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Side of the Rhode: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not? - March 30, 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018


Every Friday, GoLocalProv breaks down who is rising and who is falling in Rhode Island politics, business, and sports.

Now, we are expanding the list, the political perspectives, and we are going to a GoLocal team approach while encouraging readers to suggest nominees for who is "HOT" and who is "NOT." 

Email GoLocal by midday on Thursday anyone you think should be tapped as "HOT" or "NOT."  Email us HERE.


Related Slideshow: Side of the Rhode: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not? - March 30, 2018

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Speaker Nick Mattiello

Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello is calling on the Rhode Island Ethics Commission to improve transparency.  Mattiello will introduce legislation on Tuesday forcing the Ethics Commission to post all elected and appointed officials financial disclosure forms online.

A GoLocal review published on Thursday found that the forms are only available during the agencies working hours and can sometimes take days to send out the forms.

The Ethics Commission has refused to post the forms of 4,400 elected and appointed officials in Rhode Island.

“The Ethics Commission, like all departments and agencies throughout the state, should have public records accessible on their websites.  As public servants, we are all required to fill out the Yearly Financial Disclosure Statements and the public should not be forced to obtain them only during business hours,” said Mattiello. 

“Legislation will soon be introduced to compel the Ethics Commission to place these statements on their website beginning with the 2017 forms due on April 27, 2018.”

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Treasurer Seth Magaziner

Magaziner’s “Your Money” program received recognition this week from The Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization (UPPO).

"We created 'Your Money' so that Rhode Islanders can receive their missing money automatically. Most people don't know that they have missing money with the State. Your Money belongs to you, I want to get it back in your pocket where it belongs,” said Magaziner.

Magaziner’s program automatically reunites Rhode Islanders with their unclaimed property.

To date, the Treasurer's Office has automatically processed claims for over 35,000 individuals through the Your Money program.

While Your Money will automatically match thousands of Rhode Islanders, all residents are encouraged to click here to see if the state is holding unclaimed property that is rightfully theirs.


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The House Show: A Benefit for Habitat for Humanity

The event will be presented this weekend at The Columbus Theater on March 31 - in honor of the organization’s 31st year in operation building homes for low-income families - and will feature live music, and musical duo The Horse Eyed Men as hosts of the event.

Noah Harley, one half of the brother music team, appeared on LIVE to discuss why he’s looking forward to hosting the event which includes live performances by local musicians Verdant Vibes, Geraldine, and Boo City.

Event organizer and local Habitat for Humanity executive director, John Chamil, also appeared stating that it’s not only important to raise money for the organization, but also awareness about how much the community in Providence is in need for more housing for low-income families.

Tickets for the concert can be found HERE

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T.F. Green

T.F. Green Airport in Warwick has been named one of the best airports in the country. According to Money Magazine’s list of top 15 airports in the country, T.F. Green was ranked 6th best.

The magazine noted T.F. Green had an on-time arrival rate of 82.35% and referenced the 11 restaurants located in the terminal.

“Here in Rhode Island and throughout the region, it is widely understood what a gem we have in T.F. Green Airport from a standpoint of access and convenience. We are extremely pleased with this acknowledgment and this ranking nationally,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, president, and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.

T.F. Green Airport now consists of 11 airlines allowing travelers to fly all over the world.

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Amazon is blamed for crushing many of the biggest brick and mortar retailers in America. Now, the company is eating its own. Now reports are emerging that Amazon is slashing Whole Food staffers in New England and in other regions.

Whole Foods was just purchased in June by Amazon and the deal is expected to transform how America buys their food. The deal was greenlighted in August by the Federal Trade Commission.

Business Insider has unveiled that, “Whole Foods is slashing regional and in-store marketing and graphic-design jobs in its latest push to centralize operations, said people with knowledge of the matter.”

The cuts are just one of the recent changes hitting the grocery chain under the new leadership.

“It's not clear exactly how many jobs will be affected, but the company operates about 450 stores and 11 regional offices in the US. About 10 positions will be eliminated from each regional office," according to a source who told Business Insider."

