Localblogging

AIPC to hold solar forum at Salve on 9/23

Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 12.27.46 PM.pngThe Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) will be holding a public forum on solar energy at the Salve Regina Pell Center at 6pm on September 23. This will be the first in a "Smart Island" series of forums, according to a release from the AIPC.

"Solar and Beyond: the Aquidneck Island Energy Forum" will feature some of RI's leading advocates and decision-makers on energy policy: State Representatives Lauren Carson and Deborah Ruggiero; Marion Gold, Commissioner of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission; and Carol Grant, Commissioner of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources.

“This is an important and timely discussion,” said Representative Carson. “The speakers and panelists each bring unique expertise and knowledge for building a cleaner and renewable energy agenda for Aquidneck Island. This smart step can put the three municipalities on the same track towards a future of clean and local energy projects and investments.”

A panel discussion with energy experts and leaders from the private, public, and non-profit sectors will follow the speakers. The evening will end with a discussion about building a clean, sustainable and affordable energy future for the communities of Aquidneck Island and beyond.

“AIPC is really pleased to be able to bring this important event to the Island, and grateful for the support of all our partners,” said Hilary Stevens, Chair of AIPC. “The “Solar and Beyond” forum will build on AIPC’s recent work, helping Aquidneck Island to expand clean energy – while kicking off a terrific series of public conversations among Island communities.”

The Aquidneck Island Energy Forum, hosted in partnership with Acadia Center and Emerald Cities Rhode Island, will take place from 6:00-8:00pm on Thursday, September 22nd at the Salve Regina’s Pell Center, 518 Bellevue. Admission is free and open to the public but space is limited. Register online here.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, AIPC, climate change

Posts from the Democratic National Convention

2016-07-24 13.52.48.jpgLast week, I had the opportunity to cover the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia for RI Future. You can read all the stories I filed on their web site.


Disclaimer: I am currently a Democratic candidate for Portsmouth Town Council, so anything I write here should be read with that in mind. My campaign web site is over at johnmcdaid.com.

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02871, Localblogging, DNC, DNC2016

Portsmouth police station bond passes House

16may11_canario.jpgRep. Dennis Canario’s (D-71) legislation (H 7793) that authorizes the Town of Portsmouth to issue $10,000,000 of general obligation bonds and/or notes in order to design, construct, equip and furnish a new police station passed the House of Representatives last night, according to a state house news release. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“The current police station was built in the 1970’s and it was built for the 70’s. So there was no female officer locker room, crucial technology systems are housed in inadequate non-cooled rooms, officers must store their gear in boiler rooms, there is no public space for events such as the citizens’ police academy, and in today’s climate, and the layout of station is below standards for the public and the officers. These are among the many reasons a new station is needed,” said Representative Canario. “If approved by the voters, these bonds will allow the town to build a police station that everyone can be proud of and one that would be able to serve the citizens in the most effective and state-of-the-art way possible.”

The act would take effect upon approval by the voters of Portsmouth.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

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02871, Localblogging, GA, PPD

Election Day in Portsmouth -- please get out and vote for the Water Board

Vote Today!Today is Election Day for the Portsmouth Water and Fire District with two (uncontested) positions on the ballot. You can vote at the District's main office at 1944 East Main Road and polls will open at 7am to 8pm.

Please take a few minutes to vote today — even though this seems like a no-brainer (especially since both incumbents have, according to sources, been doing a good job). With a low-turnout election like this, it's always possible for write-in candidates to slip in, and remember that the Water District is a quasi-municipal agency with taxing authority.

Of the Board's seven seats, the positions of one (1) Moderator and one (1) Treasurer are up for election.

Running for the position of Moderator is incumbent Ronald L. Molleur of 15 Molleur Rd.

Running for the position of Treasurer is incumbent Allen J. Shers of 40 Roger Williams Ct.

As required by the recent change in State Law, voters will be required to show identification to vote in the District’s election.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, pwfd

Portsmouth Water District elections June 8

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District will hold its annual election of officers on Wednesday, June 08, 2016 at the District's main office at 1944 East Main Road. The polls will open at 7:00 AM and close at 8:00 PM.

