Wednesday, November 1, 2017

New England members of Congress demand explanation from EPA over silencing of scientists in Rhode Island

"We write to request information on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) role in cancelling planned presentations by three EPA-affiliated scientists in Rhode Island," begins a letter from 11 members of Congress to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a Trump-appointee and climate change denier.

The letter is in response to the last last weeks Narragansett Bay Estuary Program (NBEP) workshop at Save the Bay in Providence. News of the cancellation broke in the New York Times on Sunday, on Monday 60 people showed up to silently protest the EPA's action. All of Rhode Island's congressional delegation were in attendance at the workshop and all four signed the letter demanding an explanation.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Judge William Smith expected to appoint special master to oversee UHIP disaster on Thursday

From the ACLU of Rhode Island:

"In response to the state’s unmitigated failure to comply with a court order issued in February designed to ensure the timely provision of food stamp assistance to needy families, U.S. District Judge William Smith today scheduled a public court hearing on Thursday in which he anticipates he will 'proceed with appointment of a special master' to oversee a plan of action that will compel the state’s compliance with that order.

"The February order, issued in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) over the state’s disastrous UHIP rollout for beneficiaries of the federal food stamp program known as SNAP, was never complied with. This prompted the two groups earlier this month to ask Judge Smith to issue additional remedies to ensure compliance with the court order. An in-chambers conference had been scheduled for Thursday morning to address that request, but Judge Smith issued an order today converting it into a public hearing, citing public comments already made by the State about the potential appointment of a special master.

"In addition to making public the affidavit of retired attorney Deming Sherman, who is being considered for the position of special master if one is appointed, the Judge released letters written by the State and by ACLU volunteer Lynette Labinger about that possibility. The ACLU’s letter argues that the state has engaged in a 'pattern of delaying this enforcement proceeding' and has 'never forthrightly disclosed to the Court or to the Plaintiffs the discovery of massive additional systemic errors and irregularities.'

"The February court order established a timetable mandating steady improvement every month over a period of months in the agency’s processing of SNAP applications and provisions of timely benefits. The court order also mandated that the plaintiffs be given a monthly report on the agency’s level of compliance with those benchmarks. Full compliance was scheduled to be achieved by August 2017, and reported to the plaintiffs by September 15.

"However, the agency has never come close to reaching those monthly benchmarks, which by August required the agency to achieve timely issuance of benefits to eligible families in 96 percent of SNAP applications. Compounding the damage, the state admitted in September that it was unable to even provide its mandated monthly report indicating the agency’s compliance status – and, further, that earlier monthly reports may have contained inaccurate information as well. Following that admission came another bombshell last week – a discovery by the State that thousands of additional UHIP program applications had not been processed.

"Over the course of many months, while the ACLU and NCLEJ raised concerns about non-compliance with the benchmarks and the accuracy of the monthly reports, the Department of Human Services consistently painted a rosy picture of progress by the Department and by Deloitte, the private vendor responsible for the UHIP system, in resolving the program’s many problems.

"Under federal law, states participating in the food stamp program are required to process food stamp applications within thirty days of the date of application, and to provide expedited food stamps to eligible households within seven days. The federally funded program helps put food on the table of Rhode Island’s poorest residents, but since the implementation of the UHIP system, those deadlines have routinely not been met.

"The court hearing is scheduled for Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 9:00 AM in Judge Smith’s courtroom.

"When the suit was filed in December, the ACLU and NCLEJ argued that the 'systematically inadequate and faulty statewide implementation' of UHIP was causing “thousands of households to suffer the imminent risk of ongoing hunger as a result of being denied desperately needed assistance to help them feed their families.” Last week, the state acknowledged it had learned about 'thousands' of unprocessed UHIP applications, a revelation that the ACLU argued was proof that the 'state is simply incapable of resolving this problem on its own.'"

