John McDaid's blog

Local legislators score well on "Freedom Index" (i.e., they mostly fail)

The "nonpartisan" RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity has released their 2015 ranking of Rhode Island legislators, their self-styled "2015 Freedom Index," according to an e-mail sent to followers this morning, and the good news for Portsmouth is that most of our reps are solidly on their naughty list, coming in with sub-zero scores.

Portsmouth state reps Ray Gallison (D-69), Jay Edwards (D-70), and Dennis Canario (D-71) all came in at a -7, tied with such progressive stalwarts as Teresa Tanzi and Art Handy. Portsmouth's Republican senator, Chris Ottiano (R-11), scored an awesome -15, just a point above the "worst" score for that chamber (which was bagged by our neighbor to the south, Lou DiPalma (D-12). (Yay, Senators!)

Oh, btw, SoPo Republican Dan Reilly (R-72) was the only local who cracked positive territory with a "1" rating, which almost put him in their top 10 with folks like Mike Chippendale and Doreen Costa. Maybe next year, Dan.

As you might have noticed, I use any pronouncements from the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity like spit in an avalanche: Whatever direction they go, I head the other way.

P.S. Is it just me, or does their logo look like a shark fin? Appropriate.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, RI center for freedom and prosperity

Portsmouth Water District incumbents re-elected comfortably

The results for yesterday's election for the Portsmouth Water and Fire District offered no surprises, as the incumbents (and sole declared candidates) for each position were all elected by near-unanimous margins, according to tallies provided to the media.

For the two open positions for Tax Assessor, Ted Czech received 64 votes and Michael Nott 54. For Tax Collector, Fred Faerber received 55 votes (with 1 write in) and Treasurer Allen Shers was returned to office with 63 votes (also 1 write in.)

A total of 69 votes were cast in an election where there were 12,779 eligible voters, for a turnout of 0.54%.

Congratulations to our re-elected officials, and thanks to everyone who took time to vote!

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, pwfd

Portsmouth Water District elections TODAY!

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District holds its annual election of officers today — Wednesday, June 10 — at the District main office at 1944 East Main Road, and everyone who is a ratepayer in the district can vote. Polls open at 7am and close at 8pm.

This year, four positions are up for election -- one Tax Collector, one Treasurer, and two Tax Assessors. All four races are uncontested, with incumbents running for re-election.
For Tax Collector, Fred Faerber is seeking re-election, incumbent Treasurer Allen Shers is seeking another term, and Tax Assessors Ted Czech and Michael Nott are also running for re-election.

I urge everyone to take a few minutes out of your day to stop by and vote.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, pwfd

OpEd: Rep. Carson urges GA support for RI Tourism

By Rep. Lauren H. Carson

The beauty of our state is unbounded — from the sparking beaches of Newport and Aquidneck Island to the rugged shoreline of Beavertail; from the historic landmarks that dot the capital city and Blackstone Valley to the fields, streams and woodlands of the western part of the state. We have arguably the best restaurants in the region if not the nation, history at every turn and a diversity of traditions and cultures that adds to the richness of the state.

With all this to offer, it is unfortunate we don’t do a better job of promoting the entire state of Rhode Island. We need to reorganize and re-energize our efforts to make Rhode Island — not just a city here or a beach there — a destination for tourists and the money they bring with them. This will be good for business.

Rhode Island invests just under $7 million annually in tourism. But our neighboring states have much more aggressive marketing budgets. Connecticut revitalized its tourism budget in 2012 by committing $24 million, and Massachusetts spent $16 million in Fiscal Year 2014. On average, states spend nearly $3 per capita to promote tourism. In Rhode Island, it’s less than a half dollar. Clearly, Rhode Island is not keeping pace in the region and our lack of investment is affecting our tourism bottom line.

