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Side of the Rhode: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in RI Politics?

Friday, March 14, 2014


HOT: Dr. Michael Fine of the RI Dept. of Health

Every Friday, Dan Lawlor breaks down who's rising and who's falling in the world of Rhode Island politics. Check out who made the lists this week.


Diane Feinstein - She's not from Rhode Island, but she's right: "How Congress and how this will be resolved will show whether the Intelligence Committee can be effective in monitoring and investigating our nation's intelligence activities or whether our work can be thwarted by those we oversee." Senator Feinstein, the chairperson of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the CIA of spying on and intimidating Congressional staff as they researched and prepared a report on the CIA's now defunct intense interrogation program, "a CIA program that never, never, never should have existed."

Richard Licht/State Properties Committee- Good choice! Supporting the redevelopment of Davol Square for a combined URI-RIC School of Nursing makes good sense for the city's future. May the State Properties Committee make more good decisions like this, and approve fewer parking lots on the state house lawn.

Dr. Michael Fine/Department of Health - "Addiction is a disease, treatment is effective, recovery is possible. People who are addicted, we are urging them with all the energy we have to get into treatment. And as dangerous as the prescription opiods are, street drugs are much more dangerous," the health department director recently told GoLocal's Kate Nagle. The drug overdose crisis is real- there have been 58 overdose deaths since January, compared to 137 deaths for all of 2009.

Sam Zurier/Providence City Council - "Whereas The City does not currently have data, benchmarks or tracking systems by which to measure the quantity, quality or cost-effectiveness of snow removal service currently provided... the Providence City Council requests that the Department of Public Works develop a draft set of written snow removal policies and procedures for publication... and submit a report to a joint meeting of the Ways and Means and Public Works Committees on or before April 15, 2014." Very simply, thank you Councilor Zurier. Written rules, written procedures, clear expectations... so simple, so needed.

V. Susan Sosnowski/State Senator - "We encourage Rhode Islanders to 'buy local' all the time, and farmers' markets are some of our best opportunities to encourage that." As GoLocal reported, Sosnowski aims to "amend current law so that a farmer-winery and a farmer-brewery may, under certain conditions, be licensed to sell wine and beer for off-premises consumption at farmer's markets." Great proposal to give more options to buy and sell local goods!

#11 - Providence-based Betaspring is the 11th best start-up business accelerator in the country, according to the Seed Accelerator Rankings. According to the Providence Business News, "Betaspring invests about $40,000 in services and between $12,000 and $20,000 in cash in each graduating startup, and also takes a 6 percent stake in each company. The 83 companies graduated from Betaspring so far have gone on to raise $32 million in follow-on funding."

College Visions - "The lack of encouragement at my high school led me to seek help out of school to assist me in the college process. When I heard about College Visions at New Urban Arts I decided it was best if I became a part of the program." And a good choice, as Casandra Castillo is now a URI graduate. College Visions is a local non profit that "empowers low-income and first-generation college-bound students to realize the promise of higher education by providing advising and resources to promote college enrollment, persistence, and graduation." Support students like Casandra with a donation to College Visions, or stop by their 10th Anniversary Fundraiser - "Celebrating a Decade of Degrees" at Local 121, 5:30-7:30pm, March 25th.



195 Redevelopment Commission- "You might ask: Have I been flooded with inquires and is my desk overflowing with incredible proposals given that it's now been two weeks? And the answer is no," the Journal reported Jan Brodie, the 195 Commission's Executive Director, telling the RI Commerce Corporation. As Wayne Zuckerman, a New Jersey developer in attendance at recent developer forum on the land, mentioned, "I though there'd be more people...Nineteen acres in the city. You would think - I would have thought - the room would have been filled."

For-Profit Schools - A new bill in the House (sponsored by Representatives Morgan, Giarusso, Dickinson, Hull, and Phillips) would legalize for-profit colleges in Rhode Island. Nationwide, numerous for-profit colleges have been accused of fraud, predatory lending practices, and job prospects that don't match promises. State officials should focus on improving public schools, not opening the door for snake oil salesmen to make money off students aiming for higher education.

Hilton Firings - According to RI Future , several union activists at the Providence Hilton hotel have been let go by The Proccacianti Group in the past few weeks. One former TPG employee, Adrienne Jones, has filed a case with the National Labor Relations Board through Unite Here Local 217. Jones mentioned, "Recently, a housekeeper, who is pregnant with twins, brought in a note from a doctor asking her bosses to put her on light duty. She expressed to her manager that she wanted to work until the end of her pregnancy so she could take her vacation time when the babies were born. However, management completely ignored her request and gave her even more rooms to clean per day."

Nick Narducci / Providence City Council - "The department of police may at any time, or upon request, remove any roadside memorial that partially of wholly obstructs a public right of way, encroaches on private property, and/or creates a public safety concern," reads a new ordinance proposed by Councilor Narducci. In other words, police (and the department of public works) are empowered to take down memorials to shooting and car crash victims that hang on or near telephone polls and fences - candles, pictures, messages. After introducing this resolution, Councilor Narducci told the Journal, “I know the Police Department has a lot more to worry about than these makeshift memorials." If police have more to worry about, than why make this an issue?

