John Bender

Reporter

John started at RIPR in 2013 as the Morning Edition producer; researching stories, interviewing newsmakers, and writing scripts for stories every morning.  Plus special projects and regular reporting on major events.  In early 2017 he was promoted to "general assignment" reporter.  Whatever's happening in the news today?  That's what John is covering. 

Ways to Connect

Dante Bellini

After nearly three full hours of testimony, the Providence City Council Ordinance Committee rejected a zoning request for a proposed 46-story building near downtown. The committee denied a request from The Fane Organization, a New York-based developer, to change the area's zoning from 100 feet to 600 feet.

Dozens of people testified for and against the project during the public hearing Wednesday night before the vote. Members of the construction and building trades union packed city hall early in the night, voicing support for the hundreds of jobs the project could generate.

The humidity might finally be breaking as thunderstorms roll through Tuesday. But the storms may do more than cool things off.

“The main threat that we’re looking at is some flooding,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Lenore Correia. “There’s a lot of rain associated with these storms so it will downpour really quick. And we’re looking at some possible flooding especially in those urban areas.”

The Service has issued a flash flood watch for Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts, including Bristol County.

Fane Organization / Dante Bellini

The proposal for a new skyscraper in Providence’s jewelry district is scheduled for a public hearing Wednesday. The city Ordinance Committee is the next group to take up the plan.

The proposal is designed for a vacant piece of land, where a highway used to cross downtown. The problem? The area is only zoned for buildings up to 100 feet tall.

The 46-story building in the proposal would be much higher than that. The New York based developer, the Fane Organization, is seeking a zoning change for up to 600 feet.

President Donald Trump’s pick for the soon-to-be vacated U.S. Supreme Court seat is drawing criticism from members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation.

Trump announced D.C. judge Brett Kavanaugh could replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

If confirmed, Kavanaugh, will likely be the reliable conservative that some have hoped for, and others have feared said Peter Margulies, a lawyer and professor at the Roger Williams University law school.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island wants some of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies to pay for the effects of climate change. 

RIPR

State-mandated paid time off for workers in Rhode Island took effect Sunday. The law was a win for state progressives in the year after President Donald Trump’s election.

The law guarantees at least three full days of paid time off for workers at companies of 18 or more employees. It also calls for paid time off to increase to five full days in the coming years.

And it guarantees all Rhode Island workers at companies with fewer than 18 employees unpaid sick time.

Audrey Kupchan

More than 400 people spilled out of the Bethel AME Church in New Bedford and onto the hot summer streets, to protest federal immigration policies. The gathering was one of many across the country.

Advocates and activists are decrying new policies that prosecute illegal border crossers, resulting in the separation of children from families. They also seek a resolution to the fight over DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era policy that protected young people brought into the country as children from deportation.

Mark Turek / 2nd Story Theatre

The 2nd Story Theatre is closing down after decades in business. The Warren theater has scheduled its final performance for Sunday.

“All good things must come to an end,” wrote Artistic Director Ed Shea in a letter posted online. The unexpected announcement comes in the middle of the theater’s summer season.

Director of the 2nd Story board, Eileen Warburton would not disclose specifics of the theater’s decision to shut down. But she said in the months leading to the vote, the theater had taken on an expansion of its restaurant and experienced slow ticket sales.

RIPR FILE

Providence budget talks are back on track, according to the Mayor. The city’s finance committee is expected to meet Wednesday to vote the budget out of committee.

The city council rejected a $750 million budget last week, after initially approving the plan. The Council did vote to pass a tax levy.  Mayor Jorge Elorza accused the council of asking residents to pay taxes without knowing how their money will be spent.

After meeting with council leaders Monday, Elorza says he believes he’s addressed their concerns about the budget.

John Bender / RIPR

Gayle Corrigan has a permanent job in East Greenwich. The controversial CPA is now officially town manager of the affluent suburb.

Corrigan had served as temporary town manager for East Greenwich beginning last summer. Council leaders brought her in to shore up town finances, and hold the line on property taxes.

Corrigan is considered a municipal turnaround specialist. But her tactics, including consolidating and slashing town employee benefits, are controversial. The policies have drawn large crowds of angry residents to council meetings.

Swampyank / Creative Commons License via Wikimedia

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday upholding President Trump’s travel ban referenced a moment in American history with a Rhode Island connection.

The Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women is expressing disappointment that bills meant to address sexual harassment did not pass this session. The legislation came after one lawmaker spoke publicly this fall about experiencing harassment at the General Assembly.

Those public allegations prompted House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello to create a special commission to review the state’s sexual harassment policies.

Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation is responding to President Donald Trump’s decision to walk back a policy which separates families crossing illegally over the border.

RIPR FILE

DACA recipients living in Rhode Island now have the guaranteed right to drive and work. Governor Gina Raimondo is set to signed new protections into law Monday afternoon.

Newport Preservation Society

The controversial new welcome center at the Breakers mansion in Newport opened Thursday, as part of the Newport Preservation Society’s annual meeting. The nonprofit, which runs the Gilded-Age mansion estimated hundreds, including Governor Gina Raimondo, were expected to turn up.

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