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Rhode Island Tip Sheet: Snowpocalypse ’11

February 1, 2011

STATE OF THE STATE: Make it stop. A double-whammy of snow and possibly other wet precipitation is the latest plague to hit the Ocean State after high unemployment, struggling municipalities, under-performing schools, and floods. With just seven days until Truck Day is it time to cue the locusts? . . . . Providence parking ban at noon . . . . UPDATE: The House of Representatives and Senate have canceled their plans for today, and the House for tomorrow (the Senate says it is monitoring conditions for tomorrow); House committee meetings scheduled for today will be moved forward a week, until next Tuesday, February 8. Tomorrow’s committee meetings are now set for next Wednesday, February 9 . . . . Jef Nickerson says those all those snow piles around Providence have a positive dividend: traffic calming.

CENTRAL FALLS: Robert G. Flanders gets the nod as the new state-appointed receiver for Central Falls, a high-risk, high-reward assignment — both in the civic sense. Flanders is a man for all seasons — athlete, lawyer, jurist, education advocate — known for his dissents on the RI Supreme Court. He showed he marches to a different drummer by walking away from his job on the high court. Flanders tells me he hopes to create a blueprint in Central Falls that might aid other fiscally distressed RI communities, particularly cities. Asked about the outlook for success, he pronounced himself optimistic — because the choices are so stark: “We have to get to a place where the city can be financially viable or go out of existence and default on all of its obligations . . . . We need to get to a place where people are satisfied that a haircut looks a lot better than a beheading.” . . . . State Police investigation of Moreau administration still grinding along . . . . Departing receiver Mark Pfeiffer due to finish on February 11; he says he’ll deliver a final report on CF before then, including an estimate for the cost of a short-time state subsidy to keep the city going . . . . Some of the major reforms previously recommended by Pfeiffer, including restructuring of pensions and retiree health care benefits, require legislative and gubernatorial approval.

FAST COMPANY: Congrats to former ProJo scribe Cynthia Needham, who has been promoted to political editor at The Boston Globe after joining the paper earlier this winter.

BLOC PARTY: Providence Latinos played an important part in Lincoln Chafee‘s victory last November, and Angel Taveras was conspicuously neutral in the governor’s race. So is it mere coincidence that Sheldon Whitehouse, fresh off his Sunday night fundraiser, was slated to join Taveras yesterday for a walking tour of busineses on Hope Street, Chalkstone Avenue, and Broad Street, the latter being the heart of Providence’s Latino community? Back in the 2002 gubernatorial primary, Myrth York edged Whitehouse, thanks to support on the South Side. So Whitehouse’s time on the stump with Taveras seems intended to bolster his support heading into 2012.

LEGAL SERVICES: WRNI’s Flo Jonic was first yesterday with the news that the layoff of the 13-member paralegal staff at Rhode Island Legal Services has been postponed, as efforts continue to find savings and additional revenue through other steps.

EDUCATION: Chafee is due at 1 today to introduce five new appointments to the state Board of Regents . . . . Marc Comtois wonders if that will be a prelude to a gubernatorial decision on Deborah Gist.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: The military is dropping Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and one of George W. Bush‘s daughters has come out in support of same-sex marriage. But with a same-sex marriage bill scheduled for a hearing now set for Wednesday, February 9, in the House Judiciary Committee, the state Senate and its president, Teresa Paiva Weed, remain big question marks.

CHINA RISING: Next Thursday, February 3, at 6 pm, the World Affairs Council of Rhode Island presents, “China Emerging: the Dragon Awakens, with panelists J. Vernon Henderson, Richard Levy, and Hong Yang.

GREATER NORTH: The rightward swerve of the New Hampshire GOP worries Republican moderates in the Granite State, reports The Boston Globe.

EGYPT: Mixed views from there of the US . . . . Politico has w0rst-case scenarios for the White House: “To say the crisis comes at a terrible time is an understatement. Not only is it a distraction, it’s one of Obama’s most challenging ‘3 a.m.’ foreign policy challenges — and a depressing reminder of America’s diminished influence in the world’s most volatile region.” . . . . The unrest in Egypt has been a boon for Al Jazeera, which wants a place on US cable stations.

LABOR IN RI: Scott has a tale reflecting the changing nature of administration-labor relations under Governor Chafee . . . . Ted Nesi has more on the percentage of unionized workers in RI and the US.

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