Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: December 9, 2011

If you caught The Daily Show’s hilarious recap of Chafee’s coming under fire from Christians for refusing to add “Christmas” before the name of the state’s holiday tree, you may remember John Stewart mentioning that the Founding Father’s cared so little about the holiday that they actually held sessions on the 25th for 67 years. According to the ProJo’s PolitiFact Rhode Island, the American Civil Liberties Union and the History Channel have made similar claims—which are apparently false.  After checking Congressional journals between 1789 and 1856, PolitFact investigators concurred that each chamber only met once on Christmas during that period.

The North Providence town council voted Tuesday that anyone addressing the council must now be “sworn in,” drawing a concerned response from the American Civil Liberties Union’s state director Steven Brown. While Brown argues that the measure will create a “chilling effect” on public input to the council thus forward, advocate Councilwoman Alice Brady said the new policy would support a more professional atmosphere in the council.  Even so, the council has yet to determine what the technicalities of “swearing in” would entail.

Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: November 11, 2011

The revised Chafee-Raimondo pension bill passedstate House and Senate finance committees in separate votes yesterday 13-2 and 10-1, respectively.  The revisions allow an earlier retirement age for some workers than allowed in the original bill, as well as partial reintroduction of cost-of-living adjustments, pension increases based on inflation rates.  The bill moves on to the entire General Assembly Thursday in separate House and Senate votes.

Tensions between the city and the Occupy Providence protestors of Burnside Park are heating up. Literally. GoLocalProv revealed Wednesday that Providence public safety officials used infrared heat-sensors last week to determine how many tents set up in the park were actually in use. Out of dozens of camps, only seven of the tents were determined to be occupied.  Protestor Michael McCarthy called the figure inaccurate, and said more than 20 of the tents are slept in overnight.  Executive director of the Rhode Island branch of the American Civil Liberties Union Steven Brown blasted the city’s actions, saying the police were unfairly “infiltrating” the park to gather information that would normally be unavailable.

Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: November 4, 2011

Occupy Providence activists will join in on “National Bank Transfer Day” by rallying against big banks.  Following a Saturday morning protest at the occupiers’ camp in Burnside Park, participants will march from the camp to the Providence Bank of America headquarters.  The protest is part of a national movement advocating Bank of America customers to close their accounts in a show of opposition to what supporters call unjust business practices. Continue Reading

Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: October 24, 2011

Occupy protesters will march on City Hall this afternoon to signal their right to camp in Burnside Park after issuing a statement to Mayor Taveras and public safety commissioner Steven Pare.  Members of the movement have expressed gratitude for the city’s cooperation, which has resulted in zero arrests of protestors thus far.  Pare said he might seek a court order to evict the protesters from the park, in which case some of protestors will set up elsewhere in the city, but currently has no imminent plans to do so.

The freeze on cost-of-living adjustments for Rhode Island state employee retirees outlined in the Chafee-Raimondo pension reform bill is unprecedented according to president of Rhode Island American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations president George Nee.  “This is the first time in our state, and one of the first times in the country,” he said of benefit reductions being implemented among people who are retired.

Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: October 21, 2011

Rhode Island Public Transport Authority (RIPTA) will receive a $1.7 million grant from the federal government.  The money will be used to develop a management system to oversee the conditions of RIPTA’s fleet and facilities.  RIPTA will also receive an additional $189,000 through the EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act to develop sustainability.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted in favor of the pension plan unveiled earlier this week by Governor Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 and state treasurer Gina Raimondo.  Chafee said the vote “expresses the Rhode Island business community’s commitment to truly comprehensive reform.”

First lady of Rhode Island Stephanie Chafee will perform a civil union ceremony for her friends Lynn McKinney and Ron Margolin November 5.  Chafee, who was one of the first nurses in Rhode Island to work with AIDS patients, was authorized by lawmakers to perform the service.  Lawmakers routinely give authorization to people who are not licensed to wed, but this is the first time they have approved a request for a civil union ceremony.

Cup ‘o (Pro)Jo: October 7th, 2011

The state’s Department of Transportation is broke according to Robert Rocchio, its managing engineer for traffic design.  The funding shortages have allowed some of the state’s most dangerous intersections to go without repair for several years.  The department has also fallen behind on responsibilities such as bridge repair, which prompted Governor Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 to petition the federal government for permission to collect tolls on Route 95.  Rocchio said the department has succeeded in making some small improvements to reduce crashes in some intersections, but said major construction on problematic intersections faces significant economic and time difficulties.

63 percent of state voters support a “complete overhaul” of the state’s current failing pension system, according to a poll administered by Engage Rhode Island, a coalition of businesses, trade associations and social service agencies.  The questions in the poll, completed by 450 “likely” voters, have yet to be released by the group.

A jury found South Kingston resident Kimberly Fry guilty of second-degree murder yesterday, after being accused of killing her 8-year-old daughter Camden in the summer of 2009.  Fry’s estranged husband, Timothy, testified that his wife had admitted to sitting on Camden and putting her hands on her mouth in an effort to calm her down after a tantrum.  Her defense argued her daughter’s death was an accident and emphasized Fry’s struggles with depression and suicidal tendencies.  Fry faces 10 years to life in prison with possibility of parole after 20 years.