Archive for the ‘ Only In RI ’ Category

filed under: Only In RI |

Rental Car Companies Gouging Users Of Sakonnet Bridge

5PM ON 05/01/2014
BY Beth Comery


Of all the unthinking, boneheaded moves made by the 2013 General Assembly the worst has got to be the 10¢ toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge. Commercial interests on Aquidneck Island have complained loudly about the effect of any toll on tourism and business, and that battle will resume in the next session of the General Assembly (ProJo 1.4.14). However, the idiotic system currently in place may soon take care of the Newport tourism industry altogether.

The system is this: There is a 10¢ toll but absolutely no way of paying it. There are no manned tollbooths.  Instead, a system of cameras and electronic transponders records the passing of the vehicle and sends the bill to the car owner, say a rental car company like Dollar Rent A Car.

Out-of-towners in rental cars travel across the bridge — often twice in one day —  many having no idea that there is a required toll at all.  They return the car to the rental car company, for instance Dollar Rent A Car, and head home, often far away. Providence Journal staff writer Paul Edward Parker wrote last month of one such couple, “Visitors from England surprised, months later, by hefty fee for crossing Sakonnet River Bridge.”

The first that [Julie] Naismith learned of the toll was two months later. “We just had a letter from Alamo this week,” she said. It notified them that the rental company had charged their credit card for the 10-cent toll, plus an $18 administrative fee, which amounted to an 18,000-percent service charge.

The head of the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority is quoted as saying there is nothing his agency could do.  Maybe the Consumer Affairs Department of the Attorney General’s Office could get interested?

My own, very hard-working, niece fell into this trap over the Thanksgiving weekend. She and a guest headed down to Newport to take in some sights and clamcakes, crossing the bridge three times. And they had a great time until last week when she got the bill from Dollar Rent A Car (after the jump).

Total toll charges — 30¢

Total administrative fees — $45.00

That’s a hell of a lot of administratin’!

Here’s what can happen immediately: All the rental car companies can waive these fees and reimburse their customers if for no other reason than out of enlightened self-interest. Can Dollar Rent A Car possibly think we won’t be warning all family, friends, and visitors about their underhanded, predatory practices?

The General Assembly needs to fix this pronto.

more »

filed under: Only In RI | art

Joe Danella — Outsider Artist

1PM ON 29/01/2010
BY funkEpunkEmonkE

Just about everyone who stops by Joe’s business asks the big question. . . how did it all happen?  Joe’s mom will tell you it all started with a childhood passion, and a couple of old fruit boxes.

For years Joe owned and ran a small antique shop, Joe’s Quality Junk in Johnston, Rhode Island. Every now and again, he’d build a bird house for a gift, or fun, or eventually, to decorate an old tree in the front lawn that had fallen ill.  Well, that tree drew lots of attention!

Busy in his studio, artist Joe Danella works 10-3 just about every day — building and designing beautiful handcrafted birdhouses. Joe has owned and operated his business since 1991, but he’s been making things all his life. Each one-of-a-kind piece is hand hammered and hand screwed, using mixed woods, stainless steel and galvanized materials; no nail guns, glue or staples. Each birdhouse is signed by the master craftsman himself and he guarantees your complete satisfaction. (Pictured: Copper Top Pagoda and Tower.)

So when visitors describe a trip to Joe’s as magic, he’ll have to agree!

Go check out his new website at

filed under: Only In RI |


9AM ON 02/12/2009
BY Beth Comery

Rhode Island State House The Rhode Island Ethics Commission has determined that State Senator John J. Tassoni Jr. may participate as a mediator in the state’s master-price agreement which lists fees as $125 per hour, or $1000 per day. This despite the fact that Tassoni lacks one of the minimum requirements for participation — a college degree.

But Carcieri lawyers ruled, and Director of Administration Gary Sasse agreed, that the totality of Tassoni’s experience qualified him to be on the list.

Mr. Tassoni does not seem to understand the difference between educational requirements and life experience, both of which have value on employment applications, stating “I’ve had OJT — on-the-job training.” Rhode Island’s unemployment rate hovers around 13%, with the state still being the largest employer. I predict that within a year this mediation list will be bulging with the usual Little Rhody cohort of lazy in-laws, simple-minded cousins, serial ex-cons, and of course all the people who already work full-time for the state. (ProJo)

Sign me up — I got tons of ‘totality’!

filed under: Food | Only In RI

Homer Would Be Jealous

7PM ON 07/06/2009
BY Annie Messier

doughnut-cakeSaturdays are great for farmers’ markets right now, so there’s no excuse not to eat some healthy greeens.  But Sundays were always doughnut day when I was a kid, and I still crave that deep-fried goodness from time to time.  Enter Allie’s Donuts.

Sure, Allie is among the many baked good specialists who possess an inability to spell the word “doughnut” correctly, but I’m finding it awfully hard to hold that against her when she’s perfected 31 flavors (oh, suck it, Baskin Robbins) and run her shop for 41 years.  A co-worker brought in one of Allie’s famous doughnut—excuse me, donut—cakes a couple weeks ago, packed like pizza in a giant cardboard box, and I was lucky to snap this photo just seconds before greedy hands snatched what remained.

