You can #Resist in Portsmouth tonight -- support the ALT and AIPC

AIPC2017.pngThere are two items on the Portsmouth Town Council agenda this evening that could use the support of folks who want to promote a progressive agenda. Back to back items for consideration are a request by the Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT) to help conserve the Spruce Acres Farm, and a plea from the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) for the Town to pay up on their support.

The ALT proposal is $300K (to be split over two years) to enable purchase and conservation of 22.6 acres of farmland on the Portsmouth/Middletown line. This is not just good for environmental reasons (although it does help protect our watershed), it also makes good sense economically, since a subdivision at this location would add to town infrastructure costs.

For AIPC, the case is even simpler: the town has been withholding its promised annual payments to the island-wide planning group, demanding an audit. Voices on the right have objected to the AIPC on tin-foil-hat conspiracy grounds (basically, anything that smacks of "planning" triggers these folks). The AIPC has been responsible for bringing in over $2.5M in government and private funding for island planning efforts over the last two years, and yet the Republican-led Portsmouth town council has been stiffing them for $36,000.

You can read the briefs linked above, and if you can make it to the meeting to support these items, it will make a big difference for our town.

If you can't make it, you can always drop an e-mail to our Town Council. Here's a sample you could copy and paste to get you started.

To:
khamilton@portsmouthri.com, kaguiar@portsmouthri.com, dgleason@portsmouthri.com, pkesson@portsmouthri.com, epedro@portsmouthri.com, jryan@portsmouthri.com, lujifusa@portsmouthri.com

Subject:
Please support ALT and AIPC

Dear Town Council members:
As a resident and taxpayer in the Town of Portsmouth, I'm writing to urge you to support the requests by the Aquidneck Land Trust and Aquidneck Island Planning Commission scheduled to be heard on Monday, February 27.

The ALT proposal would be a valuable addition to the conserved properties in Portsmouth, and would help to maintain the character of our town.

The AIPC has done great work supporting all the communities on Aquidneck Island, and deserves our support. Now that they have provided audited financial statements, there is no reason not to release their funding.

Thanks very much for your support of these important efforts.

Best Regards,

RIDE reaffirms protection for transgender students

Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Ken Wagner released the following statement this morning in response to the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind federal protections that allowed transgender students to use school bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity:

“Yesterday, the federal government rescinded guidance that was previously issued regarding transgender and gender nonconforming students. The rescinding of this federal guidance does not change our policy – there is no room for discrimination in our schools, and we will continue to protect all students, including transgender and gender nonconforming students, from any type of bias. Rhode Island has a strong history of encouraging safe and supportive learning environments, and we intend to continue that practice. It is imperative that all education professionals continue to be strong role models and advocates for the safety and well-being of the children entrusted to their care.”

As a result, it will continue to be the Rhode Island Department of Education’s expectation that all schools and school districts will:

  • Foster an education environment that is safe and free from discrimination for all students, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression;
  • Comply with all federal and state laws concerning bullying, harassment, and discrimination;
  • Reduce the stigmatization of and improve the educational integration of transgender and nonconforming students, maintaining the privacy of all students, and fostering cultural competence and professional development for school staff; and
  • Support healthy communication between educators and parent(s)/guardian(s) to further the successful educational development and well-being of every student.

For more information, please read the Guidance for Rhode Island Schools on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students [PDF].

Upcoming performances in Warren, Tiverton, Providence

mcdaid_gigs_jan_2017.jpgHere's the details on my upcoming gigs in Warren, Tiverton, and Providence. I'll be playing a set of original folk tunes (and at AS220, a brand new song written for the occasion!) There's a venue for every part of the state and schedule — both weekinights and weekends. Hope to see you there!

Thanks to Don Tassone of Mediator Stage for the photo!

Friday, January 27
Church Street Coffeehouse Open Mic
Doors open at 7pm with open mic for about an hour with the 40-min feature starting ~8pm
First United Methodist Church
25 Church Street, Warren RI
$2 cover, pass the hat for feature
Coffee, water, snacks available
venue | map

Tuesday, January 31
Sandywoods Open Mic
Doors open at 7pm with open mic for about an hour with the 45-min feature starting ~8pm
Sandywoods
43 Muse Way Tiverton RI
No cover, pass the hat for feature
BYOB, BYOF
venue | map | directions

Saturday, February 4
RI Songwriters Sessions
RI Songwriters Association (RISA). Doors open at 8:30, 3 singer-songwriters each have a 30-min set
Brooklyn Coffee & Tea House
209 Douglas Ave Providence, RI
Suggested $5 cover
Coffee, tea, snacks available
venue | map | event info

Wednesday, Feb 8
RISA Songwriters in the Round
RI Songwriters Association. Doors open at 7pm and four singer-songwriters each perform three songs, with the second one written in the last month on the theme "Time to face facts"
AS220
115 Empire St Providence, RI
$5 admission
Bar and food available
venue | map | event info

Want to check out and maybe download some tunes? Right this way...