Background on the case can be found here:
http://riaclu.org/court-cases/case-details/gemmell-v.-affigne/

Monday, October 30, 2017

Raimondo signs the Protect Rhode Island Families Act into law

Jennifer Boylan and Teresa Tanzi
"At last, victims of domestic abuse in Rhode Island will not have the constant fear of knowing that the person who abused them still has a gun," said Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). "We've heard countless stories from victims about flagrant threats and ceaseless fear. And we know that the presence of a gun greatly increases the chances of a domestic violence victim being murdered. We've worked very hard to get to this point, and the reward will be greater safety for Rhode Island families."

Tanzi was speaking at the ceremonial signing of the Protect Rhode Island Families Act (2017-H 5510Baa, 2017-S 0405Aaa), a bill she has fought for for three years in the Rhode Island General Assembly. the room was full of people wearing red Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and orange Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence tee shirts.

Giovanna Rodriguez of SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships) introduced Governor Gina Raimondo, who was eager to sign a bill she long supported. "But there's more to do," said the Governor. "Let's take this and keep going. Let's take this and have national common sense gun reform. Let's take this and ban military style weapons, like many of our neighbors have done."

As the audience applauded Raimondo's call to dis-arms, Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello stayed silent in his chair, not clapping.

"I don't view this as a gun bill," said Mattiello. "I view this as a domestic violence bill that gives law enforcement the tools to protect people that are in very vulnerable situations."

Teresa Tanzi earned forty seconds of standing applause for her work in bringing thi bill into law from those assembled. "I officially have goosebumps," she said.

Tanzi quoted Jennifer Boylan, an activist who has worked tirelessly to get this bill passed. "Hope is the light that keeps us going in the direst of times, and for victims of domestic abuse, hope is everything. Let this be the year this state passes this common sense law, and lives up to its legacy of providing a safe harbor for those who need it most. We owe domestic violence victims hope, and so much more."


Giovanna Rodriguez, Marcia Ranglin-Vassell & Diana Garlington
Tanzi thanked the Rhode Island Chapter of Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, as well as the faith leaders, law enforcement and the mayors who supported the bill.

"Finally, I want to say thank you to the survivors," said Tanzi, "Thank you for courageously testifying, and sharing your stories time and again. This wasn't just once that you had to open yourselves up and pour yourselves out for all to see. Thank you, for never giving up hope. And if there's ever a day in your future, when you find yourselves questioning whether you have the strength to get up, to face the day or face the world, I want you to close your eyes, and think back to this day. To this moment, and this room.

"And I want you to remember all of the love and the support and the joy that's in here right now that you helped to create. We never could have done this without your bravery and for that i am eternally grateful."

 
 
 








Jennifer Boylan
My previous writing on this subject here:

Rep Tanzi introduces bill to separate guns from domestic abusers

Community Forum on Violence Prevention: Guns are the weapons of choice for domestic murders

Mobilizing to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers at the State House

Bill to protect domestic violence victims from gun owners passes General Assembly

ProJo printed the facts about state rankings yet still peddles Tax Foundation propaganda

A Providence Journal editorial, published yesterday, once again took as gospel Rhode Island’s ranking in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index. The editorial was happy that our state moved from #44 in the rankings to #41. “But obviously,” says the editorial, “there is more work to be done.”

How terrible of the ProJo to ignore writing on its own pages that directly refutes the validity of the Tax Foundation (and other state rankings as well).

About a year ago, in response to last years Tax Foundation report, Economist Douglas Hall, director of Economic and Fiscal Policy at the Economic Progress Institute, wrote an oped explaining why these rankings are worse than meaningless and actually quite harmful.

Hall wrote, “The collective hand-wringing brought on by Rhode Island’s placing on the latest Tax Foundation’s ‘State Business Tax Climate’ is misguided at best, and at worst points to public policy choices that could undermine, rather than facilitate the Ocean State’s economic growth and recovery.”

Hall noted that three of the sates with the “worst business tax climates” are New Jersey, New York, and California, sates that are doing great in business. The top three states, Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska all have robust fossil fuel extraction economies. That’s not something Rhode Island can emulate.

