LTE: Action needed to avoid an eviction crisis

By Sen. Dawn Euer and Rep. Jason Knight

Rep. Knight, Sen. EuerRhode Island is on the precipice of a cataclysmic housing disaster stemming from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But swift, decisive action would avert this crisis.

On Monday, the courts will open and landlords may begin filing for evictions, although in some situations renters may have protections until July. With over 230,000 new unemployment claims since March 9, and a record 17-percent unemployment rate, vast numbers of Rhode Islanders are likely on the verge of losing their housing. When Virginia reopened its courts two weeks ago, it had over 800 eviction proceedings already scheduled. Rhode Island, with the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation, is likely to experience a similar avalanche.

Renters are more likely than homeowners to live paycheck to paycheck, at risk of financial ruin if their income stops. While the moratorium has protected them up to now, if they’ve been unable to pay rent for several months, it’s unlikely they can pay those months of back rent to avoid eviction.

Rhode Island can use a portion of its $1.25 billion federal COVID-19 response funding for emergency rent assistance. Quickly establishing an Eviction Diversion Court – really, just a special District Court calendar to handle evictions – would create a means to provide tenants legal counsel, require mediation and provide the financial assistance necessary to prevent eviction.

We appreciate the courts’ and the administration’s efforts in this arena so far, and urge them to act swiftly to save tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders from homelessness.

Sen. Dawn Euer (D-13) represents Newport and Jamestown, and Rep. Jason Knight (D-67) represents Barrington and Warren

02871, Localblogging, LTE, GA

[LTE] Ocean State must face reality of rising shores

Ocean State must face reality of rising shores
By Rep. Lauren H. Carson and Rep. Terri Cortvriend 

You may have heard about the Charlestown man who is suing the town of South Kingstown and one of its police officers over his arrest in June on a trespassing charge while he was collecting seaweed along a beach.

The charge was dismissed, but the act itself was, in part, intended to call attention to unresolved questions about shoreline access here in Rhode Island, a right enshrined in our state constitution. A 1982 Supreme Court ruling attempted to clarify the issue by saying the public’s right ends at the mean high-tide line, but since that line is a calculation of averages over an 18.6 year cycle, there’s no way for a beachgoer to identify it.

Further complicating matters is that the line will continually move inland as sea level rises, most of the time gradually, but at times heaving large chunks off dunes and other coastal features. With sea rise, property owners and members of the public whose shoreline access is constitutionally guaranteed will continue losing ground.

After Hurricane Sandy destroyed properties along the coasts of New York and New Jersey, there was an uptick in discussion about whether some particularly at-risk coastal properties should even be rebuilt. Many were, in fact, abandoned there, because increasingly violent weather events and rising seas have rendered them too much of a risk for repeated loss.

As much as we value the right of landowners, there may well be properties in our state, too, that are similarly unjustifiable risks for flooding, destruction and even loss of life.

As the Ocean State, we should be much more proactive when it comes to resiliency along our shores. We should be exploring the actual risk to each coastal community and each property using up-to-date technology that models expected risks. We must continue to train our municipal planning and zoning boards on the risks of sea rise so they have the tools they need to make sound decisions that do not jeopardize property investments and keep the shoreline open to the pubic under their constitutional rights. 

There’s little doubt that in general, homeowners are less than ideally prepared for flood risks, particularly the increasing risks associated with rising seas in the coming decades. Only about 15,000 Rhode Island properties in the flood zones carry flood insurance, and only those with mortgages are actually required to have it. Those with enough cash to purchase a beach home without a mortgage aren’t. While they may have the means to risk property destruction in the event of a major disaster, are they putting public assets and people’s lives at risk?

The risk isn’t limited to private property. Doubtlessly, many state and municipal assets are also located in areas that are already prone to flooding, or whose risk is increasing. Stewards of public resources have a responsibility to understand and defend those assets from potential damage, and must face the reality that the most prudent step might be to move them elsewhere.

Our state needs a more robust action plan for protecting public and private properties from the ever-increasing risk of coastal flooding, and that plan must include an accounting of where the high-tide line is, and how it is projected to move. 

The creation of this plan should include an audit of properties to determine what the real risks are, and it should also bring in real estate professionals, insurers and lenders, because they help determine the price of ownership of such properties, and should be sure that those prices accurately reflect the real cost of ownership, including potential destruction.

The Ocean State must face the fact that the more of our state is, indeed, becoming part of the ocean with each passing year. Leaders and property owners must take much more concrete steps to predict the encroachment and protect our assets from it.

