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Markey drafts resolution to reverse FCC on Net Neutrality

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) speaks on Net Neutrality December 13, 2017. Screen Shot Photo

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) drafted a Congressional Review Act resolution to reverse the FCC decision to repeal Net neutrality. Congressional Democrats and proponents of an open Internet plan to fight the FCC decision.

“We will fight the FCC’s decisions in the courts, and we will fight it in the halls of Congress. With this CRA, Congress can correct the Commission’s misguided and partisan decision and keep the internet in the hands of the people, not big corporations,” said Markey  in a release on Thursday.

“Our Republican colleagues have a choice – be on the right side of history and stand with the American people who support net neutrality, or hold hands with the big cable and broadband companies who only want to supercharge their profits at the expense of consumers and our economy.”

Legislators rally against repeal

Fifteen fellow senators, including Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) signed on as co-sponsors.
“This is a disastrous decision. It will impact every American. It will  give huge advantages to big corporations over small businesses.” – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders
The statement went on to say that Senator Markey’s resolution of disapproval would rescind FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s item and fully restore the Open Internet Order. Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions allow Congress to overturn regulatory actions at federal agencies with a simple majority vote in both chambers.

In accordance with the Congressional Review Act, the Senators will formally introduce the resolution once the rule is submitted to both houses of Congress and published in the federal register. Congressman Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) plans to introduce a CRA resolution in the House of Representatives.

In his own release, Doyle spoke to his efforts to thwart Pai’s efforts and his intentions.

“The Open Internet Order has been effective at preserving a level playing field where consumers have access to the content and services they want – and online businesses are able to compete on the basis of cost and quality of their product rather than how much they can pay Internet Service Providers to block or throttle their competition,” Congressman Doyle said in response to the FCC vote.

“I’ve tried repeatedly to convince Chairman Pai to abandon his plans to dismantle the Open Internet Order – most recently by organizing a letter from 118 Members of Congress urging him not to take this vote today – and now that the FCC has voted to kill Net Neutrality and give ISPs a green light to control access to the Internet, I will introduce legislation under the Congressional Review Act to overturn today’s order and restore Net Neutrality.

 Attorney  Generals oppose repeal

States’ attorney generals also vowed to fight the repeal in court. Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and New York AG Eric Schneiderman, on Thursday announced their intentions to file suit against the action on social media.

Rhode Island’s Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse encouraged his state’s residents to check to see if their names were used in postings of fake comments to the FCC during its Net Neutrality public comment period.

A study by the Pew Research Center for Internet and Technology published in November found major issues with the FCC submissions, including the discovery that “Some 57% of the comments utilized either duplicate email addresses or temporary email addresses created with the intention of being used for a short period of time and then discarded.”

Public comment data tainted

The study also noted that many individual names appeared thousands of times in the submissions.

21.7 million comments were submitted. Pew found clear evidence of an “organized effort to flood the comments with repeated messages,” accrediting six percent (6%) of the comments as unique, while the other 94% were said to be “submitted multiple times – in some cases, hundreds of thousands of times.”

Pai, in comments at the International Institute of Communications Telecommunications and Media Forum last week, explained the FCC reasoning for regulatory repeal.

“At its core, this proceeding is really about repealing rules that depress investment and innovation. What will our plan do? When you cut through the legal terms and technical jargon, it’s very simple. The plan will bring back the same policy framework in the United States that governed the Internet for most of its existence—from 1996 until 2015,” Pai said.

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Blog reconstruct underway!

cartoonsTimes have changed drastically in the last few months and promise to be full of dramatic twists and turns in the near future. Due to all of the flux, I’ve decided that the blogs need to be outfitted and equipped to withstand the turmoil ahead. Therefore, both the Changing Climate and the news Blog will be revolutionized.

While the transformation moves forward the platforms will be up and down. In order to ensure quality of content, new material will be added when all is complete.

Thank you for tuning in over the last seven years. It’s been a great ride and a privilege to work with so many of you.


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Headliners at DNC: First Lady Michelle Obama’s commanding speech

The First Lady delivered her last speech as a resident of the White House. Video Courtesy CNN/Youtube

“I wake up in a house every morning that was built by slaves.” ~ Michelle Obama,First Lady of the United States of America

Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on Monday was a show-stopper for Democrats seeking a positive outlet from vitriolic GOP attack dogs, Wikileaks disclosures and party dissension.

Focused on basic family values, the First Lady, who presided with grace over White House decorum for the past eight years, wowed the crowd gathered on the first night of the Democratic Convention, a night overshadowed by public shaming, infighting and the eventual resignation of the committee’s chair, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Shaping the future of America’s children

Her tour at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue coming to a close, Obama spoke of her determination, along with her husband of 24 years, Barack Hussein Obama, now the 44th President of the United States, to maintain a home for their two young daughters founded on basic American values. The girls, Malia (10) and Natasha (7) moved into the White House in January 2009, their father the first African-American to attain the Office of the President of the United States of America.

“I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation for who they would become,” Michelle Obama told the democratic delegation gathered in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center. “And how we managed this experience could make or break them.”

The mother of two, having celebrate her 45th birthday only a few days before moving into the White House, taught her children based on the same premise as many American families – do unto others. That premise, according to the First Lady was the foundation of the lesson they wanted to instill in not only their own children, but the children of families across America.

On bullying and vitriolic politics

“How we urged them to ignore those who questioned their father’s citizenship or faith,” she recalled. “How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country.”  On bullying the First Lady was firm. “How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level.”

OUR motto is, “When they go low, we ho high.” – Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States of America

Obama, calling the Hillary Rodham Clinton a friend, depicted a future under a presidency of the former first lady as an investment in the future of America’s youth. Concentrating on the next generation and Clinton’s historical work in children’s advocacy, Obama’s speech turned to the imperative and emergent need to elect her over the Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump.

“Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life,” Obama said. Without mentioning his name, Obama denounced a Trump presidency in favor of Clinton, saying that the country needs, “Someone who knows that the issues a president faces are not black and white. And can not be boiled down to 140 characters.”

The nudge about Trump’s use of Twitter to attack his opponents and needle the democratic base brought cheers and laughter from the crowd.

The story of America’s resilience

Obama called upon the fiber and history of the country, reminding the delegation that Americans rise above.

” It is the story of the people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done,” the First Lady said.

“I wake up in a house every morning that was built by slaves. I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

Obama urged the delegation to unite and elect Hillary Rodham Clinton the next President of the United States.

POTUS won’t challenge his wife

President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the DNC on Wednesday night. In an interview with MSNBC’s Savannah Guthrie, on Thursday said he was proud of Michelle and her speech. Obama, who is known to write many of his own speeches, quipped, “I’m not going to hit that bar. Let me concede top speechmaking to my wife.”

Featured photo: Screen grab CNN live




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Hillary Rodham Clinton is the Democratic nominee for President of the USA

Hillary Rodham Clinton stumps for then gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo at Rhode Island College on October 24, 2014. Gov. Gina Raimondo was named co-chair of the DNC by Clinton and traveled to Philadelphia on Monday to represent Rhode Island.

Hillary Rodham Clinton stumps for then gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo at Rhode Island College on October 24, 2014. Gov. Gina Raimondo was named co-chair of the DNC by Clinton and traveled to Philadelphia on Monday to represent Rhode Island. Photo Tracey C. O’Neill

Philadelphia – It is official. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State and First Lady to her husband President Bill Clinton was nominated as the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

The first woman to be nominated to an executive level position by either party, Clinton was victorious as Tuesday evening’s delegate roll call vote put her over the top. Her second run at the presidency, falling to President Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton fought a factious primary battle against U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

Sanders, who mobilized millions of voters across the country in a political revolution that saw him winning in 22 states, heard the last votes cast while joining Vermont’s delegation on the floor. After the votes were cast, Sanders addressed the delegation moving to suspend the rules and have Clinton be named as nominee.

Clinton, after being informed, chose to wait until Thursday evening to officially accept the nomination. President Bill Clinton is expected to speak on Tuesday evening in support of his wife’s nomination.

Battle stations manned as Trump takes the lead

The former First Lady faces a former Clinton friend and colleague, the Republican nominee, New York Real Estate Mogul, Donald J. Trump. The impending battle with Trump portends to be more than contentious, already developing a viscious, no holds barred motif.

On Monday, multiple polls showed Trump garnering a convention bump, vaulting him ahead of Clinton. A CNN/ORC poll conducted July 22 -24, had Trump up by 3 points over Clinton 48/45. CBS News poll had Trump up by 1 at 44/43, and an LA Times/USC poll gave Trump a 5-point lead at 46/41.

In a four-way contest, including Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party and Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, the CNN poll moves Trump further ahead with a 5-point lead at 44/39. Johnson took 9 percent of the vote and Stein had 3 percent. The poll took full tickets into consideration, pairing Clinton/Kaine against Trump/Pence.

Sanders addressed  his delegates and supporters on Monday emphasizing the importance of ensuring that Donald Trump not become President. His colleague from Massachusetts, turned Trump nemesis, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren echoed his sentiment. The two Progressive Senators from New England stressed the need to preserve the country’s progress in inclusive policy and civil rights advocacy. Although the duo had been floated as a perfect Progressive pairing and Warren was also short-list candidate for Clinton, neither advanced to executive level consideration.

Not likely the President will be liked

Clinton and Trump painting a bizarre picture of American politics, advance as the two least liked candidates ever to be considered for the oval office. Clinton’s unfavorability rating, according to the CNN/ORC poll was the highest of all candidates at 55 percent unfavorable to Trump’s 52 percent unfavorable, with “all Americans polled” rankings that didn’t discern as to affiliation or demographics. When tapered to registered voters, the unfavorables remained primarily the same at 55/51.

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From the desk: Thanks for your patience as I transition back from the Examiner platform

profile picI wanted to take a moment to thank all who followed my reporting on the platform throughout the last year. With your help and in a very short time, I was able to vault myself to Top Examiner status locally, regionally (a special shout out to BOSTON) and nationally.

Unfortunately, for myself and many multimedia journalists who took advantage of the national digital platform, it’s parent organization, AEG made a decision to retire, an experiment in localized and citizen journalism on July 10, 2016. Not to worry, all content was preserved – here.

The retirement of the platform resulted in broken links and individual historical content being permanently deleted from the web. To those who had saved content links to any of my more than 100 articles, those links will result in you being directed to an AXS entertainment and sports platform where you will not be able to access the historical articles.

The good news is that the editorial staff gave me sufficient time to map my content and preserve it here at Tracey C. Online where articles can be searched by subject, content or headline. Climate and environmental articles are also available at the Changing Climate.

Election 2016 reporting and more – preserved

As many of you are aware, during my tenure as Boston Political Buzz, Boston and Providence News Examiner, I chose to follow the Bernie Sanders camp during the primary run-up. I chose the Sanders campaign right out of the starting gate for several reasons. First, I have been reporting on environmental issues since 2010, studied environmental law and concentrated my Masters work and thesis in coastal climate change reporting. As a New Englander, I was very aware of Sen. Sanders platform as a climate change awareness advocate and knew that, without a doubt, he wouldn’t waver from his environmental ethics as a presidential candidate.

Second, from the time of the Senator’s announcement as a candidate, it was relatively clear that he was not being taken seriously as a candidate. As a reporter, I saw the mainstream’s lack of attention to the spitfire people’s advocate (and most popular U.S. senator) as an opportunity for any journalist who was paying attention. I was paying attention. As the #FeeltheBern movement took off, so did the opportunitys afforded me as a multimedia journalist with a wide open platform and ability to report issues and events sans political platitudes.

Third, the temperature and entire culture of the Sanders campaign was polar opposite of what I had experienced in other arenas. The positive, upbeat, unwavering advocacy for the voice of the people to be represented was refreshing. The music playlist was awesome and the Sanders rallies and events promoted healthy, positive and progressive movement forward. Making the move to cover Senator Sanders’ campaign was the right move for me. Imagine if he had gone all the way.

Forward momentum

The immediate future lies in resumes and finding a more permanent reporting and editorial home base. In the meantime, all reporting, my own and freelance, will be posted here, at the Changing Climate on TraceyC-Media and the Blog at TraceyC online.

Again, my thanks to you for your loyalty, support and all of those likes, shares and follows. Stay tuned for the next chapter.

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Boston Police patrols double up in wake of Baton Rouge killings

Boston, MA – Massachusetts leaders on Sunday reacted to reports of the tragic ambush-style killings of 3 Baton Rouge police officers at approximately 9 a.m. The Boston Police Department (BPD) quickly responded to the tragic accident, doubling up patrol officers throughout the city.

Three Baton Rouge officers were killed and three wounded while responding to reports of shots fired in the city. One of the wounded officers was reported to be in critical condition and fighting for his life. The shooting came just 10 days after a black street merchant, Alton Sterling was killed by two police officers in a controversial shooting, sparking civil and racial unrest across the country.

“In light of the tragedy in Baton Rouge and in the best interests of
officer safety, all #BPD patrols will be conducted by two-officer units,” read a Tweet posted by BPD on Sunday.

Boston PD Commissioner William Evans stands BPD officers at the funeral services of fallen Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarantino, Jr. in May 2016.

Boston PD Commissioner William Evans stands BPD officers at the funeral services of fallen Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarantino, Jr. in May 2016. Photo Tracey C. O’Neill

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans released a statement on Sunday in response to the assault on the Baton Rouge Police Department.

“On behalf of the Boston Police Department, I am extending our heartfelt condolences to our brothers and sisters in the law enforcement community effected by today’s tragedy in Baton Rouge. Although hundreds of miles away from Boston, the pain and suffering caused by the loss of these officers in the line of duty is felt deeply by the men and women of the BPD. This all too common trend we are seeing of violence against law enforcement officers who are out there each day serving and protecting neighborhoods across the country is alarming and disheartening; and as I have said before, now more than ever, we need to come together as a community in our shared efforts to prevent further tragedy.” – BPD Commissioner William Evans

This is the second time in less than two weeks that the department has doubled-up officers. Earlier in the month, the move was made in the aftermath of the Dallas police massacre where five officers were gunned down in a sniper attack. The sniper in the Dallas incident was killed by a police robot detonation.