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Senator Josh Miller

After Rhode Island Senate Health and Human Services Chair Josh Miller said he was "dismissing" testimony from a non-profit during a hearing on eye care legislation, Common Cause Rhode Island Executive Director John Marion said that "no Rhode Islander should be precluded from providing testimony" on a bill.

Last Thursday, Mike Stenhouse, CEO Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity began remarks during the Senate Committee hearing -- during which Miller interrupted his remarks to claim Stenhouse's 501(c)3 status invalidated his testimony. Miller referenced a prior letter, sent by Stenhouse, which Miller read out loud. "So it says, 'I'd like to provide some background...as a 501(c)3 our center is not allowed to advise you how to vote'," said Miller of Stenhouse's letter.

"I'm not telling you how to vote, I'm telling you the underlying issues," said Stenhouse, who began his remarks by saying, "I represent the free market and consumers, I'm not paid by anyone to be here, we just want to see what's best for the state." "I didn't advise you how to vote. It's a thin line, but it's what 501(c)3 across the state do," said Stenhouse. "You can go forward but we're dismissing your comments," Miller shot back.

"Mike Stenhouse and the Center for Freedom and Prosperity are wrong [to] say 501(c)3s are not allowed to advise lawmakers to support or oppose legislation," said Marion.

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Ross Cheit

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.”

GoLocal has filed an Access to Public Records Act request to the agency, requesting copies over the past three years of any requests to the Governor or legislative leaders requesting funds for an online reporting system. The Ethics Commission's Jason Gramitt, Staff Attorney/Education Coordinator admitted that the Commission had not requested funding.

In follow up emails, Cheit said, “My guess is that very few Rhode Islanders would think we should spend lots of money to create a system just so you can access forms at night, when in fact you can almost always get them in one business day. The RIEC responds so much faster than the law requires and much faster than any agency I have ever heard about.”

PHOTO: Brown University

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RI Doctors

Rhode Island is ranked as the second worst state in the country for doctors.

According to a recent study completed by WalletHub, Rhode Island is ranked 50th out of 51 states.

“Doctors are among the highest-paid and most educated professionals in the U.S. Just consider the fact that “physician” is the most popular profession within the top 1 percent of earners. And the high salary average makes sense, given the importance of their life-saving work and the struggles that come with life in the medical profession,” said WalletHub.

Last year, Rhode Island was ranked as the fifth worst state in the country for doctors. 

RI's HealthCare Problem

The ranking comes a couple of months after the state saw the closure of Memorial Hospital, which led to more than 800 employees losing their jobs. 

Earlier this month, Care New England's Women & Infants announced it was closing its Woonsocket office. 

“We are turning into a medical colony. On the line is local control and deciding which services will be provided and at what cost. When you lose local control, you lose local jobs. The [state] legislature has given up on meaningful health policy planning," former Rhode Island Director of Health Dr. Michael Fine told GoLocalProv. 

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Mayor Jorge Elorza

Elorza in vetoing the plastic bag ordinance in the city of Providence he announced that he has requested that "more robust community engagement be done before he signs the ordinance into law."

"There is no harm done in taking our time to do this right, but we do risk harm if we exclude or ignore these communities and their concerns in this process," said Elorza. 

The same guy who jammed 11 traffic cameras and 20,000 tickets on drivers without community engagement nor public education. Hmmm.

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Carlos Tobon

Rhode Island has known for years it has a potentially serious population problem -- which is to say the inability to gain residents compared to the rest of the country puts the Ocean State is in serious peril of losing a Congressional seat after the 2020 census. 

If Rhode Island can't foster or grow an economy that lures people in and makes people stay, then shame on us -- but a bill introduced by State Representative Carlos Tobon -- the "Qualified Family Migration Act" to entice middle-class residents to move to Rhode Island with the promise of $833 a month and up to $10,000 a year is not a sound economic development policy nor a good idea. 


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