Rep. Lauren H. Carson is a Democrat who represents District 75 in Newport. Rep. Terri Cortvriend is a Democrat who represents District 72 in Portsmouth and Middletown.

LTE, climate change

LTE: Address tax issues with third-party rental platforms

carson.jpgBy Rep. Lauren H. Carson
Technology development keeps changing everyday life in ways that were unforeseeable only a few years ago. A decade ago, probably few people would have believed that our economy would soon be changed by apps that would let you hail a cab online, or websites that would crowdsource funding for entrepreneurs or charitable causes. Or that in 2018, a significant portion of travelers would sleep in a stranger’s home instead of a hotel.
Government at every level has struggled to keep up with the dizzying pace of this development, and the result is that policy has not caught up to technology. Short-term rentals coordinated through third-party hosting platforms is one such wild frontier where an entire economy has sprung up, unregulated, unchecked and very questionably taxed.
In my district in Newport, where hospitality is the driver of the economy, the effects of this development are particularly evident. Our tax and health and safety codes were developed with the expectation that residential properties housed residents, not travelers. This new hybrid use — and the use of third-party hosting platforms that complicate the identification of the properties being used — have left Newport, other municipalities and the state at a loss to determine how to ensure that hosts are complying with the measures that are intended to keep guests safe and in compliance with the collection of hotel and sales taxes.
An attempt was made in 2015 to collect the hotel tax from the third-party hosting platforms, but the result was the delegation of tax collection to the hosting platform, which submits only one double-sided form once a month with only a grand total of the taxes it says its users owe the state and the fraction that should go to each community. We’re just accepting the money and their word.
The tax problems are just the tip of the iceberg. This use may well also be putting a squeeze on our housing stock, as investors have begun buying properties solely to rent out the rooms in this manner.
Proponents argue that the model provides homeowners, particularly woman and seniors, with income that helps them afford their homes. But what can it do to protect these vulnerable populations from those who spend the night in their homes? Background checks and analytics cannot detect first-time offenders who recognize this opportunity.
I have submitted legislation that will help ensure compliance with our tax laws and building codes. My bill requires third-party hosting platforms to use best practices to ensure the properties they list are complying with all applicable local, state and federal laws regarding their rental and use, and ensure that they are complying with any local registration requirement. Additionally, the bill requires them to provide each property owner with a monthly accounting of the taxes collected for rental on that property. It would be the property owner’s responsibility to remit that accounting to the state along with any taxes they have collected themselves for rentals outside the platform.
The use of third-party hosting platforms will only continue to grow, and Rhode Island must adapt. We cannot continue to allow a very significant portion of our hotel taxes to be collected and submitted anonymously, without verification. I urge swift passage of my legislation to rectify this situation.

Rep. Lauren H. Carson, a Democrat, represents District 75 in Newport.

02871, Localblogging, LTE

LTE: R.I. must build smarter now to adapt to already-rising sea levels

By Rep. Lauren H. Carson

16may16_carson.jpgIn recent years, it has become common to walk out my front door near Newport’s waterfront in the historic Point neighborhood during a storm and see several inches of water surging up the road. For some, the challenges caused by sea rise and flooding still seem hypothetical, but for me and the hundreds of other neighbors and businesses in my district, the issue is on our doorsteps — sometimes over them.

While Rhode Island possesses the research and intellectual capital to tackle sea-level rise, I witnessed a communication divide between those studying the issue, stakeholders affected by it and leaders capable of addressing it. For that reason, one of my first priorities upon my election to the House was to sponsor the creation of a commission to study and bring attention to the economic risks that sea rise and flooding pose to our state.

The commission, whose members hail from real estate, hospitality and tourism, academia, science and public policy, worked for six months, conducting case studies on the Providence Port, the Newport waterfront and the Westerly beachfront, and listening to municipal, state, and regional experts.

What we found was that businesses from beachside restaurants in Westerly to marine shipping corporations in Providence are beginning to understand the threat of sea level rise and conceptualize solutions, but we still have much work to do to ensure the Ocean State adequately adapts. In the end, the state must adopt a philosophical approach to meeting adaptation goals that embrace the broader aim of protecting Rhode Island’s overall economy from flooding and rising waters.

Toward that end, I have introduced legislation requiring continuing training on sea rise and flooding for all local zoning and planning boards, 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 riverene municipalities. 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 my efforts to prepare for future risk.

