John McDaid's blog

Posts from the Democratic National Convention

2016-07-24 13.52.48.jpgLast week, I had the opportunity to cover the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia for RI Future. You can read all the stories I filed on their web site.


Disclaimer: I am currently a Democratic candidate for Portsmouth Town Council, so anything I write here should be read with that in mind. My campaign web site is over at johnmcdaid.com.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, DNC, DNC2016

Portsmouth police station bond passes House

16may11_canario.jpgRep. Dennis Canario’s (D-71) legislation (H 7793) that authorizes the Town of Portsmouth to issue $10,000,000 of general obligation bonds and/or notes in order to design, construct, equip and furnish a new police station passed the House of Representatives last night, according to a state house news release. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“The current police station was built in the 1970’s and it was built for the 70’s. So there was no female officer locker room, crucial technology systems are housed in inadequate non-cooled rooms, officers must store their gear in boiler rooms, there is no public space for events such as the citizens’ police academy, and in today’s climate, and the layout of station is below standards for the public and the officers. These are among the many reasons a new station is needed,” said Representative Canario. “If approved by the voters, these bonds will allow the town to build a police station that everyone can be proud of and one that would be able to serve the citizens in the most effective and state-of-the-art way possible.”

The act would take effect upon approval by the voters of Portsmouth.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, GA, PPD

Aquidneck Planning hires development and comms director

16june09_alexander.jpgThe Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) announced in a release today that Mary Alexandre has joined its staff as Development & Communications Manager. In this new position, Ms. Alexandre will create and implement fundraising and communications strategies to fund AIPC's current growth and to position the organization for expansion in the near future.

Ms. Alexandre brings a rich knowledge of the East Bay and Aquidneck Island area to AIPC. She was a journalist with East Bay Newspapers for ten years and a freelance writer and editor for several local Patch.com sites and other publications. She has served in fund development leadership roles at Boys Town New England England and St. Philomena School, both in Portsmouth; and most recently, The College Crusade of Rhode Island in Providence.

"I am so excited to be 'back home' again in the East Bay area," she said. "I look forward to bringing together my backgrounds in journalism, communications, and development to help AIPC expand its important role as an advocate for Aquidneck Island. We have to keep this very special island the jewel that it is, now and in the future."

Ms. Alexandre, a graduate of Framingham State College with a degree in media communications and writing, is a longtime resident of Bristol, along with her husband and four daughters.

The Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) is a non-profit organization working to preserve and improve the environment and quality of life on Aquidneck Island, in partnership with the communities of Middletown, Newport and Portsmouth. AIPC leads and supports planning and action to ensure that Aquidneck Island remains dynamic, sustainable and connected, for the benefit of residents, businesses, and visitors.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Tags: 
02871, localbloggging, AIPC

Election Day in Portsmouth -- please get out and vote for the Water Board

Vote Today!Today is Election Day for the Portsmouth Water and Fire District with two (uncontested) positions on the ballot. You can vote at the District's main office at 1944 East Main Road and polls will open at 7am to 8pm.

Please take a few minutes to vote today — even though this seems like a no-brainer (especially since both incumbents have, according to sources, been doing a good job). With a low-turnout election like this, it's always possible for write-in candidates to slip in, and remember that the Water District is a quasi-municipal agency with taxing authority.

Of the Board's seven seats, the positions of one (1) Moderator and one (1) Treasurer are up for election.

Running for the position of Moderator is incumbent Ronald L. Molleur of 15 Molleur Rd.

Running for the position of Treasurer is incumbent Allen J. Shers of 40 Roger Williams Ct.

As required by the recent change in State Law, voters will be required to show identification to vote in the District’s election.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, pwfd

Portsmouth Water District elections June 8

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District will hold its annual election of officers on Wednesday, June 08, 2016 at the District's main office at 1944 East Main Road. The polls will open at 7:00 AM and close at 8:00 PM.

Of the Board's seven seats, the positions of one (1) Moderator and one (1) Treasurer are up for election.

