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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Despite November defeat, Cathie Cool Rumsey still works on issue close to her heart

Senate task force recommends more DCYF involvement in network contracts
Cathie Cool Rumsey, working to finish what she started

STATE HOUSE – A Senate task force considering the matter has recommended that the Department of Children, Youth and Families should have greater oversight and involvement in its contract with Family Care Networks, should transition toward more community-based services, including foster care, and should set specific goals, subject to continued legislative oversight.

Co-chaired by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist.12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and former senator Catherine Cool Rumsey (D-Dist. 34, Exeter, Charlestown, Hopkinton, Richmond, West Greenwich), the Senate Task Force on the Department of Children, Youth and Families and the Family Care Network spent several months exploring the continued challenges facing DCYF and the nonprofit networks that provide services to children in state care. 

Currently, DCYF and its networks are working together to successfully resolve contract negotiations, and the goal of the Senate task force was to ensure that oversight and public accountability are maintained as discussions move forward. The current contract expires June 30.

If implemented, the recommendations, many of which complement and emphasize the testimony provided by the Governor’s Resource Team, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and providers and community advocates, would:

VIDEO: Nuclear survival tips for rural residents

Check this out before something really bad happens at the Millstone Nuclear Power plant
By Will Collette

Here are some actual 1965 public service announcements that were produced to help farmers and people living in rural areas survive the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.

The collection of clips shows you how to use materials found around farms and rural homes to create protection for yourself and your family if something bad happens, such as a melt-down at accident-prone Millstone, which is only a little over 20 miles to the west of Charlestown.

I'm not so sure about using fertilizer bags as blast and radiation protection. Watch for yourself:

VIDEO: Looking at our dark skies with eyes only

Here we go again…snow’s coming

But as usual, predictions are all over the map
By Will Collette
Blizzard Dog animated GIFBefore the Blizzard of 2015, or “Juno” if you like that name, hit the northeast last week, predictions were all over the place as to its intensity in various locations. 

New York Mayor DiBlasio took a big hit because he based his extra-cautious approach to the storm on the most dire, worst-case predictions and “only” seven or eight inches hit the city. Most mayors and governors in the northeast took similar cautious actions again relying on worst-case scenarios.

In hindsight as in foresight, that probably was the right thing to do since, for some communities such as Nantucket and those along the Massachusetts coast, worst-case is what they got.

As I noted in my pre-Juno Progressive Charlestown articles, meteorologists have gotten very good at predicting storm tracks, but they still don’t have the science down yet to accurately predict storm intensities. For Charlestown, Juno was supposed to dump two feet; when it was over, I measured 14 inches. Bad, but not as bad as forecast.

So we end up looking at the storm that will hit us Sunday night and into Monday with forecasts that range from the current National Weather Service forecast specifically for Charlestown that says 1 to 3 inches Sunday night and “heavy snow” without an exact number yet for Monday.

Rhode Island and Identity Theft

Protect Yourself and Your Family
President Barack Obama acknowledged at a Federal Trade Commission speech on Jan. 12 that identity theft poses a direct threat to the financial security of Americans. He responded by proposing two new pieces of federal legislation: the Student Data Privacy Act and the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act.

The first would outlaw companies from selling students' data, while the latter would mandate all companies notify customers of data breaches within 30 days.

Ambitious legislative agenda despite loss of key supporters

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
The biggest challenge - winning over Speaker
Nick Mattiello who has never been interested in
environmental issues
PROVIDENCE — A statewide ban on plastic shopping bags and more composting are among several key issues being advanced by Rhode Island environmentalists this year.

Last week, the Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI), an advocacy groups for 60-plus environmental groups, announced its legislative priorities on issues of energy, land and water, waste, transportation and the budget.

A bill requiring GMO labeling has already been introduced in the House. The bill died in committee the past two years. Connecticut and Maine have passed similar laws. Neither takes effect until neighboring states enact their own GMO labeling regulations.

In Oregon, a state referendum for GMO labeling lost by fewer than 900 votes last November. Massachusetts refiled its GMO labeling bill Jan. 13. The Sierra Club of Rhode Island is the lead organization in the Ocean State effort to mandate GMO labeling.

