Cup o’ (Pro) Jo: March 23, 2011

Yesterday, the University hosted a panel in MacMillan Hall about the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Panelists agreed that Japan could have done more to prevent the disastrous effects of the natural disasters, like building “taller, vertical buildings where residents could find shelter,” as Karen Fischer, professor of geological sciences, said. The panel added that while the 12-minute warning for the tsunami certainly saved many lives, the large concrete walls Japan had constructed around its coast provided residents with a “false sense of security,” since these walls did nothing to lessen the force of the tsunami.

Though state law requires that Rhode Island pay back money taken from its “rainy day fund” one year after its withdrawal, lawmakers have decided to push back this date back by one more year. But the House Finance Committee does not want the state to go through with this. State Budget Officer Thomas Mullaney said postponing the $22 million payment is a “one-time savings” that will make an”additional structural problem in 2013.” Rep. Jan Malik, D-Warren suggested that the state repay half of the $22 million, arguing that “any additional money put into the state’s rainy-day fund at this point, is that much less to spend on other state services and programs.” Hearings on this issue will continue today.

Keep your eyes open this semester. Wes Anderson film “Moonrise Kingdom” is set to be filmed in multiple Rhode Island locations this spring. Notable (and confirmed) cast includes Ed Norton, Francis McDormand and Jason Schwartzman, with potential co-stars Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray. The film, set in the 1960’s, is about the search for two young New England sweethearts who run away together.

Cup o'(Pro) Jo: March 21, 2011

Rhode Islanders left $99 million in unclaimed college-related tax breaks up for grabs last year. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, only 35.7 percent of eligible Rhode Island families laid claim to the break, called the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a credit of up to $2500 a year to middle-class families for the first four years of undergraduate studies. The 51,000 who qualify still have time to cash in on the refund. Don’t forget, this rebate is a nationwide deal!

Providence’s bond rating — an evaluation of the credit worthiness of debt issued by the government — has been knocked down two slots, from A to AA- by the independent national rating service, Fitch Rating. Citing the city’s looming $180 million budget deficit, Fitch also brought up concerns about Providence’s ability to generate enough money flow to support current city operations.  This announcement follows closely on the heels of Moody’s Investors Service’s decision to downgrade Providence from an A1 to an A3 rating.

Dear weather,

In case you forgot, today is the vernal equinox. Not April Fool’s day — that’s actually eleven whole days away. We were doing so well…what happened? Oh, and Projo, retract your cheery statement, “on this first full day of spring, snow is in the forecast,” and we’ll consider forgiving you. Half an inch before 3 p.m., followed by rain, never gets the week off to a good start.



Cup o’ (Pro) Jo: February 23, 2011

Governor Chafee will loosen the media ban on his administration after March 8. The ban, which Chafee enacted in January, disallowed administration members to appear on talk shows before the state budget came out because they are “divisive and time-consuming,” according to Chafee. Good news is that the budget now has date set for completion.

Every school teacher in the Providence district will receive a dismissal notice at the end of this school year if the Providence School Board approves the resolution, according to Supt. Tom Brady. Brady said the school district must account for a budget cut of 40 percent and is “forced” to take “precautionary action” in order to have “maximum flexibility to consider every cost savings option, including reductions in staff.”

On a lighter note, the Bank of America Skating Rink will offer free skating for food bank donations in return as part of the “third annual CW28 “Skate with 28.” For one non-perishable food item, an kids and their parents can skate for free from 10 am to 2 pm today.