Archive for the ‘ Economic crisis ’ Category

filed under: Economic crisis | providence

Parking Meter Rates Up Today

7AM ON 05/07/2011
BY Daily Dose

parking meter From the Office of the Mayor comes this announcement,

As of July 5, parking on metered spots in Providence will cost $1.25 an hour or 25 cents for every 12 minutes. In addition to the rate increase, all 15-minute parking spots will be converted to 30-minute parking at 75 cents for the half hour maximum time limit. Changes in rates will apply to all 1,200 single-pole meters and 25 multi-space meters throughout the Capital City.

Or, don’t bother with all the quarters and buy a ProvPass.

The ProvPass, which is available for $10 and $20, can now be purchased in Providence City Hall at the Tax Collector’s Office and the Board of Licenses, the Municipal Court at the Public Safety Complex, and at AAA’s downtown Providence branch office at 55 Dorrance Street.

First rate increase in eight years.

filed under: Economic crisis | Environment

Kilmartin’s Cooler

10PM ON 19/06/2011
BY Beth Comery

holes “With great power comes great responsibility”, so read the Spider-Man plaque that graced the exterior of the Attorney General’s office during the tenure of Patrick Lynch. (Is Spidey coming back with some Spackle?) In all fairness Lynch was not the AG who first made the holes. (ProJo 3.31.04)

The state bought the office building at 150 S. Main St. from the former Old Stone Bank in 1996. The attorney general at the time didn’t put a quote on the building — just a plaque saying “Department of Attorney General, Jeffrey B. Pine.”

[Sheldon] Whitehouse, who succeeded Pine, said he thought that putting his name on the building would have been “a bit much,” so he picked the two lines of the Blake poem.

(Wow. . . it doesn’t get any WASPier than that.)

I suppose current AG Peter Kilmartin is wracking his brain trying to come up with something clever or profound — may I suggest “Ice Palace”? Last Saturday at about noon, cold air was pouring out of the slightly ajar door to this building (pic after jump). It could be felt just walking by, and it wasn’t even that hot a day. In these times of fiscal austerity this waste is unforgivable. All the state offices should be assessed for this problem. What an easy way to save some money.

more »

filed under: Economic crisis | Education

Rally To Support Providence Teachers — City Hall

8AM ON 02/03/2011
BY Daily Dose

providence city hall From Ocean State Action,

Join us at City Hall to stand in solidarity with the 1,926 Providence teachers who have been unfairly fired!  The Providence Teachers Union is calling upon Mayor Taveras to rescind these unjust terminations.

Teachers Rally, 4:30pm to 7:30pm, Wednesday, City Hall steps, Kennedy Plaza, (fb)

filed under: City Hall | Economic crisis

Teacher Firings Make National News

12AM ON 28/02/2011
BY Daily Dose

providence mayor angel taveras

NBC Nightly News featured the firing of the Providence schoolteachers in a report on the calamitous budget problems facing many American mayors. Mayor Taveras calls the situation “an unprecedented fiscal crisis.” Teachers have expressed alarm regarding the ramifications of being terminated, as opposed to getting laid off. (ProJo 2.25)

. . . under the layoff provisions, teachers are recalled based on seniority. There is no guarantee that seniority would be used to bring back any of the fired teachers. School leaders have been vague about exactly how seniority will play out in the case of terminations.

Mayor Taveras has issued a statement on Facebook regarding the dismissal notices.

filed under: Economic crisis |

Really Really Free Market, Indoors @AS220!

3PM ON 02/02/2011
BY hwinkler

free stuff

It’s hard times, and the free market ain’t free. Luckily, there’s the Providence Really Really Free Market, which is! Join us in this collaborative event to create an autonomous space for community sharing. No $$$, no barter, just FREE. Give what you can, take what you want! For more information, please send an email to

Gifts might include but are not limited to:

  • Food
  • Usable items (clothing, housewares, etc.)
  • Skills
  • Talents
  • Conversation
  • Love

Saturday, February 5, 1pm to 5pm, AS220, 115 Empire Street

filed under: America | Economic crisis

When All You Have Is A Hammer

10AM ON 29/12/2010
BY Beth Comery

slim pickens Everything looks like a nail. Nicholas Kristof has a great piece in The New York Times regarding the bloated and often counter-productive investments we continue to make in the military, when spending in other areas could make us safer.

