President Obama for Gina Raimondo

Learn more about Gina at or on Facebook.

Portsmouth Republican statistical misdirection

Click to embiggen.

The Portsmouth Republicans have had a blaring yellow insert in our weekly Portsmouth Times for the past month, and while I've previously covered their gibberish, it didn't seem worthwhile to go after their cherry-picked statistics. But this week's installment featured such a shameless whopper that as a graduate of Edward Tufte's workshop, I feel obligated to point it out.

Here's their statement:

DID YOU KNOW...that voter turnout in Portsmouth increased from 54.4% in 2010 to 65.5% in 2012? Keep up the good work! See you at the polls.

Let's start with the less obvious problem. The Republicans appear to be doing their percentages against the entire Portsmouth population (17,343) rather than the eligible voter universe (12,327). That's the only way I can get their numbers to work, since in the the 2012 election, Portsmouth voters cast at least 9,182 votes for President, which works out to 74% turnout, rather than the 54% they computed, apparently using the census number.

But that's merely the little chocolate squiggle atop this confection of innumeracy.

Let's leave percentages aside for just a moment and look at the raw numbers. Here are the vote totals for the past five elections, using the Portsmouth Town Clerk (the race with the the single most local votes) and the "top of the ticket" contest to represent total Portsmouth turnout.

  Clerk Top of ticket
2012 6,733 9,182
2010 5,806 7,051
2008 7,096 9,740
2006 5,744 8,069
2004 7,918* 9,205
*contested race

Source: RI Board of Elections

Notice something about the numbers — kind of, like, a pattern? The numbers seem to fluctuate regularly. What could possibly be driving that? Oh, yeah, right, 2012, 2008, and 2004 were Presidential elections.

If you pick a local minimum (2010) and only use one other data point (2012) you can make the data say something quite dishonest, because comparing total votes across the range doesn't support the inference the Republicans want to make. As Tufte drilled into us, always ask, "Compared to what?"

And if you're willing to distort the data to support a relatively minor point like turnout, clearly, you cannot be trusted to play fair when there are issues of significance on the table.

Editorial note: I have Tufte's three books within arms' reach, and I'm not afraid to use them.

Portsmouth Republicans struggle with proofreading

Shool time. Click to embiggen.

Another Portsmouth Republican direct mail piece dropped today, and it's clear that this team has problems with basic proofreading skills.

Take a look at the graphic above Tom Vadney. Yeah, they misspelled "School" in advertising their candidates for school committee. It's quite unfortunate, and it's certainly not Tom's fault — he's much smarter than that. I've served with him on the technology committee, and I intend to vote for him next week, and suggest that supporters of the shools will want to do the same.

The other major blunder is just weird. Take a look at how they caption Dan Reilly's race, compared to Chris Ottiano.


I don't know what the heck "State Congress" is, but I heartily support the idea of voting for Dan Reilly in District 12. Wherever that might be. Please, by all means, write his name in. (Voters in the actual State Representative District 72, on the other hand, should consider the incumbent Democrat Linda Finn.)

The "h" is silent.

Add these together with the howler from earlier this week — where they misspelled the name of their former Town Council President on their own web site, and you get a pretty poor impression of the ability of local Republicans to manage a spell checker, let alone a Town budget.

Full disclosure: I am a partisan hack. But I know how to spell.

CVS MinuteClinic teams with Lifespan to enhance access to care

MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health, and Lifespan, Rhode Island's largest health system, which includes five partner hospitals and multiple physician groups, announced today that they have entered into a clinical collaboration agreement. The affiliation will enhance access to high quality, affordable health care services at MinuteClinic walk-in medical clinics opening inside select CVS/pharmacy stores in Rhode Island beginning later this week.

The new Rhode Island clinics, opening this fall and in 2015, will be located in Cranston, East Greenwich, North Smithfield, Providence, Wakefield, Westerly and Woonsocket.

The collaboration encourages interaction between Lifespan and MinuteClinic providers to improve coordination and access to care for patients seen at MinuteClinic locations. Toward that end, both organizations will integrate their electronic medical records to further promote exchange of clinical information, with patients' permission.

For those patients who do not have regular access to primary care, MinuteClinic provides assistance in finding a primary care physician.

MinuteClinic locations in Rhode Island will be open seven days a week, offering weekday evening hours with no appointment necessary and most health insurance accepted. The clinics will be staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants who provide treatment for common family illnesses and administer wellness and prevention services, including health-condition monitoring for patients with chronic diseases.

"As we have experienced in other states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, MinuteClinic can support the primary care model in Rhode Island by helping to improve access to care, particularly on weekends and evenings when primary care providers may not be available," said Andrew Sussman, M.D., president, MinuteClinic, and senior vice president/ associate chief medical officer, CVS Health. "Through our convenient locations, we're pleased that the state's largest health care system has agreed to affiliate with MinuteClinic to increase access and convenience for patients seeking care."

