Op-Ed: Fall Thoughts

Congressional Race

We like Gabe Amo. With 12 candidates all trying to “out Liberal” each other, Amo is the real deal. The son of Ghanaian and Liberian immigrants, he attended Moses Brown and Wheaton College and received a Marshall Scholarship to study public policy at Oxford. He knows Rhode Island and Washington well from working for Governor Raimondo and President Biden. Though not a politician, he understands the inner workings of government and can get things done.  Campaigning in the summer in RI is always a challenge, although several candidates seem to be competing against MAGA Republicans which, at last check, were as rare as unicorns in the Ocean State. September 5 is the day! Voter turnout is projected at “very low” and the winner may need 10,000 votes (or less)... which is embarrassing. So please vote.


Election Signature Issues

Note to the new Secretary of State: read your job description. “As Rhode Island’s chief elections officer, the Secretary of State registers voters, prepares ballots…”  Downplaying fraudulent signatures from the Sabina Matos campaign doesn’t pass. Stephen Erickson, who formerly served as the vice chairman of the Board of Elections noted in an interview, “Given all of the evidence from multiple communities that there were problems, they should have reviewed all of Matos’ signatures and come to an independent conclusion about whether she had submitted the required number of signatures.” The “buck” stops with the Secretary and he needs to demonstrate leadership to ensure that all aspects of elections are honest and fair.


Providence Schools

Providence Schools are currently owned by Providence but operated by the Rhode Island Department of Education. Enrollment is down. Staffing isn’t. Three schools are closing. Other major school renovations were retroactively approved by the City Council – well after construction had started. Many clerical systems are obsolete. Diversity of teachers remains low relative to the student body, and 41 percent of teachers are over 50. The state takeover was extended through 2027 (blame COVID). Will the “gold standard core K-12 curricula” deliver?  Parents remain frustrated, rightfully.



The new mayor brings a grown-up approach with a shift from a party in the streets to an arts-focused event that can be sustained into the future. The date moved. The location moved. Open drinking and block parties were banned, but block parties made it back. We support the arts direction and hope it can grow into a national event.



Providence is down 80 officers. There is a new class of 30 officers, but there will also be a new wave of retirees. Bottom line: Providence will still be short. Most of the crime stats show a downward trend, except homicide and robbery with a gun. However, unreported minor offenses like car breaks, minor thefts, and vandalism continue to increase. Providence needs more boots on the ground on each shift.



At almost every major intersection throughout Providence there are people asking for money. Some have an app for transactions if you say you don’t have change, and there are speculations about coordination. The priority should be connecting unhoused individuals with established channels to get them the help they need.


Downtown Improvement District

Easily recognized ambassadors in yellow shirts clean up litter, wash sidewalks, shovel snow, maintain the hanging baskets, water the plants, and provide extra eyes for the police. Incorporating a team from Crossroads could help with the homeless problem throughout downtown that seems to be growing.


Traffic Flow

This should be an easy one. The traffic lights are on a timing system; it should move traffic efficiently and quickly through the city, but it doesn’t. Best of all, it’s an easy fix. Despite a new bridge, traffic has the potential to get a lot worse, especially on the East Side when the new red bridge opens. We’ve already seen backups that run from the East Side through East Providence when there is an accident on 195!


195 Parcel 1A

The parcel is located where the Helipad was, practically adjacent to the Van Leeston Pedestrian Bridge. What will another building (up to six stories in height) with no parking accomplish except to eliminate a park and the bike path on South Water Street? CRMC (Coastal Resources Management Council) must approve, and there is a big setback. Parcel 1A is within the College Hill National Register Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, so the building must be designed to complement the historic context. Stay tuned.



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