The Uprising January 26, 2018

President Donald Trump tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last year, only backing off when his lawyer threatened to quit. In Davos, Trump declared the United States “open for business,” which makes sense, since he’s been giving us the business since he was sworn in.

It’s two minutes to Doomsday: Welcome to The Uprising!

In the words of philosopher Joey Ramone, “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!”

1. Rhode Islander Lilian Calderon was detained by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when she went with her husband to apply for citizenship. Calderone came to this country at the age of three from Guatemala. She has two young children with Luis Gordillo, an American citizen who was born in Mexico. Both children are American citizens. Calderone could be deported at any time.

A fundraiser has been established to help the family pay legal fees.

AMOR RI recommends the following actions:

After reaching out to Lilian’s family, they welcome support from community members through the following actions. Please take a few minutes to take action and support:

1) If able, please donate and promote the fundraiser for Lilian’s legal fees through your own networks:
https://www.gofundme.com/9scsuz-lilian

2) Call and tweet Governor Gina Raimondo and ask her to intervene to demand an end to Lilian’s detainment. We want Lilian home with her family now!
Governor Raimondo’s Twitter: @GovRaimondo
Governor Raimondo’s Number: 401-222-2080

3) Call and tweet at the Congressional Delegation to ask them to intervene by demanding an end to Lilian’s detainment.

Senator Jack Reed: 401-528-5200 | Tweet @SenJackReed
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: 401-453-5294 | Tweet @SenWhitehouse
Congressman David Cicilline: 401-729-5600 | Tweet @davidcicilline
Congressman James Langevin: 401-732-9400 | Tweet @JimLangevin

2. There’s so much happening, the 2018 Women’s March seems like a distant memory, but around 3000 people crowded the south side of the Rhode Island State House to hear a steady stream of women, and no politicians, speak on a variety of issues of concern.

Here is video of all the speakers and here’s a photo essay.

And what was the Women’s March about? Melanie DuPont explains.

3a. Invenergy, the company seeking to build a fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant amidst the pristine forests of north west Rhode Island made some big moves this week. The company managed to get the Show Cause Hearing, that was to take place on January 30, cancelled. First the company let the Narragansett Indian Tribe out of the water supply agreement, which removed a big issue from the proceedings and allowed Charlestown to withdraw from the case.

Two days later Invenergy dropped their lawsuit at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

These were the issues the Show Cause Hearing was based on, so the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) the body charged with deciding on the licensing of the power plant, cancelled the Show Cause hearing.

3b. But not so fast say lawyers from Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the Town of Burrillville. Rhode Islanders are still at risk from Invenergy passing construction costs onto ratepayers.

“The EFSB may not have been so willing to cancel the Show Cause Hearing on January 30 if the EFSB members had realized that Invenergy’s withdrawal of its lawsuit was without prejudice,” said CLF senior attorney Jerry Elmer. “This means that Invenergy can re-file the identical lawsuit any time it chooses, including after the EFSB grants it a possible permit. Given Invenergy’s history of trying to hide its efforts to shift costs to ratepayers — and then lying about those efforts when they were caught — CLF believes that there is a real risk of Invenergy re-filing its FERC lawsuit at some time in the future.”

Not only that, but there is a second lawsuit involving Invenergy currently before the FERC, and this one was not initiated by Invenergy, so it’s not so easily withdrawn.

This lawsuit “is being brought by National Grid, who maintain that Invenergy seeks to “effectively force National Grid to incur substantial costs to facilitate the Clear River interconnection well before Clear River would provide security or other financial support for the interconnection. This would shift project development risk for Clear River’s project to National Grid’s captive ratepayers, undermining the purpose of the restructured electric industry in New England where generation developers assume the risks of their own projects.”

3c. Interesting side note: There is no such entity as “Clear River Energy Center LLC” any where in the world. After having this fact pointed out to them Invenergy was forced to amend its lawsuits before FERC. More evidence, says CLF senior Attorney Jerry Elmer, that “Invenergy is not ready for prime time.”

4a. Kat Kerwin is going after Providence City Councilor Terrence Hassett‘s seat in Ward 12.

4b. Liana Cassar is vying for Representative Joy Hearn‘s House District 66 seat.

4c. David Norton jumped into the Senate District 8 special election over concerns that fellow Democrats Matt Fecteau and Sandra Cano support public funds for the proposed Apex PawSox stadium. It’s a crowded field with six candidates, including Republicans Nathan Luciano and Richard Karsulavitch and Independent Pamela Braman. Pawtucket is a city feeling the impact of a multitude of issues, including the aforementioned PawSox, the closing of Memorial Hospital and the planned construction of the Fairlawn waste transfer station.

5a. The Providence FOP Lodge #3 issued a statement on social media yesterday blaming the recent wave of gun violence in the city on the implementation of the Community Safety Act (CSA) (officially known as the PCPRA.)

“Criminals feel empowered and feel as if they are above the law,” wrote FOP leadership. “This situation will only get worse under the newly adopted ordinance, because of the conditions that it has created as explained above … and we have our City Council to thank for it. They put your safety at risk after they caved in to the loud shouting and threats by the radical anti-police movement. Your safety and the safety of those who would visit our city have been at risk.”

5b. “Frankly, that kind of fear-mongering is simply not based in fact and is counterproductive…” replied Providence City Council President David Salvatore.

5c. Dan McGowan quotes Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré as saying “There’s just no evidence or basis” for the FOP’s claims.