Governor Charlie Baker responded, //“>releasing a statement via Twitter. “We are saddened by the news of more violence in our communities and senseless attacks on our first responders who risk their lives for others,” said the Governor. “Our prayers are with the victims and their families in Louisiana, as well as for the safety of their fellow officers as this situation unfolds. While there are no credible links to Massachusetts at this time, on-going communication with federal and local authorities the safety of the Commonwealth’s residents remain our utmost priority.”

Mayor Marty Walsh also reached out to the community via social media.

Also expressing solidarity and condolences was the Massachusetts State Police Department. A message from Col. Richard McKeon read:”The Massachusetts State Police extend our deepest condolences to our brothers and sisters in Baton Rouge. We stand in solidarity and strength with every state trooper, police officer, sheriff’s deputy, federal agent, marshal, and any other law enforcement professional in the United States. An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted, “Heartsick for the families of the Baton Rouge police officers killed today. More violence & bloodshed won’t fix the pain in our country.” And the Commonwealth’s senior Sen. Ed Markey posted, “Prayers & peace for the people of and the families of the dedicated police officers so senselessly taken from them.

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Three police officers killed in Baton Rouge ambush

Three officers are confirmed dead and three others wounded after a shooting in Baton Rouge, a sheriff's office spokeswoman told the Associated Press on Sunday. AP reporting one suspect dead and law enforcement officials believe two others are still at large. Mayor Kip Holden asked the city to come together in the wake of the tragedy. SOURCE: AP

Baton Rouge – Three Baton Rouge, Louisiana police officers are confirmed deceased and at least 3 more officers injured in a shooting on Sunday morning. The Associated Press reported at least one suspect dead, with the possibility of two more suspects at large.

The shootings, that were reported to have taken the lives of two Baton Rouge Police Department officers and one East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy occurred at approximately 8:30 a.m. CDT.

President Obama released a statement in the aftermath of the shootings that occurred just weeks after an officer-involved shooting took the life of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black street merchant, stirring racial unrest within the city and triggering protests across the country.

I condemn, in the strongest sense of the word, the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge.  For the second time in two weeks, police officers who put their lives on the line for ours every day were doing their job when they were killed in a cowardly and reprehensible assault.  These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop.  – President Barack Obama

“I’ve offered my full support, and the full support of the federal government, to Governor Edwards, Mayor Holden, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Baton Rouge Police Department.  And make no mistake – justice will be done,” the President said.

Baton Rouge Police Department reached out to the community on social media asking for any information available regarding the morning’s tragic shootings.


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Sanders rallies supporters in Manhattan, will not leave the race

New York, NY – U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders on Thursday rallied supporters at a Town Hall meeting in Manhattan. Sanders told supporters that the political revolution would continue and urged his followers to get involved in the political process.

Half of Sanders supporters polled in June said they would not vote for Hillary Clinton. A Bloomberg Politics National Poll showed that  22 percent would vote for Trump, while 18 percent would vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson.

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Heaven, Earth and a full Strawberry Moon; Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice, Galilee Fishing Village, Narragansett, RI June 2015 (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

Summer Solstice, Galilee Fishing Village, Narragansett, RI June 2015 (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

The 2016 Summer Solstice is upon us, bringing with it a promise of the longest day, shorter nights and this year – a full Strawberry Moon. Monday’s Solstice summons significant astrological awareness as pagan lore holds the June Solstice out as celebration of the marriage between Heaven and Earth. The full Strawberry Moon has not come on the June Solstice for 70 years. This year’s event promises a strong showing in the clear skies of the Northeast as the sun exits this longest day of the astrological calendar.

According to Alaskan climatologist, Brian Brettschneider, New England states are expected to be blessed with 15 hours of daylight as the sun appears directly overhead.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac offered up some interesting tidbits regarding the Pagan holiday. The 2016 Summer Solstice falls at 6:34 p.m. EDT in the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. The Solstice is the moment when time stands still, or in Latin terms, solstitium, sun to stop.  

The marrying of Strawberry moon and Summer Solstice is mathematically predicted to happen every 15 years.  So, why has it been 70 years since it last occurred? OFA promises to unravel that mystery on Monday night.  

For those who can’t enjoy the outdoor version of the evening spectacle, the Almanac is partnering with Slooh Live to bring you an “at your fingertips”  livestream of the event. The Almanac, was founded in 1792, and its editor, Janice Stillman is expected to offer viewers a historical perspective of Solstice celebrations around the world.

According to the OFA website, they will be joined by Slooh host, Paul Cox and Almanac astronomer Bob Berman to discuss the rare astronomical combination.   “Having a full moon land smack on the solstice is a truly rare event,” Berman told OFA.  “We probably won’t push people off pyramids like the Mayans did, but Slooh will very much celebrate this extraordinary day of light with fascinating factoids and amazing live telescope feeds.”


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Breaking: Small Plane Crashed into Water off Weekapaug Beach

A small plane crashed into the waters off Weekapaug Beach on Saturday morning. The pilot and sole passenger was rescued by ocean lifeguards and transported to RI Hospital. (Photo: Courtesy residents on scene)

Westerly, RI – A small plane crashed into the waters off Weekapaug Beach on Saturday morning. The pilot, who was the sole passenger was reported to be rescued by ocean lifeguards working the beach and transported to RI Hospital. Emergency services personnel on scene reported the crash approximately 300 feet off the beach. The plane (above) was seen sinking after the rescue and was fully submerged. (Photo: Courtesy residents on scene)

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Op-Ed: Heather Somers – Bold steps needed now to fight opioid abuse

Jun. 11, 2016

There is not a day that goes by that we do not hear of someone in our region who has overdosed or died due to opiate abuse. The stories are both heartbreaking and terrifying. Just this past week, we lost a 17-year-old girl from Griswold in a Groton hotel — a young life ended by heroin.

The heroin addict today is not what we imagined years ago. The addict with the dirty needle in the dark alley is far from today’s user. The modern addict is the young high school student with potential far and wide, the busy soccer mom, the grandmother, and the injured athlete. It is the well-off alongside the destitute, the hopeless and the once hopeful. This crisis has rapidly entrenched deep roots and effects people from all backgrounds. It does not discriminate and it has personally touched me and my family.

The personal impact led me to become a founding member of a grassroots organization called Shine a Light on Heroin nearly two years ago.

We can start turning back the tragic tide of this epidemic of addiction by taking bold, necessary steps to change policy here in Connecticut.

A first place to look is how we mandate the way medical professionals treat pain, often with the opioid-based painkillers that can kick off addiction.

Approximately 15 years ago, special interest groups successfully lobbied to have perceived pain added to the measurable vital signs — heart rate, temperature, respiratory performance and blood pressure, all highly measurable, quantifiable and easily observed by the medical professional — and that policy contributes to the commonplace prescription of opioid-based painkillers.

Physicians, whose compensation is now partially dependent on patient satisfaction measured by surveys, stand to lose out if patients feels they have not adequately been treated for their pain. Opiates, of course, are an essential prescription tool in the arsenal of the physician, but the existing system actively encourages physicians to consider the maximum pain management solution in many cases.

The over-prescription of opioid-based painkillers has created the circumstances for initial addiction to pills to grow into heroin addiction.

While lawmakers did cap opioid prescriptions in their last session, rethinking how we measure pain in the first place remains a critical policy front that has not been discussed or debated at all by politicians in Hartford. While they propose funding boosts to programs already proven ill-suited to stemming the crisis, people in Eastern Connecticut are dying.

We also need to start treating addicts as addicts, not as criminals. We should look at the success of drug courts in other states and consider whether that model — to encourage recovery rather than discipline — can be used or improved upon in Connecticut.

We also need more common-sense measures for both the treatment of withdrawal and rehab. Under current law, a user cannot be admitted to a detox facility unless they have the drug in their system. That means a user seeking help in a moment of sober clarity would be turned away from help.

Studies have shown it takes 12 month at least to fully recover, but most programs in Connecticut do not last that long.

Many of these common-sense solutions are cost-savers, an important factor amid Connecticut’s ongoing fiscal crisis.
Opioid addiction not only destroys the addict, but the family of the addict, the friends of the addict and entire communities.

We will lose a generation of young people if we don’t take action now. This is not a hopeless situation with no options. Even with the tight budgetary situation of our state thrust upon us by years of fiscal mismanagement by insiders in Hartford, we can pursue immediate reforms to begin turning the tide on addiction.

Let’s not wait for insiders in Hartford to propose any more half-measures or simple funding boosts; let’s take bold, decisive, common-sense action now to combat the crisis of opioid addiction.

Heathers Somers is the former mayor of Groton and the Republican candidate for state Senate in Connecticut’s 18th District.

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Islamic State gunman leaves more than 100 dead, wounded and clinging to life

ORLANDO, FL – An Islamic State fighter, identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida, armed with an assault rifle and handgun, opened fire on patrons of a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. The popular Pulse dance club, located on Orange Avenue in the heart of Orlando was packed with more than 300 patrons when the attack came just after 2:00 a.m.

“Everyone get out of pulse and keep running,” read a post on the club’s Facebook Page as the shooting took place.

Pulse nightclub posted to their Facebook account as the mass shooting took place on June 12. (Photo: Screen shot)

Fifty people were reported dead as the death toll rose from the morning – when 50 people were declared dead, with 53 more wounded- in what is being called the worst mass shooting on American soil. The cowardly massacre was exacted upon unarmed patrons of the dance club with no means of defense or recourse. The attack and standoff that went on for more than three hours ended with the gunman being shot and killed by law enforcement.

A chilling message posted on the alleged shooter's Facebook page on June 10.

A chilling message posted on the alleged shooter’s Facebook page on June 10.

According to Reuters, the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency reported that the Islamist militant group was responsible for the worst mass shooting in the country, a Sunday morning shooting that killed at least 50 people in a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The shooting saw more than a third of the club’s 320 known patrons killed or wounded in the attack, that left the city of Orlando and country reeling in its aftermath.

“The armed attack that targeted a gay nightclub in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida which left over 100 people dead or injured was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,” Amaq said.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the county is concentrating its efforts on identifying those slain and notifying family members. A state of emergency was declared by Orange County and by the Governor in order to make resources available to law enforcement personnel and community.

“Every Possible asset we have brought to bear,” Dyer said. In a press conference, the mayor, visibly shaken said “There was blood everywhere.”

According to the Associated Press, Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News about his son seeing the men kissing a couple of months ago. “We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident,” Seddique said. “We are in shock like the whole country. The attack had nothing to do with religion,”he said.

Seddique’s comments came before FBI sources confirmed that Mateen had been previously investigated for possible terrorist ties and the Islamic State took responsibility for the shooting. Mateen called 911, claiming allegiance to ISIS prior to the shooting.

Note: This report has been corrected to reflect that the number of dead had not risen to 59 as reported by WFTV earlier. The nine deceased were those who were transported to the hospital for treatment and succumbed to their injuries. Reports from multiple sources and the number of seriously injured contributed to the confusion.

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A sea of blue turns out as fallen Auburn police officer is laid to rest

Tricia Tarentino, wife of fallen Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr., in an emotional speech, thanks the community and all who have shown support for her family prior to funeral services for her husband.

Tricia Tarentino, wife of fallen Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr., speaks to press at St. Joseph’s Church, Charleton, MA. Photos: Tracey C. O’Neill

Charlton, MA- On Friday, thousands of law enforcement personnel from across the country honored their brother and compatriot, Auburn Massachusetts police Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr., a “cop’s cop” who was laid to rest on Friday afternoon. Tarentino’s life was taken by an armed, known criminal early Sunday morning as he was conducting a routine traffic stop.

The veteran officer, who gave a decade of his life to the job, was remembered by family and friends; brothers and sisters with whom he served; the Auburn, Leicester and surrounding Commonwealth communities to which he had unwavering love and commitment.


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“It is amazing to see how many lives he has touched,” Tricia Tarentino, his wife of twenty years said before the funeral service. “And how each of you has shown and expressed your love for him. We will never forget the compassion that has been shown by the children of so many communities; sweet cards, pictures.”

Stopping to give a statement to the press upon arrival, Tarentino’s widow stood beside Auburn Police Chief Andrew Sluckis, Jr., surrounded by family and members of the department. “We extend our sincere thanks to the first responders, the residents of Rochdale Street who assisted the first responders, the doctors, the nurses and all who worked to save Ron’s life.”

Tarentino’s widow also sent wishes for recovery to the Massachusetts Special Tactical Operations Officer who was wounded during a shootout with the gunman who took her husband’s life. “Ron would be so touched to see how much he was loved. Thank you everyone locally and across the country from the bottom of our hearts.”


Law enforcement stand in honor of fallen Auburn police officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr. on May 27, 2016.

Services for Tarentino were held at St. Joseph’s Church in Charlton. The Tarentino family were members of the Greenville Baptist Church in Rochdale who were unable to accommodate a showing of the magnitude seen on Thursday and Friday. St. Joseph’s parish stepped in and offered their church and sprawling grounds, a true measure of the tight knit rural community.

Father Bob Grattaroti of St. Joseph’s and Pastor Stephen Derrick of Greenville Baptist worked in conjunction with police chaplain, Fr. Jonathan Slavinskas to assist the Tarentino family with their arrangements. “Please be assured of our continuing prayers and if there is anything you should need these next days, weeks, months or years, do not hesitate to reach out to us,” Fr. Grattaroti said to those congregated.

Tarentino’s youngest sister Caitlin delivered the eulogy for her brother, speaking of his humor, his caring, his love for family and community. “Being the firstborn and a male in an Italian family made him kind of a big deal from the beginning, which led to his nickname ‘the Prince,’ ” she said. The oldest of four children, Ronald Jr. watched over his three sisters in their hometown of Tewksbury. Son of a career policeman, Ronald Jr. would later follow his father’s path. Ronald Sr. who recently retired was a 42-year veteran officer with the Medford Police Department.

Caitlin told the story of her brother’s graduation from the Boylston Police Academy.

