Gregory Costantino defeated him in the Democratic primary.

The former lawmaker began working as an attorney in 1999 after receiving his law degree from Boston College. He currently works for Petrarca and Petrarca.

Petrarca is also the co-owner of Club Karma, a Providence night club. The club was temporarily shut down by the Board of Licenses in 2011 after a shooting, but later reopened.

Lawmakers Appoint Gun Safety Task Force

On Thursday, the General Assembly announced their appointments to the Gun Safety Task Force—a panel that was created earlier this year to address ways for Rhode Island to balance firearms safety and behavioral health.

The task force will be co-chaired by the bill’s sponsors Rep. Deborah Ruggiero and Sen. Cool Rumsey. Aside from lawmakers, the panel also includes mental health professionals, law enforcement officers and gun rights advocates.

The 20-member panel is tasked with weighing the rights of those with behavioral health problems to own guns with the risks. The task force is to conduct a review of current law and make recommendations on legislation to improve public safety by developing a more complete approach addressing the connection between behavioral health and firearms safety.

“Balancing public safety with individual rights, especially with respect to those with a history of behavioral health issues, is a very delicate issue that deserves thoughtful examination. While a behavioral health history is by no means an indication that a person is going to do something violent if they have a gun, we need to carefully consider whether our laws should have some means of preventing gun violence by those who do show signs of violent tendencies,” said Rep. Ruggiero.

The task force was set to report its findings by Jan. 1, but a deadline extension is expected. They are expected to begin meeting sometime in the coming weeks.

RI Congressional Delegation Announces $950K Grant to Fight Substance Abuse

On Tuesday, the Rhode Island Congressional delegation announced $949,593 in federal Drug-Free Communities (DFC) grants for towns across the state to combat substance abuse, particularly among RI youths.

The grants, which are administered by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Drug-Free Communities Support Program, have been awarded to communities and organizations in Providence, Barrington, Tiverton, Middletown, Woonsocket, Westerly, and North Kingstown. They include a $124,998 grant for Barrington’s BAY Team and a $75,000 mentoring grant for the Providence Mayor’s Substance Abuse Prevention Council.

The federal funds will help communities combat youth drug abuse by supporting increased enforcement efforts and additional educational programs on substance abuse prevention. The Providence Mayor’s Substance Abuse Council will use its mentoring grant to provide guidance to the Central Falls Prevention Coalition, and help develop a comprehensive plan for youth substance abuse prevention in Central Falls. Barrington's BAY Team grant will be used to facilitate community involvement and fund various prevention programs, such as a community designated driver program, a marketing campaign to encourage parental involvement, and educational programs.

“These grants will help prevent substance abuse and make our communities safer. By partnering with families, schools, non-profits, law enforcement, and businesses, these Drug-Free Communities grants will help educate our children about the dangers and consequences of drug and alcohol abuse,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.

The DFC Support Program was created by the Drug Free Communities Act of 1997 in order to mobilize communities to combat youth drug abuse. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Substance

Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) lead the DFC program.

The following Rhode Island communities and organizations received DFC awards this year:

  • Providence; Mayor’s Substance Abuse Prevention Council; $75,000 (Mentoring Grant)
  • Providence; Mayor’s Substance Abuse Prevention Council; $125,000
  • Tiverton; Tiverton Prevention Coalition; $125,000
  • Middletown; Town of Middletown; $125,000
  • Woonsocket; Woonsocket Task Force on Substance Abuse; 125,000
  • Barrington; The BAY Team; $124,998
  • Westerly; Chariho Tri-Town Task Force; $124, 595
  • North Kingstown; Working Together for Wellness; 125,000

 

Paiva Weed and Fox Envision RI as a ‘State of the Arts’

Rhode Island is on the precipice of becoming a “state of the arts,” according to a new op-ed written by Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed and House Speaker Gordon Fox released on Tuesday. In the letter, Paiva Weed and Fox tout the General Assembly’s continued support of the small business community—particularly its artistic sector—through various legislative efforts.

