Rep. Edwards crafts anti-surveillance, legislation review bills

edwards.jpgRep. Jay Edwards (D-70, Portsmouth) has submitted bills in the RI General Assembly that would prohibit unauthorized highway surveillance and create a committee to review and recommend laws for repeal, according to a state house release Friday.

Rep. Edwards bill (2015-H 5051) would prohibit surveillance on any public highway in Rhode Island unless specifically authorized by statute or court order. The bill would also provide for the confidentiality of information collected or stored.

“Rhode Island residents are entitled to their privacy,” Rep. Edwards said. “This measure would not stop our law enforcement officers from tracking down those who engage in criminal activity. It also does nothing to inhibit the state from operating toll booths. What it does is protect our citizens’ private information obtained through global positioning satellites, EZ-Passes and transponders, radio frequency identification devices and automated license plate recognition systems, from a public search. In a world where we have to worry about things like identity theft and hackers, it’s necessary to have these safeguards.”

All information collected through acceptable forms of surveillance under the law would not be subject to the Access to Public Records Act (APRA) or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) without a court order. Employees of the state would be able to access this information for customer service, statistical, administrative, or legal purposes, as long as it is justified as necessary to performing their duties. Additionally, no information or data would be stored for more than five years unless a court orders otherwise.

Rep. Edwards’ bill (2015-H 5054) would create the Joint Committee of the Repealer, which would effectively compile suggestions for the repeal of statutes, regulations and executive orders received from citizens, businesses and government agencies.

“It’s time we have a committee that sits down, reads through some of these older statutes and makes recommendations to repeal rules that hold no relevance in 2015,” Representative Edwards said. “The joint committee would also target ‘business-unfriendly’ wording and redundant language in our books. We’re supposed to be doing everything we can to encourage economic growth. Well, it’s the little things that count sometimes and I think this is something that just needs to be done. There are a lot of arbitrary statutes and cumbersome regulations that need to go.”

The committee would consist of six members, three from the House and three from the Senate. Following a review of the suggestions, the committee would then make its recommendations to the General Assembly of laws to repeal or to the governor of executive orders to repeal.

Both bills were forwarded to the House Judiciary Committee; based on information on the General Assembly web site, both were heard on Tuesday, Jan 20, and are being held for further study.

Editorial note: Written substantially from a press release.

"Broadway" benefit show at PHS on Feb. 7


The Dr. Robert A. Davidson Charitable Fund presents

Broadway From Then 'Til Now 5

A Concert of Broadway Showtunes, old and new

All Proceeds to Benefit the Portsmouth Public Education Foundation, Looking Upwards, and other local causes.

Saturday February 7, 2015
7:00 PM
Portsmouth High School Auditorium
120 Education Lane
Portsmouth, RI

Tickets $20 Adults, $10 Children Under 10
Online Tickets/Donations at or Call 401-683-2824

New treatment plants fix Portsmouth water quality issue [update]

Portsmouth customers have already seen an improvement in water quality courtesy of new treatment plants, according to a news release from the Portsmouth Water and Fire District.

Quarterly water samples collected from February 2014 through November 2014 indicate that the Portsmouth Water and Fire District is in compliance with the state and federal regulations for Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs). TTHM compliance is measured as a four-quarter, running annual average of four sample sites within a water distribution system and the EPA maximum level for TTHMs is 80.0 parts per billion. The TTHM four quarter, running annual average for the District’s most recent compliance period was 71.8 parts per billion.

In September of 2014, the District issued a news release and mailed a notice to customers indicating that it had exceeded the TTHM regulations. That excedance was based on the four-quarter running annual average of 89.2 parts per billion for the period of November 2013 through August 2014. The most recent quarterly testing in November 2014 resulted in a TTHM average for the quarter of 24.6 parts per billion, which brought the District’s four-quarter, running annual average into compliance.

William J. McGlinn, the General Manager and Chief Engineer for the District, indicated that construction of the new Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant in Portsmouth and the renovation of the Station One Water Treatment Plant in Newport made an immediate difference in the TTHM levels for Portsmouth Water, Newport Water and the Navy – the three island water suppliers. The water treatment plants project was constructed by the City of Newport and both plants were put on-line in the second half of 2014. Due to the challenging water quality of the City of Newport’s nine reservoirs, Advanced Water Treatment processes have been incorporated into the two water treatment plants in order to assure compliance with drinking water standards, particularly the TTHM standards. The total project cost is $84 million, which is being funded for through the water rates of all water users on the island.