Both MinuteClinic and Lifespan will eventually use the Epic electronic medical record to streamline communication around all aspects of each patient's care.  MinuteClinic will electronically share medical histories and visit summaries with the patient's primary care provider at Lifespan. MinuteClinic will also send patient visit summaries to primary care providers who are not affiliated with Lifespan via fax or mail with the patient's consent. MinuteClinic will also participate in Current Care, the state's health information exchange. 

Founded in 1994 by Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital, Lifespan is a comprehensive, integrated, academic health system affiliated with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Lifespan's partners also include Rhode Island Hospital's pediatric facility, Hasbro Children's Hospital; Bradley Hospital and Newport Hospital. It includes a network of 1,842 affiliated physicians throughout the state.

"We're pleased to collaborate with MinuteClinic to improve access and coordination of care for patients seen at clinic locations," said John Murphy, M.D., executive vice president, physician affairs, Lifespan. "We will continue to work with MinuteClinic and with our other physician partners to ensure the appropriate level of care is provided in a timely manner to all patients in our community." 

MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants specialize in family health care and can diagnose, treat, and write prescriptions for common illnesses such as strep throat and ear, eye, sinus, bladder, and bronchial infections. Minor wounds, abrasions, skin conditions and joint sprains are treated, and common vaccinations such as influenza, tetanus, pneumonia, pertussis and hepatitis A and B are available at most locations.  In addition, MinuteClinic administers a series of wellness services designed to help patients identify lifestyle changes needed to improve their current and future health, including screenings and monitoring for diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Portsmouth Republican flier offers puzzling word salad

Click to embiggen.

For the past three weeks, the Portsmouth Republicans have had a screaming yellow insert in our local weekly, the Portsmouth Times, and while I generally just laugh at their sad attempts to use cherry-picked statistics to mystify the electorate, I'm still scratching my head over their description of what they call "the new reality."

Gone are the presumptuous times of our past when elected officials believed they were impervious to their spending and taxing appetites and that the taxpayer was forgiving of their every transgression

I can shrug off "presumptuous" and "transgression" as a bad case of thesaurus-induced incoherence, but "officials believed they were impervious to their spending and taxing appetites." Uh...impervious?

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Editorial note: Since David Gleason accused me of being "partisan" today, let me be very clear. THIS is partisan. I am a Democrat, and I am making fun of Republicans who try to talk with big fancy words to dress up their tiny little ideas. That's partisan. When I confront David Gleason for using the Portsmouth 375 logo, and he admits that he did it because he needed cheap signs, that's not a partisan attack. That's me exercising my voice as a citizen and objecting to him taking a public good for his private gain.

Are we clear now, Mr. Gleason, or are you, well, impervious?

Gleason calls use of Portsmouth 375 logo in campaign signs "recycling"

Council candidate David Gleason at transfer station.

Interviewed at the transfer station this morning about his use of the Portsmouth 375 logo in his campaign signs, Town Council candidate David Gleason defended his use of the mark as "recycling," and asked this reporter if I would "give him money for new signs."

He asked if I would take a statement, and I recorded the following, reproduced verbatim:

"It's been pointed out that I'm re-using the 375th material for my signage. All I want to say is that I'm running a low-budget campaign this year, I'm recycling my literature from 2012, and those signs I purchased in November of 2013 to honor old houses in town and I've just put my logo on them, it was never meant as any more than just recycling materials to run a low-budget campaign. If people want to vote for me, then that would be great. But I just don't have the money. I've spent all the money I've made as a Councilor on projects around town, and I'm hoping people see that for what it's worth, and I'm a recycler at heart. That's the bottom line for me."

Asked how he would respond to those who would say that he was taking a non-partisan logo developed as a public good for the town and degrading it by using it in a partisan fashion for his own personal gain, Gleason responded:

"I would say I never thought about that when I put those signs out, nor do I think it's an issue at this point. Actually, if you look at the sign, it'll say '375 plus one' so I'm just carrying on the tradition honoring Portsmouth history."

Editorial note: Mr. Gleason made the accusation, during the interview, that this was partisan. Let me be very clear. When I post something because I'm a Democrat, I mention that if it's not blatantly obvious from the context. I'm pissed off about this because this was the logo for our Town's 375th anniversary, and he's using it as a campaign prop. What you are hearing right now is not faux partisan outrage; I'm personally offended and personally angry.

Portsmouth Council candidate uses Town anniversary logo in signs

Click for original.

At least two signs for Independent Town Council candidate David Gleason contain the official logo used by Portsmouth for its 375th anniversary celebration. The signs — located on West Main Road and Union and on Park Ave next to the landfill — appear to have been made by attaching a Gleason campaign message to existing Portsmouth 375 signage.