Running for the position of Moderator is incumbent Ronald L. Molleur of 15 Molleur Rd.

Running for the position of Treasurer is incumbent Allen J. Shers of 40 Roger Williams Ct.

As required by the recent change in State Law, voters will be required to show identification to vote in the District’s election.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, pwfd, Elections

Rep. Canario school bus driver training legislation passes House

16may11_canario.jpgPortsmouth Rep. Dennis Canario’s legislation (H8082) that requires school bus drivers’ annual training include the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s school bus driver in-service training series was passed by the House of Representatives tonight, according to a state house news release. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“There is nothing more important to Rhode Island’s parents than the safety of their children on our state’s school buses. This legislation ensures that our bus drivers are trained with the most up to date safety procedures and protocols that are available,” said Representative Canario (D-71). “The passage of this bill keeps our kids safer, it keeps our roads safer, and it makes sure that our state’s school bus drivers will always have the most current national safety training and do their jobs in the safest manner possible.”

The series includes training on driver attitude; student management; highway and rail grade crossing safety; vehicle training; knowing your route; loading and unloading; driving under adverse weather conditions; emergency evacuation; and transporting students with special needs. If the legislation becomes law, school bus drivers would need to receive the training annually.

Editorial note: Written from a state house news release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, GA

Portsmouth high school electives to be discussed by committee June 14

Over the last week, teachers and students at Portsmouth High School began to hear that many elective courses were being eliminated next year (unless I've missed an e-mail, parents have yet to be officially informed; as of today, the courses were still listed in the PHS Program of Studies for 2016-17.)

At last night's school committee meeting, three students, a teacher, and one parent made the case for a robust selection of electives during the open comment period, but were advised that because the item was not on the agenda, the committee could not respond.

The students who spoke last night were eloquent about the importance of these and other elective courses, noting that they are required for STEAM certificates as well as preparation for the 21st-century jobs and college classwork they plan for their time after PHS.

Among the courses mentioned for elimination at last night's session were the entire theater curriculum, creative writing, Piano 2, and science fiction literature.

In an e-mail exchange yesterday, a school official confirmed that some of these courses would be cut. "Our budget for the high school next year shows a reduction of 5.0 teachers. As such, we have to make some adjustments in how we use our resources. We no longer can sustain running electives with low enrollment every year. Therefore, some but not all of the courses you mention above will not run next year."

Another source with knowledge of the process presented a slightly different picture, saying that, "If 15 or more kids enroll in these classes for next year they will be run."

In an article in the online Portsmouth Times, officials indicated that the goal was to offer the classes less frequently in order to fill them when they run. "For me, having 15 students instead of seven will enrich the quality of the class," Superintendent Ana Riley was quoted as saying.

Given the conflicting information, this afternoon, I filed a request for an agenda item for the next meeting, June 14, with Supt. Riley. I asked for an agenda item to "Explain PHS elective policy, discuss options, and make recommendations." This would give the school committee broad latitude to present information, hear feedback and interact with concerned parents and students, and potentially make recommendations for steps to mitigate issues.

As backup, I have requested that the District provide enrollment data for all electives from this past year, a list of which electives slated to run in 2016-17, and a list of staff reductions at PHS from 2010-2017.

My ingoing hypothesis is that we have been bleeding the slack out of the system with multiple years of limited budgets (last year's increase was 1.4%; the upcoming budget sees only a 2.4% increase.) With the District only down 52 students across the whole PK-12 range, it doesn't seem like a staff reduction of 5 positions at the high school is justified (although, to my mind, it does offer a possible explanation of why capacity for running electives might be limited.)

Parents of PHS students — and 8th graders — may want to attend the school committee meeting on June 14.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, PHS, School Committee

Portsmouth Rep. Canario co-sponsors Ethics Commission legislation

16may11_canario.jpgPortsmouth Rep. Dennis Canario has co-sponsored legislation (H8189) sponsored by House Speaker Nick Mattiello (D-15, Cranston) to broaden the powers of the state’s Ethics Commission by eliminating legislative immunity from Ethics Commission oversight through a constitutional amendment.