“Ron had asked my dad to pin his badge at the graduation ceremony and he did just that. A special bond they would forever share, father and son; and brothers in blue.” – Caitlin Tarentino, sister to Ronald Jr.

Respect for the job, commitment to public service, love of community and family were mantra throughout not only Caitlin’s eulogy, but from every speaker who had the privilege to share stories of Ronald Jr. “My brother was the greatest officer any department could hope for,” his sibling said. “He did his job the right way. He had everything he needed to be a great police officer – courage, strength, integrity, compassion, just to name a few. It was his calling.”

Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr. EOW: 5-22-16. Photo courtesy: Massachusetts State Police/Facebook

Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr. EOW: 5-22-16. Photo courtesy: Massachusetts State Police

Wondering why this tragedy had befallen her brother Ron, why he had been taken in such a senseless and violent manner, Caitlin Tarentino delivered a potent message to all listening.

As children, we were raised to love and respect police officers and any member of public safety,” the youngest Tarentino said. “And we hope from our tragedy that those values will be reinforced for others and that there will be change – because police lives matter.”


Funeral arrangements set for Patrolman Ryan Bourque

Patrol Officer Ryan J. Bourque (far left) poses with fellow Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy graduatesChief Mello posed with our three new probationary police officers at their graduation from the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy! Congratulations to them! Andrew Dutra, Michael Carrasquillo, and Chief Mello. Photo Courtesy Jamestown Police Department/Facebook

Patrol Officer Ryan J. Bourque (far left) poses with fellow Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy graduates Andrew Dutra, Michael Carrasquillo, and JPD Chief Edward A. Mello at graduation June 2015. (Photo Courtesy Jamestown Police Department/Facebook)

JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown Police announced funeral arrangements for Patrol Officer Ryan Bourque who died as the result of injuries sustained in a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver early Monday morning.

Services are to take place in Coventry, RI patrolman Bourque’s hometown, as follows:

A wake will be held Friday, May 27th from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Iannotti Funeral Home, located at 415 Washington Street, Coventry. Officer Bourque’s funeral mass will be held Saturday, May 28th at 10 a.m. at Saints John and Paul Church, 341 S. Main St. Coventry.


Patrolman Bourque was a graduate of Bishop Hendricken High School and the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy. The 24 year-old Officer completed his one year with the Jamestown PD on the evening of his death. He was traveling home to Coventry on I-95 South when his car was struck by a wrong-way driver heading north.

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Sanders would show Wasserman Schultz the door at the DNC

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders tells CNN’s Jake Tapper that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz would not be reappointed under his presidency. Video Courtesy CNN/Youtube

Democratic Presidential candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Saturday told CNN’s Jake Tapperthat U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee Chair would not retain her position as the party leader under his presidency. Sanders also announced his endorsement and support for her November down-ballot opponent, Tim Canova in his run for Florida’s District 23 Representative seat.

“Clearly I favor her opponent. His views are much closer to mine than as Wasserman Schultz’s.” Let me also say this, in all due respect to the current chairperson, if elected President, she would not be re-appointed to be the chair of the DNC.” – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders

 Wasserman Schultz, a flagrant supporter of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her candidacy has blatantly railed against Sanders throughout the primary season. One of Sanders’ main difficulties early on in the process was name recognition across the country, with voters outside the New England region or those not entrenched in Washington, D.C. politics not familiar with the senator from Vermont or his policies. Wasserman Schultz came under harsh criticism early on for recognizing the Democratic candidate’s need to bring his message to the people and deliberately working against him, scheduling debates during low viewership times, clearly in favor of Secretary Clinton.

Politifact in January said that any evidence to support Wasserman Schultz’s claims that the debates were set to “maximize” exposure was dubious. Wasserman Schultz told Politifact that the party came up with a debate schedule to maximize the opportunity for voters to see the Democratic candidates. Sanders and then candidate Sen. Martin O’Malley disagreed, as did the watchdogs.

Democratic Presidential Candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders pauses as a crowd of supporters at UMASS Amherst cheer. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

Democratic Presidential Candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders pauses as a crowd of supporters at UMASS Amherst cheer. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

Politifact found that “Wasserman Schultz’s best point is that the Democrats largely scheduled their debates with TV networks, which means viewers without cable can see them. But other than that, her statement is very disingenuous.” After reviewing the DNC chair’s holiday and weekend-heavy schedule they concluded “if the Democrats had wanted to “maximize” opportunities for viewers, the party could have added more debates, scheduled them on weekdays and avoided holidays.”

Northeastern University professor John Schroeder agreed, telling Politifact that the two highest Republican debates each drew between 23 million and 24 million, much higher than the Democratic debates. While a lot of the disparity is due to Trump, another factor is that all the Republican debates so far have been held on weekdays.

“I think we can safely say that weekend time slots are not the key to maximizing the viewing audience,” Schroeder said.

The Sanders campaign last week accepted an invitation from Fox News to debate in California before the June 7 debate. Secretary Clinton had agreed to a California debate in January, but as of Friday had not responded to the Fox News debate. Pundits agreed that the debate could only hurt Clinton whose unfavorability rating among voters is the highest of any Democratic candidate.

Wasserman Schultz’s latest moves against Sanders included riling up party pundits to smear Sanders and his supporters for unrest at the Nevada National Convention where politicking outweighed democracy and equitable treatment of the two sides, causing friction amongst Clinton and Sanders delegates and supporters. Wasserman Schultz laid blame with Sanders for instances of harassment experienced by the Nevada party chair, Roberta Lange, after her somewhat unilateral decision-making drew ire. On Friday party officials met to consider new rules designed to control proceedings at the National Convention and strike down open protests.

Sanders continues to draw huge crowds at rallies across the country and expects to continue his success in the remaining primaries and caucuses before the July convention in Philadelphia.

This post originally appeared on on May 23, 2016.

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Clinton declares herself Democratic nominee

Former Sec. of State and Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that there was “no way” she won’t be the Democratic nominee. “I will be the nominee for my party, Chris. That is already done,” Clinton said. CNN/Youtube

On Thursday, Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton declared herself the party nominee in an interview with CNN‘s Chris Cuomo. Clinton told Cuomo that she was relying on her experience in her 2008 loss to Pres. Barack Obama, when she had won states where her opponent, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is now winning and she still lost the nomination.

“I will be the nominee for my party, Chris. That is already done, in effect. There is no way I won’t be.” – Democratic Presidential Canidate Hillary Rodham Clinton

Sen. Sanders responded to the comments in a prepared statement from campaign spokesman Michael Briggs on Thursday evening.

Democratic Presidential Candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders encourages a crowd of more than 7,000 supporters in Providence, RI to participate in Democracy, on April 24, 2016. Photo Tracey C. O'Neill

Democratic Presidential Candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders encourages a crowd of more than 7,000 supporters in Providence, RI to participate in Democracy, on April 24, 2016. Photo Tracey C. O’Neill

“In the past three weeks voters in Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon respectfully disagreed with Secretary Clinton. We expect voters in the remaining nine contests also will disagree. And with almost every national and state poll showing Sen. Sanders doing much, much better than Secretary Clinton against Donald Trump, it is clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign.”

Briggs was referring to historical polling throughout the campaign as well as a Fox News Poll released on Wednesday that revealed GOP Presumptive Nominee, Donald Trump leading Clinton by 3 percentage points in a national matchup. The poll conducted from May 14 – 17, showed Trump closing the margin of error (45-42) over Clinton, a significant change from the similar polling conducted in April that had Clinton up by 7 points (48-41) over Trump.

The Fox poll also revealed that in a head-to-head matchup, Bernie Sanders would prevail with a 46-42 percent advantage over Trump. Sanders polled at 53-39 percent over Trump in the April survey.

Clinton has yet to respond as to whether she’ll honor her commitment to debate Sen. Sanders in California before the state’s Primary on June 7. The Sanders campaign welcomed an invite by Fox News to debate the former First Lady, but as of Thursday evening, the Clinton campaign had not responded.

The Washington Times reported that Clinton was brushing off the commitment due to analysts predictions that if she attended, she “could only damage herself in another testy back-and-forth with the Vermont senator.”

This article originally appeared on on May 19, 2016.

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Baltimore Presidential Primary results decertified by state, discrepancies noted

Maryland has decertified the City of Baltimore’s April 26 Presidential Primary election results. Instances of uncounted provisional ballots, discrepancies in voter roll check-in numbers and more were given as reasons for the Board of Elections decision. Video Courtesy Baltimore Sun/Youtube

Baltimore, MD – The Maryland State Board of Elections has ordered the May 9 certification of Presidential Primary results for the City of Baltimore decertified. Several reasons were given for the rescinded certification, including provisional ballots that weren’t counted, voter roll check-in numbers and ballots cast numbers out of sync.

A statement from Linda H. Lamone, State Board of Elections Administrator read:

 “Over the last several days, the State Board of Elections has been conducting its normal review and reconciliation of the election data for the recent primary.”

Because of discrepancies in some of the data for Baltimore City, the State Administrator has decided that the election data for all precincts in the City will be reviewed. – Linda H. Lamone, State Administrator

“In light of that decision, the Baltimore City Board of Canvassers will be rescinding its certification of the election results pending completion of the State Board’s review. It is expected that the Baltimore City Board of Canvassers will rescind its certification today at 6:00 p.m.,” Lamone wrote.

Lamone told CBS Local station WJZ, “When we looked at the certification, we found that there were some discrepancies that we weren’t happy with,” Lamone said. WJZ reported that in one instance a bag of uncounted provisional ballots was found in a warehouse. According to Lamone, precincts were required to report any discrepancies to the Board prior to certification. Absent the evidence of possible inaccuracies, the Board had certified the election results on Monday.

All information and balloting for near 300 precincts is rescinded and due to be reexamined before official certification is granted at a date yet to be determined by the Board.

This article originally appeared on on May 12, 2016.

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Boston bringing BYOB back to the city

BYOB 2BOSTON, MA – Mayor Marty Walsh’s office announced on Friday that “Bring Your Own Bottle” (aka Bring your own Booze) is coming back to the city.

In a press release, the Mayor’s office revealed that the City of Boston’s Licensing Board unanimously voted on Thursday to amend their rules and regulations to allow BYOB in Boston.

“I see this as an opportunity to bring increased economic activity to neighborhoods across Boston and I thank the Licensing Board for taking up this measure that has great potential to make a positive impact on our city’s economic growth,” said Mayor Walsh. “I look forward to reviewing the revised regulations that will be put forth by the Licensing Board in the coming months.”

Current regulations prohibit patrons from bringing any alcoholic beverages for their own consumption onto the premise of any licensed establishment.

“Yesterday’s vote is an exciting step forward as the Licensing Board officially sanctioned BYOB dining in Boston,” said City Council President Michelle Wu. “BYOB will bring new vitality to our city by giving small business owners and consumers more options to build a vibrant restaurant scene in every neighborhood.”

According to the release, as part of the next steps, the Board in the coming months will draft stringent rules to regulate the practice of BYOB and will schedule a public hearing at which community members can voice their opinions on the matter.

At the end of 2015 the City Council passed and Mayor Walsh signed an ordinance to allow for BYOB to be considered by the Licensing Board in Boston.

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Sanders up in Rhode Island on eve of primary, Clinton camp counters with visit

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential candidate rallies supporters at the Temple to Music in Roger Williams Park in April. Sanders was leading in polling heading into the state's primary on April 26. Photos courtesy Tracey C. O'Neill

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential candidate rallies supporters at the Temple to Music in Roger Williams Park in Providence, RI in April. Sanders was leading in polling heading into the state’s primary on April 26. Photos courtesy Tracey C. O’Neill

The latest Public Policy Polling (PPP) primary results revealed Bernie Sanders ahead of former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the White House.

 This article originally appeared on on April 25, 2016. 

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Happy Earth Day, fracker-friendly politicians are coming to town

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a protracted answer on her stance on fracking in a CNN Democratic Debate in Flint, Michigan on March 6. Sanders answer was simple. “No. I don’t support fracking.” Video Courtesy CNN/Youtube

While Earth Day celebrations are taking place across the globe and world leaders meeting in New York City to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, fracking-friendly politicians are preparing to descend on Rhode Island and four of it’s East Coast neighbors over the coming days.

Five states, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are readying to hold Presidential primaries on Tuesday April 26 and the candidates are out in force, vying for votes and delegates. In Rhode Island, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton comes to town on Saturday, bringing her campaign message to Central Falls High School, and appearing in one of the most poverty-stricken and diverse communities in the state.

Clinton prefers fracking with transparency

Clinton’s stance on fracking is a moving target, ducking and rolling dependent on atmosphere and environment. In a response to a town hall question during the CNN Democratic Debate in March in Flint, Michigan, Clinton provided a protracted response.

“You know, I don’t support it when any locality or any state, is against it, number one. I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it, number three, unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using,” the former First Lady said.


Hillary Clinton stumps for Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo in October 2014. Clinton and Raimondo are fracking-friendly Democrats. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

“So by the time we get through all of “my” conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” she continued. “And I think that’s the best approach, because right now, there are places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated, so first we’ve got to regulate everything that is currently underway and we have to have a system in place that prevents further fracking unless conditions like the ones that I just mentioned are met.”

Former Secretary of State Clinton’s answer was met with dead silence.

No. I do not support fracking.” – Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders

Gov. Gina Raimondo is building fossil fuel burning plants

Rhode Island’s governor, Gina Raimondo is a Clinton fan and supporter. Clinton visited Rhode Island in October, stumping for Raimondo’s run at the governorship. The governor’s office did not respond immediately to an inquiry on whether she would attend.

“The near-term solution for Rhode Island for energy prices is in my view, natural gas,” said Raimondo in a July 2015 interview with WPRI TV. The July announcement was the rollout of Invenergy, LLC’s plans.

Raimondo supports the build of a 900 MW, gas-fired power plant in Rhode Island. Proposed by Chicago-based Invenergy, LLC, the company plans to build in a rural northern sector of the state, in the town of Burrillville, close to the Massachusetts state border.

“I can imagine that not everybody’s in favor and change is difficult,” the freshman Governor said. “But I hear from people every day who are saying ‘Governor you’ve got to bring energy costs down.'”