“The General Assembly continues to recognize and prioritize the critical impact that small businesses possess as powerful economic engines in building culturally vibrant communities for future generations. Within Rhode Island’s small business community is the rich and diverse creative sector that encompasses nationally distinguished organizations as well as hidden gems with over 3,000 arts-related businesses that employ more than 13,000 individuals statewide. From galleries to acclaimed performing arts establishments, the creative sector continues to grow and flourish in the Ocean State.”

Specifically, Paiva Weed and Fox highlight several legislative measures—including the expansion of the statewide sales tax exemption to the purchase and sale of original works of art; the creation of the RI State of the Arts Planning Task Force, which is tasked with identifying specific action steps that can be taken to attract, retain, support, expand and market the arts and associated creative industries in Rhode Island; and the establishment of the “Made in Rhode Island Manufacturing Collaborative.”

“We are all collective partners in these efforts—the Senate and House, Governor Chafee’s administration, the non-profit sector, and the business community,” concludes the letter. “With all of us working together, our vision for Rhode Island to become “the state of the arts” will become a reality.”

Lawmakers Honor the Passing of former Secretary of State Susan Farmer

And lastly this week, we honor the passing of Susan Farmer—the first woman elected to statewide office in Rhode Island—who died on Sunday following a long battle with cancer at the age of 71.

Farmer, a Republican, served two terms as Secretary of State, from 1982 through 1986. She then ran for lieutenant governor in 1986, narrowly losing to sitting Democrat Richard Licht.

Farmer went on to serve as President of Rhode Island PBS until her retirement in 2004, and as a member of the Rhode Island Board of Elections until her death.

Current Secretary of State Ralph Mollis—who worked with Farmer on the Board of Elections—commented on her passing calling Farmer a “political trailblazer” who “forged a path for Rhode Island women for generations to come.”

Aside from Mollis, countless other local lawmakers fondly remembered Farmer on Monday, after learning of her passing.

Senator Jack Reed:

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Susan Farmer, who was a political pioneer, a dedicated public servant, and a successful CEO. She gave her time and leadership to so many non-profits and community organizations throughout Rhode Island and was a real inspiration to so many. She will be deeply missed, but not forgotten.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse:

“Susan Farmer was a courageous and kind person. As the first woman to hold statewide office in Rhode Island, as an indomitable cancer patient, as the successful head of our public television station, she set a shining example for all of us in public service, and she did so with great generosity of spirit. She prevailed in tough environments without losing her poise or decency, and she will be missed.”

Congressman David Cicilline:

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Susan Farmer, a former Secretary of State for Rhode Island who was first elected in 1982. She was a distinguished public servant and a real trailblazer as the first woman elected to statewide office in Rhode Island. After serving two terms in office, Susan spent nearly two decades continuing her lifelong devotion to public service as the CEO and general manager for Rhode Island Public Television. My thoughts and prayers go out to Susan’s husband, Mac, and their entire family during this difficult time.”

Congressman Jim Langevin:

“I was deeply saddened to learn today of the passing of Susan Farmer, a true public servant and an individual who inspired so many to become active in government. Her work as Secretary of State and her example of leadership served as a model for me when I assumed the office several years later. As the first woman in Rhode Island to hold statewide office, Susie was a trailblazer. She was generous of her time and expertise, lending both to anyone who sought public office as a means to improving our state. She paved the way for current and future political leaders and for female leaders in particular. Her contributions to Rhode Island, to politics and to the electoral process will not be forgotten.”

House Speaker Gordon Fox:

“Susie Farmer was a wonderful person who was a trailblazer for women in elected statewide office. I always admired her tremendous leadership at Channel 36 and her commitment to community service. She exuded charm, grace, positive energy and a joy for life, even in the face of her long struggle with cancer. My condolences to her husband Mac, who is a long-time friend and constituent, and the entire Farmer family.”

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed:

“As the first woman elected to statewide office as Secretary of State, Susan Farmer helped to open the door for many women who followed. She always sought ways to give back to Rhode Island, in elected office, as head of Rhode Island PBS, and as a private citizen engaged in civic life. The thoughts and prayers of the Senate are with Malcolm and the entire Farmer family in this difficult time.”
 

 

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