In essence, these state rankings are useless and dangerous. Grading the States, a website that tackles the issue of these rankings and exposes their serious flaws, is a great resource to learn more about this problem. Their one line analysis of the Tax Foundation’s business ranking?

“Combining more than 115 features of state tax law into a single index number produces a state ranking that turns out to bear very little relationship to what businesses actually pay in one state vs another."

Kowtowing to these business rankings perpetuates a race to the bottom which benefits no one but the one percent. The ProJo knows this, they have printed this in their own pages, but they continue to pander this lie to convince you that your interests and the interests of corporations somehow align.

Be wary of tax cuts suggested by anti-tax economic fundamentalists. They are not providing facts, they are selling you a fiction that will ultimately cost you everything.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Trying my hand at that Ted Nesi/Ian Donnis thing...

So, as I'm finishing up five days away from RI Future, and striking out on my own, I figured I’d try one of those lists of news story pieces that Ian Donnis and Ted Nesi do so well.

1. Steve Ahlquist (that’s me!) has left RI Future. I can honestly say I loved working there, loved working with Bob Plain, and consider it to be the best job of my life. The reasons for parting are complex and personal, but I sincerely want to thank Bob Plain for our years together.

2. My last story at RI Future and first story at SteveAhlquist.com was about Fall River’s sale of water to Invenergy to cool their proposed power plant. The issue went off like a bomb in the Fall River City Council Tuesday evening, with City Councilor Steven Camara saying, “I feel like we’re an accomplice to a potential crime by being supportive of a company that is clearly doing something that is not in the best interest of our neighboring state of Rhode Island.”

3. A large protest outside Channel 10/WJAR offices in Cranston drew nation-wide attention. Viewers don’t like the right-wing pro-Trump scare pieces being inserted into their local news. "It's an affront to the integrity of broadcasting," said Dr Patricia Ricci, speaking for the Kent County Huddle, the group that organized the event. "We were so appalled that we had to take a stand. We're not watching channel 10 any longer, but we felt we had to go Further than that."

4. State Representative Aaron Regunberg made his bid for the position of Lt Governor official on Tuesday. A proud progressive, Regunberg listed his priorities in a press release: “We can guarantee healthcare as a fundamental human right. We can rebuild our crumbling public schools, and make sure the top 1 percent pay their fair share. We can launch a Green New Deal and put thousands of Rhode Islanders to work expanding clean energy. And we can, and we will, stand up to protect a woman’s right to choose, no matter what happens in Washington.”

Regunberg’s raced got almost immediate national attention as CNN Politics called it one of “9 Democratic primaries to watch in 2018.”

5. The UHIP disaster keeps delivering fresh horrors. The state disclosed that it discovered thousands of unprocessed applications for SNAP benefits. As Governor Gina Raimondo tried to may a silk purse of the sow’s ear by reporting that she had secured $60 million from Deloitte, the contractor that keeps failing to deliver as promised, the ACLU of Rhode Island said in a statement, “whoever is to blame, the state is simply incapable of resolving this problem on its own.”

The ACLU sued the state and the state made promises to correct the issues. Apparently that hasn’t happened.

6. An altercation involving Central High School Assistant Principal Tom Bacon wrestling a student to the ground and restraining him has led to a Providence Police investigation and Bacon’s resignation. One wonders what would have happened if there hadn’t been a video of the incident making the rounds on social media.

7. The Rhode island Democratic Part Women’s Caucus is relatively new, but already flexed its muscles by forcing an emergency meeting to decide the fate of 2nd Vice Chair Joseph DeLorenzo.
That show of strength seems to have been enough to get DeLorenzo to quit the party altogether. DeLorenzo made some outrageous comments regarding Teresa Tanzi and sexual harassment. His apology, made at the request of Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, was deemed “too little, too late” by the caucus.

Meanwhile DeLorenzo’s behavior has been called Trump-like by none other than Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell. “The Rhode Island Democratic Party wants to complain about President Trump but their leaders have sounded a lot like Trump,” said Bell, accusing democratic Party leaders Mattiello and party chair Joseph McNamara of hypocrisy. Nail on the head.