The U.S. military now has more people in its marching bands than the State Department has in its foreign service — and that’s preposterous.

Kristof cites two career military men of note — President Dwight Eisenhower and current Defense Secretary Robert Gates —  to support his thesis. And sorry Raytheon, this means you too — we can’t seem to capture Osama with any of this stuff. And maybe now we can get the linguists back into the intelligence community and find out what the threats to our security might actually be.

filed under: Economic crisis |

The Big Casino

4PM ON 23/09/2010
BY Beth Comery

queen of spades A day-long industry conference arranged to discuss the future of casinos in New England was held at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, a casino which, according to the Hartford Courant, will have cut 5% of its workforce, or 475 jobs, by the end of this month. Foxwoods and MGM Grand at Foxwoods have laid off “thousands of workers since the fall of 2008″. It was agreed that many former gamblers hit hard by the recession had tightened their belts. Revenues are down, profits are down — gee, where can we sign up?

The panelists at this event seemed to operate under the assumption that casino gambling is inevitable in Massachusetts, and then. . . Rhode Island had better watch out.

According to the Providence Journal, the Director of the Center for Policy Analysis at UMass — I swear I am not making this name up — Clyde Barrow, warned that our state will be “boxed in” and that we should completely rethink our current policy. Thank you Mr. Barrow, but most of us have already taken this potential scenario into consideration in our past, seemingly endless debates. Warns Robert Heller, CEO of some noxious “gaming” entity, “This is going to be an escalating war, state by state.”

Casinos are depressing, money extractors that destroy neighborhoods and lives. We can not gamble our way out of our current economic problems. I say — let’s be Switzerland in this war.

[Additional note: The RI DBR will hold a public hearing on September 29th reviewing various applications stemming from the reorganization of our own struggling Twin River (ProJo)]

filed under: Economic crisis | Workers' Rights

Rally Against JPMorgan Chase

8AM ON 18/08/2010
BY Daily Dose

providence renaissance hotel Emily Mellor of Ocean State Action explains the role this financial monster continues to play in the destruction of our economy having already accepted $25 billion in the bailout,

To this day, JPMorgan Chase continues to repackage mortgage-backed securities still on their books, all the while foreclosing on those affected by the havoc they wreaked.

Here in Rhode Island, 14 percent of mortgages are underwater and 2,189 households have been foreclosed upon.  JPMorgan Chase is responsible for a huge number of these foreclosures.  In addition to hurting individual families, foreclosures decrease property values and depress city revenues, which are critical to supporting public services.

Why the Renaissance Hotel?

JPMorgan Chase is the holder of an $18.3 million loan at the Providence Renaissance Hotel.  Thirty million dollars in public subsidies made possible the recent conversion of the Masonic Temple to the Renaissance Hotel. Now the hotel is refusing to recognize the cards workers have signed to become part of Unite Here Local 217, and honor its neutrality agreement with the union.

Adding insult to injury JPMorgan Chase is gouging Rhode Island Unemployment Benefits card holders with excessive transaction fees. Rhode Island Jobs with Justice will also be joining the protest.

[Additional Note: Check out Bob Kerr's column covering the event in Friday's ProJo. BC]

4:30pm, Wednesday, Renaissance Hotel, 5 Avenue of the Arts, RSVP on Facebook

filed under: Activism | Economic crisis

Rally Downtown — Unemployment Benefits

11AM ON 07/07/2010
BY Daily Dose

soldiers and sailors monument Word just in from Ocean State Action.

Jobs or Income NOW! Rally to Stop Cutoff of Unemployment Payments. Join us on Wednesday, July 7, at 4pm for a rally at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Kennedy Plaza calling on Congress to deliver federal extensions to the unemployed and COBRA benefits to Rhode Island!

Partisan bickering has repeatedly gotten in the way of Congress
extending unemployment benefits to 1.7 million Americans effectively telling us that in the midst of the worst recession in a generation we are on our own. Here in the Ocean State 31,000 people are losing their unemployment benefits. That means 31,000 people and their families will be trying to figure out how to pay their rent, put food on the table and keep the lights on and will keep $13 million per week from entering the Rhode Island economy.

