The Providence Journal

A summer slowdown of news? Rhode Island's summer of 2015 will likely be remembered for two important releases of information -- the State Police report on Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, and, more significantly, the unsealing of documents in the state's lawsuit over 38 Studios. As always, feel free to drop me a tip or your comments, and to follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

For more than 40 years, Bob Kerr worked at the Providence Journal, where he was beloved by many readers for his columns about the people and the issues that animate Rhode Island. Recently, he’s been thinking back on his time at the ProJo.

Hilary Horton was my editor when I wrote the local column in the Providence Journal 20 years ago.  We would get together in the late afternoon, looking for the better word, cleaning up the clutter, finding what the heck I was trying to say.  The column was always the better for it.

Providence Journal alumni reporters scored big in this year’s Pulitzer prizes, which were announced today by Columbia University, which administers  journalism’s top prizes.  Helene Cooper of the New York Times who was part of a team that won a Pulitzer for international reporting and Zach Mider of Bloomberg News  won for explanatory reporting. And Jen Levitz of the Wall Street Journal and Jonathan Saltzman of the Boston Globe were on teams that were Pulitzer finalists.

Once again it is time – if you haven’t already - to get your tickets to the  Providence Newspaper’s Guild’s annual Follies show at the Venus de Milo in Swansea, Mass. As always the show, a spoof of all things Rhode Island, but especially our state’s entertaining political culture,  is slated for the last Friday evening in February, which this year falls on Feb. 27th.

Veteran Rhode Island political reporter Jim Baron was remembered this afternoon as a journalist of great integrity, ability, dedication and humor at a celebration of his life at the Bellows Funeral Chapel in Lincoln, R.I.

Baron, who died January 5 at age 57 after a protracted illness, was a reporter for the Pawtucket Times and Woonsocket Call whose career spanned more than three decades, most of it spent covering Rhode Island politics and the General Assembly.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo is meeting with Rhode Island business leaders as she shapes her new administration. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay hopes the business hierarchy steps up to help her.

Raimondo is taking over a state government that is much better off than the one Gov. Lincoln Chafee inherited from Don Carcieri four years ago. Unemployment was 11.4 percent; now it’s at 7.4 percent. The state budget deficit is much lower and cities and towns are not hovering over bankruptcy. Even Central Falls is out of receivership.

Lila Sapinsley,  former state senator from Providence’s East Side and patron of arts, education  and good government causes, has died at her Laurelmead home in Providence. She was 92.

A liberal Republican, Sapinsley rose to become the first woman  Senate Minority Leader and was nearly elected lieutenant governor in 1984, an election she narrowly lost to Democrat Richard Licht.

The incoming administrations are assembling their staffs (read on), as time ticks down for the Class of 2010. Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As always, feel free to share your thoughts and tips via idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

A great fun time was had by all last night at the Fund for Community Progress event honoring longtime Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr.  The time was held at the Pearl Restaurant on Charles Street in Providence.

Several hundred retired and still-working journalists jammed a function room at Pearl for an evening of humor and tributes to Kerr, who was fired by the ProJo in the latest round of job cuts by the newspaper’s new owners, an arm of the Gatehouse media empire.

The Fund for Community Progress is hosting a `Toast’ to former Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr for his 43 years of outstanding journalism and service to the southeastern New England community.

The event is scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Pearl Restaurant and Lounge at 393 Charles Street in Providence. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and has a suggested donation of $25 to the Fund for Community Progress.

Bob Kerr's Final Column

Sep 5, 2014
Catherine Welch / RIPR

This week The Providence Journal laid off at least 22 employees as it switched hands from AH Belo Corporation to New Media Investment Group. One of the newsroom staffers let go was columnist Bob Kerr who had worked at the paper for 43 years, spending almost half of that time writing a column that ran three times a week.

Kerr was escorted out the door on Tuesday and wasn’t able to write a final column. So we extended an invitation for him to say good-bye to the Rhode Islanders who read his column week after week, year after year.

Bob Kerr, the Providence Journal’s eloquent everyman and the newspaper’s marquee columnist for more than two decades, has been laid off by the ProJo’s new owners, the New Media Investment Group.

Instead of letting him retire gracefully, the new owners fired the newspaper’s heart and soul  in a particularly callous manner  - in a personnel meeting that Kerr described as ``pretty cold and abrupt.’’

With two weeks until election day, Democrats Clay Pell,  Angel Taveras and Gina Raimondo stuck to familiar campaign themes and solidifying support in a spirited televised debate this evening that was long on rhetorical flourishes but short on major policy differences.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

The odds of table games coming to Newport, the sale of The Providence Journal, and diversity in the General

Assembly – those are the topics this week on the Political Roundtable with our guest Newport Rep. Marvin Abney and special host Rhode Island Public Radio news director Catherine Welch.