RI State Sen. Jim Seveney gets committee assignments

President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-13, Newport, Jamestown) has appointed Sen. James A. Seveney (D-11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton) to serve on the Senate Finance, Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs, and Education committees for the 2017-18 legislative session, according to a release distributed today.

The Finance Committee handles all matters relating to revenue, appropriations and taxes, while the Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs Committee considers legislation on matters relating to veterans’ affairs, constitutional amendments, liquor laws, gaming issues, laws relating to domestic animals, license plates, and commissions and resolutions.

The Senate Education Committee is responsible for oversight of all matters pertaining to public education.

Senator Seveney is a retired Navy officer. He graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1972, earned a bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island College in 1976, a master of science degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1990, and an MBA from Salve Regina University in 2005. His father, Gardiner F. Seveney, served four terms in the Rhode Island Senate, from 1979 to 1986.

He resides in Portsmouth with his wife, Valerie. They are the parents of two children, Sarah and Matthew.

Editorial note: Written from a State House news release.

Arisia schedule (Panels saturday night + filking)

arisia-icon-2017.pngThis weekend is my favorite sf con, the always awesome Arisia in Boston. It's got something for everyone — sf, fantasy, print, film, anime, cosplay, music, the whole waterfront. By coincidence, it's at the Westin Waterfront, right next to the convention center. It's a full weekend of delightful geekery with all of the region's fandoms. I wouldn't miss it for anything.

I'm on a couple of panels (I'll also likely be hanging out in the filk room late into the night.) If you're gonna be there, hope to catch up!

Saturday, 7pm
Another Look at the Bad Old Days
Hale (3W), 7pm - 8:15pm
Jonathan Woodward (moderator), James Hailer, Heather Urbanski, Sarah Lynn Weintraub, John G. McDaid
A lot of SF has aged very badly. A lot of it bore appalling elements even for its time. There's some usual suspects, but let's look at the older works of SF with awful elements as a whole. Is there anything worth looking for in those stories? Who deserves to make problematic fave among the problematic horde? Are there lessons that are relevant to modern readers and authors to be found among the stories that make us wince?

Saturday, 8:30pm
The Prisoner at 50: Be Seeing You
Douglas (3W), 8:30pm - 9:45pm
Mark L Amidon (moderator), John G. McDaid, Michael A. Burstein, Justine Graykin, Jared Walske
Fifty years ago, *The Prisoner* helped redefine the spy genre and bring various counterculture themes of the '60s to the forefront in a groundbreaking science-fiction show. Attempts at reboots -- an '80s comic and a 2010 AMC series -- have failed to capture any of the magic of the original. What keeps this classic show so popular after so many years, and where (beyond obvious tributes like The Simpsons) can we see its influence in pop culture today?

LTE: Rhode Islanders are "doers," says Rep. Deborah Ruggiero

The Rhode Islanders I know are doers—successful business owners, technology entrepreneurs, community advocates, and passionate educators. They know technology is part of our everyday life—online banking, GPS, email, Skype, search engines, even online dating. Every business, large or small, has a website, email, and a digital footprint. It’s how we do business.

Over the past three years, jobs have been unfolding in Rhode Island in technology, advanced manufacturing, Information Technology, nursing, healthcare, digital graphics, and computer science. These are STEAM jobs (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).

In five years, Rhode Island will have more than 4,000 jobs in computer science alone. So, let’s get our kids excited about jobs in the digital world. Rhode Island is the only state in the country to fund computer science (CS4RI) classes in grades K-12.

SENEDIA (Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance) is doing it. They’ve partnered with Real Jobs RI to develop internship programs for cybersecurity and undersea technology. They’ve developed an intensive cybersecurity training program with CCRI in Newport and this is an on-ramp to in-demand jobs in cybersecurity.