Sponsored by Ocean State Action and the Rhode Island Unemployed Council.

4pm, Wednesday, Soldiers and Sailors Monument across from City Hall, downtown

filed under: Economic crisis |

Sunday@3: Not So Fast, Mr. Moneybags!

10PM ON 09/04/2010
BY Libby Kimzey

James Kwak, contributor to the “Baseline Scenario” blog and author of the nationally acclaimed new book “13 Bankers” will be giving a talk and signing his book on the East Side this Sunday.

Bill Moyers says of this book, “If the wads of money you’ve stuffed into your mattress for safekeeping don’t keep you up at night, Simon Johnson and James Kwak’s “13 Bankers” will — a disturbing and painstakingly researched account of how the banks wrenched control of government and society out of our hands — and what we can do to seize it back.”

As Congress considers President Obama’s financial reform proposals, come hear from a compelling speaker about this most important topic.

James Kwak’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Business Week, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and the online editions of The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Guardian, among others.

For more on the book and James Kwak, go here. For more on the event, drop a line to This event is sponsored by Brown Student Labor Alliance and Ocean State Action.

Sunday, April 11, 3pm, Fox Auditorium, Kassar House at Brown University, 151 Thayer Street

filed under: Economic crisis | Good Ideas

Bob Healey For Lieutenant Governor

10PM ON 19/02/2010
BY Beth Comery

cool moose party Robert J. Healey, Jr., lawyer, businessman, and founder of the Cool Moose party is once again running for the office of lieutenant governor for the sole purpose of eliminating it.

Should he win, he has the same plan he pitched the last time he ran: He’ll take no pay, hire no staff and work to abolish the office.

“Four years ago when I proposed savings Rhode Islanders $1 million a year just by getting elected, people would say, ‘It’s only a million dollars,’” Healey said in a news release. “Now, in these economic times, I hear ‘It’s a million dollars.’”

He’s right. You know he’s right. I know you know he’s right. And you know I know it. Vote for Healey.

filed under: Brown | Economic crisis

You Are Known By The Company You Keep

8PM ON 16/02/2010
BY Beth Comery

money pile Good work by Alex Bell writing for The Brown Daily Herald concerning the decision of Brown University President Ruth Simmons to step down from the Board of Directors at Goldman Sachs on which she has served since 2000. This report was picked up today by the ProJo who also focused on her decision to step down. Maybe I’m way behind the curve on this one, but for me the story was — Ruth Simmons and Goldman Sachs?!! Not only is she on the board, but she sits on the compensation committee as well, and has been well-compensated over the years. In the article she states her intention to stay on as chairman of the advisory board on the Goldman Sachs ‘10,000 Women Initiative’ — the kind of cynical corporate window dressing to which Simmons should be ashamed to attach her name. (And yes, President Simmons, all this does reflect poorly on the university.) Last July Matt Taibi writing for Rolling Stone (‘Inside The Great American Bubble Machine’) described the Goldman Sachs modus operandi.

The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased.

So the 10,000 women in Ruthie’s little initiative will certainly have their work cut out for them. . .  supporting and caring for the 10,000,000 impoverished, unemployed women, bankrupted by the other Goldman Sachs ‘intitiatives’.

filed under: Economic crisis | Good Ideas

National 211 Day

12PM ON 11/02/2010
BY Beth Comery

dial phone Having trouble with rent, utility bills, food assistance, health care, housing, foreclosure? Dial 211 and get help. In these extraordinary economic times people who have never before needed assistance, now find themselves in serious trouble paying bills and no idea what help is available and where to find it.  With this in mind, the United Way set up an emergency phone number so that people can be directed to the appropriate health and social service agencies and programs. But according to a piece in today’s ProJo, ‘United Way 2-1-1 in Rhode Island’ director Cristina M. Amedeo thinks the helpline needs more publicity. Glad to help.

Today’s very moving article by staff reporter Paul Davis opens with a day in the life of Tony Medeiros whose job is to field these calls all day long. I know there must be great satisfaction in knowing you are helping people . . . still.