On Thursday evening DeLorenzo was seen at Republican State Representative Robert Lancia's fundraiser in Cranston.

8. Governor Gina Raimondo signed a new law makes it easier to form worker cooperatives at the headquarters of Fuerza Laboral in Central Falls.

9. South Kingstown enacted a comprehensive ordinance, based on a model introduced by the ACLU, to protect immigrants in their community from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Among other things, the adopted ordinance generally bars police from inquiring about the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses, or others; rejects participation in a federal program, known as 287(g), that essentially deputizes local police to serve as immigration agents; bans participation in any federal program requiring the registration of individuals based on their religion, ethnicity or national origin; and limits other forms of engagement in immigration enforcement that can adversely affect public safety and undermine good police-community relations,” writes the ACLU.

10. After the New York Times revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was forbidding its scientists to speak at the Narragansett Bay Watershed workshop at Save the Bay in Providence, activists swarmed the event, holding signs with their mouths taped shut. Justin Boyan of Climate Action Rhode Island (CARI) has a piece with links to local coverage.

11. Here’s an interview with Bella Robinson, executive director of COYOTE RI a group that seeks the decriminalization of consensual sex work between consenting adults and the reduction of harm and social stigma targeting sex workers. Sex work includes prostitution, pornography, modeling, phone sex operating, etc.

12. Should the Energy Facilities Siting Board be deciding matters of Narragansett Indian Tribe governance? Invenergy seems to thinks so...

13. Not willing to let reality get in the way of a good story, GoLocal published an unsigned and extremely sexist editorial implying that environmental advocacy groups terrorized Governor Gina Raimondo's children when they picketed her home on the East Side of Providence Thursday evening over the issues of Invenergy's proposed Burrillville power plant and National Grid's proposed liquefaction facility in the Port of Providence.

In reality this low-key, peaceful event was closely watched by at least seven representatives of the Providence and State Police. First Gentleman Andy Moffit stepped out to walk the family dog and crossed the street to chat pleasantly with the protesters. I didn't see any GoLocal reporters present

14. As I write this I'm hearing that Robert Mueller's Russia probe has submitted its first charges to the Grand Jury. Arrests may come by Monday.

15. Picture of the week: A non-terrified First Gentleman engaging with peaceful protesters.

A non-terrified First Gentleman...
16. That's it! Comments, critiques and ideas always welcome.

Dorcas to provide resettlement services to evacuees from Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands

Kathleen Cloutier
Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island is inviting evacuees from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands who feel they can no longer survive post-hurricane conditions to relocate to Rhode Island, says the organization in a press release. The resettlement organization will provide support for evacuees in locating affordable housing, employment, language assistance, quick entry into the public school system, applications for federal and state aid that remains available, and other services to make relocation to Rhode Island as smooth as possible.

“Our organization and its’ Board feel that we have a moral imperative to step in to assist those who have been displaced by crisis—whether that crisis is war or natural disaster,” said Kathleen Cloutier, Executive Director of Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island. “Despite the anticipated cuts to refugee resettlement programs, there is no question that now is the time to do more, not less, and rise to the challenges that face us. We will not allow our uncertain future to prevent us from doing what is right. We must raise our voices in support of the compassionate, welcoming, and helping values that has made our nation the refuge for so many millions around the world."

Dorcas International Institute is reaching out to distressed evacuees already on the mainland as well as still on the islands to quick-start their transition to their new home. For more than 95 years Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island has been serving the community with advocacy and opportunities through refugee resettlement, adult education, employment services, translation, interpretation, US citizenship and immigration services.

Press release

Is the Energy Facilities Siting Board prepared to disentangle issues of tribal governance?

Is the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB), a quasi-judicial permitting authority for all licenses required for siting, construction or alteration of a major energy facility in Rhode Island, the right place to be deciding upon issues of Narragansett Indian Tribe (NIT) governance?

