President Donald Trump was impeached by the United States House of Representatives this week, a move supported by a great many Rhode Islanders, as evidenced by the hundreds who showed up at the Rhode island State House in the rain and the cold to rally for the impeachment. Also, we look at stories about lunch shaming, sex work, safe drinking water, and so much more.

1. Rally to support the impeachment of Trump draws hundreds to Rhode Island State House

Activist Lauren Pothier organized the Rhode Island event in concert with hundreds kindred events across the country.

Make no mistake, it is a sad day when we as a country need to come together to exercise the practice of impeaching a President,” said rally organizer Lauren Pothier. “However, we as a country have seen overwhelming evidence that the president of the United States has broken the law. The President used military aid as leverage to help alter the 2020 election in his favor and that should disgust everybody…

John Marion of Common Cause RI was the first speaker. “”We were named in Nixon’s enemy list in 1974, and yet we never called for Nixon’s impeachment. This is the first time in the history of our organization that we’ve called for the impeachment of a president. We take it very seriously.”

Other speakers included State Senator Gayle Goldin, State Representatives Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and June Speakman, Woonsocket City Councilperson Alex Kithes, former State Representative Aaron Regunburg, State Senate candidate Kendra Anderson and the executive director of the Working Families Party, Georgia Hollister-Isman.

2. COYOTE RI observes the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

COYOTE RI‘s observance of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers yesterday began, as always, with a heartbreaking video of tho 48 sex workers who lost their lives to violence or drugs or just neglect by society in 2019. On this day, COYOTE RI executive director Bella Robinson, the commitment to the ongoing struggle for the safety, wellbeing and rights of all sex workers is renewed.

“When people are going to jail, they’re losing their apartments, they’re losing their vehicles, they’re losing all this stability they’ve created,” said Robinson. The criminalization of sex work does nothing to help sex workers pay for childcare or their rent.

3. 9-year old Ryan Kyote helped end lunch shaming in California

When Ryan Kyote arrived at the Rhode Island State House last Friday afternoon, State Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) presented him with a citation for “the distinguished honor” of his “visit to the Rhode Island State House and being named one of Time Magazine‘s most influential people of 2019 for your compassion and advocacy in elevating the issue of lunch shaming.”

The citation was signed by Ranglin-Vassell, who has submitted legislation for the last three years to end lunch shaming in Rhode island, and by the leadership of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the men responsible for killing the legislation each year: Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston), Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi (Democrat, District 23, Warwick) and Minority Leader Blake Filippi (Republican, District 36, Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly).

“I saw on the news about a little girl that was in line, she got her lunch and then the cafeteria person said, ‘You don’t have enough money so you need to give it back,’” said Kyote. “So she went to the end of the line, then other kids started making fun of her and she started crying.”

This news report spurred Kyote into action. He had his mother find out about lunch shaming policies in California, then he used his allowance to pay off the lunch debts of his classmates. “I had my chore money and I did chores for six months and it came up to $74.80.”

Ryan Kyote and Marcia Ranglin-Vassell

4. The resignation of Representative Shelby Maldonado opens special election for House District 56 in Central Falls

Shelby Maldonado

The surprise resignation of Representative Shelby Maldonado (Democrat, District 56, Central Falls), a close ally to the conservative Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston), has put an important seat into play.

Immediately Central Falls Mayor James Diossa‘s chief of staff Joshua Girlado announced on Twitter that, “After consultation with my family, I have decided to run to represent District 56 in the General Assembly… as Representative, I will work hard to ensure that we continue moving forward together.”

Today we learned that Senator Elizabeth Crowley (Democrat, District 16, Central Falls) has endorsed Giraldo. Crowley is a close ally of conservative Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (Democrat, District 4, Providence).

“Joshua Giraldo is a bright young leader who will be a tremendous representative at the State House,” said Crowley in her press release. “He is creative and energetic and has made a real difference during his time in public service.”

Crowley noted that Giraldo has experience as a teacher, as Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, and as Mayor James Diossa’s Chief of Staff.

“He has a combination of professional experience that has prepared him well to serve our community as a state representative,” said Senator Crowley. “He has valuable perspective on the needs of our schools, our public parks and programs, and our local government. He has helped improve our city parks, bolster small business opportunities, diversify our public safety departments, and create exciting events that build vibrancy in our community. Most of all, he has a demonstrated ability to bring people together to collaborate in ways that make a positive difference for the people of our city.”