Phone calls are handled from 6am to midnight by local call specialists, later calls are forwarded to a similar operation in Maine.

filed under: Economic crisis |

NYTimes Covers Art Handy’s Utilities Proposal

11PM ON 20/12/2009
BY Dave Segal “percentage of income payment plan” or PIPP bill, will be before us this session:

In 2009, some 31,000 households in Rhode Island will have their utilities shut off, and the effort to juggle energy bills and mortgages is helping push some homeowners into foreclosure, said Henry Shelton, director of the George Wiley Center, a consumer advocacy group here. (Here, as in many states, utilities may not disconnect the poor in the winter.)

Since 2000, the cost of heating a home with fuel oil has more than doubled and the cost of heating a home with electricity has risen by one third, outpacing many incomes. The recent surge in unemployment has thrown even more people into energy debt.

filed under: Economic crisis |

Disarming Financial Weapons Of Mass Destruction

7PM ON 08/12/2009
BY Dave Segal

Remember those crazy casino style multi-billion dollar bets called credit derivatives and credit default swaps that AIG, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, etc. took out? The ones that guru investor Warren Buffet rightly called “weapons of mass financial destruction” because they brought our entire economy to the brink of collapse?

Thankfully, Congress is finally doing something about them. Both the House and Senate are debating a bill called the Over the Counter Derivatives Market Act of 2009. The bill would require derivatives to be traded through a transparent clearinghouse. That way everyone can know the size of the bets being placed and that both parties have enough collateral to pay up if their bet goes the wrong way.

This simple reform makes a world of sense, but there’s one minor problem. Guess who wants to own the new clearinghouse? You guessed it, the exact same giant financial institutions who created the whole mess in the first place. As Daniel Hemel notes in an excellent Slate piece, “The Foxes Guard the Financial Henhouse“:

Now imagine the uproar if Obama actually allowed Goldman, rather than its ex-employees, to regulate risk in the financial markets. And yet the administration and its allies in Congress are poised to do just that. The awkwardly named Over-the-Counter Derivatives Markets Act of 2009 would give Goldman and eight other big banks a government-guaranteed oligopoly over the market for credit-default swaps—with a license to set the rules of the road. In effect, the bill would allow a cartel to control trillions of dollars in transactions that entail enormous risk to the financial system as a whole.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to solve this problem. Limit the ability of any one financial institution to own and manipulate the whole clearinghouse. And that’s exactly what Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch is proposing. His straightforward amendment would prevent anyone from owning more than 20 percent of a clearinghouse.

The Lynch amendment should be included in both the House and Senate financial reform bills. And fortunately for us in Rhode Island, our senior U.S. Senator Jack Reed sits on the powerful Senate Banking Committee. Here’s hoping he introduces similar common sense language so the big banks don’t take us for another ride with a “reformed” derivatives market that they own!

filed under: Economic crisis |

(Our Dave) Over At HuffPo

10AM ON 07/10/2009
BY Dave Segal

[Additional note: The parenthetical addition in the title above is mine. I feel that Dave's excessive modesty caused him to be a little too mild and generic and I want to make sure people notice this (plus, he immediately stacked those distractingly weird surfers on top of it). This is a fine piece and I will add also that the block quote below is best understood in the context of the whole article. Dave's pretty smart. Beth Comery]

I have this article, which leans a lot on a great documentary called The Trap, by a great documentarian named Adam Curtis, about the development of neo-liberal economic theory.  It traces its history back through John Nash and the development of game theory at RAND in the 1950s.

I think there’s a useful relation between our current economic predicament and the Prisoner’s Dilemma:

One of the game’s key assumptions is that the prisoners are unable to communicate and coordinate with each other. They are atomized, thoroughly rational, infinitely selfish, individual points. The lowest penalty carries the highest risk, and so if each seeks to maximize his or her reward and minimize his or her jeopardy, they should both cooperate with the prosecutors and sit in the clink for five years.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma was developed at a time when the worlds’ superpowers were extreme antagonists, distrustful of each another, relatively uncommunicative, and ruled by governance structures which were opaque to one another — hence the nuclear arms race, and a strategy of deterrence via mutually assured destruction.

However, if we break that one critical constraint, slice through the Gordian Knot, and allow the actors to trust each other and coordinate their actions, then the solutions change dramatically, making possible outcomes that are better for all parties: The prisoners are best off if they agree to stay silent. The super-powers should sign nuclear disarmament pacts, overseen by international inspectors.



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