It’s possible that when Invenergy, the company that wants to construct a $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant in the pristine forests of Burrillville, announced their deal to purchase water from the Narragansett Indian Reservation in Charlestown, they didn’t know about the complexities of an ongoing struggle for leadership within the tribe. But in closing the deal, Invenergy took a side in that struggle.

"The EFSB filings this week pertaining to the intervention motion of the Tribal Council of the Narragansett Indians (including Invenergy’s objection to the motion) show once again how far Invenergy is from having a satisfactory water plan," said Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer. "On September 28, 2017, when Invenergy announced that it had a contract with the Narragansetts to be a back-up supplier of water for Invenergy’s power plant, Invenergy was apparently blissfully unaware of the fact that it was stepping into the middle of a long-running dispute about tribal governance. Because of Invenergy’s ignorance and mis-step, Invenergy has now put the EFSB into the middle of that long-running dispute about tribal governance. In the most immediate sense, EFSB members are unlikely to be pleased about the position that Invenergy has put them in. In a broader sense, Invenergy’s ignorant mistake shows – once again – how far Invenergy is from having a satisfactory plan for obtaining water to cool its proposed power plant."

Nurses and hospital workers keep pressure on as pension winds its way through court

Around 50 active and retired St Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island pension plan participants picketed outside Providence Superior Court Friday morning. The St Joseph Health Services defined-benefit pension was placed in temporary receivership in August after it was learned that the fund was headed towards insolvency. After picketing for about half an hour the pension plan participants entered the courthouse. The proceedings, under Judge Brian Stern, are still in the information gathering stage so no major announcements on the pension plan are expected.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Environmental groups hold vigil outside Governor Raimondo's home

The rain mostly stopped and the weather cooperated so that about 30 people could gather for a vigil outside Governor Gina Raimondo’s private residence on the East Side of Providence Thursday evening. The vigil was organized by No LNG in PVD, Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion (BASE) and The FANG Collective. At issue is Governor Raimondo’s lack of action against Invenergy’s $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the forests of Burrillville and her similar lack of action on National Grid’s LNG liquefaction facility planned for Field's Point in the Port of Providence, next to a working class and environmentally compromised neighborhood of color.

Fung against Invenergy's power plant

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa takes DeLorenzo's position in RI Democratic Party

From a press release:

“It is my great honor to name Mayor James Diossa as the new 2nd Vice Chair of the Rhode Island Democratic Party State Committee,” said Joseph McNamara, Chair of the Democratic Party Thursday. “Mayor Diossa exemplifies the future of this great party. Elected at the age of 27, he was one of the youngest mayors in our state’s history.  He took his city of Central Falls– which was on the edge of bankruptcy – back to a strong, vibrant and growing urban center,” said McNamara. “He clearly represents sound thinking and professionalism, and made his “Comeback City” more than a talking point in Rhode Island history. We are very fortunate to have Mr. Diossa in our party and willing to serve in this capacity.”

McNamara filled the vacancy caused by the departure of former Rep. Joseph DeLorenzo Thursday, with his disaffiliation from the Party. Under the party Bylaws (Art. II Section 6,) the Chair fills the vacancy until the next meeting of the State Committee at which a Chair is elected (2018.)

McNamara also appointed former State Representative Agostinho “Gus” Silva of Central Falls, to fill the now vacant spot left by Mayor Diossa as a member of the state committee. “Gus has been a hard-working legislator, dedicated to his party, to his community and to all Rhode Islanders. He will be a great addition to the state committee,” said McNamara. Silva served as a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly from 2007-2014, as its Deputy Majority Leader, and member of the House commission to Study Municipal Financial Integrity. He was a former City Councilmember and active in his community schools.

DeLorenzo quits Democratic party

“This has been a difficult time in state party politics, when one of our leaders made unacceptably insensitive statements about sexual harassment, dismissing a state representative’s experience and that of many women in our society; this is an issue Democratic leaders have fought to combat,” said Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair Joseph McNamara said Thursday. “In the aftermath of this, state Party 2nd Vice Chair Joseph DeLorenzo has issued an apology, and today, disaffiliated as a member of the Rhode Island Democratic Party. He is, therefore, not eligible to serve as a member or officer of the Rhode Island Democratic Party State Committee.”