She added, “I am grateful for Joshua’s commitment to serving Central Falls. He has been an outstanding chief of staff, and truly understands the needs of our city. I look forward to supporting him in the upcoming special election.”

Crowley is facing a challenge form Central Falls City Councilperson Jonathan Acosta in the fall.

Giraldo has a fundraiser scheduled for two days after Christmas, a smart move, since he will be able to collect donations in 2019 and 2020, potentially doubling his contributions from some supporters.

5. Memorial for the Westerly shooting tonight

The shooting took place at Babcock Village, a subsidized elderly apartment complex in Westerly that left one woman dead and two women injured is a stark reminder that no one is immune to gun violence. Tonight there will be a vigil for Julie Lynn Cardinal, the now deceased single mother of five, this evening at 6pm at Christ Episcopal Church, 7 Elm Street, Westerly, RI.

Cardinal, according the the Providence Journal, worked multiple jobs to support her family.

“While legislators will often cite our lack of mass shootings as a defense when refusing to support common sense gun violence prevention policy,” writes the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence in a statement, “the reality is, Rhode Islanders face gun violence everyday.”

See:

6. Safe Water Drinking Act to be taken up by the RI General Assembly, again

Representatives June Speakman (Democrat, District 68, Warren, Bristol) and Terri Cortvriend (Democrat, District 72, Portsmouth, Middletown) plan to introduce legislation in the upcoming 2020 legislative session to push the state to take action to protect drinking water from known toxins.

The Safe Drinking Water Act, which the two lawmakers also introduced last year (2019-H6064), will be introduced in partnership with the Conservation Law Foundation, Future Now and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The bill – being introduced in state legislatures around the country – provides for state-level standards for drinking water to limit known toxics and protect residents from harm.

7. Tom Sgouros: With climate change looming, why is Rhode Island making public transportation less convenient?

“We have usurped funds for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure to build wider highways, we have ignored calls to redesign Route 10, and we are acting to make RIPTA more inconvenient for riders,” writes Tom Sgouros. “In the face of the crisis we face, this is insane.”

8. Rhode Islanders for Parentage Equality calls for fixing state’s outdated Parentage Law so children aren’t left vulnerable

Another issue the Rhode Island General Assembly, and particularly the House under Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, can’t seem to do right by:

“Rhode Island currently has no statutes clarifying parentage for children born through assisted reproduction and no statutes regarding parentage through surrogacy. Families are more diverse in modern times, and Rhode Island law hasn’t kept pace. Rhode Island parentage law hasn’t been updated in over 40 years. Only two states – Kentucky and Mississippi – have family laws as old as Rhode Island.”

This is an issue in clear need of action. Let’s get on this, Rhode Island.

9. Teamsters Local 251: Providence needs to invest public money in the community

The recent release of Partnership for Rhode Island’s audit of Providence Public Schools (conducted on behalf of the organization by Ernst & Young) is another public relations snow job on behalf of the business community. (The Partnership for Rhode Island includes Amica, Bank of America, Brown University, Citizens Bank, CVS Health, Electric Boat, FM Global, Hasbro Inc, IGT, Providence Equity, and the Rhode Island Foundation, hardly community oriented organizations.)

“A race to the bottom is not the answer,” said Matthew Taibi, Secretary-Treasurer for Teamsters Local 251. “Our economy should be measured according to how many working families are succeeding, not how many rich people are succeeding. In regards to budgetary concerns, the City of Providence should stop giving tax breaks to wealthy developers who are not committed to providing family-supporting jobs for workers.”

10. ConvergenceRI

In cold blood: Poisoning our children by Richard Asinov

When man-made disasters are caused by budget austerity decisions made by state government managers, whom do you call to the rescue? The community…

11. Tal Frieden: The Disobedient One

Tal Frieden has been organizing against the Wyatt Detention Center for almost a year now, and here he gets some well deserved national attention.

“My grandparents were both Holocaust survivors,” Frieden said. “It was infuriating for me to see a violent history that my family knew so well used to legitimize the dehumanization and detention of undocumented people in this country.”

12. The Bartholomewtown Podcast

13. ecoRI

14. The Public’s Radio

15. Picture of the Week:

10-year old Ryan Kyote meets with Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and State Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell

16. Attorney General files lawsuit against Woonsocket City Council alleging willful or knowing violation of open meetings law

Just as we were posting, this important story came up.


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