Update, 1/22/15 5:16pm: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect expansion of the acronym "TTHM." It stands for Total Trihalomethanes, rather than just "Trihalomethanes." This error was present in the press release from the Portsmouth Water and Fire District, and was pointed out by a reader. My apologies for letting this slip through.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Gallison reappointed House Finance Committee chair

15jan20_gallison.jpgPortsmouth Rep. Ray Gallison (D-69) has been reappointed as chair of the House Finance Committee by House Speaker Nick Mattiello, according to a state house news release distributed today.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue leading the Finance Committee. The work our members do is very complicated, intense, and often requires difficult decisions, but it also is an opportunity to ensure that we reflect our state’s values in the way we raise and allocate our funds," Gallison said in the release. "I’m proud to have a dedicated committee and staff who will work alongside me, and am looking forward to once again making sure our budget and the legislation we craft reflect our state’s goals and shared hopes for the future of Rhode Island.”

Representative Gallison was first appointed to the position in March 2014, when Speaker Mattiello was elected to his post. At the time, Rep. Gallison had been serving as co-vice chairman since 2010 and the committee was in the midst of deliberations on the 2015 budget bill. In a matter of 12 weeks, the committee completed its work on the $8.7 billion state budget, closing an unexpected $67 million gap, fully funding education aid, averting bridge tolls and tax increases, establishing a steady source for transportation funding, and promoting economic development while reducing the corporate tax rate and the inheritance tax.

The Finance Committee is considered the most influential of the House committees, since it is in charge of developing the state budget as well as other matters that have a financial impact on the state. It is also one of the busiest committees, meeting daily for much of the session.

Rep. Gallison was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2000. He served on the committee from 2003 to 2006, and then again from February 2010 to the present.

From 2011 until his appointment as chair of Finance, he was chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He also previously served as vice chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and as a member of the Health, Education and Welfare Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the former House Separation of Powers Committee. He was a deputy majority leader for three terms as well.

A self-employed attorney practicing in Massachusetts, Rep. Gallison lives in Bristol. He and his wife, Diane, have two sons, Timothy and Nathan. He earned his law degree from what is now the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Law, and completed his undergraduate studies at Rhode Island College. He is a La Salle Academy graduate.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Arisia this weekend in Boston! (and my panels)

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 7.44.45 AM.pngMy favorite regional science fiction convention, Arisia, kicks off today in Boston, and I'm looking forward to three days of outstanding panels, great conversation, films, cosplay, an always-amazing masquerade, and just generally kicking back with a great group of sf folks.

This year, I'm especially excited to get a chance to hear Guest of Honor N. K. Jemisin, one of sf's most brilliant new writers. In addition to her outstanding fiction, she has also been a vibrant voice for equality and diversity in the sf field (see her speeches at the 2013 Continuum and this year's Wiscon.

Oh, and I'm on a couple of panels. Looking forward to having some interesting discussions with these cool panelists.

The Medium and the Message
Hale Sun 5:30 PM 01:15
Heather Albano (mod), Thom Dunn, John G. McDaid, Sarah Smith, Alexander Feinman
A story can be told in a multitude of formats. Anything from short stories and epic poems to graphic novels and screenplays can be used to convey a narrative. How do the various formats compare? Do certain genres work well in one but not another? What about translations from one medium to another? How can you tell which works best for your story?

Does It Matter If SF Is Wrong About the Future?
Marina 2 Sun 10:00 PM 01:15
Erik Amundsen (mod), Ian Randal Strock, John G. McDaid, Walter H. Hunt, B. Diane Martin
For decades, many have believed that Science Fiction writers from Verne to Gibson were also futurists. Because of the belief that a main purpose of speculative literature is to predict the future, works are often scrutinized and criticized when they get things “wrong.” Does it matter if SF is incorrect about the future? What are writers really trying to do when they write about the upcoming years and their developments?

Rep. Canario picks up new committee assignment

canario.jpgPortsmouth Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-71) received committee assignments for the 2015-16 legislative session, picking up one additional committee, according to state house news release.

Rep. Canario, who is serving his second term in the House, will continue to hold the position of Deputy Majority Leader.

Rep. Canario will continue to serve on the House Committee on Judiciary, and will also continue to serve as the Secretary of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare as he did during the 2014 General Assembly session. This term, Canario has also been appointed to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Committee appointments were announced this week by Speaker of the House of Representatives Nick Mattiello.

The Committee on Judiciary is one of the major standing committees of the House and is responsible for all bills affecting the penal code, judicial system, ethics, open meetings, access to public records and election law. The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hears legislation that impacts the lives of Rhode Island veterans.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Governor Raimondo welcomes Rhode Island to State House

Gov. Gina Raimondo and "First Gentleman" Andy Moffit welcome visitors. (click to embiggen)

Newly elected Governor Gina Raymondo and her husband Andy Moffit welcomed visitors to the Rhode Island State House this afternoon, in a 3-hour event that featured performers and food and beverages from around the state.