As co-chair of the Defense Economy Planning Commission, I’ll continue to support the Defense Sector. It generates $105 million in tax revenues for the state every year. In fact, the Defense Industry is the highest paying sector, with jobs averaging $94,000- $110,000. Recently, a public-private partnership at URI, Johnson & Wales, RIC and Bryant launched web development minors to prepare students for high paying jobs in software development.

Not every son or daughter is going to go to college. We also need electricians, plumbers and contractors to build things and get it done—on time and on budget. That’s why the PTECH (Pathways in Technology) pilot programs are so innovative pairing classroom work with real-world experience to succeed in a specific industry. On Aquidneck Island, SENEDIA (Defense Industry Trade Association) partners with Rogers High School on cybersecurity. In Westerly, Electric Boat teaches high school students to be welders and boat builders. EB has 1,000 jobs each year for the next several as Rhode Island builds submarines for the US Navy.

Let’s continue to educate and train our workforce so they can cash those paychecks earned (and spent) here in Rhode Island. Johnson & Johnson, a Fortune 25 company specializing in information technology and data analytics, plans to open its new health technology center in Rhode Island with 75 high-skilled positions. Wexford Innovation Center is creating jobs in our state from construction to computer science. Virgin Pulse, which recently bought a Rhode Island company ShapeUp, is expanding its operations in Rhode Island creating 300 jobs.

Rhode Island has always been, and will continue to be, a state of innovators and doers—from the spinning wheels at Slater Mill to the spinning turbines off Block Island. This country’s first off-shore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm, is a powerful example of the state’s long-standing commitment to innovation and getting things done.

Rhode Island is home to world-class beaches, parks, and trails, but Rhode Island must also be home for innovators, entrepreneurs, and just plain doers. So, let’s get it done.

​​###

Representative Deborah Ruggiero- District 74 Jamestown/Middletown, is chairwoman of House Committee on Small Business and serves on House Finance.

RI Progressive Dems slam Invenergy Woonsocket water bid

ri_progdem.pngThe Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America announced their opposition to the potential water sale from Woonsocket to Invenergy, a Chicago based company proposing to build a fracked gas power plant known as the Clear River Energy Center. In a statement released late Wednesday, RIPDA also called for all RI Progressive Democrats to oppose the sale of water to Invenergy and to ask the Woonsocket City Council to oppose the pending sale as well.

The RIPDA Executive Board unanimously approved the opposition stating that the project is “not in the best interest of Woonsocket, northern Rhode Island, the state or the region. The potential sale of water to Invenergy will provide little to no benefit to the state or the region and may exacerbate existing drought conditions, produce higher potable water treatment costs, as well as increase health issues for those residents in the all along the Blackstone River watershed. Environmental injustice burdens small towns that don’t have the financial means to fight against well financed companies like Invenergy.” RIPDA also believes that the potential sale of water would reduce water flow and harm the existing and growing interest in the development of hydro systems which depend on a steady flow of water.

“In a time where alternative energy production sources are flourishing, to add a fracked gas power plant, destroy over 200 acres of second growth forest in an area hailed by environmentalists from all over New England is unconscionable. There is no substitute for clean drinking water or environmental diversity. This one power plant, according to Invenergy’s application submitted to the RI Energy Facility Siting Board on October 29, 2015, will use up to “one-million gallons of water” every day for the forty year life span of the power plant. Recent claims by Invenergy reduce the water consumption to as little as twenty-five thousand gallons per day. So we really don’t know how much water will be used by the power plant,” said Lauren Niedel, Deputy State Coordinator for RIPDA.

It is estimated that nearly 2 tanker trucks would cross the 17 miles every 6 minutes during a 12 hour time period, creating extra fiscal and environmental burdens on the region, a degradation of Woonsocket’s and North Smithfield’s roads, an increase of air and noise pollution and traffic congestion. The increase in particulate matter from both the fossil fuel power plant and the diesel fuel tanker trucks would worsen existing high asthma and other respiratory illnesses in the region. Woonsocket is one of  four “core cities” defined by the Rhode Island Department of Health where hospitalizations for asthma occur higher than state averages.

In addition RIPDA is in full support of the resolution by the  Burrillville Town Council opposing the siting of the power plant. The town already is home to a fossil fuel burning power plant - Ocean State Power - a gas compressor station owned by Enbridge Energy formally Spectra Energy and additional fossil fuel infrastructure. “This is a regional issue spilling over into Thompson, CT, Uxbridge, MA and elsewhere in those two states,” says Niedel.