Another ECRI supported priority bill introduced last week, H5079, extends the state's renewable-energy standard (RES), which is the percentage of renewable electricity that comes through our electric sockets. The RES currently mandates utilities to reach 16 percent by 2019. The new legislation would extend the 1.5 percent annual increase until 2035. The lead organizations on this effort are the Conservation law Foundation and the Acadia Center.

Here is a look at other issues and bills ECRI supports in 2015:

Friday, January 30, 2015

How fracking changes everything.

From seismology to geopolitics to Wall Street to big-league sports teams to the biggest divorce in U.S. history, the impacts of fracking are staggering.
By Peter Dykstra, Environmental Health News

Adrian Grenier Alexa Chung animated GIF
Forget, for the moment, whether you think fracking is an energy godsend or an endtimes disaster. Just consider how it’s everywhere.

In the long run, fracking will impact our lives far more than four of its fellow inductees into the Merriam-Webster dictionary this past year: Hashtags, selfies, tweeps, and turduckens all have their place in society. But none touch everyone’s lives like fracking will, and already has.

The coal industry readily admits that it’s being undercut by low natural gas prices. A growing boneyard of shuttered coal-fired power plants, and rushed plans to salvage the U.S. coal industry by creating export markets to Asia are a direct impact of the fracking boom, and a domestic oversupply of oil and natural gas.

VIDEO: Ice-fishing tips for idiots

VIDEO: Sheldon Whitehouse schools the GOP on civility

Job fair on Monday and Tuesday for 100 new jobs at Quonset

Irish food manufacturer is hiring

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Business Workforce Center of the RI Department of Labor and Training (DLT) will host a two-day recruitment on Monday, Feb. 2, and Tuesday, Feb. 3, from 11 AM to 3 PM at the Providence netWORKri Career Center at One Reservoir Avenue, Providence.

Greencore Group is a leading manufacturer of “food to go” packaged food options in the UK and the US. Its US subsidiary, Greencore USA, Inc., will open a brand-new production facility at Quonset Business Park in March. Commerce RI played the lead role in recruiting Greencore to Rhode Island. Greencore USA is looking to hire about 100 food production technician positions at the two fairs.

When fully staffed, its RI location should have close to 400 employees, from entry-level production to highly-skilled technical positions. All positions are full-time and offer a full benefit package.

The job fairs are free and open to the public. 

Krill behavior?

URI research expedition to Antarctica reveals new insights into krill, plankton behaviors
The research vessel National B. Palmer with a team of URI scientists
and students aboard prepares to depart Antarctica
in December. (Photo by Ted Durbin.)
NARRAGANSETT, R.I. -- January 23, 2015 – A team of faculty and students from the University of Rhode Island returned on New Year’s Day from a month-long research expedition to the waters off the West Antarctica peninsula to study the behavior of krill, a small crustacean that plays a key role in the food chain in the Southern Ocean. The expedition follows a similar cruise in May 2013 that will enable the scientists to compare seasonal differences in krill behavior.

“We’re trying to learn what the krill are doing in the environment, their swimming and schooling patterns, and what prey they are eating,” said Ted Durbin, the professor at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography who led the expedition. “Krill are a keystone species in Antarctica. They are the primary diet of most penguins, seals and whales.”

Oyster Works' shows plan for new Tomaquag Museum in Westerly


By Dale P. Faulkner Sun Staff Writer 
Westerly could become the new home of the Tomaquag Museum. 
Currently located in a leased house in the Arcadia Village of Exeter, the Native American museum has long hoped for a large space that is specifically designed as a museum. For the past 1 1/2 years, the museum has been working with the Westerly Land Trust, discussing a possible collaboration that could involve the museum building on one of the trust's parcels. 
"We've outgrown our space as we've matured as an organization," said Loren Spears, the museum's executive director... 
While a new home remains something of a dream, the museum is taking concrete steps toward its goal.  A $32,000 grant from the Lattner Foundation was used to hire Oyster Works LLC, a Charlestown architectural firm, which developed a master plan.  The plan was unveiled in October during the museum's annual Honoring Dinner... 
Spears estimated another two to three years will be spent on the pre-construction period, a phase she said is likely to cost about $400,000 before it is completed.  Initial estimates indicate the museum building, including an amphitheater and story gallery, will cost about $5 million...
"The museum is all about the story.  The story of contemporary and Native Americans and their history," Spears said... 
                                                                                           KZLA Landscape Architecture

