Letter to Portsmouth school administration about this morning's events at PHS

Subject: Fwd: Power Outage at PHS -- Request for follow-up
Date: October 30, 2017 8:23am
To: cortvriendt@portsmouthsc.org, rileya@portsmouthschoolsri.org, amaralj@portsmouthschoolsri.org

Hi...
I think PHS parents -- and the citizens of Portsmouth -- deserve a comprehensive explanation for what happened this morning. This storm was no surprise, and yet PHS seems to have been totally unprepared, holding students for 45 minutes with no information. I have heard that it was known that power was out in the building as early as 5:45am, according to communication from an administrator to a student.

Why was there no communication with parents? Why was there no contingency plan in place, other than to hold students in the cafeteria and gym, without taking attendence. This strikes me as a huge safety and accountability issue. The same goes for the dismissal, which I can personally testify was haphazard, with students visibly wandering off campus only moments after their parents had been notified.

I ask that the administration and school committee conduct a post-mortem on this event, including next steps to address identified gaps, at the next school committee meeting. If I need to formally request this at the Admin office, just let me know.

Best regards.
-John McDaid

------
John McDaid
@jmcdaid
harddeadlines.com

On October 30, 2017 at 7:57:22 AM, PORTSMOUTH HIGH SCHOOL (portsmouthhighschool@blackboard.com) wrote:
A message from PORTSMOUTH HIGH SCHOOL

To PHS Families,

Due to a late power outage this moring we will have to dismiss student early from school. Buses will pick up students beginning at 9:00 a.m. All students who drive themselves will be able to leave immediately. Students who will be picked by their parents will be supervised by staff in the new gym which has power.

Thank you for your understanding.

Sincerely,

J. Amaral

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Prudence Island Water District sets water and tax rates

Prudence Water District logoAt its regular monthly meeting on Saturday, September 16th, the Prudence Island Water District Board adopted a budget for fiscal year '18 which begins on October 1st, according to an announcement sent to local media.

The Board approved operating budget is $250,027. The Board also approved a capital improvements budget of $200,000.

Having decided this past February to implement the District's tax authority, the Board also set a tax rate as well as a water rate to fund the budget for the coming year. The tax rate was set at $0.67 per $1,000 of assesed value of property within the district with a total tax levy of $50,213. The annual water rate was set at $535.00 per connection.

The Board held two public informational workshops in July to discuss with the community the decision to implement the District's taxing authority. The Board also took public comment on the decision to implement a district water tax at its July Board meeting.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Playing at the Big E weekend of 9/23

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 4.32.03 PM.pngNew England's "state fair," the Eastern States Exposition (aka, The Big E) kicks off in Springfield, MA soon, and I'll be one of the two dozen local singer-songwriters featured at the Rhode Island building. I'll be playing two 45-minute sets of original tunes, at 2 and 5pm on Friday, September 22, and at 1, 3, and 5pm on Saturday, September 23.

The RI Songwriters Association (RISA) stage will be set up right inside the door of the Rhode Island building on the Avenue of States. You'll want to come early and make a day of it (you'll also want to come early to avoid the traffic, which I've been told can back up as the day goes on.)

The Big E is an enormous, 17-day fair combining the best of 6 New England states, full of everything you expect: sheep shearing, butter sculpture, horse show, giant pumpkin contest, a midway, rides, agricultural demos, and main stages with top musical attractions in the evening. Of course, there's classic "fair" food — everything from burgers, waffles, vegetarian and gluten-free options to a "deep fried piña colada martini."

I'm delighted to have this opportunity to play alongside some of the best local musicians. A big thank you to RISA and RI Commerce, for this chance to entertain the thousands of folks who visit the Big E every year.

Here's the full schedule of local performers:

Time Fri 9/15 Sat 9/16 Sun 9/17 Fri 9/22 Sat 9/23 Sun 9/24 Fri 9/29 Sat 9/30 Sun 10/1
12pm
and 3pm
Burce
McDermott
Rick Quinby/
Dennis
Caussade
Wyatt and
Barb Lema
Lainey
Dionne
Jacob
Haller
12, 2, 4
Lisa
Bastoni
Caroline
Doctorow
Mathew
Gingras
Gracelyn
Rennick
1pm
and 4pm
Dennis
Caussade
Rick/Dennis Andy and
Judy Daigle
Michael
Gutierrez
John
McDaid
1,3,5
DB Rielly Rich Eilbert Morgan
Johnston
Terry
Kitchen
2pm
and 5pm
Alison
Guiliano
Rick/Dennis Kala
Farnham
John
McDaid
Ralph
DeFlorio
Rupert
Wates
Hal
York
David
Provost

OpEd: Lessons from Harvey: R.I. must plan with flooding in mind

carson.jpgby Rep. Lauren H. Carson

In recent days we’ve seen harrowing images of Texans carrying their children, belongings and pets against strong currents in chest-deep waters, and heard the heartbreaking stories of loss as one of the most-damaging storms in history wreaked its havoc on the Gulf coast.

