Canario promises campaign in District 71 race

Dennis Canario, now the sole candidate for RI representative in District 71 after incumbent Dan Gordon's failure to gather enough signatures to make the ballot, promised to continue campaigning when reached for comment.

In an e-mail to harddeadlines this morning, Canario said, "Gathering signatures for nomination papers is just the first step, and I want to thank everyone who helped get me on the ballot. I intend to continue my campaign, and look forward to talking with the residents of District 71 over the months to come. I will be a Representative that we can all be proud of."

You can find Canario on on the web at, and on Facebook.

Full disclosure: I am a supporter of Dennis Canario.

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA, Dan Gordon, Gordon

Rep Dan Gordon (?-71) fails to make signatures, off the ballot for District 71

The ProJo is confirming a story broken on Twitter by harddeadlines: Portsmouth Rep. Dan Gordon (?-71) failed to gather enough signatures on his nomination papers, and is out of the running for his seat in the legislature.

The ProJo confirmed with Portsmouth canvasser Madeline Pencak that Gordon had only collected 28 valid signatures, leaving him 22 short of the 50 required to be placed on the November ballot.

According to tweets by Dan McGowan, Gordon said he would mount a write-in campaign and that he should just "need to work a little harder."

Full disclosure: I am a supporter of Dennis Canario (who is now running unopposed.)

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA, Dan Gordon, Gordon

Portsmouth candidates set for November, September… and Never

According to the RI Secretary of State web site — as well as coverage on Patch, Portsmouth voters will see both uncontested races (Sen. Chris Ottiano (R-11) and Ray Gallison (D-69)) and a September Primary (there are six "Democrats" running for four seats on the School Committee.) I've learned not to rely on the Secretary of State web site for a day or so until things stabilize, but Sandy McGee at Patch seems to have gotten the info straight from Town Hall.

Oh, and there's also one puzzling filing. Phil Driscoll is apparently running for Town Sergeant, a position which was eliminated eight years ago. According to the latest revision of the Charter on the Portsmouth Town site:

505. Town Sergeant. (Repealed) There shall be a Town Sergeant who shall be a qualified elector. He/She shall be elected at the biennial election pursuant to provisions of state law. His/Her duties and prerogatives shall be those defined by statute. (Adopted November 7, 1972; eff. date July 1, 1973 REPEALED November 2, 2004, eff. date same.) [emphasis added]

Heh. Only in Portsmouth.

Full disclosure: I am an officer of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee; my views here are entirely my own. Don't worry, I'll have more to say about that School Committee race.

Localblogging, 02871, Elections, RI, GA

Dennis Canario announces candidacy for State Rep District 71

Former Town Council President (and retired Portsmouth police officer) Dennis Canario has filed his candidacy papers for state rep in District 71 according to listings on the Secretary of State web site , and this afternoon, he sent a press release to local media.

“I am running because I believe District 71 needs a leader who can bring people together to solve the serious challenges facing our state," Canario said in the statement. "All Rhode Islanders deserve better than the divisive political games that have been played recently at the General Assembly. I have a demonstrated track record of honesty and integrity and I will keep my focus on the key concerns that East Bay voters have — not partisan wrangling.”

Canario stated, “I am proud of my many years serving our community as a Town Council member and member of the Portsmouth Police Department. I look forward to the opportunity to visit with voters throughout our district over the next four months, asking them to allow me to serve them at the State House."

Canario said that he plans building a grassroots campaign with local residents, bringing groups together to talk about the issues important to them. “Every voter I’ve talked with so far wants to see Rhode Island strengthen our economy. They also want us to continue to protect our environment, support the needs of our seniors and of our young people, and ensure a safe future for adults and children with disabilities. But most importantly, they want honest and responsive government.”

“I look forward to a vigorous campaign, and I am pleased to officially kick it off this week with my campaign declaration.”

Full disclosure: I am an officer of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee, and Dennis Canario's opponent, Dan Gordon, has blocked me on Twitter.

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA, Dan Gordon, Gordon, Portsmouth Democrats

Gordon and Reilly to face new challengers for Portsmouth State Rep seats

Two of Portsmouth's sitting state representatives, Dan Gordon (?-71) and Dan Reilly (R-72) will be squaring off against new faces in November, according to the list of candidates published on the Secretary of State web site this morning.

In District 71, former Town Council President Dennis Canario (D) has declared his candidacy, and in Linda Finn (D) has filed in District 72.

I can't pretend to be impartial. I'm delighted to see Ms. Finn running against Reilly, who was a sponsor of Rep. MacBeth's odious ultrasound bill and Rep. Gordon... well, you can click the "Dan Gordon" tag under this post to see my previous coverage. Dennis Canario demonstrated, during his tenure on the Council, a fair, considered, even-handed approach to issues that would serve Portsmouth well in the State House.

