scott mackay

R.I.P. Chris Nocera

Jul 17, 2015

Christopher Nocera, a longtime Providence political operative, Elmhurst neighborhood activist and City Hall fixture, died suddenly last night. He was 60.

A burly man with an infectious sense of humor, Nocera was instrumental in Patrick Kennedy’s 1988 campaign for state representative in Elmhurst and Mount Pleasant that launched the career of  Kennedy, Ted Kennedy’s son, who later became a Congressman. Nocera put together a fine ground voter turn-out effort that propelled Kennedy to victory over then Rep. Jack Skeffington, a Mount Pleasant funeral director.

Aaron Read

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate  inched down to 5.9 percent in June, the lowest level since 2007, the state Department of Labor and Training has announced.

The rate has dropped 1.8 percentage points since June, 2014, when it was 7.7 percent.  The level in May was 6.0 percent. Rhode Island’s jobless rate is still above the national average, which was 5.3 percent in June, six-tenths of a percent lower than in the Ocean State.

In a statement, Gov. Gina Raimondo lamented that Rhode Island is not recovering from the recession as fast as the rest of the country.

After six months in office, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has finally appointed an economic development director: Mark Huang, a San Francisco energy developer who also has a military background and worked for General Electric and was involved with start-up firms in sustainability-related sectors.

``I am pleased to welcome Mark to Providence and excited to work with him to craft new economic development opportunities,’’ said Elorza in a statement.

Wikimedia Commons

The murder conviction of a 62-year-old Woonsocket man has been vacated by Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Daniel Procaccini.

The judge cited DNA evidence introduced by lawyers for Raymond 'Beaver' Tempest during post-conviction relief hearings earlier this year. Tempest was convicted in the 1982 killing of Doreen Picard of Woonsocket.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The future of health care for the poor, a review of Rhode Island’s criminal justice system, and politicking in Vermont…that’s part of the conversation this week on Political Roundtable. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay hosts; Ian Donnis is away. We're joined, as always, by URI political science professor Maureen Moakley and RIPR's political analyst Scott MacKay.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island’s two U.S. Senators, Democrats Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, have nominated Rhode Island’s top public defender, Mary McElroy, to the U.S. District Court vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Mary Lisi.


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.