On April 13, Raimondo announced the release of the 2016 Rhode Island Clean Energy Jobs Report.

“Rhode Island continues to expand its clean energy economy and create jobs in this growing sector,” Raimondo said. “We’ve made extraordinary strides in promoting renewable energy – from expanding our solar industry to construction of the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Rhode Island is leading the way, and I look forward to continuing to work with our partners to keep the momentum going.”

No mention was made of the Clear River Energy Center in the report.

According to the report, among the states with the strongest energy efficiency policies and programs, Rhode Island has set annual utility savings targets to begin at 2.5% for electric and 1% for natural gas in 2015, escalating to 2.6% and 1.1% respectively in 2017. Utility companies are required to achieve all cost‐effective energy efficiency measures.

The report revealed that with “significant funding dedicated towards implementing all cost‐effective efficiency measures, the state achieved the highest electricity savings in the nation for 2015.”

Opponents of the project agreed and said the state has made remarkable progress in providing electricity to its residents and reducing costs. They put forth the argument that the report upholds position that the power plant, the second to be built in the town, its environmental and health risks aren’t needed.

Activist arrested

On Tuesday, environmental activist and Rhode Island resident, Lisa Petrie was arrested in Raimondo’s office after refusing to leave at the close of the business day.

Petrie, who was with a group of activists, Fighting Against Natural Gas (FANG) was the lone holdout when police told the more than a dozen peaceful protestors to leave.

“I think they were very reluctant to make an arrest at the governor’s office,” Petrie said in an interview with”

Petrie was held at the State Police Barracks and was released the same evening.

Obama’s Climate Plan reduces fossil fuels…

Clinton and Raimondo’s fracking positions aren’t reflective of Obama’s Climate Change Plan.

In August 2016, Obama spoke at the eighth National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.

Obama, although acknowledging the nation’s current reliance on oil and natural gas, highlighted his plans and the energy industry’s move towards renewables.

“Six and a half years ago, I took office after decades in which our addiction to fossil fuels and foreign oil perennially threatened our planet and our national security. And together, we’ve begun to change that — a lot of people in this room working with us,” the President said. “Yes, we’ve become the world’s number-one producer of oil and natural gas, but we’ve also become a major player in clean energy.”

The President focused his speech on growth of alternative energies such as wind and solar power.

“It’s thanks in part to these investments that there are already places across the country where clean power from the sun is finally cheaper than conventional power from your utility — power often generated by burning coal or gas.” – Pres. Barack Obama

Obama decried big money interests, in particular the Koch brothers, in not only promoting fossil fuels, but supplying lobbies to deter renewable energies.

“I’m getting resistance from some fossil fuel interests who want to protect the outdated status quo. When you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests or conservative think tanks or the Koch brothers, pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding, that’s a problem,” he said.

Clinton, who throughout her campaign has hung her hat on continuing the work that the Obama administration achieved, isn’t as keen on moving away from the fossil fuel industry and their repositories.

For the GOP, Kasich is King Fracking

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, GOP presidential candidate, visits Rhode Island on Saturday also. Kasich will speak at Bryant University.

Kasich supports the fracking industry wholeheartedly. At a Columbus Metropolitan Club election forum in October 2014, he said,

“I love the industry. I love the industry.” – John Kasich

In an interview with the Hugh Hewitt Show in January, Kasich said that fracking in Ohio had not produced a great number of jobs and Ohio’s economy was diversified.

“We estimate direct and indirect, about 20,000 maybe out of the 385,000 that we’ve grown. Ohio’s become diversified, but people will still frack.

A long-time proponent of oil and natural gas energy, has one major problem with the industry, he wants a tax on production within the state and can’t get it.

In a debate in January, he said that fracturing was a solution to insulating americans from fluctuating energy prices.

“With Saudi Arabia and oil production first of all it’s so critical for us to be energy independent and we’re getting there because of fracking.”

The governor took it one step farther, saying the U.S. should continue and expand fracking enterprises.

“And we ought to explore, because you see energy independence gives us leverage and flexibility. And secondly. if you want to bring jobs back to the United States of America in this industry, low prices make the difference. We’re seeing it in my state and we’ll see it in this country. And that’s why we must make sure that we continue to frack.”

GOP front-runner Donald Trump, hasn’t scheduled a Rhode Island stopover as yet. Trump is crystal clear in his support for the fossil fuel industry.

“Fracking will lead to American energy independence,” Trump tweeted in May 2012. “With price of natural gas continuing to drop, we can be at a tremendous advantage.”

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) (l) and U.S. Rep. James Langevin (r) listen to a presentation at the Westerly-Pawcatuck Watershed Association meeting. The two were joined by Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT) in receiving honors for assistance in securing grant funding. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

Rhode Island’s junior senator pivots

Clinton garnered support from the Rhode Island Democratic Congressional Delegation, including U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, known on the Senate Floor as the number one champion of climate change action.

Whitehouse, the junior senator from Rhode Island shocked local environmentalists when he aligned with Raimondo and said he wouldn’t oppose the fossil fuel project.

In an interview with Bill Rappleye reporter for NBC10, Whitehouse dodged direct questions regarding his support for the project.

“As a general proposition I’m opposed to fossil fuels,” Whitehouse said in an interview with reporter,. “Nobody fights harder than I do in the Senate to try to knock down the fossil fuel industry, break it’s grip on the Senate and let us solve the problem of climate change.”

Whitehouse, Rhode Island’s champion of climate change action and carbon emissions reduction refused to take a position on Invenergy’s proposed power plant.

But this is your backyard,” said Rappeleye. Shouldn’t you be standing up for Fossil Fuel Free Rhode Island?”

Whitehouse back-pedaled his position a thousand times over hiding behind administrative jargon and regulatory legalese.

Whitehouse provided no indication that he would support, defend or protect Rhode Islanders, their health and the state’s environment.

“You have to allow administrative procedures to take their course,” the junior senator from Rhode Island said.

His position was contrary to his accepted stance on climate action and his weekly “Time to Wake Up” speeches. Ironically, his latest and 133rd speech, given on April 14, was titled, “Saying one thing and doing another.”

Whitehouse went on to say that his input and backing would be an improper interference in the process. That statement was also in direct contract to his prior actions within the state.

In October of 2014, Whitehouse visited the ocean side village of Matunuck in the Town of South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Joined by Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia, a staunch supporter of the coal industry, Whitehouse toured eroded beaches and at risk properties abutting Block Island Sound.

Village property owners, the town and state regulatory agencies were embattled in a regulatory nightmare, while trying to find common ground to save the property and environment from succumbing to the ill effects of climate change.

“I hope to get something solved that protects the businesses and to do it pretty quickly,” Whitehouse said in an interview with Independent Newspapers at the time. “My job is more to convene people, to try to bring the state Coastal Resources Management Council, Town Manager, Steve Alfred and other town officials and all the business owners together.”

Administratively, the visit to Matunuck’s seaside pubs and beaches, the convening, may have qualified as improper interference. Maybe not.

One weekend holdout

Clinton opponent, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) will visit Rhode Island and rally at Roger Williams Park on Sunday. Sanders doesn’t support fracking – at all. Sanders’ stance on fracking is simple.

“No. I do not support fracking.”

This article originally appeared on on April 22, 2016. 

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Polls: Sanders up nationally, Clinton up in New York

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pauses for a moment to take in the more than 4,000 supporters gathered in Albany, NY on April 11. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders pauses for a moment to take in more than 4,000 supporters gathered in Albany, NY on April 11. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

New York, NY -A Reuters rolling poll has Democratic Presidential Candidate, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders holding a lead over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in overall polling.

The rolling poll results, compiled over a period of time from February 1 through April 15, show Clinton maintaining a less than 1 point lead over Sanders among likely Democratic voters. 

Reuters rolling 5-day poll shows U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders leading over former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton in democratic presidential candidate polling. (Graphic Courtesy Reuters)

Reuters rolling 5-day polling April 11-15. (Graphic Courtesy Reuters)When considering the 5-day rolling period, April 11-15, Sanders maintained his lead in overall polling throughout.

The poll narrowed and defined by age groupings, Sanders holds his strongest position atop the leader board among 18-34 year-olds at 61 percent to Clinton’s 26 percent. Among parties, the U.S. senator commands the Independent vote at 46 percent to Clinton’s 25 percent. And among Independents, Clinton supporters trail those who would not vote who tallied at 30 percent. 


Former Sec. of State and Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stumps for the gubenatorial candidate Gina Raimondo in October 2014.

Clinton, whose strongest following is among voters aged 50-65, maintaining an 18 point average lead over Sanders over the 5-day.

Among whites, Sanders led throughout with at average 6.6 percent, growing his lead to double digits since the Brooklyn Democratic debate on April 14th.

Clinton held her double-digit lead among black voters.

The two Democratic candidates face off in New York’s Primary on April 19, with recent statewide polling giving Clinton a double-digit edge.

A CBS Battleground Tracker poll shows Clinton with a 10 point lead in New York’s closed primary, where there is no Independent vote.


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Sanders, Kasich lead General Election, remain most favorable

U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses a crowd of more than 8,000 supporters at UMASS Amherst in February

U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses a crowd of more than 8,000 supporters at UMASS Amherst in February

HAMDEN, CT – A newly released poll from Quinnipiac University shows Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican hopeful John Kasich in the lead in head to head battle if chosen as nominees at the parties’ July conventions.

Front-runners, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and New York real estate mogul, Donald Trump hold the lead in primary polling, but come up short, behind their challengers in November.

According to the poll, conducted March 16 – 21, Clinton and Trump are clear leaders in Republican and Democratic primaries nationwide. Clinton held a 12 point lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 50-38 percent as of the March 23 release.

Trump leads the trio of Republican candidates by a wide margin at 43 percent over Sen. Ted Cruz at 29 percent. Ohio Governor John Kasich took 16 percent of the vote.

Underdogs top the leaderboard in November

The University’s independent poll showed Sanders and Kasich besting the frontrunners in head-to-head general election match-ups among all American voters. The two underdogs topped other candidates by wide margins and were locked in a dead heat with each other.

Sanders was the most favorable candidate overall with a 50 percent favorability rating. Twelve percent of voters said they hadn’t heard enough about Sanders to make a determination. Sanders favorability was high, reaching above 40 percent in all age groupings between ages 18 -64, taking 65 percent of the vote in the 18-34 age group, 52 percent in the 35-49 age group, and 45 percent in the 50-64 age group.

The New England Senator also scored top numbers across demographics with men at 42 percent, women at 49 percent, white voters at 45 percent and non-white voters at 63 percent.

A congressional leader for near 30 years, Sanders favorability among Democrats polled was 47 percent and among Independents he topped the board at 55 percent. Clinton’s favorability among Independents was 10 percent.

Kasich garnered a 43 percent favorability rating. Kasich topped the 65+ age group with a 56 percent favorability rating, compared to Trump at 42 percent and Cruz at 36 percent. 

Fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stumps for Gina Raimondo at RIC in October. Raimondo who touted Clinton as "my idol" went on to win the election. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill/Tracey C. Online Photography)

Fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stumps for Gina Raimondo at RIC in October. Raimondo who touted Clinton as “my idol” went on to win the election. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill/Tracey C. Online Photography)

Frontrunners remain unfavorable

Clinton, Trump and Cruz each received negative favorability ratings, with none of them climbing above the 40 percent favorable mark. Cruz was the least favorable candidate with only 32 percent favorability, Trump landed at 33 percent and Clinton at 39 percent.

Head to head poll results revealed the following:
  • Sanders bests Trump 52 – 38 percent;
  • Clinton beats Trump 46 – 40 percent;
  • Sanders bests Cruz 50 – 39 percent;
  • Clinton beats Cruz  45 – 42 percent;
  • Kasich bests Clinton 47 – 39 percent;
  • Kasich tops Sanders 45 – 44 percent.

The university polled 1,451 registered voters nationwide, inclusive of  652 Republicans (MOE +/-3.8) and 635 Democrats (MOE of +/- 3.9) percentage points.

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Boston Public Schools closed on Monday due to Regis’ arrival

BOSTON, MA – Boston Public Schools (BPS) on Sunday evening announced the closure of schools on Monday due to the impending arrival of winter storm Regis.

The storm, expected to bring heavy snow overnight Sunday, into Monday morning carries the potential of 6 inches or more of snow for the Greater Boston area.

A written message posted on the BPS Facebook Page said,

“Due to a forecast of snow, all Boston Public Schools will be closed on Monday, March 21, 2016. There will also be no bus service. Administrative offices, including the BPS Welcome Centers and Newcomers Assessment and Counseling Center, will be OPEN. All administrative employees are asked to report to work.”

An important factor in this decision is the timing of the snowstorm, with several inches of snow expected to fall during the morning commute. Because safety is a top priority of Boston Public Schools, Mayor Walsh and Superintendent Chang made the decision to close school on Monday.

For additional information and updates, concerned parents and students can visit the administration website at

NWS warns of Regis’ arrival

The National Weather Service (NWS) Boston, Taunton issued a Winter Storm Warning in effect from 7 p.m. Sunday night until 11 a.m. Monday morning.



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NWS issues Winter Storm Warning

Deep Hole, Matunuck in winter. NWS winter storm warning is in effect as Regis moves into New England Sunday evening. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

Deep Hole, Matunuck in winter. NWS winter storm warning is in effect as Regis moves into New England Sunday evening. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

BOSTON, MA – The National Weather Service (NWS) Boston, Taunton issued a Winter Storm Warning in effect from 7 p.m. Sunday night until 11 a.m. Monday morning.

The warning, issued Sunday morning covers the area of Southeast Massachusetts and all of Rhode Island.

The Boston and Providence metropolitan areas are included.

According to NWS, individuals traveling and dwelling in these areas can expect heavy wet snow with accumulations of 6 to 10 inches with the highest amounts along the south coast toward the Cape Cod Canal.


Temperatures are expected to fall into the low 30s and winds are expected from the North at 5 to 15 MPH with gusts up to 30 MPH.

