For Thanksgiving week, the panel looks back at Rhode Island political stories for which we were thankful for in 2015, as well as our top political turkeys of the year.

Tis the season of shopping, socializing and celebrating. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says commercialism has over shadowed the holiday season. (Advance copy of weekly commentary).

Thanksgiving is that wonderful holiday dedicated to feasting, family and giving thanks for what we have. The next day, Black Friday, is the day many  people speed to the mall in the pre-dawn darkness to line up under the wary eyes of security cops,  jostle each other and buy more stuff.

David Sullivan, Rhode Island’s well-regarded state tax administrator, is leaving his post in state government for a private sector job.

T.F. Green Airport Security Gate
Catherine Welch / RIPR

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. T.F. Green Airport officials expect a rush through Sunday. But they’ve planned ahead to help travelers unwind.

Health care spending in Rhode Island has been relatively flat, even decreasing in some areas. That’s according to a new study about the total cost of health care in the state. 

In fact, Rhode Island has some of the lowest health care costs in New England. But out-of-pocket spending for health care in Rhode Island – on things like co-pays and deductibles - has been increasing at a faster rate than what insurers pay.

James DeWolf Perry has been named executive director of the Center for Reconciliation, the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island’s initiative to locate a slavery museum and inter-racial reconciliation center at the former Cathedral of St. John in Providence.


In Rhode Island, Brown University has announced that it will use one-hundred million dollars to diversify its campus, to try to make the school more inclusive for students of color. This comes after weeks of protests over racial insensitivity on campuses across the country.

Brown University President Christina Paxson is out with a plan to address racial and class inequity on campus. 

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR FILE

Rhode Island is joining a national effort to increase reading proficiency in elementary school. New state and national test scores show major achievement gaps.

According to the new PARCC standardized test, and another known as the Nation’s Report card, low-income fourth graders are about half as likely to be reading at grade level as their peers.

The new initiative, spearheaded by the education advocacy non-profit RI Kids Count and the United Way of Rhode Island, hopes to close that gap, by the third grade.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has signed a subpoena calling on Curt Schilling to appear for a December 15th meeting of the House Oversight Committee.

As we near Thanksgiving Day, it is, of course, a time to give thanks for good friends and food, for the time to take stock of the things that matter. Rhode Island Public Radio commentator Bob Kerr likes to make a list of things he’s thankful for. He finds it’s a healthy exercise, and the good things come into sharper focus each year.

Bob Kerr began the tradition of a Thanksgiving list during his long tenure as a newspaper columnist. You can find more of his musings about life and Rhode Island at our website,

Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

As we know, Christmas comes but once a year. And this time around Trinity Rep is presenting its evergreen production of “A Christmas Carol” earlier than usual. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Bill Gale says that’s a good thing, for several reasons.

“A Christmas Carol” continues at Trinity Rep through December 31st. Bill Gale reviews the performing arts for Rhode Island Public Radio

The state is distributing some $4.5 million dollars for job training programs around the state. The money will be split among 26 groups.

The winning groups include Rhode Island businesses and non-profits across sectors from finance to defense. North Kingstown-based submarine builder Electric Boat received the largest grant of almost $370,000.

Electric Boat training manager Craig Sipe said the company will use the grant to expand training programs.

Courtesy of Isabel Burnham / Norman Bird Sanctuary

The Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown boasts beautiful views of its 325-acre property year-round. Now people with wheelchairs, walkers, and baby strollers will be able to enjoy the wildlife sanctuary with greater ease. The wildlife sanctuary unveiled its first accessible trail this week.

Wexford Science & Technology

The president of Wexford Science & Technology, which has proposed a one-million-square-foot mixed-use development on five acres in the I-195 District, told a crowd of business and civil leaders Monday night that Providence has the necessary elements to create a successful innovation hub.

The 2015 Status Report on Hunger in the Ocean State is out Monday from the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. The rate of food insecurity in Rhode Island has declined slightly since the peak following the recession, but thousands of Rhode Island families continue to struggle to meet basic food needs.

Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff said the state’s sluggish economic recovery has had little impact on those most in need.