5d. End Police Brutality PVD also took issue with the Providence FOP statement, saying, “These are wild police conspiracy theories built on fear-mongering and a distortion of facts with the intention to garner support for an eventual repeal of the Community Safety Act.”

5e. It should be noted that FOP President Michael Imondi was elected in large measure due to his opposition to the CSA back in October 2017.

5f. Justice Gaines, who served on the City Council’s Community Safety Act Working Group, writes in an oped:

“Police officers are public servants. Police officers are responsible for public safety. Police officers should be responsible to the public. City residents working with elected public officials have every right to demand and determine how police interact with the public. If the FOP believes that police officers should not be subject to the public’s scrutiny or regulation, they have clearly misinterpreted the role of police officers in our society.”

6a. Brian Alexander, over at The Atlantic, explains The Problem With Courting Amazon:

Jeffry Harris, the chief of the Area Development Foundation of Knox County, Ohio, the umbrella economic-development agency representing county and town governments, is an incentives skeptic who says he has ‘been watching the Amazon thing with a smirk.

“‘I have seen communities across Ohio make very lucrative deals to get companies to move into their community and frankly believe those communities many times overpay for that development,’ he told me. Local officials want to be seen as doing something to create jobs, and to project a pro-business image. Spreading taxpayers’ dollars to prospective businesses is one easy way to do it.

“But Harris believes that’s unsustainable. Better, he argues, to put more effort into community development, the school system, the workforce, the roads: ‘What are we doing to address the overall aesthetics of our community so when I get a Lansing, Michigan, guy coming in, downtown looks sharp? If I have a plant manager who comes through with his wife, and she says, ‘This place is terrible,” we’ve lost that opportunity.'”

6b. Now that Rhode Island is officially out of the running for the Amazon HQ, will the Raimondo administration release the offer they made to the public?

7. Representative Edith Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence) and Senator Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence) introduced legislation to eliminate laws that contradict the abortion rights affirmed by Roe v Wade on the same day Rhode Island Right to Life held a rally in the State House rotunda.

It seems to me that the uphill battle facing this legislation will be mirrored in the uphill battle opponents face in winning re-election. General Assembly leadership seems uninterested in seriously considering the bill: “I don’t share that fear,” said House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi, a man. “I don’t think any kind of overturning Roe v Wade is imminent…”

Meanwhile, women are filing too run for elected office in record numbers.

8. The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island (ACLU) and the Rhode Island Disability Law Center (RIDLC) have asked the United States Attorney’s Office for Rhode Island to address local law enforcement agencies’ lack of compliance with federal laws requiring them to provide effective communication with people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

9a. Besides the bill to codify Roe v Wade, other progressive legislation has been introduced or will be introduced shortly. Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence) and Senator Jeanine Calkin (Democrat, District 30, Warwick) introduced a single payer, Medicare-for-All bill on Wednesday.

9b. Regunberg also introduced a bill that would provide greater access to the State House for Rhode Islanders who aren’t lobbyists.

The Citizen Lobbyist Easier Access Reform (CLEAR) bill (H7214) contains a number of new accessibility measures and limitations on special-interest spending that that would make way for a shift in the State House status quo.

  • Transportation – Reserves 100 free parking spaces for visiting members of the public and creates a new bus stop at the State House.
  • Child care – Establishes a child-care center for visitors to the State House that will operate during long committee hours when the legislature is in session.
  • Public Priority – The first 10 spaces for testimony during committee hearings will be reserved for members of the public who are not registered as lobbyists.
  • Remote Testimony – Invest in the needed technology to allow individuals to submit spoken testimony if they are unable to attend legislative hearings in person.
  • Limits on political contributions from lobbyists

-The maximum annual contribution total to any candidate from a registered lobbyist would be decreased from $1,000 to $100.

-Lobbyists and Political Action Committees would be prohibited from making contributions to political candidates while the legislature is in session.

Regunberg wrote an oped in support off his bill here.

9c. Next week sees the introduction of a $15 minimum wage bill and a fair wage bill,

9d. a Net Neutrality campaign kick off,

9e. and a rally and legislative visit for the Healthy Workplace bill.

10. The Woman Project handed out cupcakes to those legislators who supported the Reproductive Health Care Act last year.

11. United States Representative Joseph Kennedy III (Massachusetts) will be delivering the Democratic party response to President Donald Trump’s sure-to-be-stupid State of the Union Address. Kennedy, unlike any member of Congress representing Rhode Island, took a stand against natural gas infrastructure expansion in his state, and did not rely on tired bromides such as “Trust the process.”

Here’s local environmentalist Greg Gerritt delivering his State of the Union address.

12. Pain management without opioids: Rhode Island has a model that works

13. Here’s the first in what I hope will be a series of book reviews from The Collective, a bookstore, infoshop, lending library, reading room and community meeting space located in Peace Dale, RI.

Here we’re reviewing As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

14. “If you have DACA, you’re in a position to defend immigrants, to defend your rights,” said the soft-spoken but very determined young activist. “If you want to defend your civil rights, the way to do that is by speaking up, by standing up, telling people your story. Otherwise, no one will know what you are going through. No one can speak for you… only you can speak for you.”

Rodrigo Pimentel, in the Herald News.

15. The picture of the week was easy to decide:

16. It’s cold and flu season, and I’ve got one of the two, so either I’ll be taking a day or two off or I’ll be raring to go. Don’t forget, Uprise RI is entirely supported by your donations and the very occasional advertiser.

I could always use more money.


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About Steve Ahlquist 578 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com

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