Rhode Island

John Bender / RIPR

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island has filed a free speech lawsuit against the city of Providence.  The suit follows the arrest of a local musician.


62-year-old Manuel Pombo has been performing on the streets of Providence for the last 30 years. Pombo says he’s had a several run-ins with police, and in 2013 he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Those charges were later dropped.

Taber Andrew Bain / Creative Commons license

Judging by the dozens and dozens of slogans you sent us, Rhode Island should top any tourist's bucket list.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island officially has a new education commissioner after a vote Monday to confirm Governor Gina Raimondo’s nominee, Ken Wagner.

So far, reaction to Wagner has been optimistic, but some teachers have expressed reservations because he lacks experience in the classroom. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison sat down with Larry Purtill, a member of the State Board of Education and the president of the National Education Association Rhode Island, one of two teachers’ unions in the state.

Wikimedia Commons

Rhode Island’s attorney general is taking no position on who owns a pair of ceremonial bells at Newport’s Touro Synagogue. The bells are the subject on an ongoing court battle.

The lawsuit centers on an ornate pair of silver bells that date to colonial times. Congregation Shearith Israel, which calls Touro Synagogue home, wants to sell the bells to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to raise money. But a congregation in New York is crying foul.

They claim they own the bells, and have no interest in selling.

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Board of Education has unanimously confirmed Ken Wagner to lead the state department in charge of K-12 schools. Wagner has his work cut out for him when it comes to teachers. Many are hoping that he will reach out to them after they clashed with his predecessor. 

Susan Greenhalgh / RIPR

Salty Brine Beach in Narragansett has reopened following a blast that occurred over the weekend. The event injured a 60-year beach goer, who has thrown by the blast into a rocky jetty. The woman sustained fractured ribs, and has been released from the hospital.

State police say they’ve found no evidence of a explosive device or gas line. The agency closed the beach Saturday. Along with the state police, the fire marshal and the Department of Environmental Management also took part in investigations.


The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority holds its last series of public meetings Monday and Tuesday to discuss potential changes in fares.

RIPTA will host the listening sessions in Newport, Providence, Pawtucket and Warwick on Monday and Tuesday. RIPTA officials say this is the first comprehensive study of all the authority’s fare offerings.

RIPTA Spokesperson Barbara Polichetti said this is also an opportunity to look at possible changes in how customers obtain tickets.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week, the two are joined by Scott Wolf, the executive director of Grow Smart RI about "Rebuild RI." That's the new tax credit program created under the Raimondo administration to spur development in the state. Wolf discusses what sorts of projects are covered, as well as key similarities and differences between "Rebuild" and the old historic tax credit program.

When to listen:

John Bender / RIPR

Dr. Ken Wagner, Governor Gina Raimondo’s pick for state Education Commissioner, spent Thursday morning at Calcutt Middle School in Central Falls. It was his first site visit since his nomination’s announcement Wednesday. The students demonstrated to Wagner how to operate bottle rockets.

Wagner finishes up as New York Deputy Education commissioner Friday, and says his post in Rhode Island would begin in August.

French Replica Warship L'Hermione Docks In Newport

Jul 9, 2015
Bachelot Pierre J-P / Wikimedia Commons

A replica of French warship from revolutionary times docks Wednesday in Newport. L’Hermione  made a famous voyage from France to America under the command of French General Marquis De Lafayette.

Ruth Taylor of the Newport Historical Society said the ship tells an important story about French support for the American colonists during the revolution.

“I hope that the ship will remind us that international cooperation has created great things in the past and probably can again. And I also hope that people recognize that the past has something to teach us,” said Taylor


The City of Providence has rolled out a new initiative to implement the city’s sustainability plan, aimed at reducing the effects of climate change. The initiative has a strong focus on community outreach.

John Bender / RIPR

Ken Wagner is Governor Gina Raimondo’s nomination for education commissioner. The post has been open since former commissioner Deborah Gist left for a job in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Wagner comes to the Ocean State from the New York state education department.

Wagner got his start in education policy at age 18, when he was elected to a local school board in New York. Since then, his education career includes working as school psychologist and middle school principal. 

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has signed an executive order aimed at improving the state’s criminal justice system. The governor has created a panel to review problems in the justice system.


The issues the group intends to tackle include racial disparities for prison inmates and other people who come in contact with the justice system. They’ll also look at addiction, mental health, and probation. Rhode Island had the third highest rate of people on probation in the country in 2013.

The PawSox new ownership team kicks off a listening tour, to drum up support and answer residents’ questions about a proposed new stadium.  The group plans to stop in all of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns. The first stop is at the Smithfield Senior Center in Greenville at 5 in the evening.

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island lawmakers passed legislation requiring more music performance opportunities in public schools. The bill mandates that all public secondary schools offer performing ensembles such as band, chorus or orchestra.

Most public schools in Rhode Island have performance ensembles, but some are offered before or after school and sometimes for no credit.  Advocates say the new mandate is a step towards incorporating these ensembles into standard arts curricula.