Secretary Ross Submits Secret Recommendations for Marine Monuments

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement today in response to US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s refusal to make public his report on marine monuments and sanctuaries. Secretary Ross’s report was mandated by an Executive Order signed by President Donald Trump in April.

“Our natural treasures are resources that belong to all of us, and concealing these recommendations sends a strong message that public interest comes second to political expediency,” said Priscilla Brooks, CLF Director of Ocean Conservation. “The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is the only ocean monument in the Atlantic, protecting a vibrant ecosystem full of scientific potential. Withholding recommendations that could decimate this monument’s protections is a slap in the face to New Englanders and to all Americans.”

Throughout the summer, the Department of Commerce accepted comments from members of the public regarding its monument review process. An analysis found that more than 99 percent of comments submitted were in support of maintaining existing protections in America’s marine monuments and sanctuaries.

“If President Trump attempts to undermine the comprehensive protections of New England’s marine monument, it would have significant and lasting implications for our ocean and for future generations,” Brooks continued. “The president has no authority to remove monument protections under the Antiquities Act, and we’re ready to fight this in court.”

Fall River City Council wants answers in power plant water sale deal with Invenergy

The Fall River City Council had a robust discussion about the city’s agreement to sell water to cool the turbines of Invenergy’s proposed $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the forests of Burrillville. Though the item was not on the agenda, raising concerns among some members that discussing the sale may be a violation of Massachusetts’ Open Meeting Act, City Council president Shawn Cadime said that the discussion is on the financial impacts of the sale, and well within the night’s discussion as presented on the agenda.

Terrance Sullivan, Fall River’s administrator of community utilities said that “the meeting was publicly posted, it was on TV, there was no backroom deal, there was no hidden agenda” in making the deal with Benn Water to supply water for the power plant. “The intent of our involvement in the agreement is to support the ratepayers of the city.”

New law makes it easier to form worker cooperatives

Heiny Maldonado and Gina Raimondo
Governor Gina Raimondo was in Central Falls on Wednesday to sign the bills that would "make it easier for workers' cooperatives to formally incorporate and do business in Rhode Island." The new law, H6001 and S676, will allow organizations of working people to start cooperatively owned businesses. The law previously made it difficult to form worker cooperatives, but as Rhode Island State Senator Donna Nesselbush (Democrat, District 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) said at the signing ceremony, the new law "is like an easy on-ramp to starting a new business."

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Providence Student Union calls for removal of Assistant Principal after incident at Central High School

Update: Assistant Principal Tom Bacon has resigned.

“As of this morning, Mr. Bacon has resigned from his position with the Providence Public School Department effective immediately. While the Providence Police will continue their investigation, we will continue to meet with students, teachers and community members and take proactive steps to support our entire school community,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza and school Superintendent Chris Maher said in a joint statement.

The Providence Student Union (PSU) has issued a statement demanding regarding a video that shows Assistant Principal Tom Bacon in an altercation with a student at Central High School in Providence. In the statement PSU calls "for the removal of Assistant Principal Tom Bacon from the Providence Public Schools" adding that, "violence against students has no place in any school."

RI Dem Party Women's caucus have the 60 members needed to force vote on DeLorenzo expulsion

The Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus has the votes to force an emergency meeting to decide the fate of 2nd Vice Chair Joseph DeLorenzo. All stateide elected officials as well as the federal delegation have signed on. The apology that the Rhode island Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello requested DeLorenzo deliver was not enough.


"As the Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus stated previously, if the Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair would not remove Mr. Joseph DeLorenzo from his role as 2nd Vice Chair, we would call upon all state committee members to request an emergency meeting.

