local feature

Chuck Hinman / RIPR

For this month’s Rhode Island Artscape, we take a visit to the State Archives in downtown Providence. The agency has unveiled a new exhibit dedicated to odd and unexpected state artifacts. The historic objects range from counterfeit colonial money, to the death certificate of famed Providence author H.P. Lovecraft. Rhode Island Public Radio's morning host, Chuck Hinman went on a private tour of the exhibit with State Archivist Gwenn Stearn.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Providence Superintendent Susan Lusi opens up about her tenure in the state’s largest school district, as she prepares to step down. She spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison at the district central office before her departure next week.

While she says she unequivocally believes she has made a difference, Lusi admits that Providence's student test scores leave a lot to be desired.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Last night, friends and families gathered at a historically black church in Providence to honor the nine people who were murdered at a prayer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. This interfaith service was both a memorial and a call for social justice. 

Eight clergy members from different churches walked down the aisle together at Olney Street Baptist Church before a racially mixed group of about 100 people.

Nine candles stood at an altar to honor the nine people killed in the Charleston church shooting.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

One of Rhode Island’s most controversial school leaders is retiring. Fran Gallo, the superintendent of Central Falls public schools, steps down on Friday. Her tenure includes the firing and re-hiring of high school teachers, which thrust Rhode Island into the center of a national debate over public education. Gallo sat down with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison at her office in Central Falls to look back on the firings, and what she’s learned from Rhode Island’s smallest school district.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Muslims around the world are celebrating Ramadan, a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. In Rhode Island, Muslims are observing this month-long holiday at the same time that a Warwick resident, who is a Muslim convert, is facing charges of plotting to support foreign terrorist groups. The Muslim community is concerned this could cast their community in a negative light.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The high cost of government in Rhode Island is once again in the forefront, as voters in Coventry dissolve the Coventry Fire District. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay asks if this can be a spur for consolidation in our tiny state.

In a referendum  Coventry voters resoundingly refused to give any more of their property taxes to the stanch the river of red ink drowning the Coventry Fire District. They  turned thumbs down on the fire district even though it provides fire and emergency services to the most densely populated part of the community..

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

A pair of bills that could make it harder to open more charter schools are again up for committee votes at the Statehouse.

The House bill would place a one-year pause on the creation of new charter schools. After a legislative committee found reasons to re-evaluate the way the state funds public charter schools and public school districts, the bill calls for more time for lawmakers to consider changes.

A quiet Warwick neighborhood has been rocked in recent days following the arrest of one of its residents on terrorism charges. Federal authorities picked up 24-year-old Nicholas Rovinski on charges of aiding this Islamic State. He’s also charged with conspiring to commit acts of violence against U.S. citizens.

According to an affidavit Rovinski had an active online presence; communicating in support of the Islamic State, or ISIS.

John Bender / RIPR

Over the years, the state has slashed budgets across all government agencies, including the Department of Environmental Management. This agency, tasked with protecting the environment, has seen a decline in staffing. Environmental advocates say these cuts have weakened and slowed enforcing environmental laws and regulations.   

Earlier this year, residents packed a small room at the Statehouse for a hearing about a zoning bill. They complained to lawmakers about industrial pollution from a quarry in Westerly. Residents blame the DEM for poor monitoring and enforcement.

John Bender / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is embarking on his first major arts and tourism initiative since taking office in January. The first annual Providence International Arts Festival goes on all this weekend. City officials have grand plans for the event.

Days before -- and a mile from the festival site -- a group of local artists and musicians are busy sawing away at two-by-fours, and nailing them together at the Columbus Theater. They’re building a stage. Alternating wood stains create a red and brown striped pattern.

Elisabeth Harrison

Warwick resident Nicholas Rovinski sits in a jail cell accused of conspiring to support the Islamic State in Iraq. Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon spoke with Roger Williams Law School Professor Peter Margulies about the charges against Rovinski and federal anti-terrorism law.

Margulies explains the FBI's case against Rovinski and says U.S. law allows a relatively wide definition of the term "conspiracy." Margulies observes that additional charges are possible in this case.


Rhode Island’s General Assembly and Gov. Gina Raimondo have reached agreement on her first state budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what the new budget will do and what it lacks.

The $8.7 billion state budget for the financial year that begins three days before the Bristol 4th of July parade  seems greased for approval at the Statehouse. As is usually the case, this spending and taxing plan contains elements Rhode Islanders should cheer yet   fails to address some of our little state’s crying needs.

House Representative Dan Reilly, (R-Portsmouth) joins this week’s Bonus Q&A to talk about curbing public corruption within campaign finance, his views on the early pool of Republicans running for President, and the PawSox proposal to build a stadium on the vacant I-195 land in Providence.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

House Representative Dan Reilly, (R-Portsmouth) joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss public corruption in wake of former speaker Gordon Fox, the proposed state budget as a member of the House Finance Committee, and the battle over firefighters’ overtime in cities and towns.


House lawmakers will vote next week on an $8.7 billion dollar state budget. More than a third of it pays for health care and other related services. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay joined host Dave Fallon in the studio to walk through some of the highlights. Listen to the audio or read a transcript of their conversation, below.

DAVE: Kristin, welcome. So a major centerpiece of the budget is Governor Gina Raimondo’s plan to quote “Reinvent Medicaid.” Recap for us what that’s about and tell us, did she get what she wanted?