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2016 Rhode Island statewide ballot questions

election-2016

Below is information on the 7 statewide ballot questions which will be appearing on the November 8th ballot. All information from the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s office.

Download the full Voter Information Handbook from the Secretary of State’s office

1. STATE CONSTITUTIONAL APPROVAL

Approval of an act authorizing state-operated casino gaming at “Twin River-Tiverton” in the Town of Tiverton
Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution

Shall an act be approved which would authorize a facility owned by Twin River-Tiverton, LLC, located in the Town of Tiverton at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road, to be licensed as a pari-mutuel
facility and offer state-operated video-lottery games and state-operated casino gaming, such as table games?

Approve

Your vote to “Approve” this question means you want to allow a new state-operated casino, including video-lottery games and table games, to be built in Tiverton, at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road.

Reject

Your vote to “Reject” this question means you do not want to allow a new state-operated casino, including video-lottery games and table games, to be built in Tiverton, at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road.

Explanation and purpose of Question 1:

This question is asking voters to allow a new state-operated casino to be built in Tiverton at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road. Approval will require that voters in Tiverton and throughout the State of Rhode Island vote in favor of building the casino. The casino would be owned by Twin River-Tiverton and would be licensed and regulated by the State.

The Twin River-Tiverton Casino would include video-lottery games and table games and replace what is currently Newport Grand.

This question is before the voters because the Rhode Island Constitution requires that voters approve any expansion of gambling. More specifically, Article VI, Section 22 of the Rhode Island Constitution provides that “no act expanding the types of gambling permitted within any city or town in the State of Rhode Island shall take effect until it has been approved by a majority of those electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a referendum in the municipality in which the proposed gambling would be allowed.”

How much money will be borrowed?

The referendum would not authorize any borrowing


2. AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE

Restoration of ethics commission jurisdiction over General Assembly members
Section 8 of Article III and Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution

Section 8 of Article III of the Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:

Section 8. Ethics commission – Code of ethics. – The general assembly shall establish an independent non-partisan ethics commission which shall adopt a code of ethics including, but not limited to, provisions on conflicts of interest, confidential information, use of position, contracts with government agencies and financial disclosure. The assent of two-thirds (2/3) of the members appointed shall be required for the adoption for every rule or regulation. All elected and appointed officials and employees of state and local government, of boards, commissions and agencies shall be subject to the code of ethics. The ethics commission shall have the authority to investigate alleged violations of the code of ethics, including acts otherwise protected by Article VI, Section 5, and to impose penalties, as provided by law;. and the Any sanction issued against any party by the ethics commission shall be appealable to the judicial branch as provided by law. The commission shall have the power to remove from office officials who are not otherwise subject to impeachment, or expulsion as provided by Article VI, Section 7.

Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:

Section 5. Immunities of general assembly members. – The persons of all members of the general assembly shall be exempt from arrest and their estates from attachment in any civil action, during the session of the general assembly, and two days before the commencement and two days after the termination thereof, and all process served contrary hereto shall be void. For any speech in debate in either house, no member shall be questioned in any other place, except by the ethics commission as set forth in Article III, Section 8.

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News & Notes

ljubljana- flickr

Ljubljana – Photo (cc) Gilad Rom

BuzzFeed News It Will Soon Be More Expensive To Jaywalk Than To Drink And Drive In Nova Scotia

This year the province is upping its fines for jaywalking to $700 for a first offence. It’s $1,272 for a second offence and a whopping $2,422 for a third offence.

[…]

Ultimately, said [Ben] Wedge [chair of the Halifax Cycling Coalition], pedestrians are already careful because they know that they’re the ones who are going to be injured in a collision, not the driver.

“The punishment has to be proportional to the crime committed,” he said.


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Politico: Obama to propose $10-a-barrel oil tax

obama-official-edit

President Barack Obama is about to unveil an ambitious plan for a “21st century clean transportation system.” And he hopes to fund it with a tax on oil.

Obama aides told POLITICO that when he releases his final budget request next week, the president will propose more than $300 billion worth of investments over the next decade in mass transit, high-speed rail, self-driving cars, and other transportation approaches designed to reduce carbon emissions and congestion. To pay for it all, Obama will call for a $10 “fee” on every barrel of oil, a surcharge that would be paid by oil companies but would presumably be passed along to consumers.