Admission was free, and most visitors brought donations of nonperishable food items for the Rhode Island Food Bank, whose bins by the State House door were quickly filled as hundreds of folks from around the state came to meet the history-making Governor. At one point, the reception line was an hour long.

Visitors could sample treats from two dozen restaurants and specialty shops while wandering around the State House. "You get to see things you never saw," one visitor said to a reporter, as they wandered around in the conference room behind the House of Representatives chamber.

After the reception in the State House, the Governor and her family hosting a free skating event at the Providence rink.

Aquidneck Island Planning Commission hiring part-time OM/AA

The Aquidneck Island Planning Commission will be hiring an office manager/administrative assistant in Newport in early January, according to an e-mail sent to their list this afternoon. Here's the description:

The position provides support for a new Interim Executive Director during a strategic planning process and Executive Director search, which is expected to be concluded in six to nine months. This may lead to a permanent, perhaps full-time, position in due course.

Job title: Office Manager/Administrative Assistant
Location: Newport, RI
Type: Part-Time (20-30 hours/week) to possibly Full-Time in the future
Begin: on or about January 19, 2015

Contact: Sarah Atkins, Interim Executive Director, with resume and letter of interest by January 9, 2015. References required.

Strong writing skills and administrative/organizational experience, as well as experience with Microsoft Office, is required. Familiarity with QuickBooks is recommended.

In summary, the job entails managing communications with board members, preparing for board meetings, and overseeing the management of the office.

For more information and a full job description, visit

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Contemporary Theatre Company kicks off season with 24-Hour Play Festival

Directing the CTC's 2012 24Hour Festival, Dave Price with cast members (l-r) Matt Royality-Lindman, Amelia Giles, Pat Hayes, Robin Deering, and Maggie Papa. Photo credit: Blacknight Studio.

Wakefield's Contemporary Theater Company kicks off its 10th Season with The 10th Annual 24-Hour Play Festival on January 10. This celebration of creativity and collaboration is a collection of six short plays written, rehearsed, and performed in a single day.

“The 24-Hour Play Festival is the event that defined our company in our early years,” says Artistic Director Christopher Simpson, “and the spirit of supportive, generous collaboration that it fosters has sustained us through ten years of growth and change.”

The playwrights begin the process at midnight, writing through the night until actors and directors arrive in the morning and begin casting and rehearsing the plays. Photos, videos and stories are uploaded to the company’s website and Facebook page throughout the day, allowing the audience to keep up with the process as it unfolds.

The event draws large crowds each year, and at the end of the evening, the audience gets to vote for their favorite plays, actors, and writers.

“The energy and excitement of the event really shows in the performances,” says the festival’s production manager, Maggie Cady. “With so many different styles from the writers and directors, we always end up with a great range of shows.”

As the company enters its tenth year, the play festival brings together the old and the new for a day full of theatrical mayhem and magic.

What can you expect from the 10th Annual? Simpson says, “Seeing veterans of all CTC eras sharing the stage for the anniversary of our first decade - it's going to be something very special.”

The performance is January 10 at 8 p.m. at the South Kingstown High School Auditorium. Tickets are $12.

A complete schedule of events and more information is available at or by calling 401-218-0282.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Happy holidays! A look back at 2014's top stories from harddeadlines

Transparency is the new objectivity. MRI by Portsmouth Diagnostic Imaging.

Thank you, everyone, for spending some of your valuable time in this little corner of the web over the past year, and for taking the time to read and engage. I appreciate the reads, comments, corrections, e-mails, Facebook likes, shares, Twitter favorites and retweets. Thank you, every one.

With the holidays upon us, posting here will be spotty (well, okay, spottier than usual) for the next couple of weeks.

And as all news sites are virtually required to do by the Communications Act of 1934, here's a look back at the big stories of the past year.

What I thought of as an everyday snarky post back in January about a memo from our Portsmouth Middle School on the dangers of "Snorting Smarties" became an unexpected viral monster. For a couple of days, I understood what shooting the rapids of the Web feels like, starting with a trickle of media locally (Portsmouth Patch, EastBayRI), that led to pickup in major culture sites (BoingBoing, Gawker), and a sudden, exponential escalation in national outlets (Washington Post, CBS News), followed by international news in (England, Australia), culminating in a citation in

Hard to live up to that kind of a start to the year. The rest of the list has a few political posts (in an election year, what a shock) with the ever-popular landfill still making the top ten. I'm particularly happy to see a couple of reviews made the list as well.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season, and best wishes for the New Year!

Care for a stroll down memory lane? You can find the top stories of the past five years of harddeadlines at these links: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.