The best ways to enjoy the holidays in Providence / not study for finals

Looking for more ways to procrastinate? BlogDH is here with a roundup of the best things to do in Providence during December that don’t involve orgo, the SciLi or copious amounts of caffeine.

Head down to Federal Hill Dec. 11 for a festive afternoon of carols and cocoa, plus a visit from Santa himself.

Embark on Hope Street’s Annual Winter Stroll Dec. 15. Take in the results of the Merchant’s Window Dressing Contest while taking advantage of the special sales and promotions. Enjoy the live entertainment and look out for Santa!

He’s back! That’s right, Tony Lapore has returned to grace the intersection of Dorrance and Westminister with his studly dance moves. Walk down around mid-day for a free show.  Continue Reading

Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: December 7, 2011

Governor Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 lit the state’s holiday tree in a ceremony last night, with hundreds of protesters in the audience condemning Chafee for refusing to refer to the evergreen as a Christmas tree. Bishop Thomas Tobin, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, hosted an alternative, pointedly religious tree-lighting ceremony just blocks away at St. Francis Parish.

The Narragansett City Council passed an ordinance last night to address increasing complaints of rowdy University of Rhode Island students. If the city responds to complaints about a party multiple times, it can begin to collect fees to cover the costs of law enforcement and emergency response. Proponents of the measure argued that it is not a “double tax,” but instead a way of more equitably distributing city costs.

Westerly Hospital, a small hospital located in Westerly, has filed for state receivership, a process that would allow the institution to continue to function as it resolves its financial troubles. The struggles of the hospital — which is the second to file for state receivership in the past 4 years — highlights the myriad of economic challenges facing hospitals in the state.

Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: November 30, 2011

Yesterday, Rhode Island became the first state to receive a Level-II multiyear grant to develop a health-benefits exchange under the new federal healthcare law. The exchange will be operational in 2014 and will allow individuals and small business owners to search for health insurance plans and apply for federal subsidies through an online marketplace. The $58 million grant follows an initial $1 million planning grant in 2010 and $5.2 million granted in May to begin creating the exchange.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority has noticed a recent surge of 300,000 to 400,000 rides per year attributed to using free-ride passes provided to elderly and disabled citizens. RIPTA officials said that they suspect fraud, although the lack of evidence makes such claims difficult to prove.

With many Rhode Island cities facing budget crisis, Cranston has developed a unique solution for raising cash. City officials have requested an amendment to current city law to allow corporate advertising on the sides of public school buses., which could generate $300,000 in revenue.

And with November coming to a close, the war on Christmas is firing up again. Governor Lincoln Chafee ’71 P’14 described the 17-foot Colorado spruce standing in the rotunda of the State House as a “Holiday tree” when he announced next week’s tree-lighting ceremony. Republicans in the House of Representatives have accused him of disregarding a resolution passed in January specifying that the specific term “Christmas tree” must be used. In response to criticism from Republicans and Catholics, Chafee encouraged Rhode Islanders to enjoy the spirit of the season, regardless of the words used to describe it.


Cup ‘o (Pro)Jo: November 16, 2011

Mayor Angel Taveras requested that Providence Community Action Program Executive Director Frank Corbishley resign yesterday. In a letter, Taveras wrote that the program’s capabilities to help the impoverished and at-need have been damaged by “mismanagement,” including misuse of State funds. In his letter, Taveras also appointed five new members to the Board of Directors of ProCap, expressing his hopes that they would be able to work with a new executive director to lead ProCap in a direction to better help the city. Corbishley refused to resign, denying the charges levied against him and accusing Taveras of trying to take over the agency.

The state actuary released an analysis of the new pension bill, to come to a vote to a vote Thursday, that shows that the overhaul would save municipalities across the state a combined $101.9 million next year. The bill, which limits cost-of-living adjustments and raises the retirement age, among other cuts to benefits for state employees, has faced opposition from unions upset abput the violations of established contracts and garnered support from lawmakers who see the cuts as necessary for the protection of state taxpayers.

Governor Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14, who worked with Secretary of Treasury Gina Raimondo to structure the bill, expressed frustration yesterday at Raimondo and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed for amendments added in deliberations last week that dropped support for municipal retirement system. This represents a resurfacing of tensions that plagued the initial discussions when forming the pension overhaul.

Cup ‘o (Pro)Jo: November 9, 2011

Panicked Undecided about life after Brown? Perhaps you should consider a career in politics. Yesterday Alex Morse ’11 defeated incumbent Elaine Pluta in the mayoral race in his hometown of Holyoke, MA, becoming the city’s first openly gay mayor. His campaign featured support from Rep. David Cicilline ’83, D-R.I., for whom he had interned as a student at Brown.

Over 3,500 Union-members from throughout Rhode Island rallied outside of the State House yesterday in opposition to the pension overhaul legislation currently under debate in the General Assembly. The legislation — proposed by Governor Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo Oct. 18 — would slash benefits to state employees and retirees. The state is cutting pensions in response to a gigantic pension shortfall, which the state has calculated to be $9.4 billion, though researchers at George Mason recently estimated a total nearly double the state’s number. The bill is still under debate due to lawmakers’ concerns about the suspension of cost-of-living increases for retirees and the requirement that many state employees wait until they qualify for Social Security before they retire. It also faces opposition from mayors throughout the state who last week testified before the General Assembly, asking for state support for local pension plans. The General Assembly plans to put a newly-revised version of the state’s multibillion-dollar pension overhaul to vote in the House and Senate Finance Committees on Thursday.

Cup ‘o (Pro)Jo: November 2, 2011

The mayors of Providence, Pawtucket and Cranston testified before the Joint House and Senate Finance Committees yesterday to explain that the current pension-reform legislation could lead the cities into bankruptcy. The mayors specifically requested that the legislation allow the cities to cut cost-of-living adjustments to pensions which currently raise pensions at a level significantly higher than inflation. According to House spokeseman Larry Berman, the General Assembly is most likely weeks away from taking action on the bill.

Despite the nor’easter that swept through Providence on Saturday night and eviction notices from Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare, some Occupiers remain in Burnside Park. Yesterday the group teamed up with the “We are All Arizona” coalition for an anti-deportation march to the State House. Governor Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 met protesters on the steps of the capitol building and encouraged their advocacy for immigration reform.  Continue Reading