"Women’s Caucus members, and men who support the mission of our work, have contacted the members of the state committee. As of this evening, 60 members, including Governor Raimondo, Lt Governor McKee, Secretary of State Gorbea, General Treasurer Magaziner, Senator Whitehouse, Senator Reed, Congressman Cicilline, and Congressman Langevin have signed onto a letter requesting an emergency meeting. The Democratic Party’s bylaws state that when 60 members request an emergency meeting, the Chair must schedule one within 21 days. The Women’s Caucus would like to thank the hundreds of Democrats in our state who signed petitions and made phone calls to our party to say Mr. DeLorenzo’s disrespectful comments do not reflect the values of our party."

Previous Coverage:

Joseph DeLorenzo: Sorry, not sorry

Republican and Democratic Party leaders agree: DeLorenzo is a Trump-like problem


 

Residents from Mass and RI speak out against Fall River water sale in City Council meeting

The Fall River City Council allowed visitors from Rhode Island to offer public comment on the water deal the city entered into with Benn Water to supply Invenergy with water to cool the turbines of their $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant proposed for the forests of Burrillville. In all at least 13 residents of either Rhode Island or Massachusetts spoke against the water deal, which was finalized in August but revealed over the weekend by this reporter.

Here's all the video of those who spoke.

Republican and Democratic Party leaders agree: DeLorenzo is a Trump-like problem

Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell used Joseph DeLorenzo's continued occupation of his position as the 2nd Vice Chair of the Rhode Island Democratic Party to demonstrate the hypocrisy of leaders such as Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello and Rhode Island Democratic Party Chairman (and State Representative) Joseph McNamara (Democrat, District 19, Warwick) who have attacked GOP gubernatorial candidates for being too close to President Donald Trump on policies.

Altercation between student and vice principal at Central High school sparks police investigation

A video of an altercation between a student and an assistant principal at Central High School in Providence, Rhode Island was posted on social media and has sparked an investigation by the Providence Police Department.

"We at Providence Public Schools were alarmed and dismayed by the physical altercation in the cafeteria at Central High School on Monday involving a student and an assistant principal," said Laura Hart, Director of Communications at Providence Public Schools. "The district immediately contacted the police and put the assistant principal on administrative leave, pending a personnel review. Additionally, the school district has explicitly requested that police investigate the incident in its entirety."

Public Information Officer Lindsay Lague, from Office of Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré confirmed that the police are looking into the incident.

See updates on this story here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

UHIP disaster continues

The ACLU of Rhode Island issued the following statement in response to the State's acknowledgement today about thousands of unprocessed applications submitted through the UHIP program:

“In February of this year, a court order was entered to address a lawsuit that the ACLU and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice had filed to address the disaster known as UHIP. Earlier this month, we went back into court because the Department of Human Services was not only failing to meet the court-ordered benchmarks that had been entered in February for providing timely SNAP assistance, the agency is even unable to provide an accurate report on its level of compliance with those benchmarks.

“This latest revelation -- that thousands of benefit applications may not have been processed due to system errors -- only highlights what has become an indisputable fact: whoever is to blame, the state is simply incapable of resolving this problem on its own. It is intolerable that, more than a year after UHIP was implemented, families are still going hungry because the state is failing to comply with federal law and a court order designed to help the neediest residents of our state get food on the table. It is just as intolerable that this dire information is buried in a news release touting the state’s receipt of money from Deloitte for this ongoing fiasco.

EFSB has posted its hearing schedule for Invenergy's power plant application

The Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) will conduct final hearings regarding Invenergy's $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the heart of the forests of northwestern Rhode Island starting on Friday, December 8, 2017 beginning at 9:30 AM in Hearing Room A of the Public Utilities Commission office building, 89 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, Rhode Island.

Before that, the EFSB has scheduled two hearings in communities affected by the new water plan:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM in the Charlestown Elementary
School Gymnasium
, 363 Carolina Back Road, Charlestown, Rhode Island

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM in the Burrillville High School
Auditorium
, 425 East Avenue, Harrisville, Rhode Island

Before that time though, there should be some hearings regarding various motions and requests made by lawyers on all sides of the case, including Conservation Law Foundation (CLF)'s renewed motion to dismiss and the Narragansett Indian Tribal Council motion to intervene.