As the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation reported in a comprehensive tourism marketing and branding investment plan issued in December, the lack of an effective, overarching state brand and marketing initiative has resulted in a loss in market share nationally and resulted in more tourism dollars going to nearby states instead. The report proposed that a $4 million investment in a state branding campaign could result in massive growth of tourism and tourist dollars in the state. That level of funding and marketing could be expected to attract between 500,000 and 670,000 new visitors to Rhode Island. Those visitors could be expected to spend between $210 million and $280 million in the state, generating between $9 million and $12 million in state sales and occupancy taxes. For these reasons, I have introduced legislation (2015-H 5914) that would appropriate $4 million to the Tourism Division for promoting the whole state as a brand.

Tourism is a thriving sector of the Rhode Island economy. The Volvo Ocean Race, a prestigious around-the-world race held every three years, chose Newport as the only North American port for this global event. Over 12 days last month, 135,000 people visited the Volvo Village at Fort Adams State Park, with a direct economic impact to the state expected to be between $40 million and $100 million. One hotel search site recently named Newport one of the country’s Top 50 cities to visit and one of America’s most sought-after vacation spots. Now that’s economic development.

This is a business decision: Invest in the wonders of Rhode Island and continue to enjoy the economic returns that our tourism economy has been delivering. Business acumen tells me to fund the parts of the system that are producing economic returns, design a coordinated statewide organizational strategy that will support local economic expansion and make increases in overall statewide investments to support and to compete with our neighboring states.

I also propose that any new statewide marketing campaign report regularly to the General Assembly. I would like to see an executive summary on our new statewide marketing programs, to include measurements on the return on our investments, trends and data so that the Assembly may better understand the results of our market strategies.

I urge the leadership of the General Assembly to take heed of the Commerce RI report and commit the funds necessary to create a state brand to better sell Rhode Island as a tourist destination, while continuing to support the good work being done on the local tourism level. We have so much to offer, but we need to do a much better job of convincing others to visit Rhode Island and see it all for themselves.


Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), currently serving her first term, is a member of the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on Oversight.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, LTE

DEM says Portsmouth dump capping now in compliance

Rhode Island's Department of Environmental Management has found that the firm conducting capping operations at Portsmouth's former town dump has cleaned up some bad soil that made its way onto the site and is now in compliance, according to a document provided to media by DEM Principal Environmental Scientist Mark Dennen. In a cover e-mail, Dennen said:

As you are aware, the Department issued a Notice of Intent to Enforce regarding a soil received from Newport that was found to be unacceptable. Since then, soil has been removed, confirmation sampling has been done and APE has agreed to do more frequent sampling. Consequently, a Letter of Compliance was issued today (attached).

As you may be aware, the Beneficial Use Determination will end on September 20, 2015. After this date, AP Enterprises will only be allowed to accept soil meeting residential criteria and will have to complete final capping, grading and seeding activities within 1 year.

In the enclosed "Letter of Compliance," Dennen outlines the remediation steps that Arthur Palmer Enterprise (APE) had taken: removing the soil, disposing of it at an approved location, accepting no additional soil from the site, reimbursing DEM for testing, and providing a plan for increasing sampling frequency to every 2,000 cubic yards.

You can read the full document here.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, landfill, Landfill capping

Electronic literature book features Portsmouth sf author

15jun01_pathfinders.jpgPortsmouth science fiction writer John McDaid's 1993 hypermedia novel "Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse" is one of four examples of early digital literature included in a just-released scholarly resource called "Pathfinders," which aims to preserve and explore these innovative electronic fictions. Electronic Literature Organization president Dene Grigar and board member Stuart Moulthrop were co-principal investigators on this National Endowment for the Humanities funded effort to make these works available to a broader audience. Here's their announcement:

In the decade between 1985 and 1995, as personal computers grew familiar and the Internet became a presence in everyday life, assumptions about reading, writing, and text began to change. Digital tools allowed increasingly powerful combinations of media. The ancestors of blogs and social networks appeared.  Experimental writers began to use tools like hypertext as the basis for fiction and poetry.

In the face of all these changes, the idea of the book remained essential in understanding the new nature of writing.  Yet the book could no longer be limited to traditional forms.  To understand the early history of electronic writing we would need a new kind of book; but what would it be like?  How would it capture the interactivity the effort now required of readers? How would it reflect the graphics, movement, and sound that that had become important narrative strategies? How would such a reinvented book make accessible works meant to run on an Apple IIe or early Macintosh computer, in these days of tablets and smart phones?