Here in the Ocean State, we must take heed. We may be 1,800 miles away, but we are similarly at risk for devastating flooding in the event of a hurricane or other severe weather event.

In 2016, I led a special legislative commission that studied the economic risks that sea rise and flooding pose to our state. What our panel found was that Rhode Island can protect itself from some of the economic risks posed by rising sea levels through coordinated statewide planning and awareness programs aimed at policymakers, homeowners, business owners, and real estate agents. But we also found that we musts do more to ensure that all policy makers across the state grasp that the risks aren’t merely hypothetical. As a coastal state with a majority of our population and resources located near the water, the dangers to our lives and resources are inevitable, and we need to protect them before the next Harvey, Katrina, Gloria, or Carol comes our way.

Toward that end, this session I sponsored legislation requiring continuing training on sea rise and flooding for all local planning boards. The bill aims to ensure that those who have the front-line duties of determining whether, where and how we build our communities have the information and tools to ensure new development and redevelopment is built with an eye toward protecting assets from rising sea levels, which also affect inland and riverine municipalities. The training program has already been developed at the University of Rhode Island, having been funded in last year’s state budget, and consists of a one-hour course that planners can take for free online at their own convenience.

This is quite possibly one of the most critically important things we can do to protect public and private assets, as well as lives and livelihoods, from flooding. Empowering local planners to recognize future risks and require that future development protect against them will do more than protect their investments; it will also help keep insurance costs for all Rhode Island properties from rising rapidly, since high replacement costs and recurring disasters increase insurers’ costs, and property-holders’ rates. The insurance industry should embrace this effort to prepare for future risk.

This legislation has passed the House and is now awaiting Senate approval. The Senate Judiciary Committee had recommended it for passage by the full Senate before the Assembly unexpectedly recessed in June. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to see this bill through to the finish line when the two chambers return on Sept. 19.

Rhode Island must be more proactive in planning for flooding and sea rise. The devastating toll of human loss and suffering in Texas must remind us of the high stakes involved.

Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-75, Newport) served as chair of the Special House Commission to Study Economic Risk Due to Flooding and Sea Level Rise.

Editorial note: OpEd provided by State House news bureau.

RI Democratic leaders express support for Dreamers

Rhode Island’s top Democratic Party leadership gathered Tuesday to denounce the actions of President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (D.A.C.A.) program, which safeguarded the rights of an estimated 800,000 immigrants who were children when they entered the United States. The news conference, according to a release, was held at the Segue Institute for Learning in Central Falls and led by R.I. Democratic Party Chair Joseph M. McNamara, included Governor Gina Raimondo, Lt. Governor Daniel McKee, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Mayors James A. Diossa (Central Falls) and Jorge Elorza (Providence,) and two ‘Dreamers’ — Javier Juarez, a Brown University graduate student, and Rodrigo Pimental, a member of the R.I. Progressive Democrats.

“Rhode Island was founded on the principles of tolerance and diversity," said Governor Raimondo. "Throughout our history, our state has been strengthened by the contributions of immigrants. President Trump’s plan to end DACA is nothing short of cruel, and it would be a disaster for the nation’s economy. As long as I am Governor of this state, Rhode Island will stand up for the American Dream, and the Dreamers who keep it alive.”

Lt. Governor McKee said, “Here in Rhode Island, we have thousands of amazing young people who are protected by DACA, many who have only ever known Rhode Island as their home. These young people are studying, working, running small businesses, paying taxes, and building their own families. DACA protects the progress they have made and the many contributions they continue to make to the social and economic fabric of our state. Halting this program is inhumane and stands against everything Rhode Islanders stand for.”

Rhode Islanders seeking support with DACA or general immigration issues are encouraged to reach out to Progreso Latino, Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, or Roger Williams Law School Immigration Law Clinic.