I am also working to design a flood audit program similar to the existing free energy audit program offered by RISE Engineering through National Grid. While this legislation may not be ready in time for passage this session, helping businesses and residential property owners in the flood plain understand and mitigate their own risks was one of the recommendations of our commission.

At the commission’s request, the Department of Business Regulation is also considering regulatory training for real estate agents on sea rise and flooding as part of their continuing education requirements as a means for making improvements to existing properties when they hit the market to ensure their protection from flooding, and helping agents protect Rhode Island buyers from making risky investments.

Our study commission learned many important things about our fragile coast, but mainly we learned that there is a high cost to doing nothing. A do-nothing approach will likely cause insurance premiums to increase and homes and businesses to flood near and far from our 400 miles of coastline.

It is cheaper to act now.

Rhode Island is prepared to do that because of well-defined regulations, strong risk-assessment tools, and effective cooperation between the government, academia and the private sector.
We can project Rhode Island as a leader in the region for taking steps to ensure minimal property damage and business interruption costs and loss of value due to sea rise, sea surge and flooding.

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

02871, Localblogging, LTE, GA, climate change

LTE: Supporting single payer in Rhode Island

The following is a letter sent to the RI House Finance Committee by Portsmouth physician Mark Ryan, who submitted it for publication here.

Dear Members of the RI House Finance Committee:

We are writing to ask you to support H 7381, legislation proposing a single payer program that could ensure all Rhode Islanders have affordable, comprehensive heath care coverage. This legislation has been introduced by Representatives Regunberg, Amore, Tanzi, Handy and Almeida and will have a hearing before the Finance Committee. See

The bill is based on a 2015 Rhode Island-focused study by Professor Gerald Friedman, Chair of the UMass Amherst Economics Department. See the attached report, addendum memo and letter in support of the 2015 version of this proposed legislation. The problems Professor Friedman' identifies include the following:

  • Between 1991 and 2014, health care spending in RI per person rose by over 250% – rising much faster than income – greatly reducing disposable income.
  • Health care is “rationed” under our current multi-payer system, despite the fact that Rhode Islanders already pay enough money to have comprehensive and universal health insurance under a single-payer system.
  • The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) cannot control rising premiums, co-pays, deductibles and medical costs, nor prevent private insurance companies from continuing to limit available providers and coverage.
  • Fully implemented, the ACA will still leave 4% of Rhode Islanders without insurance – resulting in as many as 116 Rhode Islanders dying unnecessarily from lack of insurance each year.
  • In the United States, 62% of personal bankruptcies were medical cost related and of these, 78% had health insurance at the time of their bankruptcy.

H. 7381 addresses these problems because it will:

  • Save approximately $4000 per resident per year by 2024 and put more money into the Rhode Island economy.
  • Significantly reduce administrative costs (almost $1 billion in the first year) and shift these dollars to actual provision of health care.
  • Decrease provider administrative burdens and allow them to spend more time providing health care.
  • Establish a funding system that is public and progressive.
  • Eliminate health insurance costs and administrative obligations on Rhode Island businesses and make them more competitive and profitable (e.g., in the first year, payroll contributions to a single payer plan would be over $1.2 billion less than current private health insurance premiums).
  • Contain health care costs (reduce administration and control over monopolistic pricing) and save 23% of current expenditures in the first year with larger savings in subsequent years.
  • Create a significant economic stimulus for the state by attracting businesses to and keeping businesses in Rhode Island because of reduced health insurance costs.

The high and increasing costs of health insurance puts an enormous burden on Rhode Island working families and businesses. In every other industrialized nation in the world, a universal comprehensive single payer health insurance solution exists. Although it would be preferable to have a national program and there is significant public support (e.g., HR 676), gridlock in Washington, DC, dictates that action at the state level must also be taken. You should note that the Canadian national single payer system began as a regional program in Saskatchewan.

Given your concern for the financial and health care needs of Rhode Islanders, we urge you to support this bill.

Please let us know by replying to this email ( if you have any questions, comments or criticisms. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your concerns prior to the hearing. We would also be happy to meet with individuals or groups interested in learning more about single payer. For more information, including significant peer-reviewed research, go to:

Thank you for your time and attention to H 7381.

Yours truly,

J. Mark Ryan, MD, FACP
Chair, Rhode Island Chapter - Physicians for a National Health Program

Howard Rotblat-Walker, PhD
Chair, Rhode Island Chapter - HealthCare-Now

RI Healthcare reform
Effect of RI State Funded Health Plan on Disposable Income
Friedman Testimony, May 26 2015

02871, Localblogging, LTE

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.