There is no real chance that the Republican-controlled Congress will embrace Obama’s grand vision of climate-friendly mobility in an election year—especially after passing a long-stalled bipartisan highway bill just last year—and his aides acknowledge it’s mostly an effort to jump-start a conversation about the future of transportation.

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Providence Preservation Society Advocacy Alert: Rhode Island Hospital Planning to Demolish Historic Southwest Pavilion

From Providence Preservation Society:


Advocacy Alert: Rhode Island Hospital Planning to Demolish Historic Southwest Pavilion

pps-sw-pavilion

All photos by Frank Mullin

Next Tuesday, Rhode Island Hospital will appear before the City Plan Commission to request the demolition of the the historic Southwest Pavilion. Located at the heart of the Hospital’s campus, the Southwest Pavilion was included on the PPS Most Endangered Properties list in 2010, and stands as one of the only survivors from the original Hospital landscape. Its loss would be devastating to the city’s sense of history.

Following feasibility studies in 2010 and 2015, the Hospital is favoring demolition due to the high cost of restoration. PPS is advocating for Rhode Island Hospital to consider other options, which could include making roof repairs and mothballing, extending the life of the building until an appropriate use is found.

Show your support for this building by attending the City Plan Commission meeting on Tuesday, November 17th, at 4:45 pm, 444 Westminster Street in Providence.

What YOU can do…

Show Up:

Show your support for this building by attending the City Plan Commission meeting on Tuesday, November 17th, at 4:45 pm, 444 Westminster Street in Providence.

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ProJo: URI rescinds parking fee after graduate assistants launch protest

uri

Photo from Graduate Assistants United Facebook Page.

About 25 graduate assistants at the University of Rhode Island rallied Tuesday afternoon to protest what their union leader says have been repeated attempts charge them for parking.

The students — some carrying a banner that read “Big Thinkers Deserve More” — stood outside a third-floor hallway in Roosevelt Hall where negotiators for the college and the union were scheduled to meet.

The protest followed a recent posting on URI’s website stating that graduate assistants who commuted to campus and were previously allowed to park for free would be charged $100 for a permit, said Danielle Dirocco, executive director of Graduate Assistants United, which represents over 500 of unionized teaching, research and departmental assistants. The union filed a grievance stating the fee violated their contract.

I’ve seen this news hailed by some as a great progressive victory over the man on social media. My view? Big thinkers don’t pave farm land for free parking.

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Elorza updates street sweeping plans

elorza-street-sweeping

Photo from Mayor Elorza’s Facebook page

Mayor Elorza held a press conference this morning to provide an update on the street sweeping schedule. I asked on Twitter about prohibiting parking during scheduled street sweeping.


I did take it upon myself to sweep the street in front of my house a few weeks ago, but the rest of my block remains littered with detritus even after the street sweepers went by because no one knew they were coming.

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News & Notes

One proposal to combat sea-level rise in Boston, convert Clarendon Street into a canal.

BostInno: 6 Visuals for How Boston Can Adapt to Rising Sea Levels

Though Boston has historically grown outwards into the ocean, with landfill expanding its boundaries over the decades, the threat of it being submerged back into the Atlantic is very real. Though the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has introduced numerous legislation in an attempt to curtail rising sea levels, as has the City of Boston, there needs to be a shift in thinking from how we can combat the effects of climate change to how we can adapt to them.

A new report published by the Urban Land Institute’s Boston/NewEngland branch makes a number of municipal design suggestions and reaffirms on several occasions that the time to act is now.

The study, called The Implications of Living With Water, examines four specified areas dangerously at-risk should Mother Nature decide to unleash her wrath in the form of a hurricane not unlike Sandy, which devastated the Eastern seaboard from New York City down to Florida.


BostInno: It’s Official: Allston Is Going to Get a New MBTA Station

Tuesday afternoon Governor Deval Patrick announced that previously derailed plans for West Station are back on. When West Station is complete, commuters will be able to make direct trips back and forth between Allston and Back Bay or South Station – without having to suffer the misery of the Green Line.

Harvard University will help pay for the new railroad station in Boston’s Allston neighborhood.

The MBTA has long range plans to do short run subway-like service on some of it’s commuter rail lines within areas in and close to Boston using smaller DMU trains.