“DACA children have known nothing else but this country as their home, they contribute greatly to the fabric of our community, and they deserve our protection from any attempt to undermine their rights as residents,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin on Friday. “This is one of the most heartless and immoral decisions the President has made yet. We are a nation built on the contributions of our many immigrant populations, and we are a stronger nation because of those contributions. Now the President is turning his back on children who have so much to give to this country. We cannot sit idly by as he strips DACA grantees rights they have been afforded and deserve.”

“Dreamers represent the best of the American spirit – young people going to school, working, and volunteering to build a better life. President Trump’s plan to expel these promising young people is cruel and un-American. We must all have the courage to speak out,” said Treasurer Magaziner.

“The elimination of DACA is a direct attack on the American Dream for 800,000 young people,” said Mayor Elorza. “DREAMers are Americans in virtually every way and it is deeply disheartening that they now face additional anxiety and uncertainty. Congress has the ability to bring hope back to DREAMers and we urge them to come together in a bipartisan way. We have 6 months to get the job done, let’s get to work.”

“President Trump’s decision today is going to hurt the progress of our country. Many of our kids benefitting from DACA are potential doctors, lawyers, scientists, and small business owners. They are creators, builders and innovators,” said Mayor Diossa. “The President has stopped the opportunity to make our country stronger – by having our kids paralyzed from seeking a better future.”

“DACA has affected my life drastically,” said Brown University graduate student and ‘Dreamer’ Javier Juarez. “Without DACA, I would have never been able to drive, get a decent paying job with benefits, graduate from Rhode Island College and get accepted into Brown University. Without DACA, everything that I have worked so hard for will vanish. I will continue to fight for DACA. I don’t need a set of papers to show the government that I am a stand-up citizen,” Juarez said.

Chair McNamara concluded, “It is so devastating to families and the impact it will have on them educationally and personally. These young citizens will lose the opportunity to fulfill themselves, and it will negatively impact our economic prospects for this generation.”

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

OpEd: Manufacturing is REAL in Rhode Island

ruggiero.jpgBy Deborah Ruggiero

Manufacturing in Rhode Island is alive and well, but not the manufacturing from the days of our grandparents. Technology has changed how we do business today and how we live.

Today’s manufacturing requires knowledge in technology, math, ladder logic, G-code, lean manufacturing principles and CAD programs. Manufacturing represents 15 percent of the state’s economy with over 1,600 manufacturers in Rhode Island ranging from sole proprietors to companies with over 100 employees.

The number one challenge I hear from manufacturers is finding qualified candidates to expand their business. The biggest asset of any company is its people. And let’s be real, because not every high school student is going to college. That’s why the Governor’s Manufacturing Initiative in this year’s budget is so important. The General Assembly approved $3.65 million to upgrade Davies Career and Technical High School to create a state-of-the art Advanced Manufacturing Center.

Investing in manufacturing to train high school students exposes them to careers that will help them in the future. It also helps manufacturers —from craft breweries to precision manufacturers — employ a skilled and qualified workforce to meet the demand of their customers.

Many young people don’t know what opportunity looks like today. The new manufacturing in Rhode Island is in defense, marine and infrastructure technology and cybersecurity. Rhode Island is a defense and undersea technology leader not just in New England but throughout the country.

Everyone starts somewhere. So start by talking with Dave Chenevert at Rhode Island Manufacturers Association and enroll in its apprentice program called WE MAKE RI. It has a 95-percent graduation rate and RIMA gets its apprentices jobs. (www.WeMakeRI.com)

More young people should tour Taylor Box in Warren and talk to Dan Shedd, owner of a third-generation family business. He’s survived recessions, expanded his manufacturing facility, and continues to look for good talent for his growing business in this new economy.

Let’s drive economic growth by creating a skilled workforce while expanding manufacturing in Rhode Island. It’s the future. It’s the new economy. It’s good-paying jobs and in our own backyard.

Rep.Deborah Ruggiero, (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown) is chairwoman of the Small Business Committee and serves on the House Finance Committee.

Editorial note: OpEd provided by State House news bureau.

RI Democratic leaders condemn Trump remarks

Rhode Island’s elected Democratic leaders joined today to condemn President Trump’s remarks Tuesday voicing support the ‘Alt-Right’ movement — White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and members of the Ku Klux Klan — and in a statement sent to reporters, called for Americans to unite peaceably to protect Democracy.