Providence Cookie Salad Bar and Wharf Clothing & Wares- The bells tolls for two more downcity retailers. While the Arcade is seeing new life, Providence Cookie Salad Bar, a merger of former Arcade tenants, has passed on. Best of luck to owner Rojwan "Sajo" Can and his family! Rob Babigian, Wharf's founder and former GoLocalProv Men's Style Expert, has been an active member of the Westminster Street scene- his good work will be missed.

Scott Avedisian/RIPTA - New data shows that RIPTA ridership for 2013 was up 1.3% from 2012 , for a total of 19.7 million passengers. This is great news- and shows a growing demand. However, in part due to ongoing budget issues and a decrease in federal grants, RIPTA will no longer offer free rides on ozone alert days. A pretty crazy situation - a bigger demand results in more cuts. Hopefully, Avedisian - with better General Assembly budgeting - can solve this problem.


Related Slideshow: Breakdown of Overdose Deaths in RI - 2009 to 2014

Prev Next


Total overdose deaths: 137

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 22

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 84

Illicit drugs only: 31

Prev Next


Total overdose deaths: 152

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 36

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 82

Illicit drugs only: 24

Prev Next


Total overdose deaths: 175

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 41

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 93

Illicit drugs only: 41

Prev Next


Total overdose deaths: 182

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 34

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 85

Illicit drugs only: 63

Prev Next

2013 (First Half)

Total overdose deaths: 118*

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 23

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 40

Illicit drugs only: 55

*Data only available for first half of 2013

Prev Next


Total overdose deaths: 

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 

Illicit drugs only: 


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Narducci gets rides all the time from the city sergeant, he thinks he has his own personal chauffeur! Then he is chairman of the claims committee, where all the back room deals are made!

Comment #1 by anthony sionni on 2014 03 14

The roadside memorials make sense for 2-3 months or so. After that, they become derelict and often obstruct foot traffic. They can also become sites/excuses for people to congregrate, drink, and cause a general disturbance, regardless of whether they knew the deceased or even happen to be mourning their loss. I'm sure Sionni would support a roadside memorial if one existed across the street from his house.

Comment #2 by Rich B on 2014 03 14

"State officials should focus on improving public schools, not opening the door for snake oil salesmen........." Really? Perhaps, it would be better to engage in journalism rather than failed statist jingoism. "Reporter" Dan Lawlor is correct when he says the state is failing in educating many Rhode Islanders and needs to improve public education. That said he doesn't understand the bill before the legislature. It is a bill to allow for profit schools to grant college degrees. It is not the "for profits" his ill-informed rant addresses. But better to shout "fire" and get a rise than engage in journalism and report the facts. Mr. Lawlor might note that colleges granting degrees are "accredited" not by the state; even as he may wish it the case. They are accredited by private institutions charged with that responsibility. He should be aware that our state schools have been challenged in the past to meet accreditation needed to grant a diploma - it is not like getting a diploma at a public high school accredited by the state where the legislature wishes to grant them for attendance. Perhaps Mr. Lawlor should check his sources before sharing his ignorance with the public. This sort of ill-informed pablum should be reserved for banter with equally ignorant and purposely misinformed partisans.

Comment #3 by Small Businessman on 2014 03 14

In relation to the RIPTA thing. The other night on one of the local stations, they were in Kennedy Plaza getting peoples reactions to this elimination of the bad air quality days and the free rides and one kid was saying how "his dreams were being crushed" by this. Had to get a chuckle out of that one.

Comment #4 by Patrick Boyd on 2014 03 14

Sorry Mr. Lawlor, you got one of the "Nots" dead wrong.

Councilman Narducci (finally) got one right. These sidewalk/roadside memorials are completely out of control. There's one on the side of Rt.10, as you approach Downtown in an Easterly direction,that has been there for a few years. It's composed of a clutter of dingy, dirty stuffed animals. I'm sorry, but there has to be a more appropriate way to express your sorrow. Lighting candles on a sidewalk or hanging a dirty tee-shirt from a telephone pole isn't it!

Comment #5 by Walter Miller on 2014 03 14

Cement Sam?.

Comment #6 by LENNY BRUCE on 2014 03 14

Most of the above mentioned people are NOT'S..they're just skillful purveyors crap,the crap they sell you year after year after year..these bogus,self serving politicians never get the job done because their loyalty is with special interest groups aka..unions,illegals,banks,lawyers etc etc..they coddle the low information,fraudulent entitlement thieves and turn their backs on the hard working,tax paying middle class..the middle class that pays for all of their crap that they freely hand out to their supporters along with a piece of paper written in several languages that tells them who to vote for,it's usually the letter 'D' on the master lever. This state is dead last in this country in practically every economic and social category,we never move forward,nobody wants to do business with Rhode Island,it's a basket case.Wake up! and vote in all new blood in 2014,vote for people like Ken Block who wants to help you keep your money in your pocket,people who know that being prosperous and self sufficient is the best medicine for society's ills.Money is upward mobility...and we know how to take care of each other without government sticking their noses into our homes,our businesses,our bank accounts,and our lives.

Comment #7 by LENNY BRUCE on 2014 03 15

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