scott mackay

RIPR FILE

Providence Fire Chief  Clarence A. Cunha is retiring after almost 35 years with the capital city’s fire department.

Cunha has reached the mandatory retirement age of 60. His retirement is not related to the ongoing negotiations between the union representing firefighters and the administration of Mayor Jorge Elorza, said mayoral spokesman Evan England.

``This didn’t come as a surprise,’’ said England. ``It is not related to the platoon talks.’’

Elorza said in a statement that Assistant Chief Scott Mello will take over as chief on an interim basis.

Emily Wooldridge / RIPR

The Rt. Rev. Nicholas Knisely, Rhode Island’s Episcopal Bishop, voted in favor of a resolution approved by the Episcopal  Church’s highest governing body, that issued a strong statement that marriage should be available to ``straight, gay and lesbian couples equally across the church.’’

``This has been the practice in Rhode Island since very soon after I was consecrated bishop in 2012,’’ Knisely said in a statement.

The resolution was approved at a meeting of the church's leaders at a meeting in Salt Lake City.

Providence lawyer Sally Dowling has been appointed to chair the Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission by Gov. Gina Raimondo, the governor announced today.

Dowling, a lawyer at the Adler, Pollock and Sheehan law firm, has a long resume of public service in Rhode Island and was a onetime policy director for former Republican Gov. Edward DiPrete.

Dowling replaces Louise Durfee, whose term has expired.

``Sally’s years of experience in the legal field will be a tremendous asset to the commission,’’ said Raimondo in a statement..

Rhode Island motorists will pay a penny more per gallon of gas, beginning tomorrow (July 1), under tax changes announced by the Rhode Island Department of Revenue.

The gas tax hike was due to an inflation indexing formula that the General Assembly approved in 2014.

Cigarette smokers will be paying an additional  25-cents per pack in Rhode Island taxes beginning August 1 under the budget for fiscal year 2016 approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

Manuel C. Correira

The flags and bunting adorn the handsome colonials and Greek Revivals along Hope Street, the hydrangeas are blooming and a fresh stripe of red, white and blue has been painted along the July 4th parade route downtown.

The parking lot at the Lobster Pot was clogged yesterday, the Celtic music session at Aidan’s was standing-room only and Independence Park was jammed with revelers listening to a Jimmy Buffet cover band.

Congrats to Emma Dickson of Providence and Brown University, who has been named a White House summer intern, according to a White House statement. Dickson is a former intern at Rhode Island Public Radio and also served as an intern at former Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s press office.

Other Brown students named to the prestigious program are Sydney Menzin of Locust Valley, N.Y., and Benjamin Miller-Gootnick of Washington, D.C.

Dave Barber, a familiar face at the Statehouse and reporter for Capitol Television, is hospitalized in his home state of Michigan after suffering a stroke and a heart attack, according to a Michigan newspaper.

Barber, 60, a former radio talk show host in Michigan and Rhode Island, was visiting Flint when he apparently choked while eating, blocking his airway and triggering other medical issues.

Barber is a patient at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan and is in a medically induced coma, according to his brother Larry Barber.

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin, who led a high-profile, albeit failed, campaign to defeat same-sex marriage legislation in Rhode Island in 2013, today blasted the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

In a statement, the Rev. Tobin said, ``a thousand courts may rule otherwise but the very notion of ``same sex marriage’’ is morally wrong and a blatant rejection of God’s plan for the human family.’’

President Obama scored a victory for his trade plan today when the U.S. Senate approved a measure that would give the president the authority to negotiate international deals, but he did it without help from Rhode Island two Democratic senators, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse.

Reed and Whitehouse were on the losing end of a 60 to 37 Senate vote. Both Rhode Islanders cited concerns that trade deals hurt American workers. Thirteen Democrats joined with 47 Republicans to push the trade pact to a final vote, which is likely to occur tomorrow.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The high cost of government in Rhode Island is once again in the forefront, as voters in Coventry dissolve the Coventry Fire District. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay asks if this can be a spur for consolidation in our tiny state.

In a referendum  Coventry voters resoundingly refused to give any more of their property taxes to the stanch the river of red ink drowning the Coventry Fire District. They  turned thumbs down on the fire district even though it provides fire and emergency services to the most densely populated part of the community..

Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is gaining traction against front-runner Hillary Clinton in the kickoff presidential primary state of New Hampshire, while former Rhode Island senator and governor Lincoln Chafee is still an asterisk, according to a new public opinion survey of Democratic voters.

If U.S. senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrats both, are searching for a fine candidate for the opening on U.S. District Court in Providence, federal magistrate Patricia Sullivan whould get top consideration.

Sullivan has the legal, academic and community service qualifications necessary for a federal judge. Sources tell Rhode Island Public Radio that she has applied for the post, which is vacant due to the retirement of U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi.

So Lincoln Chafee has become the first Rhode Islander to seek a major party nomination for president. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on why Chafee must step up his game quickly to be a factor in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.

Love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge that Chafee is a politician of conviction and deeply held views about what’s wrong with the country. Throughout his long career in Rhode Island politics, most honest voters would agree Chafee was on the right side of many issues.

Another day in Providence, another desultory meeting on the plan to move the Pawtucket Red Sox from McCoy Stadium to a new ballpark to be built on the capital city’s downtown waterfront.

Today’s meeting featured Pat O’Conner, president and CEO of Minor League Baseball, who spoke about the finances of minor league stadiums around the nation at a meeting with reporters, labor leaders and a small group of state lawmakers at the offices of the Locke Lord LLC law firm.

Steve Nardelli, executive director of the R.I. League of Charter Schools, is retiring at the end of June. His post will be assumed by Timothy Groves, former development officer at the R.I. Foundation.

Nardelli has had a long career in Rhode Island education circles, serving as a public school teacher and coach. He was executive director of legislative relations at the Rhode Island Department of Education, where he carved a reputation as an effective Statehouse lobbyist.

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