"The hateful and violent actions of white supremacists and self-identified Nazis this weekend leave no room for equivocation," said Governor Gina Raimondo. "President Trump responded to the events this weekend with dog whistles and muddled words. I stand with Rhode Islanders from across our state against hate, racism and white supremacy. I call on President Trump and all elected and community leaders to make a clear, unequivocal statement that white supremacy, Nazism, racism, and bigotry are evil and have no place in our democratic republic."

"All of our leaders have a responsibility to speak with one common voice against bigotry, hatred and prejudice," said Nicholas Mattiello, Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. "A failure to denounce such actions in Charlottesville and elsewhere is an implied acceptance of this intolerable behavior. Americans must stand united for decency, honesty and the shared common value of equality for all."

President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio said, “There can be no false equivalency between those who seek to subjugate groups of Americans and those who stand bravely against hatred and oppression. This isn’t about left versus right; it’s about right versus wrong. Rhode Islanders of diverse ideologies have fought to protect the American ideal that all people are created equal against the scourge of slavery during the Civil War, of Nazism during World War II, and of racism during the Civil Rights movement. We as Americans stand united against racism and intolerance, but the leader of this great nation must not equivocate on the fundamental American principle espoused by George Washington to a Jewish congregation in Newport: that we shall give to bigotry no sanction.”

“America is at a crossroads. Do we continue our experiment in democracy or do we return to the days of bigotry, racism, hatred, and condoned violence?” asked Party Chair Joseph M. McNamara. “This is not a Republican / Democratic issue – this is an American issue; our nation needs its elected and political leaders to unite to speak out now against this injustice, and to fight to protect our nation from this divisive presidency.”

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

RI Dems call Trump's transgender ban an "outrage"

“It is an absolute outrage that President Trump is calling for the ban of transgender people in our military, and that he would be so cavalier as to ‘tweet’ this policy reversal,” said Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair Joseph M. McNamara in a statement Wednesday.

“Trump’s statement that transgender Americans will not be allowed to serve 'in any capacity' is absurd and discriminatory on its face. Love of country is not affected by gender identity, nor should it be hailed as a marker for who is patriotic or best qualified to serve this nation,” McNamara said. “At a time when democracy faces threats inside and outside our borders – North Korean aggression, Russian interference in our elections, ISIS terrorists — we need the best and most committed soldiers possible. This policy does not accomplish that.”

Anthony DeRose, Chair of the Rhode Island Democratic Party LGBTQ Caucus, said, "It is truly disgraceful how this President, who has not served one day in the Armed Forces, is now a so-called expert on what is considered a 'disruption' on the battlefield. He's not only disrespecting those trans individuals who have served our Nation bravely or who would have wished to serve, but he is maligning all trans people.”

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Prudence Water District workshop on taxing power this Saturday

The Prudence Island Water District will hold a workshop on implementing their taxing authority this Saturday at 1pm the Union Church, according to a news release.

After research, discussion of options and careful consideration over the past year, the Board of the Prudence Island Water District intends to implement use of its taxing authority effective with passage of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. The District has had the authority to tax real property within the District since its creation through legislative action in 2004. However, the District has never implemented this authority and instead relied exclusively on collection of semi-annual water service fees to pay for all operating expenses, capital expenses and debt service.

During the past year, the District has reviewed its taxing authority and the need for additional debt service as part of this long-term plan to continue improving not only its water quality and upgrading its infrastructure, but to also increase potential capacity for new customers (including redundancy of supply to respond to temporary interruptions in the availability of one or more wells), as well as improve the accessibility and quantity of water available for fire fighting within the District.

The Board has concluded that these projects will equally benefit not only its water customers, but also the property owners within the District that are not currently purchasing water service from the district. The Board feels that it is unfair to place the full financial burden of these system improvements solely on current water users when they benefit all property owners within the District. Therefore, the District intends to move to a budget that is based on funding operations with a combination of water service fees and debt service through a District wide tax on real property. This funding structure is common practice in water districts throughout the State of Rhode Island.

The Board has scheduled the second of two public informational workshops to present this change to property owners within the District. The workshop will be held:

July 29, 2017
from one o'clock to two o'clock at
Union Church
3 Pier Road, Prudence Island

Full implementation of the budgetary decision and setting of the tax rate will occur when the Board adopts its budget for fiscal year 2018 (October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018) at its monthly Board meeting on September 16, 2017.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

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