State of the City: Lawless cats

lol Poll. This just in: 94.2 percent of Rhode Islanders rated the state’s economy as “not so good” or “poor” in the Taubman Center’s February poll. Nobody saw that coming. Just like nobody anticipated Governor Chafee’s approval rating of 25.5 percent. But in more encouraging news, 60.4 percent of respondents from the same poll were in favor of same-sex marriage, citing “equal rights” and “personal choice” as reasons for their view. All in all, people did not express much confidence in the state government, with only 16.7 percent of those polled expressing “a great amount” or “a good amount” of confidence in the ability of state officials to “make the correct decisions for (Rhode Island’s) future.”

Cool cats. The International Cat Association is reconsidering hosting their annual cat convention in Providence in future years, due to a dispute with the state environmental police over cat health certificates. Police officers asked the cat organization to display health and rabies certificates during the recent pet show and some cat owners were so upset that they left the convention, the ProJo reported. Well ain’t that just the cat’s meow? They must really think they’re the cat’s pajamas to storm out like that.


State of the City: Sweet success

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Providence is recovering. We repeat, Providence is recovering. At least, that’s what Mayor Angel Taveras said multiple times in his State of the City address last Tuesday, and he’s got the numbers to prove it. Providence shrunk its $110 million structural deficit to a mere $4 million in just two years, with the help of a revamped pension plan and other spending cuts. Taveras thanked Johnson & Wales University for being the first tax-exempt institution to respond to his call for increased contributions to the city. There was also some love for Brown, which upped its commitment by $31.5 million over the next 11 years.

Is sugar the new tea? (Think 1773.) RI state legislators recently introduced a House bill that would tax sugar- and corn-syrup-sweetened drinks at $1.28 per gallon. The tax would apply to any “sugar-sweetened beverage, syrup, powder or other base product” sold in Rhode Island, including “soft drinks, sodas, sports drinks or energy drinks,” according to the text of the bill. (Base product? Does that mean any sweet thing that can be dissolved in water will be taxed?) Mixers are about to get a lot more expensive, (as is your 5 p.m. Monster Energy fix, though you might be wary of drinking those anyway). But don’t worry just yet, the “Center for Consumer Freedom” called the tax “misguided” in the ProJo.

Un-American wind. On Thursday, strong winds brought down the American flag on top of the State House. The wind was clearly a plot to blow away flags, umbrellas, and freshly-printed problem sets across the city – part of a larger scale conspiracy bent on destroying the fabric (get it, fabric?) of American lives.


2012 in Review: Rhode Island edition

The Ocean State had its ups and downs in 2012. Here are some standout stories from across RI.

Deficit Distress: 

Batman and Robin

Providence has a lot to be thankful for in the new year. For a few months last year, it didn’t seem that the city would make it to 2013. In March Mayor Angel Taveras first announced the city faced the possibility of bankruptcy and suggested that a “category five” fiscal crisis was imminent. Taveras battled a $110 million deficit throughout the year, calling on the city’s non-profit institutions to increase their PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) contributions. The University felt the pressure — as students, faculty and city residents called on former president Simmons to step up to the Mayor’s demands — to finalize negotiations with Taveras and in May, Simmons and Taveras jointly announced an agreement under which the University promised to contribute an additional $31.5 million to the city over the next eleven years. The city’s other universities, colleges, and hospitals have also stepped up to help close the deficit and facilitate some fiscal stability. Taveras is set to present the city’s budget for the next fiscal year on Jan. 29 during the annual “State of the City” address.

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Woman gets stuck in microscopic gap between two buildings on Thayer

No, seriously. I don't see a gap.

What gap?

No, we’re not kidding. The Providence Journal reported that around 1 a.m. on November 9, an allegedly inebriated 22-year-old URI student got stuck in the 8- to 9-inch crack gap between City Sports and FedEx Kinko’s on Thayer Street.

… WTF? Well, just you wait. It gets weirder. She was found trapped horizontally approximately two feet above the ground. That’s some Houdini shit, except for the fact that she couldn’t escape. Acting Battalion Fire Chief Jeffrey Varone reported that she attempted to use the gap as a shortcut when she got caught and started crying for help. A passerby heard her yells and called the police.

So far in my Brown education, there has been a lot of emphasis on analyzing current situations while simultaneously figuring out the circumstances that led to said situations. So the real question is where was she trying to go and why? I speculate her thought process went like this:

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So this happened: Cockatoo on trial for screaming obscenities

When RI resident Lynne Taylor and her former husband, Craig Fontaine ended things, they, as many divorced couples do, moved into separate houses… 50 feet away from each other. Healthy? Not even close. Shockingly enough, the situation did not lead to a pleasant, neighborly relationship or a sitcom.

It appears that Taylor, who lived alone with her pet cockatoo, trained the bird to scream obscenities, including “f*cking whore” and “f*ck off,” and then apparently allowed the bird to direct these remarks toward Fontaine’s new girlfriend, Kathleen Melker. This is not the first problem to arise between the neighbors. There is a three-inch binder of police reports and complaints, including an incident where someone spray-painted a mural of a cockatoo on the side of a structure near Taylor’s house.

The defense lawyer (sporting a cockatoo spangled tie) failed to convince the judge that Taylor should not have to pay the $15 fine issued to her for violating animal noise laws. Melker was pleased with the outcome and told reporters that, ”the evidence spoke for itself. The bird spoke for itself.”

The bird was not available for comment.


State of the City: The RI Democratic Congressional Primary

In preparation for tomorrow’s long-awaited Democratic Congressional Primary, here’s a quick profile of the Democratic candidates in Rhode Island’s first district:

Anthony Gemma — 2012 marks Gemma’s second run for Congress. Last time around, he lost to David Cicilline, the current incumbent, by a landslide. This year, polls show that Gemma is doing much better, only trailing by five percent in the latest WPRI poll. Most recently, Gemma made headlines for announcing evidence proving voter fraud in the Cicilline camp. Gemma’s highly publicized announcement did not result in the jump he had obviously hoped it would inspire. Judging from his performance in last weeks debate, Gemma’s new strategy is just aimlessly walking around Providence convincing people that he can bring “JOBS” — hopefully referring to more than this sign.

David Cicilline — In January, very few believed that Cicilline was going to be able to pull off a win in this election. While Cicilline may be leading against his Democratic brethren, he’s certainly still straggling behind the Republican candidate Brendan Doherty in the polls. These past few months, Cicilline has been called everything from “corrupt” to a “liar” to “fake.” In last week’s debate, Gemma remarked “I’ve never heard someone talk so much, but says so little.” Oh.  Continue Reading