"We are excited to be working with the Tomaquag Museum and the Westerly Land Trust.  We see this collaboration as a national model and are honored to be the architects for the project."
                                                                     Megan Moynihan, AIA
Oyster Works is an architecture and project management firm in Charlestown, RI.  We serve both commercial and residential clients with an approach that is Sensibly Green 
Visit us at
Contact us at 401.213.6722 or by email

Oyster Works | 4202 Old Post Road | Charlestown | RI | 02813

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Free collection and recycling of old electronic goods next week

Local businesses pick up the town’s fumble
By Will Collette
Indie Cycle owner Phyllis Hutnak flanked by husband Tony (left)
and Mini-Super owner Charlie Beck (right)

Once again, Charlestown-based and Indie Cycle, LLC  and the Charlestown Mini-Super will join forces to fill a big gap left when the Town of Charlestown stopped accepting electronic waste at the town transfer station.

Their first collaboration happened on December 13 and was a big success - nearly 8,000 pounds of electronics were collected in 3 hours nearly filling Indie Cycle, LLC’s two trucks.

Hat’s off to both, especially since they’re going to keep it going. The next drop-off day is Saturday, February 7 from 9 AM to noon at the Mini-Super located on 4071 Old Post Road. 

Should you vaccinate your child? A handy decision-tree will help you decide.

VIDEO: Explore oceanography at the URI Inner Space Center February 16-20

Topics include underwater sound, ocean exploration, hurricane preparedness

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – January 12, 2015 – The Inner Space Center at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography will host a series of oceanographic education activities for youth and their families during school vacation week, Feb. 16-20.

The programs offered are the following:

VIDEO: Mattiello says he has no opinion on pot legalization

Mattiello open-minded on marijuana legalization
By Bob Plain in Rhode Island's Future
House Speaker Nick Mattiello said he’s keeping an open mind when it comes to legalizing marijuana this legislative session.

“Right now I have no opinion on marijuana other than I know it’s an issue that will come up and we’ll consider it,” he told me on Friday. 

“I’m not necessarily opposed, I’m not necessarily in favor. I can tell you it’s not an item that is on my agenda right now but I will certainly consider it. I’m sure it will have some benefits, I’m sure it will have some costs.”

Here’s our full conversation on the matter: 

Don’t Give Up the Fight

Even if bad luck is a leading cause of cancer, it's still worth taking steps to minimize the risks.

My social circle was shaken a few days into the new year with an upsetting blog post. A friend I will call Mary is seriously ill. The blogger requested loving messages to her to be sewn into a quilt.

This bombshell began a flood of phone calls, emails, and Facebook posts.

Mary — sick? What? The blog post noted she doesn’t like to talk about her illness and refrained from sharing what was wrong. If you read between the lines, it sounded like cancer. It sounded terminal.

And it was. Or is.

Because Mary is still very much alive, albeit half her former size and completely bald from the chemo that didn’t work. She’s now receiving palliative care and preparing for a certain death.

It’s the typical story of “only the good die young.”

The coming challenges to choice

7 Reproductive Rights Issues to Watch in 2015

by Nina Martin, ProPublica

To say abortion opponents are feeling fired up in 2015 would be a massive understatement.

In their first week back at work, congressional Republicans introduced a sweeping prohibition on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy (H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act), as well as bills that would ban sex-selective abortions, target funding for groups like Planned Parenthood, require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges, and let doctors and nurses opt out of providing abortion care, even in emergencies.

In the states, where the 2014 elections gave Republicans control of two-thirds of state legislative chambers, incoming lawmakers also have supersized their abortion agendas.