Heavy wet snow will accumulate overnight, making for hazardous travel and may continue during the Monday morning rush hour. Heavy wet snow is predicted for the area particularly to the southeast of a Boston to Providence line.

NWS warns of possible scattered power outages and downed tree limbs.

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Sanders deals Clinton a huge blow in Michigan

Bernie Sanders at UMASS Amherst

Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders addresses a crowd of more than 8,000 supporters at UMASS Amherst in February. (Photos Tracey C. O’Neill)

BOSTON – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders won Michigan’s Primary on Tuesday , dealing a “Yuge” blow to the campaign of his rival, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Sanders’ win in the mishigama state came after a long evening of poll returns had the Vermont senator ahead by single digits until the call by the Associated Press (AP) just before midnight.

“I am grateful to the people of Michigan for defying the pundits and pollsters and giving us their support. This is a critically important night. We came from 30 points down in Michigan and we’re seeing the same kind of come-from-behind momentum all across America. – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

A little help from Michigonians

Sanders’ win in Michigan came with the help of former U.S. Sen. Donald W. Riegle, who served Michigan in both the House and Senate for three decades and state Sen. Bert Johnson who switched his endorsement from Clinton to Sanders earlier in the week.

“The young people of America want their future back.  They refuse to become a lost generation. Bernie is showing them that they can use their own individual power to speak – and organize – and act together – with other concerned citizens of all ages and backgrounds to work as a team – to take back their own government – to break the stranglehold of the special interest money and control.” – Former U.S. Senator Donald W. Riegle (MI)

Gov. Rick Snyder must resign

Sanders criss-crossed the state  in the run-up to the primary, drawing thousands at rallies and coming out strong against the governmental failure and humanitarian crisis in Flint. In a CNN debate on Sunday night, Sanders called for the resignation of Gov. Rick Snyder who knowingly allowed the Flint community to be exposed to life-threatening lead levels in their water supply.

Concentrating on workforce issues, Sanders challenged Clinton on her support for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) denouncing a policy that encouraged automobile industry jobs to be outsourced to Mexico.

“NAFTA, supported by the Secretary cost, us 800,000 jobs nationwide, tens of thousands of jobs in the Midwest,” said Sanders during the CNN Debate when Clinton accused her opponent of not supporting the auto industry. “Permanent normal trade relations with China cost us millions of jobs.”

Look, I was on a picket line in early 1990’s against NAFTA because you didn’t need a PhD in economics to understand that American workers should not be forced to compete against people in Mexico making 25 cents an hour. – Bernie Sanders, on NAFTA at CNN debate in Flint, Michigan

Clinton’s Deputy Communications Director, Kristina Schake responded to the Michigan win in a CNN interview.

“We knew going into Michigan that it was going to be a lot closer than the public polls showed, so this wasn’t unexpected for us.”

Clinton’s strength held in the South with her commanding the African-American vote.

Schake congratulated Sanders campaign on a hard-fought win and said the Clinton camp was confident heading into the next week of contests.

Sanders was confident, too,  having shown that his campaign was closing ranks and had gained momentum across the country.

“Not only is Michigan the gateway to the rest of the industrial Midwest, the results there show that we are a national campaign. We already have won in the Midwest, New England and the Great Plains and as more people get to know more about who we are and what our views are we’re going to do very well.”

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Sanders, Clintons take time out to honor Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan had a good heart, and she will be dearly missed.

DETROIT — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders issued the following statement Sunday on the passing of former first lady Nancy Reagan:

“No matter your party or political ideology, this is a sad day for America. Nancy Reagan was an exemplary first lady. A devoted partner, she was her husband’s most trusted advisor and, as such, served our country well. Even after her time in the White House, she was an outspoken advocate for stem-cell research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Nancy Reagan had a good heart, and she will be dearly missed.”

President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis Reagan

President and Mrs. Nancy Davis Reagan relax on the docks at Lake Lucky, Rancho del Cielo in March 1982. (Photos courtesy The Reagan Presidential Library)

The Clinton’s also expressed condolences on the loss of the former First Lady of the Reagan White House.

“Hillary and I were deeply saddened to learn of Nancy Reagan’s passing,” former President Bill Clinton said in a statement.

“Nancy was an extraordinary woman: a gracious First Lady, proud mother, and devoted wife to President Reagan—her Ronnie. Her strength of character was legendary, particularly when tested by the attempted assassination of the President, and throughout his battle with Alzheimer’s.

She leaves a remarkable legacy of good that includes her tireless advocacy for Alzheimer’s research and the Foster Grandparent Program. We join all Americans in extending our prayers and condolences to her beloved children and her entire family during this difficult time.”

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Former First Lady Nancy Reagan dies at age 94

5/13/1987 Nancy Reagan speaking at a "Just Say No" Rally in Los Angeles California

5/13/1987 Nancy Reagan speaking at a “Just Say No” Rally in Los Angeles California (Photo The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum)

LOS ANGELES – The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is reporting the death of Former First Lady Nancy Reagan who passed this morning at home in Los Angeles.

Released from the First Lady’s office by the Reagan Presidential Library, the statement read:

Nancy Davis Reagan, the former First Lady of the United States died this morning at her home in Los Angeles a the age of 94. The cause of death was congestive heart failure.

“Mrs. Reagan will be buried at the Ronald Reagan presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next to her husband, Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004,” Joanne Drake, Spokesperson wrote.

Nancy Davis Reagan devoted her life after her husband’s death in 2004 to The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Located in Simi Valley, California the former First Lady served on the board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, where she was said to have promoted her husband’s legacy of leadership and freedom.

A native New Yorker, Nancy Davis Reagan was raised in Chicago  where she attended and graduated from the Girls’ Latin School. Reagan went on to attend Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she graduated in 1943.

According to her biography, Nancy Davis, like her husband made her early career on stage, and appeared in film and television productions.

“In 1949, she signed a seven-year contract with MGM. During this time, she met Ronald Reagan and they were married on March 4, 1952,” the bio released by the Reagan Presidential Library said.

Nancy Davis Reagan made eleven films in all, including three after her marriage. Her last film, at Columbia in 1956, was Hellcats of the Navy, the only film in which she and her husband appeared together.

Her role as First Lady began in 1967 when her husband was elected as governor of the State of California. Throughout her husbands two terms in office as governor, the First Lady concentrated on veteran’s issues, including those for prisoners of war (POW) and veteran’s missing in action (MIA).

The beloved, high-profile first lady who reigned at the White House throughout the 1980’s during her husband’s two terms in office, was credited with establishing the “Just Say No” campaign as part of the President’s War on Drugs initiative.

The program, popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s targeted youth and teens, encouraging them to turn away from drug use. Building in popularity over the years, the campaign boasted more than 12,000 Just Say No clubs both nationally and internationally by 1988. 

The Nancy Reagan Foundation was established in 1989 to continue her campaign to educate people about the serious dangers of substance abuse, after leaving the White House. In 1994, the Nancy Reagan Foundation joined forces with the BEST Foundation For A Drug-Free Tomorrow and developed the Nancy Reagan Afterschool Program, a drug prevention and life-skills program for youth.

For ten years, Mrs. Reagan’s priority was caring for her husband at home as he battled Alzheimer’s Disease.

Sunday’s statement went on to say that the public will have the opportunity to pay their respects to the former First Lady prior to her funeral service. 

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Found Dead

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at a private residence in Texas on Saturday morning.

The conservative justice and Second Amendment advocate was said to be on a hunting trip at the Cibolo Creek Ranch where, according to the SCOTUSblog, he passed in his sleep.


Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court 1986-2016. (Official Portrait SCOTUS.)

“I am saddened to report that our colleague Antonin Scalia has passed away. He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Maureen and his family.” ~ Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.

Scalia’s career escalated during the 1980’s when then President Ronald Reagan looked favorably upon the jurist, appointing him first to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1982) and then nominating him as an Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986. 

Serving for 29 years on the court, Scalia was known for his opposition to what he viewed as liberal agendas, writing and joining in conservative dissenting opinions on major contemporary issues from Obamacare to Same Sex Marriage and abortion.

Perhaps the most crucial dissent vote made by the sonorous Scalia came just days before his passing when he joined four of his colleagues in striking down the Clean Power Plan, a threat to the EPA’s carbon emissions reduction plan and a key factor in the success of the global Climate Change Treaty achieved in Paris in December.

The Court in a 5-4 vote stayed implementation of Federal guidelines imposing emissions standards for existing power plants in a plan aimed at reducing the country’s overall carbon footprint.

President Obama extended condolences to the Scalia family and is expected to issue a formal statement on Sunday.

Speculation has already begun on the chances of the Obama administration successfully passing a nominee to the court before the end of the President’s last term.

2016 presidential candidates weighed in on the news of Scalia’s death.

“While I differed with Justice Scalia’s views and jurisprudence, he was a brilliant, colorful and outspoken member of the Supreme Court. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his colleagues on the court who mourn his passing.” ~ Sen. Bernard “Bernie” Sanders, VT

GOP front-runner and real estate mogul, Donald Trump tweeted “The totally unexpected loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a massive set-back for the Conservative Movement and our country.”

Gov. John Kasich, in a written statement said, “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Justice Scalia and send my prayers out for his family in this difficult time. His death is a serious loss to our nation and the Court.”

Kasich went on to say that Scalia was “an essential, principled force for conservative thought” and a model for others to follow.

Sen. Ted Cruz went so far as to call Scalia an American hero.


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Sanders Takes New Hampshire Primary by Storm, Trump wins GOP vote

New Hampshire Primary, Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire

Poll workers stumping for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary at Ward 6, St. Pius CCD Center in Manchester New Hampshire. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

MANCHESTER, NH – Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire Primary in a crushing blow to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The race was called just after 8 p.m. when the final polls closed in the Granite State. The U.S. Senator from Vermont thanked the people of the state, lauding them with a “huge turnout” that put his camp way over the top.

“Tonight with what appears to be a record-breaking voter turnout, because of a huge voter turnout…we won.” ~ Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sanders was favored to win early on in his sister state, but overwhelming voter turnout and a substantial following  of young voters pushed his numbers beyond expectations. 

Clinton, in her concession speech acknowledged the road ahead.

“I know I have some work to do, particularly with young people, but I will repeat again what I have said this week,” Clinton said. “Even if they are not supporting me now, I support them.”

Hundreds of voters were on hand to cast their votes at Ward 8, Manchester NH on Tuesday evening. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

Hundreds of voters were on hand to cast their votes at Ward 8, Manchester NH on Tuesday evening. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

On the Republican side, New York real estate mogul, Donald Trump won easily with 35 percent of the GOP vote. The race for second place was decided with John Kasich taking 16 percent of the vote. Third place had Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio all within one percentage point.

Sanders and Clinton now move on to the Nevada Democratic Caucus on February 20, while the GOP candidates caucus in the state on February 23.

Sanders said he was heading first to New York City, assuring his supporters that he would not be attending Wall Street fundraisers.



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Primary Day is Underway in New Hampshire

Dixville Notch, NH Primary

Map of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. Dixville Notch votes are in with Sanders, Kasich receiving first honors. (Map courtesy Google Maps)

DIXVILLE NOTCH, NH – As Primary Day in New Hampshire opened in the famed Dixville Notch at midnight, the first votes cast and reported had Bernie Sanders and John Kasich winning the town with nine votes total cast.

For the Democrats, Bernie Sanders garnered 4 votes, with former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton receiving no votes.

On the Republican side, John Kasich came out on top with 3 votes, to Donald Trump’s 2 votes.

The entire vote in the sleepy New Hampshire town tucked away far to the north, just 12 miles from the Canadian Border took just seconds to complete signifying the 2016 primary season officially underway.

New Hampshire’s primary followed last week’s Iowa caucus where Clinton, in head to head battle eked out a win over Sanders, in a political contest literally decided by coin toss.  Clinton’s win at 49.9 percent, just .3 percent more than Sanders’ 49.6 percent, landed her 2 delegates ahead of Sanders (23 – 21).

Iowa brought a surprise upset for the GOP with predicted frontrunner, New York real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump losing to Texas Senator, Ted Cruz.

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Winter Storm Mars is on the Way

Winter Storm Mars

Winter’s grip took hold in South County 2015. Back to back storms have residents wondering if 2016 will be a repeat performance. Winter Storm Mars is expected to arrive on Monday morning, the second storm to dump snow on the area in less than a week. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

BOSTON – The National Weather Service Boston/Taunton issued a Winter Storm Warning for all of Rhode Island including Block Island; Central, Eastern, Northeastern, Southeastern Massachusetts; and Northeastern Connecticut.

The NWS alert, in effect from 4 a.m. Monday through 7 a.m. Tuesday, predicted snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches.

The storm is expected to overspread the impact area between 4 and 7 a.m., becoming heavy at times into the early afternoon. Winds are predicted at 10 to 20 MPH with gusts up to 35 MPH. Block Island may see gusts up to 50 MPH.


Snowfall is expected to diminish by mid afternoon. Visibility is expected to be diminished at one quarter mile or less at times.

NWS warns that travel will be slow at best on well-treated surfaces and quite difficult on any unplowed or untreated surfaces.

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RI receives $18.2 million clean water infrastructure funding

As originally posted on TraceyC-Media on December 6, 2015.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The state’s most vulnerable communities are eligible for federal clean water infrastructure funding through low-interest loans provided under $18.2 million allocated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation announced the allocation of green infrastructure monies to two federal-state loan programs that subsidize water infrastructure projects geared towards public health and environmental quality.

The waterfall at Gov. Notte Park in North Providence runs freely under spring-like temperatures in December. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

The waterfall at Gov. Notte Park in North Providence runs freely under spring-like temperatures in December. Approximately 117 million Americans get their water from rivers and streams protected by the Clean Water Act of 1972. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

“Investing in clean water infrastructure must be a priority and the federal government needs to be a reliable partner when it comes to maintaining healthy, safe water in our communities,” Rhode Island’s Senior Senator Jack Reed said. “I am proud to have secured this vital funding to help put Rhode Islanders to work modernizing our water infrastructure, reducing pollution, and protecting public health.”