If/when the MBTA moves ahead with plans for purchasing DMU’s, Rhode Island should be ready to get on board with them (sorry). DMU’s would be perfect for running higher frequency intra-state service in Rhode Island.


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City of Providence Seeks Public Comment on Sustainabilty Plan

providence-green

Over the past year, the City of Providence has been working on its Sustainability Plan. The City has released a draft of that plan and is seeking comment from the public. From the City:


From Mayor Taveras: Draft Sustainable Providence Plan Released for Public Comment

I am pleased to release for public comment a draft of the city’s first-ever sustainability action plan, Sustainable Providence.

In 2013, I released sustainability goals to move Providence forward in six key areas: waste, food, transportation, water, energy, and land use & development. Since then, more than 100 community leaders have worked with my staff to develop and provide feedback on this draft plan to achieve our goals.

Implementing this plan will help build a resilient and sustainable future for Providence as we protect our environment, rebuild our economy and strengthen our community. Thank you for working together with us to create a cleaner, greener city.

Please submit your comments by Friday, August 22, 2014 to Sheila Dormody, Director of Sustainability, sdormody@providenceri.com

Full disclosure: I participated on the Transportation Subcommittee
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News & Notes

Snowy evening in Helsinki

Snowy evening in Helsinki, image (cc) Niklas Sjöblom

The Guardian: Helsinki’s ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 years

The Finnish capital has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point “mobility on demand” system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car.

Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.


Old Urbanist: Going Driverless, or Not

A heated debate over the significance of Google’s so-called driverless car has been raging over the past several weeks. On one side of the aisle are those hailing it as a “revolutionary” technology that will dramatically alter personal mobility to the point of eliminating private car ownership. On the other side are those who reject the premise that the technology represents a groundbreaking shift, instead characterizing it as merely a “slightly different variation” on current transportation modes that is “so incremental that it epitomizes our national short-sightedness, and failure of imagination, when it comes to improving mobility in America.”

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Grow Smart RI Power of Place Summit – May 23, 2014

convention-center

Grow Smart RI’s biennial Power of Place Summit takes place this Friday, May 23rd at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Online registration closes at noon tomorrow then the price goes up for telephone or walk-up registrations, so register today!

Details from Grow Smart RI:


Join 500 state, local and federal officials, business and civic leaders, real estate professionals, investors, architects, developers, builders, farmers, and community stakeholders from across Rhode Island and New England for Grow Smart’s 5th biennial Power of Place Summit.

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News & Notes

Grist: States promise to sell one new EV for every 24 people by 2025

They’re starting to step up. Eight states that represent, according to the New York Times, “a quarter of the national car market” just announced they’re going to work together on creating a better system for drivers of electric vehicles. They are, in descending order of population size, California, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont, and they say their goal is to help get 3.3 million new EVs sold by 2025. With a combined population of 79 million people, that means one EV for every 24 people.

How are they going to do it? By creating a system that will give EV owners something only gas-guzzling car drivers have now: certainty about where and when and how they’ll be able to fuel up.

I’m all for things that help improve the environment, but I’ve got to say, I’m a little sad that the environmental press is not being more thoughtful on this story. Reduced carbon emissions are wonderful, but it is not simply the carbon which is problematic, it is safety (for people inside and outside of cars) land-use, household budgets, and more. These are among the things states are supposed to do to encourage electric cars:

  • More charging stations
  • Building codes that require chargers at workplaces and “multifamily residences”
  • Reduced tolls
  • Better parking
  • Cheaper electricity prices

These are all things that encourage more driving; encouraging sprawl, paving land, putting pedestrians and cyclists in conflict with auto-traffic (I don’t think you’re any less dead after getting run over by an electric vehicle than you are getting run over by a gas powered one), and leaving individuals and families tied to the expense of a car (granted, made less so by reducing the costs of powering the vehicle).

Rhode Island seems quite proud of itself for being part of this group of states, but Rhode Island continues to poorly support alternatives to automobile use, namely mass transit and cycling infrastructure.