I sent the following e-mail to the co-chairs of the Portsmouth 375 Committee, the Town Administrator, and the Town Council, cc'ing local media.


Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2014 08:24:31 -0400



Subject: Misuse of Portsmouth 375 logo for campaign material by David Gleason

To the Portsmouth 375 Committee and Town Council:
As a founding member of and donor to the Portsmouth 375 Committee, I am outraged that the official logo developed by Roskelly is being used on campaign signs by Town Council candidate David Gleason (See attached photo).

This beautiful, award-winning logo was developed by Roskelly, Inc. as a non-partisan representation of our town, and it was intended to celebrate our whole community, as its use in many communications and official materials over the past years attest.

Using it in political advertising degrades the brand equity of this mark and does irrevocable damage to this important symbol. I'm publicly calling on Mr. Gleason to remove this from his signs, and I urge Portsmouth's Council and administration to support this position.

Best Regards.

Full disclosure: There's not much in politics that makes me lose my cool. Most of the time, I can just accept that, hey, sketchy stuff happens. But this is different. Roskelly did such a beautiful, poetic mark for the Town's 375th anniversary celebration that it makes me really angry to see it reduced to political signage.

RIDE to hold 3rd annual Innovation Powered by Technology conference

The 3rd annual R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) Innovation Powered by Technology conference will take place on Saturday (October 25), from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin St., Providence.

The conference will include workshops, breakout sessions, panel discussions, demonstrations of student work, keynote addresses, and exhibits. Some of the leaders in digital learning, from Rhode Island schools and from across the country, will participate in this conference.

Registration is open to all. More than 700 people have registered so far, and we expect this year’s conference to be the biggest yet. RIDE invites the media to attend the conference, and we welcome any advance notice of this conference in the media.

Information about the conference is on the home page of the RIDE website, or the public can access the registration form directly at:

Conference partners include CDW-G, the Highlander Institute, Learning401, the Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance, the Rhode Island Society of Technology Educators, Spartina Consulting, the United Way, and the University of Rhode Island School of Education, Harrington School of Communication and Media, and Media Education Lab.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

"Umbrella Men" meets the Common Core

14oct23_ubrella_pak.jpgI was delighted to take part yesterday in a workshop with local authors and teachers on writing and the Common Core State Standards sponsored by the East Bay Educational Collaborative and the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA). As part of the preparation for that workshop, Karen (who has her M.S. Ed. in Reading and Literacy) put together a study guide for high school teachers for my most recent short story, "Umbrella Men," with assignments aligned to the CCSS. I showed the materials to teachers at the workshop and got some good feedback.

To try to make this a helpful package for educators, I've created a printable PDF of the story with line numbers to facilitate reference, and a educator's epub version to make it easy to download and read (which could also be used by students, if you don't care about the numbering.)

It's all available for free under a Creative Commons license over on a new page for educational materials. If you're an educator, and have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Oh, and if you want a chance to meet some of Rhode Island's great local writers and check out their work, ARIA hosting the second annual Authors Expo on November 8 — more info on the web site.

Portsmouth Water to flush mains next week

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District will be flushing water mains in the southern sections of Portsmouth next week from 8pm to 6am, according to a schedule they announced today:

Oct 20 East Main Road and Middle Road from Crossings Court to Hedly Street. Hedly Street and all side streets, including Industrial Park. Corys Lane and all side streets. Kings Grant and all side streets. West Main Road from Hedly Street to Union Street, including Father Flanagan’s and John Street.
Oct 21 Middle Road and all side streets to the west, Mill Lane and all side streets, West Passage Drive to Locust Avenue, Stonegate Drive, Greylock Drive, and Greystone Terrace area.
Oct 22 East Main Road to Middle Road, from Town Hall to Union Street.
Oct 23 East Main Road from Sherwood Terrace Vanderbilt Lane, east to the Sakonnet River, Union Street, Jepson Lane, and all side streets.
Oct 28 East Main Road from Lawrence Farms to Sherwood Terrace. Vanderbilt Lane to Sandy Point Avenue and all side streets.
Oct 29 East Main Road from Union Street to Mitchell Lane and side streets, Oakland Farms, Bramans Lane east to Meadow Lark Lane. Sandy Point Avenue and Sandy Point Farms.
Oct 30 Wapping Road to Old Mill Lane. Bramans Lane and side streets. Old Mill Lane, Indian Avenue and side streets.

The PWFD goes on to advise customers:

Discoloration of the water is expected during and after the flushing. Flushing in one area may create discolored water in other areas. Customers are advised to avoid washing clothes and those with hot water tanks are advised to avoid drawing hot water during the flushing hours and until any discoloration has cleared. It is expected that the water will clear by midday after the flushing. Customers may also experience low water pressure during the flushing. This schedule is subject to weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.