Pathfinders: Documenting the Experience of Early Digital Literature, by Dene Grigar and Stuart Moulthrop, answers these questions in the form of a multimedia, open-source web-book created for a wide array of digital devices. It features 173 screens of content, 53,857 words of text, 104 videos, 203 color photos, and various audio files, providing readers with access to four important computer-based works of literature that were among the first to be sold commercially in the U.S. — but are now seriously threatened by obsolescence.

The book, whose production was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be released June 1, 2015 and made available free of charge through the open-source platform Scalar, created by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture at the University of Southern California.

Using video and still photography, Pathfinders captures demonstrations of four groundbreaking works, performed by their authors on vintage systems.  Readers accessing the book will watch Judy Malloy walk through her database novel Uncle Roger, originally published on the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link and considered by some the first example of social-media literature.  They will also see a tour of Uncle Buddy’s Phantom Funhouse, a revolutionary hypermedia novel-in-a-box by John McDaid, and a demonstration of two classics in the early hypertext system Storyspace, Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl and William Bly’s We Descend.  Extensive interviews with all four authors add an important dimension of oral history to the project.

All four are acclaimed works of fiction representing the cultural impact of digital technologies that resonate today in experimental writing, video games, cinema, and virtual reality experiences.

Pathfinders was created by Dene Grigar, Professor and Director of the Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver, and Stuart Moulthrop, Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Demonstrations and research took place in the Electronic Literature Lab (ELL), a working collection of electronic literature and vintage computers dating from1983 assembled and directed by Grigar. The designer of the Pathfindersbook is Will Luers, faculty member in the CMDC Program. Madeleine Brookman, a junior in the CMDC Program, served as the Research Assistant to the project.

The formal book launch party is scheduled for Friday, June 5, at 6:30 p.m. at Nouspace-Angst Gallery, located at 1015 Main Street, Vancouver, WA. The works of these authors will be displayed on vintage computers and copies of the book will be on view to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Dene Grigar, dgrigar at wsu.edu.
 
The book will be available at http://scalar.usc.edu/works/pathfinders.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, Fiction

Portsmouth HS post-prom party could use your support

This note was sent to PHS parents by principal Bob Littlefield, and if you are able to help out (either as a volunteer, or with a donation of food or cash, I know that would be most appreciated. This is a fun event that helps keep our students safe. Please pitch in if you can. Thanks.

The post Prom Party is less then one-week away. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has donated and volunteered for this exciting night. I wish to make one final appeal for a last minute cash donation, last call for volunteers, and call for food donations.

The Senior Post Prom Party aims to keep students safe on this memorable night. To do so we have Door Prizes and special Senior Prizes. We culminate the night with a Grand Prize. The night takes a lot of donations from many to be successful. If you have not had the time to donate, we can still can use your support. Online donations are being accepted at http://phs2015postprom.weebly.com. Please help us today with a donation.

We still need volunteers for the Post Prom Party on Wednesday, June 3rd. Please contact Liz Stack or Katie Heffernan if you are interested in helping out. Katie Heffernan: kheff1@cox.net , or Liz Stack: cstack6@cox.net.

Volunteers should remain flexible in their assignments and will be used as needed Wednesday evening.

And, finally, a last minute call for food donations. We expect over 200 students at the event, which requires quite a bit of food. Please go to http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0a4aaba82aa4ff2-post1 to sign-up to donate something today.

This is an exciting week for our Seniors. We want them to remember these events for years to come. Your help today helps us with positive outcomes and healthy choices for our Seniors and their guests.

Editorial note: Written from a PHS email.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, PHS

Portsmouth public hearing on bikeway plan tomorrow

The Aquidneck Island Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing to receive comments on the Draft Aquidneck Island Bikeway Design Study Report (DSR) for the Town of Portsmouth on Thursday, May 28, 2015, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

A presentation on the DSR will begin at 6 PM. The hearing will be held in the Town Council Chambers, Town Hall, 2200 East Main Road.