These are going to be two exciting races to watch. And if you're a politics junkie like me, you'll want to watch the Secretary of State candidate page tomorrow morning as well, when the rest of the local races will be posted. Candidates have until this afternoon to file papers, so if you're *really* interested, you can pop by Portsmouth Town Hall and ask the Registrar just before closing time.

Full disclosure: I am an officer of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee.

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA, Dan Gordon, Gordon

Rep. MacBeth defends her ultrasound bill

Rhode Island Rep. Karen MacBeth responded to my e-mail to the House Judiciary and the co-sponsors of the fetal ultrasound bill. She quotes my message, and the reply I sent today follows.

Subject: Re: Please oppose H7205
From: Karen Macbeth «»

I am the prime sponsor of the bill and am in complete support of the bill.
Do you realize that an ultrasound is done over 99% of the time before an abortion is performed so therefor is not a medically unnecessary test?
The woman can choose to not look at it. She is given the option to look at it.
This legislation is pro-information and pro-woman and I suggest you do further research as you don't seem to understand the intent nor what is already done.

-----Original Message-----
From: John McDaid
To: rep-tarro ; rep-macbeth>; rep-mclaughlin
Sent: Sat, Mar 10, 2012 5:33 pm
Subject: Fwd: Please oppose H7205

Madam Chair, members of the House Judiciary:
The proposed House bill 7205 adds a medically unnecessary ultrasound to
informed consent for abortion and I urge you to oppose any effort to
move this legislation forward.

Whatever you think of abortion, the state has no place stepping between
a doctor and patient to require a medically unnecessary test accompanied
by a graphic description.

I urge you to respect the right of women to appropriate health care and
stop this bill.

Thank you for your consideration, and for your service to our state.
Best Regards.
-John McDaid

Here's the response I sent this afternoon.

Dear Rep. MacBeth...
Thanks very much for taking the time to respond. I respect your service to the people of Rhode Island, and I appreciate your perspective. However, I feel the need to respond.

First, it does not follow logically to say that because something is done 99% of the time for medically valid reasons (fetal measurement, rule out ectopic pregnancy, etc.) that therefore the government has the authority to compel it for non-medical reasons.

Second, while it is true that your bill does not require the woman to view the ultrasound, the very fact that it is performed is an intrusion of the state into the doctor-patient relationship. And although the woman is not required to view the results, she is compelled by the language in your bill to hear a detailed verbal description of what the ultrasound shows, including the "dimensions of the embryo or fetus and the presence of external members and internal organs." If you are justifying the use of ultrasound on medical grounds, please explain to me the *medical* significance of this requirement.

Third, while our definition of terms may differ, to my mind being "pro-information" and "pro-woman" requires a respect for the right a woman has over her own body. To say that she *must* have a test, or *must* receive some information, you will need to prove that the state has a compelling interest which outweighs her rights.

Finally, just a word of advice. It is almost never a good idea for a politician to lecture a voter. I am actually fairly familiar with the science around ultrasounds and with their use in medicine, and I can see no valid reason for requiring them in this fashion. More research, I fear, will not alter my conclusion that the aim of this legislation is to insert the state between a woman and her doctor.

While I am not your constituent, this legislation would negatively impact women in Portsmouth, and I ask you once again to please reconsider the wisdom of this proposal.

Thank you again for your service in our legislature, and for taking the time to respond.

Best Regards.
--John G. McDaid

Full disclosure: I was against the bill before I received Rep. MacBeth's reply, and she has offered no compelling evidence which would make me change my mind.

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA, choice

Portsmouth Rep. Dan Reilly backs RI fetal ultrasound bill

Legislation mandating ultrasound exams before abortion has been popping up in state houses around the US, and Rhode Island is no exception: Portsmouth representative Dan Reilly (R-72) is one of the co-sponsors of H7205, which would require medical staff to perform an unnecessary ultrasound, describe what it shows, and display it so that the woman can see it. This bill slips new language into the existing informed consent requirement.

Although the description is specified in graphic detail ("[A] medical description of the ultrasound images, which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable") at least health care providers are not required to pry open their patient's eyes Clockwork Orange style. ("Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a woman to view the ultrasound images. Neither the physician nor the woman shall be subject to any penalty if she refuses to look at the presented ultrasound images.")

How nice of Doctor Dan. He only supports a medically unnecessary procedure, but stops short of requiring the patient to actually view the result. I'm frankly embarrased that a representative from Portsmouth is involved in this kind of intrusive bill. Whatever you think about abortion, decisions about health care should be the domain of doctors and patients, and the government has no place here.