In November, Reed joined Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in defending the Clean Water Act of 1972, voting against a Republican effort to weaken the Nation’s environmental protections and limit waterways protected under the Act. RI congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline also supported stronger definitions and expansion of protected waterways.

Budget cuts threatened pollutant protections

Proposed federal budget cuts also threatened the safety of the Nation’s waters. In 2015, the EPA proposed a 25 percent budget cut in the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.

The Obama Administration requested $1.8 billion in funding; $581 million below previously enacted funding levels. Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation rallied to restore critical environmental funding.

“With the floods of 2010, Hurricane Sandy, and tight local budgets, our water infrastructure has faced serious challenges over the last few years,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Rhode Island communities need to upgrade and strengthen wastewater and runoff systems, and prevent water pollution in the first place,”

A long-standing member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and ranking member of the Fisheries, Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, Whitehouse joined Rhode Island’s Senior Senator Jack Reed in his support of clean water funding.

“This federal funding will help leverage state efforts to improve our water infrastructure and make it easier for local water systems to afford key projects.  That’s why I’m happy to join with my colleagues in the delegation to support these important EPA programs,” Whitehouse said.

According to the EPA, approximately 117 million Americans get their drinking water from waterways protected by the Clean Water Act.

EPA Finance Center to administer funding

The federal funding allocated $9.4 million to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and $8.8 million to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), for a total of $18.2 million in clean water financing.

In January, EPA announced the creation of a the Finance Center to Improve Community Water Infrastructure and Resiliency, providing a state-by-state needs analysis for both drinking water infrastructure and clean water infrastructure.

Rhode Island’s estimated need was reported as $ .7 billion in water infrastructure needs. The report did not include clean water infrastructure needs for Rhode Island as they were not reported.

The $18 million allocated is just a fraction of the funding needs reported in January.

U.S. Congressman James Langevin speaks at a meeting of the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Assoc. in May. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

U.S. Congressman James Langevin speaks at a meeting of the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Assoc. in May. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

The CWSRF provides loans at low interest rates for water quality protection projects that improve wastewater treatment systems, control pollution from storm water runoff, and protect sensitive water bodies and estuaries. The fund is administered by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

“Ensuring clean water for both drinking and recreation is a matter of public health, environmental health and economic health for Rhode Island,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “These low-interest loans will protect and improve water quality in our state now and in the future, and I am proud to join my colleagues in our continued support for these important public projects.”

DWSRF focused projects target programs for low-income communities to ensure safe drinking water and encourage pollution prevention protocols for at-risk populations.

“Too often, Rhode Islanders are forced to confront water main breaks, damaging floods, and sewer overflows that result from our state’s aging water infrastructure,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “I am pleased that we have secured more than $18 million to support critical enhancements for water systems in Rhode Island. Investments like these are critical for creating jobs and ensuring the quality of our drinking water.”


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Deepwater Wind turbine components arrive in RI

PROVIDENCE – The first components of Deepwater Wind’s offshore wind turbines arrived at the Port of Providence on Wednesday.

Deepwater Wind (DWW) CEO Jeff Grybowski tweeted the arrival of the firsts -first wind turbine components to arrive- for the first offshore wind farm in the country.

According to a company press release, five 95-foot tall bottom tower sections landed for off-loading to a new temporary manufacturing facility that General Electric and Deepwater Wind established at the port.

“From Providence and Quonset Point to the waters off Block Island, the Ocean State is leading the growth of a new American industry,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski.

Jeff Grybowski, CEO Deepwater Wind celebrates with colleagues and supporters after CRMC approval of BIWF in May 2014. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

Jeff Grybowski, CEO Deepwater Wind celebrates with colleagues and supporters after CRMC approval of BIWF in May 2014. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

“This work at ProvPort brings one of the world’s most innovative companies to the City of Providence. And, just as important, we’re putting more Rhode Islanders to work and giving them the experience they need to help grow this industry.”

GE replaces Alstom as the Block Island Wind Project turbine supplier providing the 6-megawatt Haliade 150 offshore wind turbines. A global energy provider headquartered in France, Alstom’s energy division was acquired by GE on November 2 under an acquisition billed as the biggest industrial investment GE has ever made.

“This is a major milestone for the Block Island project and for sustainable energy in the U.S. We are proud to be part of the team making it happen,” said Anders Soe-Jensen, President and CEO of GE’s offshore wind unit.

The installation of electrical, mechanical and safety equipment in the bottom tower sections is expected to occur over the next six months with the remaining sections arriving next year.

According to the release, approximately 60 local workers and multiple local contractors are slated for the turbine build process. Aladdin Electric, Bay Crane New England, Essex Newbury, E.W. Audet & Sons, Aero Mechanical Inc., Waterson Terminal Services, GZA GeoEnvironmental, VHB, and Fuss & O’Neill were named as contractors.

Union workers will be involved and employed by the project with more than 300 local workers involved overall.

Michael F. Sabitoni, President of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council stumps for Gov. Gina Raimondo in May 2014. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

Michael F. Sabitoni, President of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council stumps for Gov. Gina Raimondo in May 2014. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

“The tradesmen and woman of the RIBCTC are excited to start the manufacturing and assembly phase of the Deepwater Wind project, creating desperately needed work opportunities for our members right here in ProvPort,” said Michael F. Sabitoni, President of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council.

“The opportunity to work on a first-in-the-nation project alongside GE and Deepwater will no doubt grow our ability and workforce to be the hub for offshore wind here in the U.S.”

“We are pleased to support Deepwater Wind’s historic efforts to establish the first offshore wind warm in the United States. In addition to assisting Deepwater Wind with this project, we believe ProvPort is perfectly situated to continue to position Rhode Island as a leader in offshore wind development as we offer 3,500 feet of linear berthing space, 20 acres of open lay down area and 40’ of deep draft,” said Paul Moura, chairman of ProvPort’s Board of Directors.

Each 270-foot turbine tower consists of three sections, and weighs approximately 440 tons. Construction of the turbines is being completed at two Rhode Island sites, with the construction, staging work and vessel staging occurring at Quonset Point.


Platforms for Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) pass by Fort Wetherill at East Passage, Jamestown in September 2015. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

Deepwater announced it first “steel in the water”at its site approximately 3 miles southwest of Block Island in July. Initial placement of steel jacket foundations is complete and DWW said deck platforms are scheduled for completion in the coming weeks.

“Rhode Island continues to lead by example with the construction of the nation’s first offshore wind farm,” Governor Gina M. Raimondo said. “This innovative project is being assembled by local workers right here in the Ocean State. By working with our partners at Deepwater Wind and GE, we are advancing important energy and environmental goals while also creating local jobs that get Rhode Islanders back to work.”

The final components, a submarine cable that will connect Block Island and the Block Island Wind Farm with the mainland is scheduled to begin in 2016, with turbine offshore erection set for summer.

The announcement predicted wind power generation to be up and running during the fourth quarter of 2016.

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Rhode Island releases student PARCC scores, low performance results

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Education on Tuesday released its student PARCC assessment results for 2015.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments revealed disturbingly low English Language and Math literacy scores for Rhode Island students overall. Students across the state were tested in the spring in the first full evaluation under the PARCC system.

Only 30 percent of the near 76,000 students tested met standards and only 6 percent of Rhode Island students tested as exceeding.

The PARCC results released today are disappointing, but not surprising. The results confirm what we already know from Rhode Island’s NAEP scores, our high school and college graduation rates, and our remediation rate: too many of our children do not have the skills they need to succeed in today’s economy,” Raimondo said. “Our kids deserve better.  Improving our schools is essential to turning our economy around. The only way young people will be able to succeed in today’s economy is if they have the skills necessary for high-quality, family-supporting jobs.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.05.18 PMAccording to PARCC, 11 states and the District of Columbia participated in the 2015 testing. Rhode Island joined Massachusetts as the only two New England states participating.

Although the controversial transition from traditional standardized NECAP testing to the PARCC system drew ire from educators, teachers unions and parents, state leaders drew lines to similarities in results.

“These latest results track closely with previous data from other assessments such as the SAT and with college-readiness rates, and these results show, once again, that we have work to do,” Kenneth Wagner, state education commissioner said in a written statement. “We must prepare our students for their futures with challenging coursework and great teaching tailored to their strengths and interests. If we stay focused and work together, we will be successful.”

Wagner provided a list of future initiatives to be implemented in support of advancing test scores and preparing students for future success.

Among the bullet points were plans to invest in Rhode Island’s teachers and school administration, the promise of rigorous coursework for students; and a pathway to partnering for parents and families.

Board of Education Chair, Barbara Cottam also saw the results as a catalyst for improvement.

“The 2015 PARCC assessments results provide another data point telling the same story – we have a lot of opportunity for improvement and success,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education. “We now must provide all students with access to high-quality learning opportunities, from childhood through adulthood.”

The results looked grim even when considering the assessment’s maiden voyage and a portion of students’ exercising the right to opt-out of the exam.

Numbers showed that of the 283 Rhode Island schools that participated, only 14 schools had 70 percent or more of their students meet or exceed expectations on the English language arts assessment. Accordingly, only 4 schools had 70 percent or more of their students meet or exceed expectations on the mathematics assessment.

In alignment with prior standardized testing, students in low income and at risk communities throughout the state scored consistently lower than those in affluent communities.

With only 36 percent of students overall in grades 3 through 10 meeting expectations in English language arts, and 25 percent meeting expectations in mathematics under the new testing, the need for reevaluation and improvement of the state’s education platform was clear.

Wagner vowed to empower RIDE to “visit every school district and charter public school in the state to build the partnerships that produce results.”


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Healthcare partnership talks begin, Care New England and Southcoast Health consider alliance

PROVIDENCE, RI – Providence based Care New England Health System announced on Monday the signing of a letter of intent to team up with Southcoast Health System, Inc. as a potential strategic partner.

In a press release, the Rhode Island healthcare organization said the two organizations are working toward a goal of forming a new not-for-profit parent organization to oversee operations of Care New England (CNE) and the Massachusetts-based Southcoast Health System (SCH).

“In most every respect, Southcoast represents the best possible choice in enabling us to move forward strengthening quality, transitioning to population health, improving the value proposition, finding the right structural and cultural fit for both organizations, and maintaining our valued relationships with key academic, provider and organizational partners, said George W. Shuster, CNE Board Chair. “We believe this partnership will truly be a win for our community.”

The potential partnership if forged would create one of New England’s largest not-for-profit health care systems, including eight hospitals, ambulatory sites, Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) and more than 1,700 physicians and providers.

A host of combined charitable assets and academic relationships, including the organizations’ affiliation with Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School accompany the comprehensive healthcare alignment.

Signing of the letter of intent with SCH came after an arduous search process, paving the way for what is hoped to be a successful partnership agreement and ensuing regulatory approval processes.

“We believe the complementary services of Southcoast and the geographic span of their service area will enable us to advance the high quality, high value continuum of care we have been building,” said Dennis Keefe, President and CEO of Care New England. “We already see the common ties to community and an unwavering commitment to mission and values both our organizations share, and we look forward to further study of the partnership potentials that could come to fruition in a new vision for health care delivery for our region.”

Care New England operates Women and Infant’s, Kent, Memorial and Butler hospitals in Rhode Island, with Southcoast Health operating Charlton Memorial, St. Luke’s and Tobey hospitals in the Commonwealth.

The two also bring a host of community-based healthcare services to the bargaining table that includes VNA, The Providence Center and Southcoast Behavioral Health.

“Southcoast has long been focused on providing the very best care within our region of Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, finding ways to remain highly competitive, cost effective, and at the forefront of technological and strategic change,” said SCH President and CEO Keith A. Hovan. “We believe that Southcoast can be a strong and complementary partner for Care New England, and that together our respective organizations could form the foundation of a highly competitive, community-based and value-driven integrated health care system throughout southern New England.”

The letter of intent also marks the end of negotiations between Care New England and Rhode Island’s lead healthcare provider, Lifespan. The two Rhode Island healthcare providers were reported to be in merger discussions in October according to information released by Lifespan CEO, Timothy Babineau to RINPR.

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Harvard sounds all clear after bomb threat, reopens campus

Cambridge firefighters on scene at Monday's bomb scare at Harvard University. (Photo Courtesy Meg Bernhard/Harvard Crimson)

Cambridge firefighters on scene at Monday’s bomb scare at Harvard University. (Photo Courtesy Meg Bernhard/Harvard Crimson)

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Harvard University announced Monday evening that law enforcement officials had cleared all four buildings closed earlier in the day due to an email bomb threat.

“Nothing to substantiate the emailed threat has been found and the investigation regarding the source is ongoing,” the University said in a written message to students.

Students were warned of the potential threat shortly after noontime when the university evacuated four buildings and restricted all access to Harvard Yard.

“…we received an unconfirmed bomb threat affecting the Science Center, as well as Sever, Emerson and Thayer Halls on the Cambridge campus. The buildings have been evacuated and law enforcement officials are on scene. Entry to the Yard is restricted,” said one several continuing updates.

Katie Lapp, Executive Vice President provided an official statement.

“The safety and security of members of the Harvard community is always our top priority. In the wake of recent tragic events in locations ranging from Paris to Beirut and beyond, we understand that this type of threat will cause great anxiety for many across our campuses. We will continue to be vigilant as we carry on Harvard’s mission of expanding and disseminating knowledge,” Lapp said.

Multiple law enforcement agencies assisted the Harvard University and Cambridge Police departments in the search.

The bomb scare was one of several received at schools and universities across the state.

Cambridge city schools, Fitchburg State University and the Cape Cod Community College were threatened. No explosive devices were reported found on any campus or city school.

The threats came at a time of unease and heightened security in the wake of two days that saw bombings and massacre of innocent civilians in Beirut and Paris.

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Newport Named Sole North American Port of Call, 2018 Volvo Ocean Race Sets Sail on the City by the Sea

2018 V0lvo Ocean Race Sets Sail for the City by the Sea

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet stands in port in Newport in May 2015. The world's premier ocean racing event is due to return to the City by the Sea in 2018. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet stands in port in Newport in May 2015. The world’s premier ocean racing event is due to return to the City by the Sea in 2018. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

NEWPORT, RI – The Volvo Ocean Race, the marathon offshore sailing contest that pits the world’s most esteemed sailors against its oceans, time and elements is making a return trip to Newport in 2018.