Copies of the draft DSR are available for review at the Portsmouth Town Hall (2200 E. Main Rd.), the Portsmouth Free Public Library (2658 E. Main Rd.), and the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (437 Broadway, Newport). The DSR is also available in electronic format at: www.aquidneckplanning.org

Written comments on the draft DSR may be submitted through June 19, 2015 to aipccomment@gmail.com or to the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission, 437 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840. Commenters are requested to include their name and place of residence with all comments submitted.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, AIPC

Tiverton Town Councilor appears to plagiarize harddeadlines [Update: text removed] Update 2: Sousa apologizes

In a story about the kerfuffle over a gun being displayed at the Financial Referendum in Tiverton last week, Town Council member Joe Sousa appears to have used, without permission, a paragraph of my text as his own in communicating with the East Bay Newspapers. The paper attributes and quotes him like this: "As Mr. Sousa later told the story, writing about his actions in the manner of a news release," and what follows is a paragraph from my news report about the event.

Here's the paragraph attributed to Mr. Sousa from East Bay Newspapers

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 9.21.55 AM.png

Compare this to the paragraph from my story published last Saturday night:
Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 9.22.21 AM.png

I call Mr. Sousa's attention to this web site's Terms of Service, which clearly assert my intellectual property rights in all content. I have sent a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice to the East Bay Newspapers, and I demand an explanation and apology from Town Councilor Joe Sousa.

Update: In a comment, East Bay Newspapers publisher Scott Pickering notes that the paragraph was deleted in the story and explains, "In response to Mr. McDaid’s concern, and because the information in the cited paragraph was mostly redundant, we have removed it." Have not heard anything back from Sousa in response to my request for an explanation and apology.

Update 5/25: In postings on the East Bay Newspaper site and Facebook, Tiverton Town Councilor Joe Sousa apologized to the editor of harddeadlines and explained the apparent plagiarism as a "misunderstanding."


Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, Tiverton, DMCA

Vern Gorton

verngorton.jpgPortsmouth's Vern Gorton, 59, passed away this week and our town will, literally, never be the same.

He wasn't just a brilliant attorney — although he was that — or a devoted husband and dad, or the heart and soul of the Portsmouth Democratic party. He was a truly wonderful human being and I will miss him terribly.

I met Vern when I got involved with Portsmouth politics about ten years ago. I don't remember what the topic was, but I recall the first time I saw him take the podium at a Town Council meeting and thinking, wow, am I ever glad to be on the same side of that issue.

As I drifted into the local Democratic party, I would run into him at meetings. He was always level-headed, it seemed always smiling, and always able to put into words what everyone was thinking — and doing it in with a turn of phrase and a sense of humor. In all those years, I don't think I ever saw him lose his composure.

Over several campaigns, I had the great good fortune to work with Vern, and it was a masterclass in local politics, taught with wry wit and a clear, uncompromising eye. He had no patience for fools and called things as he saw them, but he unfailingly counseled taking the high road. Not that he was above slugging it out with the opposition — he was a person of deep convictions and he would not yield an inch — but he was always a gentleman.

He believed in the people and the Town of Portsmouth, and he encouraged the candidates he coached to serve the best interests of the community with intelligence and common sense. He was a wonderful mentor, and having his guidance during the election I ran for school committee was a truly special time. I learned a hell of a lot, and, I think, even more important, wanted to emulate what I came to see as his deep commitment to public service.

Vern was an inspirational leader, but one who led by doing. When I was looking around for a photo, I realized that there weren't many. Vern was always too busy working. When the local Democrats would be running our yearly clambake and all the candidates would be out shaking hands with Jack Reed, or David Cicilline, or Gina Raimondo, Vern would be back in the kitchen calmly making chowder. In our monthly town committee meetings, he'd usually be sitting in the back, listening, and only speaking up to say something that either made us all laugh or kept us from doing something stupid.

Portsmouth is a better place because of all that Vern did, and we will all miss his wisdom, judgment, and deep humanity. My heart goes out to family and friends, whose loss is even more immense. There are no words of consolation for a loss this great; only the comforting memory of someone who truly left everything he touched in better shape than he found it.

Links
Obituarty
Memorial page

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, Portsmouth Democrats, memoriam

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