Of the Board's seven seats, the positions of one (1) Moderator and one (1) Treasurer are up for election.

Running for the position of Moderator is incumbent Ronald L. Molleur of 15 Molleur Rd.

Running for the position of Treasurer is incumbent Allen J. Shers of 40 Roger Williams Ct.

As required by the recent change in State Law, voters will be required to show identification to vote in the District’s election.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, pwfd, Elections

Rep. Canario school bus driver training legislation passes House

16may11_canario.jpgPortsmouth Rep. Dennis Canario’s legislation (H8082) that requires school bus drivers’ annual training include the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s school bus driver in-service training series was passed by the House of Representatives tonight, according to a state house news release. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“There is nothing more important to Rhode Island’s parents than the safety of their children on our state’s school buses. This legislation ensures that our bus drivers are trained with the most up to date safety procedures and protocols that are available,” said Representative Canario (D-71). “The passage of this bill keeps our kids safer, it keeps our roads safer, and it makes sure that our state’s school bus drivers will always have the most current national safety training and do their jobs in the safest manner possible.”

The series includes training on driver attitude; student management; highway and rail grade crossing safety; vehicle training; knowing your route; loading and unloading; driving under adverse weather conditions; emergency evacuation; and transporting students with special needs. If the legislation becomes law, school bus drivers would need to receive the training annually.

Editorial note: Written from a state house news release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, GA

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.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, LTE, GA, climate change

Portsmouth high school electives to be discussed by committee June 14

Over the last week, teachers and students at Portsmouth High School began to hear that many elective courses were being eliminated next year (unless I've missed an e-mail, parents have yet to be officially informed; as of today, the courses were still listed in the PHS Program of Studies for 2016-17.)

At last night's school committee meeting, three students, a teacher, and one parent made the case for a robust selection of electives during the open comment period, but were advised that because the item was not on the agenda, the committee could not respond.

The students who spoke last night were eloquent about the importance of these and other elective courses, noting that they are required for STEAM certificates as well as preparation for the 21st-century jobs and college classwork they plan for their time after PHS.

Among the courses mentioned for elimination at last night's session were the entire theater curriculum, creative writing, Piano 2, and science fiction literature.

In an e-mail exchange yesterday, a school official confirmed that some of these courses would be cut. "Our budget for the high school next year shows a reduction of 5.0 teachers. As such, we have to make some adjustments in how we use our resources. We no longer can sustain running electives with low enrollment every year. Therefore, some but not all of the courses you mention above will not run next year."

Another source with knowledge of the process presented a slightly different picture, saying that, "If 15 or more kids enroll in these classes for next year they will be run."

In an article in the online Portsmouth Times, officials indicated that the goal was to offer the classes less frequently in order to fill them when they run. "For me, having 15 students instead of seven will enrich the quality of the class," Superintendent Ana Riley was quoted as saying.

Given the conflicting information, this afternoon, I filed a request for an agenda item for the next meeting, June 14, with Supt. Riley. I asked for an agenda item to "Explain PHS elective policy, discuss options, and make recommendations." This would give the school committee broad latitude to present information, hear feedback and interact with concerned parents and students, and potentially make recommendations for steps to mitigate issues.

As backup, I have requested that the District provide enrollment data for all electives from this past year, a list of which electives slated to run in 2016-17, and a list of staff reductions at PHS from 2010-2017.

My ingoing hypothesis is that we have been bleeding the slack out of the system with multiple years of limited budgets (last year's increase was 1.4%; the upcoming budget sees only a 2.4% increase.) With the District only down 52 students across the whole PK-12 range, it doesn't seem like a staff reduction of 5 positions at the high school is justified (although, to my mind, it does offer a possible explanation of why capacity for running electives might be limited.)

Parents of PHS students — and 8th graders — may want to attend the school committee meeting on June 14.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, PHS, School Committee

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