Political news

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Providence City Council is slated to take a preliminary vote this evening on a new $638 million budget.

Mayor Angel Taveras says the city is poised to end an unprecedented situation in which it has operated for months without a budget. Two votes are necessary to approve the spending plan, and the second is expected later this month.

A recently completed audit found that the city's liabilities for the fiscal year ending last June 13 exceeded its assets by $20 million.

Former Providence Mayor, now Congressman David Cicilline. Photo by Catherine Welch

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Former Providence Mayor David Cicilline is defending the near depletion of the city's reserve fund, saying he had to make tough choices.

A new audit finds during the last fiscal year, the reserve fund went from $17.3 million to $3.4 million.

Last October the city auditor warned about a draining fund. At the time Cicilline's office claimed the warning was political. Cicilline now says he tapped into the rainy day fund because it was raining.

Central Falls City Hall

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – I was born in Central Falls - at a time when Broad and Dexter streets were booming with small businesses, churches on Sundays were over-crowded and neighborhood social clubs were choice venues for weddings, celebrations and community events. It was a thriving, spirited and engaged community.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The House Judiciary Committee will consider a bill this afternoon inspired in part by the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.

A bill sponsored by Representative Roberto DaSilva would remove the possibility of parole for someone convicted of the first-degree murder of a state or local official.

Photo by Jason White via Flickr Creative Commons.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Rhode Island lawmaker has introduced a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The bill from Rep. John Edwards, a Tiverton Democrat, would make the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a $150 fine. Marijuana possession is now a crime that carries up to a year in prison.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has ordered flags in the state lowered to half-staff in remembrance of the six people killed during an assassination attempt on Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Chafee on Monday ordered flags lowered until sunset on Friday to honor the dead and the 14 injured outside a supermarket in Tucson on Saturday.

Chafee calls it an unthinkable tragedy that has brought him and all Rhode Islanders great personal sadness.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – "Shocked and devastated." That was Congressman Jim Langevin's reaction to the shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. But Langevin says he will do nothing special to enhance his personal security.

They sat together on the Armed Services Committee and Congressman Jim Langevin calls Gabrielle Giffords a good friend. He was horrified to hear she was shot while meeting with constituents at a Tucson grocery store.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A state lawmaker from Cranston is renewing his push to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island.

Democratic state Representative Arthur Handy says he will introduce legislation today to make legal same sex marriage in the Ocean State. This is the ninth year Handy has introduced the measure, but he says he's more optimistic given the swearing in of independent Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is pictured at his inauguration party. Photo by Megan Hall.

Providence, RI – Last night more than a thousand people gathered at the Rhode Island Convention Center to celebrate the inauguration of Providence's new Mayor Angel Taveras.

Supporters danced, cheered, and drank at the free event, which featured bilingual speeches and music for the city's first Latino mayor.

Taveras' sister, Dinora Dominguez, switched effortlessly between English and Spanish as she introduced her brother.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The swearing in for statewide office holders is still a day away but officials in several Rhode Island cities will be taking the oath of office today.

In Providence, Angel Taveras will become the city's first Latino mayor during a swearing in ceremony on the steps of City Hall this afternoon.

In Pawtucket, Donald Grebien will be sworn in as mayor this morning at City Hall. He'll replace the city's longest serving mayor, James Doyle.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Angel Taveras will take the reins today as the new mayor of Providence.

After an inter-faith breakfast, Taveras will be inaugurated at 1:30 on the steps of City Hall. A reception will be held from 3 to 4 on the second floor of City Hall. Both events are free and open to the public.

An inaugural celebration will take place at 7 this evening at the Rhode Island Convention Center. It's free, but tickets must be obtained at transitionprovidence.org

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – An official portrait of Governor Carcieri is due to be unveiled at 5 pm today. It includes some subtle motifs from his time in office.

Carcieri is leaving office next week after the maximum two terms as governor. State law requires departing governors to remain at the State House - in the form of an official portrait. Artist Harley Bartlett of Hope says a small statue, of a knight on a horse, on the governor's desk refers to the scholastic mascot of his native East Greenwich High School.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Two incoming Republican lawmakers say the state should hold runoff elections if a winning candidate gets less than 50 percent of the vote.

Representatives-elect Michael Chippendale and Patricia Morgan say they'll push for a constitutional amendment to require the run-off elections. They say they're motivated by 12 races this year in which the winner got less than 50 percent of the vote. Chippendale says those include the campaigns for governor, attorney general, and three each for the House and Senate.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The state Ethics Commission will consider Tuesday whether to allow a departing state legislator to join the administration of Governor-elect Chafee.

House Finance Chairman Steven Costantino unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Providence this year instead of seeking reelection as a state rep.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Incoming Gov. Lincoln Chafee is planning what his office says is a frugal inauguration on Jan. 4, featuring Rhode Island's favorite free public arts event, Waterfire.

Chafee's office says Wednesday it recognizes the difficult economic climate and to cut costs, there won't be an inaugural ball. Instead, the five general officers will hold five evening receptions in Providence in restaurants overlooking Waterfire.