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State defiantly moves ahead with surface parking

state-house-parking

In spite of Providence Zoning rules and Capital Center rules forbidding it, the State is moving ahead with plans to expand a surface parking lot on the State House grounds and building a new surface parking lot adjacent to the State House.

ecoRI reports that the Department of Administration (DOA) has already started work on expanding the Assembly Members parking lot on the State House grounds. “Work on the two tiers of new parking to the east of the Statehouse, along Smith Street, will replace 2,000 square feet of grass with some 40 parking spaces.”

Meanwhile, as we discussed in July, the DOA has spent $3.1 million purchasing property along Francis Street next to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium for even more surface parking.

The Chairman of the Capital Center Commission, Deming Sherman is none to happy about all this. Sherman told The Providence Journal that there should be less parking around the State House, not more and that a parking garage should be built behind the DOA building.

When the State restarted the project to expand the parking lot on the State House lawn in June of this year, Sherman contended that the plan had to be submitted to the Capital Center Commission for review, the DOA claims that their authority supercedes the Capital Center Commission (which was created by the State) as well as City zoning.

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News & Notes

Detroit - Renaissance Center

Detroit from Canada. Photo (cc) Patricia Drury

Spacing: Converting Alleyways to Livable Laneways and Country Lanes

Asphalt paving was removed and replaced with “structural grass,” rigid plastic honeycomb cells sprinkled with ordinary lawn seed and nurtured into green swaths. Concrete strips were embedded on two sides, creating a durable driving surface. Permeable brick pavers were installed in driveways and at the lane way entrances; these allow rain water to infiltrate between their joints and into the ground, reducing run-off, the bane of municipal storm sewer systems.


Newshour: Will Other U.S. Cities Follow in Detroit’s Footsteps?

Well, I think cities have realized they’re not going to grow their economies by bribing companies to come in[1].

Just as Bruce said, they’re going to build on their own strategic assets, and as specialized as they are — and Bruce knows this — they also to be diverse. Diverse economies grow. But in the United States, the cities and regions that are having trouble are the manufacturing regions that have not revitalized and developed their knowledge assets and diversified.

And Sun Belt regions that are dependent on real estate and construction, our economy is being reshaped around knowledge centers, big and small. Ann Arbor right outside of Detroit is doing fabulously well, and energy centers — and those are becoming the powerhouses of the U.S. regional economy. But there are very real winners and losers in this economy. And for those falling behind, they have to take steps to specialize, to focus on their niche, but also to diversify their economy.

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Repost: Seeking a solution (to flooding and beach closures)

After the 2010 floods, I wrote about the public desire for some sort of solution to prevent future flooding. Spoiler, we can’t prevent future floods, but we can change what we’re doing to mitigate the impact of flooding.

We haven’t had a giant flood since, but related to the flooding problem is stormwater runoff polluting the bay. Bob Plain writes today on RIFuture about how Warwick has been heavily impacted by beach closures related to pollution caused by runoff.

Also today, Save The Bay is holding a press conference about the high number of beach closings this year. The AP’s Erika Niedowski tweets from the press conference:


That is to say, I believe, that the Providence Combined Sewer Overflow Project is working, but our paved and other impervious surfaces are still causing us harm.

In 2010 it was massive flooding which was supposed to be our wake-up call about the damage our built environment was doing to us. We did not learn many lessons it would seem from those floods, as a year later a smiling Cranston Mayor Fung celebrated the opening of a new Stop & Shop on the banks of the Pawtuxet.

Will we learn any lessons from our 2013 beach closures wake-up call?

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News & Notes

Flying Into Boston 005 - Tilt Shift v2

Boston. Photo (cc) Kevin Tostado.

The Boston Globe: Don’t require more spaces; price curbside ones properly

If you give a valuable resource away for free, the inevitable result is overuse and crowding. In the old Soviet Union, groceries sold eggs and butter at near-free prices, and therefore shoppers faced long lines and empty shelves. In modern Massachusetts, on-street parking is available at low or no cost, and therefore drivers can’t find a parking spot. Low parking costs also ensure there are more drivers congesting the roads.

Small comfort I suppose that even in Boston, residents are aghast at the idea of reduced parking minimums.


The Boston Globe: Boston’s population boom speeds up

It’s not just the city proper. If you look at the other New England cities of 50,000 people or more you see that in general, the closer these sizable cities were to Boston, the faster they grew. (An exception: the similarly fast-growing cities along southern Connecticut’s I-95 and commuter rail corridor, which fall into the orbit of New York City.) This is an acceleration of a trend that began in 2000-2010, when Boston grew faster than the rest of New England for the first time in more than a century.