Announcing the City by the Sea stopover in Providence, Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) COO, Tom Touber said,

“”We’re delighted to be able to confirm that Newport will again be staging the race’s only North American stopover before the fleet crosses the Atlantic to finish in Europe in the summer of 2018.”

Touber joined Gov. Gina Raimondo and Sail Newport‘s Brad Read in releasing the news.

“Everything worked brilliantly in Newport in May thanks to the great work of Brad Read and his team plus the backing of the governor, legislative leaders and State of Rhode Island agencies, and we were delighted with the large amount of spectators from our major fan base in the U.S. and elsewhere, who supported the stopover,” said Touber.

The Newport announcement brings the total number of known ports for the next go-round in 2017-2018 to seven.  According to VOR, Newport joins its international siblings of Alicante (Spain), Cape Town (South Africa), Auckland (New Zealand), Cardiff (United Kingdom), Lisbon (Portugal) and Gothenburg (Sweden) as confirmed stopovers.

051715 VOR Newport_TCO_6344VOR sailed into Newport on it’s maiden stopover in May, drawing more than 130,000 visitors over its two-week stint in port. According to Sail Newport’s 2015 Economic Impact Report, the Newport stopover, the only North American port landing, drew foot traffic of an average 10,000 visitors per day, increased the state’s hotel revenue by ten percent and generated more than $32 million in combined spectator and organizational spending for the state, with overall impact in excess of $47 million.

Newport race village visitors contributed to what was deemed “the highest footfall (2.4 million)” in the event’s 42 year history. VOR released its numbers on Monday,  which showed a 16 percent increase on the daily average number of visitors compared to 2011-12.

“The Volvo Ocean Race offers world-class and unique hospitality opportunities both on and off the water – and the number of guests to experience our programme has tripled on last edition,” said Race CEO, Knut Frostad in the release. Frostad announced in September that he will be stepping down as CEO at the end of the year to spend more time with his family.

Raimondo touted VOR’s importance to the travel and tourism industry as well as the state’s overall economy.

“We look forward to working together with Volvo Ocean Race and Sail Newport, across all levels of government to build on this year’s success. Together, we will continue to showcase the Ocean State to the world as a premiere destination to visit and grow a business,” Raimondo said. 

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who represents Newport and Jamestown heralded the city’s sailing roots.

“This event showcases Newport and Rhode Island on the global stage as a world-class sailing destination. It attracts numerous visitors and generates considerable economic activity in the city,” said Paiva Weed.  It is a credit to the hard work and collaboration of Brad Read and the Sail Newport team, as well as many partners in the public and private sectors, that state will once again host this magnificent event.

“We did this as a non-profit organization combined with a whole lot of community heart and passion because we knew the event would be a remarkable success,” said Read. “I believe strongly that tourists, fans, sponsors and media will travel from all over the world to Rhode Island to be a part of the next Newport Stopover. Everyone wants the race back.”

Touber noted that more additional port confirmations are expected to be announced early in 2016. Precise dates of the VOR Newport stopover will be announced when the final route is unveiled. 

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Community Mourns Death of Jon C. Boothroyd, Acclaimed Coastal Geologist

Multiple environmental agencies participated in volunteer beach profiling training led by Dr. Jon Boothroyd, Professor Emeritus, URI. Boothroyd explains changes seen at South Kingstown Town Beach over the past decade. (Photo credit Tracey C. O'Neill)

Multiple environmental agencies participated in volunteer beach profiling training led by Dr. Jon Boothroyd, Professor Emeritus, URI. In 2014 Boothroyd explains changes seen at South Kingstown Town Beach over the decades. (Photo credit Tracey C. O’Neill)

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The University of Rhode Island announced the loss of their “beloved” Geosciences Professor Emeritus Jon C. Boothroyd, a field researcher, Coastal and Environmental Geologist,  and active participant in development of the Rhode Island Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan (Beach SAMP).

Boothroyd provided his expertise, time and advice to students, organizations and environmental agencies across the state, and worked closely with the Coastal Resources Management Council on coastal issues including beach erosion, coastal inundation, sea level rise and climate change initiatives.

“He was a huge presence in Rhode Island geology and coastal zone management, but his influence went far beyond that,” said CRMC’s coastal geologist Janet Freedman, also a former graduate student and long-time colleague of Boothroyd in a written statement.  “Whenever I meet former students at conferences, everybody always has a story to share. He was very generous with his time and knowledge.”

The revered geologist and professor, died on October 15, one day prior to being inducted into the university’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences Hall of Fame.

Boothroyd served as Rhode Island’s Geologist for more than a decade. A statement was issued from the University’s Coastal Resources Center earlier this week.

Throughout his career, Dr. Boothroyd trained several generations of environmental geologists, managers, and academics working in the field today. In 2013, a group of former graduate students had a special elevation benchmark placed near the beach in Charlestown, R.I., to mark the professor’s vital research related to the consequences of sea level rise and storm surges on Rhode Island’s vulnerable coastline.

“Jon had a lasting and profound impact on the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Program. Much of the geologic language in the program was drafted by Jon and he trained many of our staff, including me,” said CRMC Executive Director Grover Fugate. “Jon was an ‘old school’ scientist and had a sense of integrity that people could see and hear and I think that is why he was so widely respected. He was able to take very complex geological processes and break them down so that the average individual could understand, and this is what made him so widely sought after – his ability to span so many audiences. He will be sorely missed but not forgotten, as his legacy will live on through our program.”

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Boothroyd earned a B.A. in Economics from the University of New Hampshire-Durham, an M.S. in Geology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of South Carolina-Columbia.

A wealth of institutional knowledge, members of the coastal community spoke of their friend and colleague as irreplaceable.

“Jon’s work on the Beach SAMP was invaluable, and the CRMC will profoundly miss his input on such endeavors. He was a credit to the scientific community,” Anne Livingston Maxwell, Chair said in a statement for CRMC.

“He loved his work and all the ways he could use his work for good.  But more than that, he was a good person. He is irreplaceable and he is already being missed!” – Veronica Berounsky in a statement for the Narrow River Preservation Society

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Increased Ocean Temps Spawn Widespread Coral Bleaching

coral bleaching NOAA

Photos Courtesy NOAA Coral Reef Watch and

HAWAII – NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) declared the world’s third coral bleaching event is underway.

In a release last week, NOAA announced that warming ocean temperatures, seen already off the coast of Hawaii were the cause of widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii.

Scientists confirmed similar stressful conditions in the Caribbean.
Coral bleaching occurs when corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, and nutrients. The coral reacts by expelling  the symbiotic algae living in its tissues, causing it to turn completely white.

The expansion prompted the declaration of the third global coral bleaching event ever on record.

Coral bleaching occurs when corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, and nutrients. The coral reacts by expelling  the symbiotic algae living in its tissues, causing it to turn completely white. – National Ocean Service, Ocean Facts

According to NOAA, corals in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are at risk. The Florida Keys and South Florida have already seen evidence of the bleaching, although it is expected to diminish.

“The coral bleaching and disease, brought on by climate change and coupled with events like the current El Niño, are the largest and most pervasive threats to coral reefs around the world,” said Mark Eakin, NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch coordinator. “As a result, we are losing huge areas of coral across the U.S., as well as internationally. What really has us concerned is this event has been going on for more than a year and our preliminary model projections indicate it’s likely to last well into 2016.”

The first coral bleaching episode happened in 1998 and the second in 2010. The latest event that began in the summer of 2014 was said to have hit the U.S. coral reefs disproportionately hard. reported that conditions in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans in 2015 led to increased bleaching, with island nations in the South Pacific reporting impacts during the region’s peak bleaching season from January through March.

NOAA estimated that by the end of 2015, almost 95 percent of U.S. coral reefs will have been affected by changes that can cause coral bleaching.

The agency developed a Coral Reef Watch program to monitor current and potential bleaching events.

Photo courtesy NOAA Coral Reef Watch and

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Monumental Mayhem as Mexico Prepares for Patricia

Patricia Most Powerful Storm Ever Recorded  

Patricia NOAA Sat 2

MIAMI – Hurricane Patricia, presently barreling down on the state of Jalisco, Mexico is expected to make landfall near Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta on Friday.

The National Weather Service (NWS) National Hurricane Center at 7:00 a.m. on Friday introduced the monster storm warning of potential catastrophe.

Wilma’s anniversary slated for landfall

The monster storm expected to retain its CAT 5 status at landfall, arrives on the anniversary of Hurricane Wilma’s devastating landing in Florida.
Ten years ago to date Wilma crashed ashore  near Naples as a Category 3 storm with a 50 mile-wide eye. According to the the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and FEMA, WIlma was the most intense hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin, with wind speeds reaching 175 mph over the Gulf of Mexico.
Patricia’s sustained wind speed predicted at landfall is more than 200 mph.

Accelerated growth defies preparation efforts

Adding to the complexity of preparations for Patricia was the storm’s rapidly growing intensity. Patricia’s potency ballooned from tropical depression on Tuesday to CAT 5 Hurricane moving into hurricane status  in just over 72 hours. The storm’s energy and mounting size left government officials, residents and business owners hastening to prepare.

NWS predicts catastrophic flooding

Total rainfall amounts are predicted to reach up to 12 inches in some areas, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches over the Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero through Saturday. NWS warned of life-threatening flash flooding and mud slides.

Rainfall during Wilma reached 7 inches in some parts of the state.

Wilma’s path through Florida in 2005 spawned 10 tornadoes, left five people dead and six million people without power with FEMA obligating $342.5 million to disaster survivors. 

The State of Jalisco was estimated to have 7.351 million residents in 2010 according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.

Satellite photos: Courtesy NOAA. 

Originally posted at ~ The Changing Climate


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CVS Minute Clinics Reach 1,000 Stores Nationwide

WOONSOCKET – CVS Health announced on Thursday that the organization reached a milestone, opening its 1000th walk-in medical clinic. The Washington, D.C. MinuteClinic opened on Dupont Circle joining its predecessors in a 15-year march across 31 states and the District of Columbia.

“This 1,000th clinic milestone reflects our commitment to expand much needed access to health care across the United States,” said Andrew Sussman, M.D., MinuteClinic President and Executive Vice President/Associate Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health in a release. “Whether it’s treating patients in urban centers like Washington, D.C. or developing new ways to deliver care in other settings, the MinuteClinic mission to provide accessible health care will continue to evolve. In the years ahead, we intend to offer new and innovative medical services to patients through in-store clinics, expanded telehealth services and clinical collaborations with a growing list of more than 60 major health care system affiliates nationwide.”

The MinuteClinic brand, the first retail medical clinic fully accredited by the Joint Commission accrediting agency, was said to have provided care through more than 26 million patient visits nationwide.

Specializing in family health care, MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants can diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for common family illnesses, treat minor wounds and abrasions, and administer vaccinations. Walk-in physicals for camp, sports and college are also offered on a daily basis.

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Open Government Meeting Yields Promise of Transparency

520215_Raimondo_TCO_6774PROVIDENCE – Members of the Rhode Island Press Association and staff from Governor Gina Raimondo’s office joined members of multiple open government organizations on Tuesday to address the release of public information and transparency within the governor’s administration.

Read the resulting statement below:

In response to a letter sent by ACCESS/RI, American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Press Association, New England First Amendment Coalition, and League of Women Voters of Rhode Island to Gov. Gina Raimondo on October 6, members of the Governor’s office staff held a meeting with the organizations today to discuss the administration’s handling of open records requests. The organizations released the following statement about today’s meeting:

“We appreciate that the Governor’s office brought together high level staff to listen to the concerns and problems that the media and the public have encountered in obtaining access to important public records.

“We are encouraged by the dialogue that took place and the pledge to reexamine previous denials of records and to spread the word among state agencies about the importance of transparency.

“We are eager to see progress in the coming months that will demonstrate a greater commitment by the Governor to the public’s right to know.”

APRA Letter

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Bring in those Veggies – Freeze Watch in Effect

bradford dam 3 wmBOSTON – The National Weather Service in Taunton issued a freeze watch in effect from late Saturday night through Sunday morning for all of Rhode Island and Massachusetts away from the coast, and Northern Connecticut.

NWS expects temperatures to range from the upper 20’s to low 30’s with the timing of temperatures falling below freezing after midnight Saturday night. Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing through sunrise Sunday.

According to the weather alert the freeze impacts include a likely killing frost that would kill crops and other sensitive vegetation. Precautionary preparedness actions are advised.

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Breaking: A Perfect 10 for Gledhill

Rep. Teresa (Left) Tanzi throws her support behind Liz Gledhill (Right) at a fundraiser at the Ocean Mist in September. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

Rep. Teresa (Left) Tanzi throws her support behind Liz Gledhill (Right) at a fundraiser at the Ocean Mist in September. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

South Kingstown – Congratulations go out to Liz Gledhill South Kingstown Town Council for her official win in the South Kingstown Town Council special election.
“I’m very excited,” said Gledhill after recount numbers were in. “I’m looking forward to working with the council to get things done.”
The State Board of Elections conducted a recount early Wednesday evening, finding no change from the prior count and results in September. Gledhill’s win was certified with the newcomer beating out prior council member Jim O’Neill by a slim 10-vote margin. The lifelong South Kingstown resident was also challenged by Bryant Da Cruz, endorsed Democrat and Republican Joel Dargan. Gledhill will be sworn at the October 13 meeting of the council.

Feature photo courtesy Liz Gledhill for Town Council, by Desiree Dugan Photography

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NWS Issues Hazardous Weather Outlook, Warns of Rip Currents

A surfer takes advantage of the ocean swell in South Kingstown on Monday. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

A surfer takes advantage of the ocean swell in South Kingstown on Monday. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

BOSTON – The National Weather Service, Taunton issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook as of 5:05 a.m. for Washington and Newport Counties in Rhode Island, Block Island and Southern Bristol, Massachusetts.
A high rip current risk is in effect from 10 a.m. Tuesday morning through the evening. According to NWS,



Surf height is estimated at 3 to 5 feet, with the danger of life threatening rip currents along area beaches along the south coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts including the islands.

