Providence

Ian Donnis / RIPR

In Providence and in Rhode Island, Buddy Cianci was one of the most influential political figures of his generation, as well as one of the most controversial. His time as Providence mayor was marked by significant economic redevelopment, but also marred by violence, cronyism and corruption.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Providence City Councilman Sam Zurier joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the passing of Buddy Cianci and the fiscal outlooks of the City of Providence and Rhode Island.

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  Advocates for the homeless say Providence Police unfairly target the homeless residents in downtown Providence. In a recent survey of 100 people milling around Kennedy Plaza in the heart of downtown Providence, about half were homeless or had experienced homelessness.

A survey of 100 people in Kennedy plaza found that roughly 95 percent of those who had experienced homelessness had also been ticketed or arrested by police.

James Baumgartner / RIPR

Providence is moving forward on a plan to demolish the Fogarty Building, a 1960s structure that some architects see as an  example of Brutalist architecture -- one of few in the city. The building is likely to be torn down to make way for a hotel.

John Bender / RIPR

State officials are asking the court to appoint a receiver in their quest to stop pollution from a metal recycling business on the Providence waterfront. The site has been the subject of a years-long battle involving environmental groups and state regulators. The case recently reached a critical turning point.

Elisabeth Harrison

A pair of Providence schools are testing out standing desks, a growing trend in workplaces across the country.

West Broadway Middle School has about 30 of the desks, which were donated by the manufacturer, Ergotron. Math teacher Emily Mowry says she likes the way they move easily and quietly around the classroom, and students have quickly gotten used to them. 

"I would say it has a positive impact on most kids, and you’ll see some kids who may have been fidgety before, get that nervous energy out just with the standing," Mowry said.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza joins Bonus Q+A to talk about the capital city's budget outlook, whether past city councilors who work for the city should be able to boost their pensions, and trying to bring more economic development to the state's largest city.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is our guest for the first Political Roundtable of 2016. We discuss concerns on Providence finances and the city's ongoing dispute with the firefighters' union.

John Bender / RIPR

A recent AP investigation found major grocery store chains across the country fail to provide food for areas that need it most. In Rhode Island some fifty-thousand people don’t have easy access to healthy foods, and most of them are in Providence county.

A small group of locals have been trying to open a grocery store on their own, but it’s taken a decade to get the project off the ground.

RIPR

If you’ve stepped outside at all this month, you already know the weather has been far from frightful.  Forecasters are predicting a record-breaking Christmas, and the city’s warmest December.

In Providence, Christmas set a record last year at 63 degrees. Meteorologists believe we’ll approach that record this year, and maybe even beat it. Overall this is shaping up to be the warmest December on record in Providence, with an average temperature of 43 degrees.

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Three Rhode Island school districts have been chosen for a new state initiative aimed at preparing students for jobs in high tech industries. Newport, Providence and Westerly will be part of the program known as P-TECH; short for Pathways in Technology Early College High School program.

There's just one week until Christmas, so I want to wish a very happy holiday season to my readers, and offer my thanks for stopping by in 2015. (Program note: TGIF is taking next week off and will return December 31.) As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

Arbitration is set to begin Wednesday between Providence and its firefighters, as the two sides wage a legal battle over work schedules.

This spring, Mayor Jorge Elorza announced a new staffing protocol to reduce the costs of overtime payments. City firefighters criticized the move, saying the change should be made through collective bargaining.

Last week the state Supreme Court denied an appeal by the city to delay the arbitration, but the mayor’s office says it is ready to use the process to enforce its right to restructure the fire department.

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High temperatures in Providence broke several records over the last two days, and meteorologists say White Christmas is exceedingly unlikely.

Around 11 p.m. Monday night, the mercury hit 61 degrees to beat out a record for that date of 59 degrees set in 1991.

Just a few hours later, at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, temperatures climbed even higher, reaching 64 degrees. That was two degrees warmer than the record. It was even warmer than the same early morning hour this past July 4th.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Language immersion programs known as “dual language” programs are a growing trend in public elementary schools. They allow students to become bilingual in English and another language, like Spanish. 

Providence school officials have just announced a plan to offer new dual language programs in Spanish and possibly Mandarin at Carl Lauro Elementary School.

The programs would begin with two Kindergarten classrooms in each language, then add a grade every year until fifth grade.

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