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Trying my hand at that Ted Nesi/Ian Donnis thing…



So, as I’m finishing up five days away from RI Future, and striking out on my own, I figured I’d try one of those lists of news story pieces that Ian Donnis and Ted Nesi do so well.

1. Steve Ahlquist (that’s me!) has left RI Future. I can honestly say I loved working there, loved working with Bob Plain, and consider it to be the best job of my life. The reasons for parting are complex and personal, but I sincerely want to thank Bob Plain for our years together.

2. My last story at RI Future and first story at was about Fall River’s sale of water to Invenergy to cool their proposed power plant. The issue went off like a bomb in the Fall River City Council Tuesday evening, with City Councilor Steven Camara saying, “I feel like we’re an accomplice to a potential crime by being supportive of a company that is clearly doing something that is not in the best interest of our neighboring state of Rhode Island.”

3. A large protest outside Channel 10/WJAR offices in Cranston drew nation-wide attention. Viewers don’t like the right-wing pro-Trump scare pieces being inserted into their local news. “It’s an affront to the integrity of broadcasting,” said Dr Patricia Ricci, speaking for the Kent County Huddle, the group that organized the event. “We were so appalled that we had to take a stand. We’re not watching channel 10 any longer, but we felt we had to go Further than that.”

4. State Representative Aaron Regunberg made his bid for the position of Lt Governor official on Tuesday. A proud progressive, Regunberg listed his priorities in a press release: “We can guarantee healthcare as a fundamental human right. We can rebuild our crumbling public schools, and make sure the top 1 percent pay their fair share. We can launch a Green New Deal and put thousands of Rhode Islanders to work expanding clean energy. And we can, and we will, stand up to protect a woman’s right to choose, no matter what happens in Washington.”

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Regunberg’s raced got almost immediate national attention as CNN Politics called it one of “9 Democratic primaries to watch in 2018.”

5. The UHIP disaster keeps delivering fresh horrors. The state disclosed that it discovered thousands of unprocessed applications for SNAP benefits. As Governor Gina Raimondo tried to may a silk purse of the sow’s ear by reporting that she had secured $60 million from Deloitte, the contractor that keeps failing to deliver as promised, the ACLU of Rhode Island said in a statement, “whoever is to blame, the state is simply incapable of resolving this problem on its own.”

The ACLU sued the state and the state made promises to correct the issues. Apparently that hasn’t happened.

6. An altercation involving Central High School Assistant Principal Tom Bacon wrestling a student to the ground and restraining him has led to a Providence Police investigation and Bacon’s resignation. One wonders what would have happened if there hadn’t been a video of the incident making the rounds on social media.

7. The Rhode island Democratic Part Women’s Caucus is relatively new, but already flexed its muscles by forcing an emergency meeting to decide the fate of 2nd Vice Chair Joseph DeLorenzo.

That show of strength seems to have been enough to get DeLorenzo to quit the party altogether. DeLorenzo made some outrageous comments regarding Teresa Tanzi and sexual harassment. His apology, made at the request of Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, was deemed “too little, too late” by the caucus.

Meanwhile DeLorenzo’s behavior has been called Trump-like by none other than Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell. “The Rhode Island Democratic Party wants to complain about President Trump but their leaders have sounded a lot like Trump,” said Bell, accusing democratic Party leaders Mattiello and party chair Joseph McNamara of hypocrisy. Nail on the head.

On Thursday evening DeLorenzo was seen at Republican State Representative Robert Lancia‘s fundraiser in Cranston.

8. Governor Gina Raimondo signed a new law makes it easier to form worker cooperatives at the headquarters of Fuerza Laboral in Central Falls.

9. South Kingstown enacted a comprehensive ordinance, based on a model introduced by the ACLU, to protect immigrants in their community from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Among other things, the adopted ordinance generally bars police from inquiring about the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses, or others; rejects participation in a federal program, known as 287(g), that essentially deputizes local police to serve as immigration agents; bans participation in any federal program requiring the registration of individuals based on their religion, ethnicity or national origin; and limits other forms of engagement in immigration enforcement that can adversely affect public safety and undermine good police-community relations,” writes the ACLU.

10. After the New York Times revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was forbidding its scientists to speak at the Narragansett Bay Watershed workshop at Save the Bay in Providence, activists swarmed the event, holding signs with their mouths taped shut. Justin Boyan of Climate Action Rhode Island (CARI) has a piece with links to local coverage.

11. Here’s an interview with Bella Robinson, executive director of COYOTE RI a group that seeks the decriminalization of consensual sex work between consenting adults and the reduction of harm and social stigma targeting sex workers. Sex work includes prostitution, pornography, modeling, phone sex operating, etc.

12. Should the Energy Facilities Siting Board be deciding matters of Narragansett Indian Tribe governance? Invenergy seems to thinks so…

13. Not willing to let reality get in the way of a good story, GoLocal published an unsigned and extremely sexist editorial implying that environmental advocacy groups terrorized Governor Gina Raimondo’s children when they picketed her home on the East Side of Providence Thursday evening over the issues of Invenergy’s proposed Burrillville power plant and National Grid‘s proposed liquefaction facility in the Port of Providence.

In reality this low-key, peaceful event was closely watched by at least seven representatives of the Providence and State Police. First Gentleman Andy Moffit stepped out to walk the family dog and crossed the street to chat pleasantly with the protesters. I didn’t see any GoLocal reporters present

14. As I write this I’m hearing that Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has submitted its first charges to the Grand Jury. Arrests may come by Monday.

15. Picture of the week: A non-terrified First Gentleman engaging with peaceful protesters.

Andy Moffit

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.