02871

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.

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02871, Localblogging, Dems

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.

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02871, Localblogging, Dems

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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02871, Localblogging, Prudence Island

RI Democratic Women's Caucus meeting draws nearly 100 participants

Nearly 100 women from East Bay and across the state gathered Tuesday night at Rogers Library in Bristol to map out next steps for the growing Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus; nearly a third of those present were first-time attendees. Caucus co-chairs Rep. Lauren Carson, Rep. Shelby Maldonado and Rep. Grace Diaz led the two-hour program. (Senator Gayle Goldin was absent due to family illness.)

The attendees suggested specific workshops and training sessions they’d like to be part of, including: fundraising, leadership training, communications, running campaigns, understanding the legislature, learning how bills are made and passed, and supporting women candidates. An upcoming outline and schedule of workshops is expected to be presented to members in its next meeting.

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea spoke to the group about the importance of getting involved in elections and politics, to exercise their right to vote and to encourage others to do so. She applauded the efforts of the co-chairs and the dozen elected women in attendance, and urged all to attend their local city and town committee meetings. At least two dozen of those attending were either elected or city or town chairs.

RI Democratic Party Executive Director T. Kevin Olasanoye gave a state Party update, including an overview of Resistance Summer, a 4-month, Democratic National Committee-led program to expand voter involvement. He introduced the Party’s two new interns, who will be responsible for building voter registration and community involvement: Michelle Arias and Jakub Lis.

The next meeting is Tuesday, August 1, in Newport; co-chairs also announced plans for tri-state regional meeting with other women’s caucuses for the fall. For more information, call 401.272.3367, or see the Women's Caucus on Facebook.

Editorial note: written from a news release

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02871, Localblogging, Dems, Women's Caucus

Seveney to host constituent meeting July 16

Jim_campaign_medium.jpgSen. Jim Seveney (D-11) will host a constituent meeting next Sunday, July 16 at Foodworks Restaurant, 2461 East Main Rd. in Portsmouth from 1:30-3pm, according to an e-mail sent this afternoon. Sen. Seveney's district includes all of Portsmouth, southern Bristol, and an area of Tiverton near the bridge.

Seveney says in the e-mail, "Needless to say, some major pieces of legislation, including the FY 2018 state budget, are in limbo and awaiting final completion. Hopefully we'll reconvene soon to finish the work left undone on Friday, June 30th.

"Come anytime between 1:30 - 3:00pm to discuss issues, expectations and the latest status on legislation of interest. I'll also share my experiences and insights gained as a first term state senator. I invite you to stop by and let me know what you're thinking."

Meeting is free and open to the public. Coffee and light snacks will be available.

Editorial note: Written from an e-mail.

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02871, localbliogging, GA, Jim Seveney

OpEd: Senate’s budget will protect taxpayers

ruggerio.jpgBy Dominick J. Ruggerio

As President of the Rhode Island State Senate, I have a responsibility to ensure we pass a balanced and sustainable budget for the state of Rhode Island. The budget adopted by the House of Representatives did not protect the state’s rainy day fund from Speaker Mattiello’s car tax phase-out in the event of a future recession or cuts to federal aid.

Like the Speaker, I support eliminating the car tax, but only if we can afford it. This should not be a new revelation for the Speaker. Since the beginning of this legislative session, I have publicly and privately expressed concerns about the sustainability of phasing out the car tax. I understand the Speaker campaigned on eliminating the car tax, but campaign promises alone cannot serve as the basis for policy formulation.

Last Friday, the Senate unanimously approved amending the budget to include a critical safeguard that suspends the car tax phase-out if state revenues can no longer support the plan. Without the safeguard, the state would have to tap into the rainy day fund, which I will not support. The Senate previously discussed this safeguard during budget negotiations and Senate Finance Committee hearings.

This safeguard was the only amendment to the budget. The Speaker’s car tax plan otherwise remains untouched, and not one dollar was changed in the $9.2 billion budget. I have great respect for the Speaker and his passion for reducing the car tax, but no one individual in the General Assembly has the authority to dictate what will or will not be in the budget. The Senate made this corrective action to protect taxpayers. Tapping into the rainy day fund could harm the state’s bond rating and our overall fiscal health.

The Speaker has not identified a revenue stream to support the car tax phase-out going forward. In fact by 2024, the car tax phase out will cost $221 million. The projected structural deficit for that year is over $300 million. Without proper safeguards or a proven reliable revenue stream, the rainy day fund could be obligated to support the Speaker’s car tax phase-out.

No one, not even the Speaker, wants to see this phase-out succeed more than I. The two communities I serve – Providence and North Providence – pay among the highest rates in the state. However, Rhode Island has a long and tortured history in its efforts to phase out the car tax. At one point, the General Assembly repealed a similar plan because of declining state revenues. I will not repeat that mistake. Taxpayers deserve predicable and sustainable tax relief.

After we amended the budget last Friday, the Senate remained in session and passed legislation to improve the quality of life of all Rhode Islanders. When the Speaker abruptly recessed the House, not only did he leave the budget unfinished – which includes his car tax plan with our safeguards – he also walked away from critical pieces of legislation. These include measures to provide paid sick leave to Rhode Island workers, take guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and codify important provisions of the Affordable Care Act into state law.

We encourage the Speaker to reconvene the House to take up these matters. In the meantime, the Senate will thoroughly review all legislation that comes before us and pass that which we deem is in the best interest of all Rhode Islanders.

Dominick J. Ruggerio is President of the Rhode Island Senate. He is a Democrat that represents District 4, Providence and North Providence.

Editorial note: OpEd provided by State House news bureau.