02871, Localblogging, LTE

Anti-Stenhouse global warming LTE in today's ProJo

From the dead tree edition.

Today's ProJo featured a tiny little letter to the editor (cut for length and, in my opinion, editorial slant) responding to a global warming hit piece by Mike Stenhouse. Here's a scanned pdf, or you can see the edited version online (including a back-and-forth in the comments with some climate deniers, including The Stenhouse himself).

Or, you can read it the way I originally wrote it:

To the editor:

In August 22 Providence Journal commentary ("Climate alarms deny the reality in R.I."), Mike Stenhouse, CEO of the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity, attacks "global warming alarmists" who "deny reality" and spread "fear-mongering propaganda." He singles out a recent Providence event in which two youths with asthma were -- in his words -- used as "props" to show the impact of climate change.

One would think Mr. Stenhouse might be a tad circumspect about calling children props, given his Center's use of student essays to push "school choice" just a month ago: But that's beside the point.

What brings me to respond -- in addition to the body of evidence in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports -- is a fact that should be obvious to a Harvard-educated economist like Mr. Stenhouse. Do you know who believes in global warming? Insurance companies. See this NY Times story from May:

This is not abstract. For the second year in a row, I have paid more for home insurance than property taxes. I live in Portsmouth's Island Park, in a 900-square-foot cottage that my grandfather bought in 1920, and we are 15 feet above mean high tide. Even the cheapest rate, with RI Joint Re, still makes home and flood insurance nearly twice my property taxes.

Greed? No. Grim actuarial statistics. As we continue to pump gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, we face an increased risk of weather extremes exacerbated by global warming. And that risk is quantifiable. Those of us who live near the water see it in our premiums.

If Mr. Stenhouse truly cared about the "prosperity" of everyday Rhode Islanders, he would be working to fight both this enormous economic drain and the long-term impacts global warming will have on the well being of all the Ocean State's citizens.

Who's denying reality now?

John G. McDaid

What I really love about Rhode Island is that it's such a small state that someone from the West Bay called me up tonight to chat about what I wrote and commiserate about the head-in-the-sand denialists. How cool is that? (waves)

Since I wrote this, there was a frightening piece on insurance in the Warwick Beacon, an explainer on flood maps in the EcoRI News, and a long piece on new models for estimating risk in this weekend's NY Times Magazine.

Also, how much more helpful would it be if folks like the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity, the RI Current, and the Rhode Island Shoreline Coalition fought things like this that cost middle class families thousands of dollars a year, instead of picking fights over trivialities just to rile up their base?

02871, localbloggging, LTE, climate change

Letter to the editor: The Facts About the Portsmouth Wind Turbine

The following is a letter to the editor received from Doug Smith, who was a member of the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee involved with the wind turbine process.

The Facts About the Portsmouth Wind Turbine
by Doug Smith

As a member of the Subcommittee that was involved in the Wind Turbine project, I have refrained from responding to the unwarranted implication at the 24 September Town Council meeting, that there were some “mistakes” made by the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee (PEDC) in the planning leading up to the construction of the Wind Turbine in Portsmouth. To do so would lend this politically-motivated accusation credibility. That a subsequent proposal to have the PEDC investigate the decision-making process for “mistakes” was approved by all of our Town Councilors (two of whom are liaison members of the PEDC) was very disturbing. I have resigned from the PEDC because I feel that by accepting this proposal, the Town Council majority is trying to make use of the PEDC for their political gain. I refuse to be a party such manipulation. It seems time to set the record straight.

I believe that no “mistakes” were made by the PEDC during the development process. The fact is that all the steps in the PEDC process were open to the public and all major decisions were brought to the Town Council for their vote. Any major decisions therefore, were made by the Town Council after due discussion and public comments, which included those of the PCC. The process included analyses by respected wind energy consultants who noted no fatal flaws in the process and decisions. The entire process was freely open to public scrutiny and lasted well over two years. In a Town-wide referendum in November 2007, over 60% of Portsmouth voters approved of purchasing the Wind Turbine. A complete description of the process and its timelines, as well as the detailed feasibility study that was completed in 2004, is (and has always been) available on the PEDC website at

Since it became operational in March 2009, the Wind Turbine has netted over $400,000 in profits to the town after all expenses and loan payments were made. We would not have recommended this project if we didn’t expect to generate a constant flow of positive revenues for the town. Even with major repairs expected, positive revenues to the town are still anticipated in the future. Hindsight is always 20/20 and going back and reevaluating a process that started over 6 years ago is a waste of time. The Town Council and the PCC know this, but the PCC, with their constant flow of negativity about Portsmouth, is trying desperately to score political points prior to the November elections.