It's official: Regunberg announces for Rhode Island Lt Governor

Aaron Regunberg
“I am running for Lieutenant Governor to be an advocate for the people, a voice for all the families who can’t afford a lobbyist at the State House,” said State representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence). “Rhode Islanders are independent, tough, hard-working, and willing to stand up for what’s right. And we deserve state leadership that reflects those values. Leadership that’s brave enough to take on a system we know is too often rigged in favor of the wealthy and the well-connected.”

ACLU Press Release: SOUTH KINGSTOWN ENACTS COMPREHENSIVE ORDINANCE TO PROTECT IMMIGRANTS IN THE COMMUNITY

The South Kingstown Town Council voted last night to adopt a strong and comprehensive ordinance protecting immigrants in their community from inappropriate and sometimes constitutionally dubious federal immigration actions and requests. The enactment, based on a model ordinance that the ACLU of Rhode Island circulated in March to all municipalities in the state, capped a months-long and vigorous lobbying effort by a local group, the South Kingstown Immigration Task Force, to get the ordinance enacted. The ordinance’s adoption comes at a time of increasing hostility at the federal level to immigrants, both lawful and undocumented.

Among other things, the adopted ordinance generally bars police from inquiring about the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses, or others; rejects participation in a federal program, known as 287(g), that essentially deputizes local police to serve as immigration agents; bans participation in any federal program requiring the registration of individuals based on their religion, ethnicity or national origin; and limits other forms of engagement in immigration enforcement that can adversely affect public safety and undermine good police-community relations.

Thirty people spoke in support of the ordinance, which follows a non-binding resolution the Council unanimously passed in March expressing support for the protection of immigrant rights. H Jefferson Melish, a member of the Task Force as well as an ACLU Board member, said today: “The Council’s vote yesterday was a great victory for the rule of law and an unequivocal statement that South Kingstown is a welcoming community. The diverse support for the ordinance – from religious groups, concerned residents, URI faculty, students and administrators, and many others – showed democracy working at its finest.”

Carl Krueger, a staff attorney at the Dorcas International Institute of RI who provided legal support to the Task Force, added: “I think the effect of the ordinance’s passage is huge. It codifies into law the important principle that local police are not going to be involved in the federal immigration enforcement business. The stand that the Council took in the face of opposition from the police chief and town manager speaks volumes about how seriously Council members have taken this issue and how truly welcoming the Council wants the town to be to the immigrant community.”

In a letter accompanying the draft ordinance in March, the ACLU noted that the proposal “promotes public safety by maintaining and encouraging positive police-community relations. Residents serve as witnesses, report crime, and otherwise assist law enforcement. The foundation for this cooperation can often be destroyed when local police are viewed as an extension of the immigration system.” The ordinance, the letter added, “is fully consistent with federal law, and does not bar police officers from continuing to cooperate with ICE in enforcing immigration law when backed by judicial authority or otherwise properly mandated by federal law.”

The ordinance passed by a 3-2 vote. The Councilors supporting the ordinance were Abel Collins, Bryant Da Cruz and Liz Gledhill. The opponents, Margaret Healy and Joe Viele, argued that the resolution passed earlier in the year by the Council was sufficient.

Melish expressed hope that passage of the proactive ordinance would encourage other municipalities in the state to take similar action.

For more information on the ACLU of RI model ordinance, visit:
http://www.riaclu.org/news/post/aclu-sends-model-ordinance-to-all-rhode-island-municipalities/

Herald News: Fall River water sold for use at proposed R.I. power plant

Fall River water sold for use at proposed R.I. power plant

"The deal to haul water to the $1 billion proposed Clear River Energy Center developed by Invenergy between the city and Benn Water & Heavy Transport of Rhode Island was first reported in the political blog RI Future on Saturday."