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Air Quality Alert – Tuesday, June 25, 2013

canvas-featured-air-quality-alertLet’s do this again tomorrow; all regular RIPTA buses and trolleys, but excluding special services, will be free on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is predicting that air quality will reach unhealthy levels in all of Rhode Island in the afternoon on Tuesday. A very humid air mass with west to southwest winds will be present at that time, which will lead to unhealthy air conditions. The poor air quality will be due to elevated ground level ozone concentrations. Ozone is a major component of smog and is formed by the photochemical reaction of pollutants emitted by motor vehicles, industry and other sources in the presence of elevated temperatures and sunlight.

Rhode Island residents can help reduce air pollutant emissions. Limit car travel and the use of small engines, lawn motors and charcoal lighter fuels. Travel by bus or carpool whenever possible, particularly during high ozone periods.

The Department of Health warns that unhealthy levels of ozone can cause throat irritation, coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, increased susceptibility to respiratory infection and aggravation of asthma and other respiratory ailments. These symptoms are worsened by exercise and heavy activity. The children, elderly and people who have underlying lung diseases, such as asthma, are at particular risk of suffering from these effects. As ozone levels increase, the number of people affected and the severity of the health effects also increase.

To avoid experiencing these effects, limit outdoor exercise and strenuous activity and stay in an air-conditioned environment if possible during the afternoon and early evening hours, when ozone levels are highest. Schedule outdoor exercise and children’s outdoor activities in the morning hours. Individuals who experience respiratory symptoms may wish to consult their doctors.

The unhealthy levels of ozone are expected to last as long as the hot sunny weather is present. The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Lung Association reminds people that “when you can’t breathe nothing else matters.”

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Air Quality Alert Day – Monday, June 24, 2013

canvas-featured-air-quality-alertAir Quality Alert means free RIPTA fixed route service on Monday, June 24, 2013.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is predicting that air quality will reach unhealthy levels in all of Rhode Island in the afternoon on Monday. A very humid air mass with west to southwest winds will be present at that time, which will lead to unhealthy air conditions. The poor air quality will be due to elevated ground level ozone concentrations. Ozone is a major component of smog and is formed by the photochemical reaction of pollutants emitted by motor vehicles, industry and other sources in the presence of elevated temperatures and sunlight.

Rhode Island residents can help reduce air pollutant emissions. Limit car travel and the use of small engines, lawn motors and charcoal lighter fuels. Travel by bus or carpool whenever possible, particularly during high ozone periods.

The Department of Health warns that unhealthy levels of ozone can cause throat irritation, coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, increased susceptibility to respiratory infection and aggravation of asthma and other respiratory ailments. These symptoms are worsened by exercise and heavy activity. The children, elderly and people who have underlying lung diseases, such as asthma, are at particular risk of suffering from these effects. As ozone levels increase, the number of people affected and the severity of the health effects also increase.

To avoid experiencing these effects, limit outdoor exercise and strenuous activity and stay in an air-conditioned environment if possible during the afternoon and early evening hours, when ozone levels are highest. Schedule outdoor exercise and children’s outdoor activities in the morning hours. Individuals who experience respiratory symptoms may wish to consult their doctors.

The unhealthy levels of ozone are expected to last as long as the hot sunny weather is present. The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Lung Association reminds people that “when you can’t breathe nothing else matters.”

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Video: The Magnificent Bioswales & Stormwater Treatment Along the Indy Cultural Trail

With seemingly no end in site to all this rain, and our rivers quickly rising toward and beyond flood stage, this video which takes a look at bioswales, a form of storm water retention is quite timely.

Many American cities are growing to the idea that they need to do a much better job handling their stormwater runoff at ground level. In Indianapolis, they decided to not only do that but significantly green the city along its newly opened Cultural Trail. The 8 mile separated biking and walking route loops thru the heart of the downtown and as you’ll see in this short (expanded from our larger work) Karen S, Haley, the Executive Director of Indianapolis Cultural Trail, tells us a little about the substansial and verdant bioswales they installed.

Imagine if these became standard for roads in some vulnerable-to-storms- U.S. cities?

From Streetfilms via The Atlantic Cities.

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