It is time that the Town leadership stop posturing for their political base and get on with either repairing or replacing the Wind Turbine gearbox or partnering with a private wind energy developer who might consider taking over its management. While I realize that this is a complex decision and that we need to get it right going forward, the Wind Turbine has sat idle for too long. A primary job of the Town Council is to make decisions, one for which this council has proven to be especially inept. Looking backward serves no purpose other than delaying a decision, something this council has done all too frequently in the past.

Full disclosure: I have been a long-time supporter of alternative energy in general and the Portsmouth WTG in particular and I serve with Doug on the Portsmouth 375 anniversary committee.

Localblogging, 02871, LTE, WTG

LTE: Scouts pave way for Bristol Ferry marker

Boy Scouts at work on Bristol Ferry Common. Photo courtesy Alex Cournoyer, Sr.

Received this letter from Doug Smith of the Bristol Ferry Town Common Committee

To the Editor,
On behalf of Portsmouth's Bristol Ferry Town Common Committee, I'd like to thank Boy Scout Alex Cournoyer and his fellow Troop 1 Portsmouth volunteers for constructing a landscaped base for the informational sign that we hope to put up on the Common next spring. In preparation for this community service project, one of the requirements for Eagle Scouts, Alex spent 3 months raising funds from civic organizations and solicited donations from businesses in the community for materials.

The local businesses that contributed with discounts, donations and deliveries services included Aquidneck Stone and Materials, Cawely Construction, Little Landscaping, and Shaw's Market. Monetary donations for the Eagle Scout project were received from the Portsmouth Lions Club and GTECH Corporation. It took over one-half ton of paving stones, 2.5 tons of stone dust, 3 yards of loam and 2 yards of mulch to complete the project over the space of two weekends. Their efforts and those who contributed to this project in support of this historic Town property are deeply appreciated.

The Bristol Ferry Town Common is located at the northern end of Bristol Ferry Road and was founded in 1713.

Doug Smith
Chairman, Bristol Ferry Town Common Committee

Localblogging, 02871, LTE

LTE: Portsmouth TC member urges support for Q2

Len Katzman (D) is an incumbent candidate for Town Council

I would like to provide some facts for Rhode Island voters regarding question 2.

I'm Len Katzman and I serve on the Town Council in Portsmouth. Portsmouth is a town like many in RI that (1) values open space preservation but (2) has little money to purchase development rights.

When an open space acquisition matter first came before me on the council, as a responsible decision maker I thought the fiscally responsible thing to do was to shrug, and say, "Too bad. We can't afford it."

But then I saw the actual dollars and cents numbers. You see, many studies have been done on the financial consequences of open space preservation. In Portsmouth, we charged our Economic Development Committee, along with the town planner, to develop empirical data on this.

Here's the "executive summary" of findings: For a growing town like Portsmouth, open space that is not preserved is likely to be developed into residential housing subdivisions. Our professionals looked at all the costs in town services that such development entails such as kids in school, road paving maintenance, snow plowing, incremental police and fire and so on. Then, we looked at the increase in tax revenue the town would gain because a developed property is worth more than an open field.

The result of our study in Portsmouth was that it COSTS the town MORE in services than we receive back in taxes from residential property subdivision development. Open fields, while yielding less actual revenue, demand virtually no town services at all so it is a net GAIN in revenue for the town.

The bottom line is that Portsmouth SAVES MONEY by investing in open space acquisitions. Moreover, we typically make our investment money go further by partnering with private funding sources like the Aquidneck Land Trust.

I know this seems counter-intuitive. The initial gut reaction is to look at the bleak financial landscape and assume we can't afford open space commitments. That was my first assumption too. But empirical data proves otherwise and not just in Portsmouth. Similar studies around the nation reveal the same calculus.

So, you may remember that the Town Council presented to the voters a bond question in Portsmouth in 2007 for open space acquisition. When all the facts were presented, the voters approved it overwhelmingly.

Not everyone has had the opportunity that I have had to see professional financial management types crunch through the numbers relating to open space preservation. I wanted to share what I know with the voters and I thank HardDeadlines for the opportunity.

Best regards,
Len Katzman

Localblogging, 02871, Elections, LTE