But abortion is just one issue on the minds of activists focused on reproductive rights. There's also birth control, conscience clauses and personhood. Here are seven key trends and themes to watch for this year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Town of Hopkinton tries to tries to justify cover-up

Did Morgan abuse impersonate a police officer? Is the town covering up?
By Will Collette
Don't mess with Morgan!

On January 15, I reported on my efforts to get to the bottom of complaints that now state Senator Elaine Morgan (R), who represents District 34 that includes the northern half of Charlestown, abused her office while she was Hopkinton’s elected Town Sergeant.

Morgan was accused in a Facebook posting on the WJAR page of using her uniform as Town Sergeant to act as if she was a police officer, which she is not, and interfere in a complicated personal matter. I heard about this Facebook posting too late before the election to chase it down, but after Morgan won an upset victory over Sen. Cathie Cool Rumsey, I went after the records since they now reflect on our new state Senator.

I filed a request under the state open records law with Hopkinton and was quickly turned down by the Town Clerk and then was again quickly turned down on appeal to the Town Manager. So I took the next step by filing a formal complaint with Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s Office. I describe my appeal argument in my January 15 article and closed by saying I was waiting for the town to file a response.

I received that response from Town Solicitor Patricia Buckley on January 17. Read the full response by clicking here. In a nutshell, Buckley argues that Senator Morgan has privacy rights that outweigh the public’s right to know about her conduct as an elected official and whether she broke the law (or whether the town did nothing about those complaints).


Republican reply to the State of the Union

Starving democracy in an Olive Garden.

URI's Maureen Moakley touts Cuba investment

URI professor back from Cuba to reach out to local business leaders about new opportunities on the Caribbean island

KINGSTON, R.I. – Business opportunities are opening up in Cuba following a thawing of relations between the Communist nation and United States, and Rhode Island should get in on the action.

That’s the word from University of Rhode Island political science professor Maureen Moakley, back from a 10-day trip to Cuba with 20 URI students.

Moakley says Cubans were hopeful and “excited’’ that tourism and new ventures would bring jobs and other economic opportunities to the Communist-run nation 90 miles off the southern tip of Florida.

She says she plans to reach out to the Providence Chamber of Commerce to explore coordinating a trip to Cuba with local business leaders and Rhode Island public officials.

Wood burning not as harmful as thought

Effects of wood fuel burning have less of an impact on CO2 emissions than previously thought
Cozy Fireplace animated GIFYale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies 

The harvesting of wood to meet the heating and cooking demands for billions of people worldwide has less of an impact on global forest loss and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than previously believed, according to a new Yale-led study.

Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, a team of researchers, including Prof. Robert Bailis of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), concludes that only about 27 to 34 percent of wood fuel harvested worldwide would be considered “unsustainable.”

According to the assessment, “sustainability” is based on whether or not annual harvesting exceeds incremental re-growth.

"The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering"

Big but not surprising news as the World Economic Forum convenes its annual meeting in the Swiss mountains.

Wealth accumulated by the richest one percent will exceed that of the other 99 percent in 2016, the Oxfam charity said Monday, ahead of the annual meeting of the world’s most powerful at Davos, Switzerland.

“The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast,” Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Next Big Progressive Battle

The minimum wage shouldn’t force workers to live in poverty.

On New Year’s Day, 20 states raised their minimum wages. That leaves a lot of states that aren’t increasing the minimum wage — along with the federal government.

Even some of those employees who are getting increases don’t have much to celebrate. Workers in Florida might barely notice their 12-cents-an-hour raise. And the extra 15 cents an hour in Montana, Arizona, and Missouri will be wiped out with inflation and climbing costs before the first paycheck is deposited.

U.S. legislators have refused since 2009 to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour — not even close to enough for full-time workers to make ends meet.

To put it bluntly, minimum wage is a poverty wage. Yet only 29 states have minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate — and some just barely.

Hope you stocked up...

Blizzard Survival Essentials

Stay safe, stay engaged

See it all by clicking here.
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