“Accountability has been absent for far too long within the walls of the State House and I considered it my duty to the residents of District 71 to co-sponsor and support this important piece of legislation that states unequivocally that no legislator is above the law,” said Canario (D-71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton). “The Ethics Commission was created to ensure that no one within the State House breached the sacred line of public trust and I am pleased to say that this legislation once again reaffirms the powers of the Ethics Commission to protect the best interests of Rhode Island’s taxpayers.”

If passed by the House Committee on Judiciary and the House of Representatives, the proposal would place a referendum on the November ballot to remove legislative immunity from the state’s constitution. The proposal also includes additional changes to the Ethics Commission and Ethics Code. The legislation requires two-thirds of the commission members to change any rule or regulation of the commission. Individuals will also be prohibited from filing a complaint with the commission once the filing period begins for a given election in order to prevent frivolous complaints and the politicization of the Ethics Commission.

The Ethics Commission legislation is the latest of several reforms calling for more transparency at the legislature. Last year, the House of Representatives approved sweeping campaign finance reforms to increase disclosure of campaign account activity. Candidates and office holders are now required to file annual bank statements, maintain separate campaign accounts, and appoint a treasurer if annual account activity exceeds $10,000.

In 2014, the House of Representatives unanimously approved the removal of the “master lever,” which abolished the practice of one-line straight-party voting.

“The taxpayers of this state deserve nothing less than total accountability and transparency within their government and elected officials. The recent reforms passed by the House are a clear statement that we as legislators serve the people of Rhode Island and not the agendas of special interests,” added Canario.

Editorial note: Written from a state house news release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, GA

Portsmouth community-building dog park wins $10K grant from Rhode Island Foundation

The town of Portsmouth is among the organizations that will share $500,000 in "Centennial Community Grants" from the Rhode Island Foundation, according to a release sent to media this afternoon.

The town received $10,000 to help create a dog park for its 1,672 registered dogs and their owners as a place to gather and interact, thus building community in a 2-acre section of Melville Park, centrally located in the town, that will be dedicated to preserving the natural beauty that typifies Newport County.

"This dog park will be a welcoming place for residents of Newport County and beyond, including visitors to the Melville Ponds Campground, and also provide opportunities for community volunteers as well as education and training to dog owners," said Bunny Miller, of the Portsmouth Dog Park Planning Committee.

The project is among 43 that received funding from the Foundation. All the work that is being funded is expected to be completed before the end of the year. The maximum grant was $15,000.

The Centennial Community Grants program is just one in a series of activities to mark the Foundation’s 100th anniversary this year.

“We are celebrating our Centennial by funding projects that will bring life to every one of Rhode Island's remarkable cities and towns. Communities will blossom and grow stronger as this works rolls out,” said Jessica David, the Foundation’s senior vice president of strategy and community investments.

“Our work would not be possible but for the visionaries who came before us, the donors who generously invest in Rhode Island and the community leaders who convert the resources into action,” said Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

The Centennial grants were funded in part through a generous gift from long-time Foundation donor Anne Sage.

“This is such a wonderful way to celebrate the Foundation’s 100th anniversary. What an amazing opportunity to cast a wide net and benefit people from every corner of Rhode Island,” Sage said.

Founded on June 13, 1916, with a $10,000 gift from industrialist Jesse Metcalf, the Foundation’s assets have grown to nearly $800 million. Over the past five years, the Foundation has awarded more than $165 million in grants.

The centerpiece of the centennial celebration is a $10 million campaign to restore Roger Williams Park. The work will include improvements to the park’s entrances, new signage, expanded walkways and bicycle paths and repairs to the Museum of Natural History, the Bandstand, the Casino and the Temple to Music.

The Foundation has already raised $5 million. The support includes $1.5 million from the Foundation itself as well as a $1.15 million gift from The Champlin Foundations to restore the historic Bandstand and Museum. In addition, more than four dozen other donors have contributed to the campaign.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2015, the Foundation awarded $41.5 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grant making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, RIFoundation

Pages