NWS warns those along the shore to pay attention to flags and posted signs as rip currents can become threatening to anyone who enters the surf.

Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing away from shore, which occurs most often at low spots or breaks in the sandbar and in the vicinity of structures such as jetties and piers.

Possible flooding

The Hazardous Weather Outlook noted the threat of localized heavy rainfall caused by a slow moving cold front, with possible flooding starting late Tuesday night and continuing into Wednesday night.

Heavy rainfall is also possible later in the week due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Joaquin.


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Gledhill Wins Town Council Seat

Rep. Teresa Tanzi wishes Candidate Liz Gledhill best of luck in her campaign in August. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill)

Rep. Teresa Tanzi wishes Candidate Liz Gledhill best of luck in her campaign in August. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Independent Candidate Liz Gledhill edged out her opponents for an open Town Council seat on Tuesday.
The final count had Independent Candidate Liz Gledhill edging out past council member, James O’Neill by ten (10) votes to take the fifth council seat vacated by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee in June.
The mail-in ballot count took place directly following poll close at 8 p.m. when the unofficial count from the polls had Gledhill ahead by less than 50 votes.
RI State Representative Teresa Tanzi, Town Council President Councilman Abel Collins, and former Town Council President @Ella M. Whaley supported Gledhill in her campaign. Liz Gledhill for Town Councili ‪#‎LIZ4SKTC‬

Official vote count:
Bryant Da Cruz      Democrat (endorsed)                706
Liz Gledhill              Independent                             739 ***
Jim O’Neill              Independent                             729
Joel Dargan             Independent                            210


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Breaking: DEM reports explosion, evacuation at Salty Brine Beach

The Port of Galilee (above) was a hub of construction and improvements in 2014. Major projects included reconstruction of the South Bulkhead, a $6M endeavor. (Photo Credit Tracey C. O'Neill)

The Port of Galilee (above) was a hub of construction and improvements in 2014. Major projects included reconstruction of the South Bulkhead, a $6M endeavor. (Photo Credit Tracey C. O’Neill)

NARRAGANSETT – A very scary scene at Salty Brine beach this morning as reports of an explosion and subsequent evacuation of the well-known family-oriented Rhode Island state beach hit the airwaves.
RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) confirmed that an explosion blew a 50 year-old woman several feet off of the beach, landing her on a rock jetty. The woman was transported to South County Hospital.
State Bomb Squad, police and DEM were on the scene.
This is the second incident at the Port of Galilee in two days with three boats catching fire in the early morning hours on Friday.
The three boats were not all docked together, deeming the fires suspicious.

“DEM’s Port Manager and Division of Law Enforcement are working closely with the US Coast Guard, State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Narragansett Police Department, who are actively investigating the cause of the fire. We are glad no one was injured, and will provide any support needed to come to a quick resolution. DEM’s Emergency Response team is also overseeing any necessary clean-up.” – Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, July 10, 2015 Press Release



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Update: General Assembly pulls firefighters right to overtime pay bills

Raymond Furtado, President NKFFA Local 1651.

Raymond Furtado, President NKFFA Local 1651.

Update: The General Assembly pulled companion firefighters overtime bills from consideration by House and Senate committees on Thursday afternoon.

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island firefighters headed back to the State House today were turned around as Senate and House  companion bills protecting the state’s fire services personnel, police and emergency services personnel from forced shift structures exceeding 42 hours, without due compensation were pulled.

House Bill 6278 and Senate Bill 0961 Sub A, were introduced following January’s Rhode Island Supreme Court decision in the years’ long discord between the North Kingstown Firefighters IAFF NKFFA Local 1651 and the Town of North Kingstown.

The collective bargaining rights ensuring union and member voice in platoon, wage and hourly structure have been in place for more than 60 years.

Stemming from the town’s unilateral implementation of changes to platoon, wage and hourly structure in March 2012, the court and administrative battle between the firefighters and their employer saw multiple Superior Court and Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board decisions favorable to the fire service.

Superior Court Judge Brian P. Stern in December 2012 ordered the town to “unring the bell” on the implementation.

“The Town now will be required to ―unring the bell and—as to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment—go back to the state that existed pre-unilateral implementation,” wrote Stern in his decision.

Under the decision, the Town was also required to compensate employees for wages lost during the time period extending from March through the return to their original schedule.

The price tag to the town for that return was estimated in 2012 to be in excess of $1.3 million.

In February 2013, the union  and town met in prolonged arbitration hearings, coming to agreement that saw the firefighters ratifying a temporary contract in a good faith effort to end the years’-long battle between the two. The Town Council reneged on the agreement and the Council in a 5-0 vote struck down the agreement, already signed by the Town Manager.

“We came to the bargaining table in good faith,” Raymond Furtado, President of the NKFFA said after the council action.  “We expected the Town was doing the same.”

In September 2013 the SLRB ordered the town to “immediately restore the firefighter’s schedule, hours of work and hourly rate of pay to that which existed upon the expiration of the 2010-2011 contract year.” The labor board found that the town had not only not acted in good faith, but had in fact employed bad faith bargaining.

By 2014 the bill born on the backs of fire service personnel had quadrupled, with a bottom line in excess of $4 million.  The firefighters’ damages for total payroll estimated at $3,990, 596. Longevity owed was $65,671.

Throughout the legal melee, the town through its attorney Daniel Kinder maintained that the implementation was a management right exacted to save costs for the town. Kinder as of October 2014 was compensated by the town in excess of $872,000.  Kinder and his law firm represent multiple cities and towns across the state. The firm also produces s a monthly informational publication, The Municipal Employer. Kinder lists himself as the editor of the publication.

Volume 22, No. 3  bulleted out the firm’s position on current legislation affecting municipalities, including the NKFFA decision, the Coventry Fire Department Bankruptcy, Newport Fire Department’s latest contract negotiations and current Massachusetts decisions. The document also touches upon affirmative action and discrimination suits. The document states that it is an informational services and is not legal advice.

The town secured a stay of execution on the return of its fire department to the structure held prior to March 2012. The following up and down battle between courts and labor administrative hearings upheld the firefighters’ rights to collective bargaining.

The legislation being considered protects the collective bargaining rights and ensures that firefighters, police and emergency personnel protected under CBA receive compensation for overtime hours worked.

Under the legislation, firefighters would be paid overtime for hours worked beyond a 42 hour work week. Police unions whose collective bargaining protection mirrors the firefighters would receive overtime for hours worked over 40 hours.

Municipalities are examining the platoon structure changes and minimum manning requirements hoping to save money on the backs of the fire and police departments. On Tuesday, Lt. Governor Daniel McKee joined Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and others in a press conference standing in opposition to overtime legislation.

See related coverage at Special Reports NKFFA

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When the law feels un-American, who is at risk?

A look into the real-time efforts of organized union-busting

TCO_6892NORTH KINGSTOWN – While firefighters across the state are defending their right to good faith bargaining with regard to platoon, shift and wage structures, a local attorney and his firm are providing municipalities with a veritable road map to erasing collective bargaining and workers’ protections in labor relations.

According to his professional biography Attorney Daniel Kinder, of the firm Whelan, Kinder, Corrente and Siket, LLP is the Lead Editor of the Municipal Employer, a publication aimed at providing “informational services to its clients”, although it states that it is not legal advice. The firm, located in Providence, Rhode Island holds itself out as specializing in employer-side labor law.

“The Supreme Court of Rhode Island’s landmark decision in Town of North Kingstown v. IAFF, Local 1651 has changed the collective bargaining landscape for all Rhode Island municipalities.” – The Municipal Employer, Volume 22 No. 3, page N-2

Attorney Kinder and his firm represent several municipalities across the State of Rhode Island. As stated on the Kinder firm website,

“We regularly represent employers in collective bargaining negotiations with all major trade unions and in labor arbitrations. We routinely appear before the NLRB and the State Labor Boards. We frequently counsel clients concerning the implementation and administration of labor-related policies and practices.”

The crux of the Municipal Employer document – a breakdown of current labor litigation and court decisions affecting collective bargaining as it pertains to municipalities.

Volume 22 No. 3., provides much insight into the trend of policies contradictory to any form of organized labor. Its chosen vitriol, the watering down of historic collective bargaining protocols and the continued trend of right-side politics in labor relations.

Highlights of the Collective Bargaining – Analysis, How the North Kingstown firefighters’ decision affects you, section include how,

  • Bargaining with the International Association of Firefighters will change; and
  • Police bargaining will change.

The document goes on to describe the increased powers of municipalities, lessened bargaining powers of the unions and weakened rights of its public safety personnel.

A direct assault was aimed at the Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board.

“The Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board has returned to the “bad old days,” reads the document. “Dominated by union zealots, no public employer is likely to get a fair hearing before this labor board. That is a fact of life for every Rhode Island city and town.”

Noted is the fact that Elizabeth Dolan, former Town Council President for the Town of North Kingstown, was a sitting member of the RISLRB and as president and party to the lawsuits, a client of Attorney Kinder.

Kinder, represented the Town of North Kingstown in a years’ long labor and contract dispute born from the municipality implementing unilateral changes to departmental platoon, shift and wage structures.

The Town of North Kingstown under a Freedom of Information Act request in October 2014, revealed that Kinder had been paid $872,000 in legal fees as of that time for his representation in the dispute with the firefighters union. In addition, arbitrators, overseeing multiple years’ contract negotiations had been paid more than $65,000.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 11.44.14 AM

Twitter, @rfurtado127, post June 6, 2015.

Multiple Superior Court and Rhode Island State Labor Relations board decisions found in favor of the towns firefighters, International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) NKFFA Local 1651. The trial court, under Judge Brian P. Stern and RISLRB found that the town had acted outside of collective bargaining in implementing a change from a 4-platoon to a 3-platoon system, increasing required work schedules and unilaterally affecting hours and wages paid. The bottom line resulted in significantly increased hours, and less pay.

The town averred that the structure change was a management right. The firefighters argued that departmental structure, directly affecting shifts and wages was a foundational element of not only the collective bargaining practices of the department, guaranteed under statutory mandates and the Firefighters Arbitration Act, but a tried and true collective bargaining policy, historically sewn into the fiber of labor relations and workers’ rights.

The court agreed. The Superior Court and labor board held that the town had not exercised good faith bargaining and had bargained in bad faith to the detriment of the firefighters.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court traveling along the hinterlands, ruled that the town could exercise the unilateral implementation as to platoon structure, arbitrarily increasing requisite weekly work schedules by double digits, while still required to bargain hours and wages.

The firefighters maintained that the structuring (manning) intricately entwined with hours and wages was detrimental not only to the safety of the members, but to the public safety at large.

The Court’s decision placed firefighters, police and public safety personnel at risk by requiring firefighters to work 56-hour work weeks. According to the Municipal Employer, the implication was that an employer’s change to a 56-hour week “was a management right, strongly appears to be the implication of its decision.”

“So, every municipality in the state now can turn to its firefighters union and say, “We’re going to a three-platoon system.” – Volume 22 No.3, The Municipal Employer

The document through its authors, the law firm of Whelan, Kinder and Siket LLP in an outright political banter, calls upon the League of Cities and Towns and its lobbyists to form a unified effort to defend the newly created loophole.

Further assault is made upon the legislature, who has in the mind of the author succumbed to the whims of errant radicalized unions. In its closing rant, the North Kingstown-based article cautions Rhode Island’s elected officials, not its municipal clients of “standing out as America’s most union-dominated state government.”

Several Rhode Island municipal leaders  have signed on to considering support for unilateral changes, without first vetting any adverse effects or solid cost savings to their citizenry.  The latest proponent, the City of Providence is now in embattled negotiations with its fire districts.

The legislature is set to meet on Tuesday afternoon to consider legislation protective of historical collective bargaining practices, its firefighters, police, and public service employees. There is also a bill dubbed “compromise” legislation ensuring overtime pay for public sector employees under consideration.

FFAA and Collective Bargaining under attack
The Municipal Employer, Volume 22, No. 3


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Firestorm of controversy; police union fires back at local newspaper

Stonington, CT – The Westerly Sun editorial staff took some heat on Monday after posting a controversial cartoon to its editorial page.
Tribune Content Agency Editorial Cartoon as published by the Westerly Sun 09/2016.

Tribune Content Agency Editorial Cartoon as published by the Westerly Sun 09/26/2016.

The Tribune Content Agency (TCA) clearinghouse editorial cartoon shown above as posted by the local newspaper The Westerly Sun set off a firestorm of controversy in the close-knit, New England communities the local publication serves.

Union, Community speak out

Westerly Local #503, International Brotherhood of Police Officers on Monday expressed their disdain with the newspaper’s choice of content.
“This was a distasteful choice, which paints all of us in Law Enforcement with the same brush. –International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 503
The  union posted to its Facebook page.  Noting the department’s strong ties with the community, the message to the Sun and its editorial staff was clearly one of disappointment, pointing out that the controversial issues playing out in Chicago, North Carolina and other areas of the country do not necessarily apply to the Westerly community.  The union went on to say,
“While we will continue to serve the public to the best of our ability, we don’t appreciate The Westerly Sun making it harder for us.”
Area residents immediately took to social media, commenting on the newspaper’s use of the racially-motivated cartoon, that portrayed an African-American youth in exchange with a uniformed police officer. Comments on the police blog were generally supportive of the local police department, and aimed at negating any implication that the community and its police force are racist.
Stonington Selectman, Michael Spellman, a career police officer, having retired from the Connecticut State Police and now serving as a Groton Police officer, called for an apology from the newspaper’s managing editor, David Tranchida. Thanking those who serve in the Westerly and Stonington, Connecticut departments, Spellman on Monday, called the paper’s choice of content, “very poor judgement.”
“This Sun editorial cartoon impugns them, and is not reflective of their day to day efforts to serve and protect our communities,” wrote Spellman on social media. “Those that lay it on the line daily are deserving of an apology from David Tranchida of The Sun who printed this.”

Note: In full disclosure, the author is a former employee of Sun Publishing Co., the publisher of the cartoon portrayed above.

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