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02871, Localblogging, GA

Responding to attack by an elected official

Following the Portsmouth Water and Fire District election last week in which Mr. Phil Driscoll ran unopposed, the newly re-elected Clerk took the time to attack me in letters to the editor of the Newport Daily News and Portsmouth Times.

Calling me an "antagonist," Mr. Driscoll criticized me for supporting a write-in candidate. You can read his letter in the paper or online version, and my response, included below, appeared in yesterday's Daily News, and should be in next week's Portsmouth Times.

To the editor:

When an elected official attacks a private citizen for being involved in civic life, it should not pass unremarked. So when the newly re-elected Portsmouth Water and Fire District Clerk, Phil Driscoll, denounces me in a letter to the editor published on 6/28, I feel compelled to respond.

Mr. Driscoll calls me an “antagonist” and alleges that a “surreptitious write-in campaign” was mounted against him. What did I do to merit his ire? I ran into someone outside the polling place who said they were doing a write in campaign and I posted that on Facebook. (And on harddeadlines.com — thanks, Mr. Driscoll, for mentioning the name of my news blog!)

In my opinion, the public is always best served by contested elections. Especially for a quasi-municipal entity with taxing authority. Apparently, Mr. Driscoll disagrees.

As to Mr. Driscoll’s assertion that I question his environmental credentials, I’ll quote the self-description from his letter: “I am a committed advocate of the environment but that does not mean that I wallow in the DEM, DOH and EPA trough of fallacy, fable and fantasy.”

Personally, I respect the validity of peer-reviewed science. You should draw your own conclusions about whether Mr. Driscoll does based on his words.

John G. McDaid
Portsmouth

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02871, Localblogging, pwfd, Elections

Canario marijuana commission bill goes to governor

Rep. Dennis Canario (D-71, Portsmouth) and Sen. Cynthia Coyne’s (D-32, Barrington) legislation (H 5551Aaa) that would create a 19-member special legislative commission to study the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island passed the General Assembly last night, according to a state house news release.

“The potential effects of legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island would have drastic impacts to the fabric of our state and this commission is necessary to determine if those effects would come with positive or negative outcomes,” said Canario. “There is too much at stake from both a financial and a public health standpoint to rush into legalization because Massachusetts has elected to do so. This commission will take a thoughtful and data-driven approach to determine if legalizing marijuana is the right move for Rhode Island.”

“Based on my experience as a retired State Police lieutenant and a mom of four children, I understand that legalization of marijuana for recreational use could have serious public safety, public health and societal ramifications. It is imperative that we thoughtfully consider the unintended consequences and take notice from lessons learned in Colorado and Washington. We should take full advantage of other states’ experiences and learn about whether we should follow in their footsteps or perhaps take a different approach to avoid any problems they may have encountered,” said Coyne.

The commission would consist of three members of the House of Representatives, three members of the Senate, one member from Smart Approaches to Marijuana, the President of the Substance Use Mental Health Council of RI or a designee, a member from a pro-legalization organization, the Executive Director of the RI Medical Society or a designee, a member of a local chamber of commerce, the Director of the Department of Health or a designee, the President of the RI Police Chief’s Association or a designee, a designee of the RI Attorney General, a member representing the medical marijuana patients of Rhode Island, an educator in Rhode Island, a mental health professional, a criminal defense attorney, and the President of the RI AFL-CIO.

The purpose of the commission would be to conduct a comprehensive review and make recommendations regarding marijuana and the effects of its use on the residents of Colorado and Washington to the extent available, and to study the fiscal impact to those states; and thereafter the potential impact on Rhode Island of legalized recreational marijuana.

Local cosponsors of the legislation included Sen. Jim Seveney (D-11, Portsmouth), and Sen. Lou DiPalma (D-12, Middletown).

The bill now heads to the governor for consideration.

Editorial note: Written from a state house news release.

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02871, Localblogging, marijuana, GA

Prudence Island Water District election results

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 10.47.48 AM.pngBoth incumbent candidates on the ballot, Phil Brooks and Ann Marie Lockwood, were re-elected to the Prudence Island Water District board at last Saturday's election -- Phil Brooks with 19 votes and Ann Marie Lockwood, 14 votes. In the race for Clerk, with no declared candidate and incumbent Martha Fuller deciding not to stand for reelection, Chris Brown carried the vote with 13 write-ins.

Official numbers from the hand count were:

Board Member (elect 2)
Phil Brooks 19
Ann Marie Lockwood 14
Write ins:
Rick Brooks, Sr. 5

Clerk (no declared candidates)
Write-ins:
Chris Brown 13
Chris Blount 1
Frank Jurnak 1

Total ballots cast: 22, out of 716 eligible voters, for a turnout of 3.07%

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

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02871, Localblogging, Prudence Island

Portsmouth Water election results: Driscoll, Kelly win

Both candidates on the ballot in the Portsmouth Water and Fire District election today held on to win, with incumbent Clerk Phil Driscoll racking up 102 votes and newcomer Andrew Kelly picking up 105 to become Water Commissioner. Latecomer write-in candidate Daniela Abbott put up a double-digit total in an effort that fell short.

Unofficial numbers from the machine and hand count at the PWFD office:

Clerk
Phil Driscoll 102
Write ins
Daniela Abbott 42
Gary Gump 2
Not Phil 1

Water Commissioner
Andrew Kelly 105
Write ins
Water Commissioner
Daniela Abbott 5
Phil Driscoll 2
Mickey Mouse 2
Bob Kittredge 1
David Gleason 1
Judy Staven 1

Total ballots cast: 156, out of 13,345 eligible voters, for a turnout of 1.17%

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, pwfd

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