RIPDA points to the Resilient Rhode Island Act and views the proposed fracked gas power plant as a direct contradiction to this 2014 Rhode Island law.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

RI authors join nationwide "Writers Resist" event

WritersResistOn January 15, 2017, the date of Martin Luther King’s birth, more than a dozen Rhode Island authors will join writers at 70 events across the United States and worldwide, coming together for Writers Resist: Rhode Island, a “re-inauguration” of mercy, equality, free speech, and the fundamental ideals of democracy.

#WRITERS RESIST: Rhode Island will take place on January 15, 2017 at 2pm in the DiStefano Lecture Hall at Newport’s Salve Regina University. Hosted by Salve's Writer in Residence, Jen McClanaghan, the event will bring together a diverse group of Rhode Island writers, including Karen Boren, Adam Braver, Tina Cane, Mary Cappello, Darcie Dennigan, Theo Greenblatt, Christopher Johnson, Erica Mena, Julie Danho O’Connell, Patch Tseng Putterman, Kate Schapira, Susannah Strong and more.

A short reading will be followed by an open forum/open mic.There will also be a fundraising raffle for a local charity, but the event is free and open to the public.

Simultaneous Writers Resist events will happen in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Austin, Portland, Omaha, Seattle, London, Zurich, Hong Kong, Singapore and many more cities. The Manhattan event, to be held on the steps of the New York Public Library, is co-sponsored by PEN America and features some of the best-known writers in America.

These worldwide events originated from a recent Facebook post by poet Erin Belieu, co-founder of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Belieu challenged writers to organize to reclaim democracy, which led to the Writers Resist organizer’s forum now boasting over 2,000 members, out of which over 70 events rapidly emerged that feature countless prominent literary voices. Belieu believes the events are a first step in focusing public attention on the ideals of a free, just and compassionate society. “This is only a starting point in raising our voices in defense of democracy," said Belieu.

Writers and interested public who want to attend can visit writersresist.org for a list of cities and contact information for local organizers.

Writers Resist is a national network of writers driven to #WriteOurDemocracy by defending the ideals of a free, just and compassionate democratic society. Links: Facebook, Twitter.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Sen. Jim Seveney sworn in as General Assembly convenes

RI State Senator James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton) was formally sworn into office Tuesday, Jan. 3, as the 2017-18 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly convened.

Senator Seveney was one of 4 new members of the Senate who took the oath of office, which was administered to all 38 Senate members by Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.

The Senate began its legislative year with a program of activities that included the re-election of Sen. M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) as President of the Senate. Elected to the post in January 2009, President Paiva Weed began her fifth two-year term today with an address to the Senate members and other assembled officials and guests.

Senator Seveney is a retired Navy officer. He graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1972, earned a bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island College in 1976, a master of science degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1990, and an MBA from Salve Regina University in 2005. His father, Gardiner F. Seveney, served four terms in the Rhode Island Senate, from 1979 to 1986.

He resides in Portsmouth with his wife, Valerie. They are the parents of two children, Sarah and Matthew.

Editorial note: Written from a state house news release.

RIDEM issues deadline, threatens fines in Portsmouth landfill capping

Screen Shot 2016-12-20 at 11.21.47 AM.pngThe clock is ticking for the company capping the old landfill in Island Park. Yesterday, the RI Dept. of Environmental Management issued AP Enterprise a "Notice of Intent to Enforce" for allegedly failing to complete the work in the timeframe specified in their original agreement, according to an e-mail sent to interested parties by RIDEM's Mark Dennen. Here's what Dennen said:

"[W]hen the site did not complete closure by the September 2016 deadline, it was referred to our Office of Compliance and Inspection for Enforcement Action. That Office has issued the attached action regarding the site."

The attached Notice of Intent to Enforce (NIE) demands a written response in 15 days, and requires that the capping work be completed within 180 days of receipt of the notice. It goes on to note:

"If respondent promptly and satisfactorily complies with the requirements of this NIE, then DEM may decide to forego the assessment of administrative monetary penalties. Continued non-compliance, however, will result in the issuance of a Notice of Violation and Order, which will include the assessment of an administrative penalty, which may be as high as $25,000 per violation for each and every day that violation continues to exist."

Read the full Notice of Intent to Enforce here.

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