This is the busy season for our legislature, and there are hundreds of bills in the hopper, but let's not let this one slide by unnoticed.

The sponsors of the legislation are Karen MacBeth, James McLaughlin, Arthur Corvese, Gregory Schadone and Reilly. Here are their e-mails:,,,, and

The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee (you can track any progress here) and here are the e-mails for the committee, starting with Chair Edith H. Ajello:,,,,,,,,,,,,,

You need to break up the addresses, because the state house spam filter won't let you send an e-mail to the entire committee at one time. How helpful is that?

You might also drop courtesy copies to Portsmouth's other Reps, depending where in town you live: Ray Gallison (69), Jay Edwards (70), or Dan Gordon (71)

Full disclosure: I am a supporter of Planned Parenthood. And I plan to make a donation to them, and to whoever is running against Dan Reilly.

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA, choice

Tell the RI Senate Education committee not to give Town Councils funding control of schools [Update]

The Senate Education committee will hear a bill — S2239 — introduced by Sen. John Tassoni (D-Smithfield) which would strip control of budgets from local school committees and give that power to the Town Council. From the bill:

[C]ity and town councils shall have direct control over the direct financial aspects of the education, including total budgets to be expended, the amount of salaries, the interior maintenance of the school buildings and capital improvements, including, but not limited to, maintenance, and any other direct expenditure of money. — S2239

Tassoni explained his rationale to the Westerly Sun : "Every school department is in trouble financially. All you have to do is look at the [news]paper and every school has financial issues. The budgets are tight. There's not enough money to sustain what we’re doing. Something has to change."

Let's igore for a moment that the one of the drivers of these financial issues is the new funding formula coupled with the Senate's own S3050 tax cap, which has put districts in a "we won't fund you but you can't make up the difference" Catch-22.

Leaving that aside. Give control of school budgets to Town Councils?

Unlike School Committees, which are agents of the state elected locally to ensure that the district provides free and appropriate public education (while complying with a doorstop-sized book full of education laws), Town Councils are inclined to see schools as a the thing that slurps up all the tax dollars.

Let's look at a little history. What have Portsmouth Town Councilors proposed when discussing school budgets?

Making big cuts. "I'll be the voice of the taxpayer," said former Councilor Jeff Plumb

Reducing curriculum for fiscal reasons. "We're going to have to [...] get back to the basics [...] reading, writing, and arithmetic. That's the way it's gonna be," said former Councilor Karen Gleason.

Making arbitrary decisions. "I motion that we level-fund all departments, including the school department," said current Councilor Judy Staven.

And, of course, telling the schools to just accept what they propose. "And don't cry and whine," said former Councilor Karen Gleason.

Under the tax cap, every dollar that goes to the schools is a dollar that the Council does not have. That's not a situation which encourages dispassionate analysis. We elect school committees to make budget decisions, and changing Rhode Island law to circumvent their authority serves no legitimate interest.

If you think, as I do, that this is a very bad idea, you might drop a note to the Senate Education Committee, which will be hearing this bill. You can cut and paste these addresses for Chair Sen. Hanna Gallo, Vice-Chair Sen. Harold Metts, and the members of the committee:,,,,,,

And you might wish to copy Portsmouth's Sen. Chris Ottiano as a courtesy: I also cc'd Sen. Tassoni,, just to let him know my concerns.

I hope you'll join me.

Update, 3/6/12, 3:19 pm: Just had a chat with Sen. Chris Ottiano (R-11) who said he shared my concerns about the impact this bill would have on School Committees. He said that he had talked with one of his colleagues on Education, and the sense was that this bill was not likely to advance. He thanked the constituents who had reached out to him with a heads-up. Thanks, Senator!

Full disclosure: I have a student in the Portsmouth school system.

Localblogging, 02871, Schools, education, GA

Rep. Edwards proposes transparency on charter advocacy

Portsmouth Rep. Jay Edwards (D-70) has introduced legislation that would require political parties and action committees advocating for any charter-amending question on a ballot to file a report of all the contributions it receives from any one source in excess of $100, according to a release sent to media today.

The bill would expand current law to include any town or city charter amendment considered at a Financial Town Meeting in addition to election ballots.

"It's very simple," Edwards said in the statement. "This is about increasing transparency. It only makes sense for committees that advocate for a charter question at Financial Town Meetings to file reports, just like with everything else. Sometimes charter questions have the potential to make a major change in how a city or town does business. We need to keep an eye on the local level, not just the state level.”

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the bill — 2012-H 7060 (pdf) — on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Rise of the House in Room 313 of the State House.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Localblogging, 02871, charter, GA