I’m genuinely impressed that something this big can be fried and 1) keep that lovely round shape and 2) be consistently delicious (no over-crisp outside or undercooked inside).  The frosting was super-sugary goodness, and ample jimmies provided colorful crunch.

Oh, but there’s more, the co-workers informed me (which is gross, as they were still chewing at the time).  Allie’s doughnut—donut—cakes come in all different shapes and styles.  And they’re right: there are photos on Allie’s MySpace page of some slightly oddball, but no doubt delicious, such cakes.  (Er, did I mention my birthday’s this month?)

The only caveat is that Allie’s seems to be open Mondays-Wednesdays from 5 a.m.-3 p.m. only, which kind of kills my Sundays-are-for-doughnuts decree.

Allie’s Donuts, 3661 Quaker Lane (Rt. 2), North Kingstown

filed under: Criminal Justice | Only In RI

Just Freaking Jail Them, Already

2PM ON 09/04/2009
BY Annie Messier

GOV066Way worse than blocking intersections: drunk driving. And it sickened me to read this in the ProJo of David Hazard, who killed a mother of six:

[Scituate Deputy Police Chief Stephen Lang] said Hazard had eight previous arrests and had had his license suspended six times. He also was convicted in 2008 of refusing to take a chemical breath test for alcohol, Lang said.

And he was merrily working off the effects of alcohol and prescription meds behind the wheel?

I’ll never forget October 28, 2005, when Melanie’s Law (the one thing good thing Romney supported) passed in MA. Under it, Hazard would have had a lifetime license suspension on his third arrest (not that I’m naive enough to think that people don’t drive on suspended licenses, but still), and his vehicle would have been seized.

If ever Rhode Island wants to show up our neighbor to the north, how’s about a drunk driving law that includes mandatory jail time for a multiple offense?

filed under: Arts | Only In RI

Such a Pretty Little Package I Never Did See

11AM ON 07/04/2009
BY Annie Messier

budget-cover10-hi I’m guessing little of Rhode Island’s FY 2010 budget is soothing. But a watercolor on the budget’s cover called “Leave Your Troubles Behind” is offsetting the despair (or at least has to be better for morale than, say, plywood-boarded homes). Kudos to artist Donna Kenney Kirwin for winning the 2009 “Scenes of RI” show with this painting of the Block Island ferry and for stating,

“Hopefully, this scene reminds people of the peaceful feeling that a day by the ocean can bring.”

We have some alarming issues in Lil’ Rhody, but as Ms. Kirwin helps remind us, we’re still lucky to live in the Ocean State…At least until someone sells the nickname to plug our deficits.

(Photo: RI State Council on the Arts.)

filed under: Activism | Economics

Variation On A Theme

10PM ON 04/03/2009
BY Dave Segal

RIPR, subscriptionsThe RI Progressive Dems of America are putting on an event tomorrow (Thurs) night at the Rochambeau Library, called Ten Things You Don’t Know About Rhode Island, featuring the goofy yet graceful wonkiness of Tom Sgouros.  In summation, it’ll probably go something like this:  “Things in RI don’t suck as much as (or at least in the same ways as) everybody keeps saying they do.”  Consider it a rebuttal of sorts to the NYTimes piece.  7-9PM.

Have you noticed there is very little disagreement about the state budget among state lawmakers? The Governor and the legislature agree that taxes are too high, services too generous, and cities and towns too demanding. But have you also wondered why, if everyone agrees on the problems, that things don’t get any better? How about this: maybe they’re wrong.

Come join us for an enlightening and lively discussion led by Tom Sgouros, editor of the Rhode Island Policy Reporter. In his discussion, Ten Things You Don’t Know About Rhode Island, Tom describes how we got into the budget mess, what’s different about our weird little state relative to other states, and how we can possibly get out of the fiscal fiasco we’ve created for ourselves.

filed under: Economics | Only In RI

A Nickel of Wisdom

5PM ON 12/01/2009
BY Wesli Dymoke

Where did these redeemables come from? Where will they go? Who will profit, and how?Forget about soda bottles and beer cans on the side of the road: ProJo, Boston Herald, WRNI, and, I assume, other leading news outlets, breathlessly report that desperate people are coming down your street once a week to steal stuff you’re trying to get rid of anyway.

Problem? Hey, this is Rhode Island. You better believe there’s a problem.

It wasn’t the first time Zolli had seen it happen, and she was irritated. “I called the police,” she said.

If caught, recycling thieves can face fines from $50 in Providence up to a staggering $500 for a third offence in Pawtucket. But most never get caught, and the few who do are usually let go when they surrender their booty.

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filed under: Music | Only In RI

Is a new ‘Providence Sound’ in the works?

10AM ON 11/01/2009
BY Dave Segal

deertick2As Deer Tick and the Low Anthem keep writing great songs and march towards national recognition — with plaudits from critics all around — Providence is going to start to signify something a bit different to music fans: A little less new-wave and noisy, a little more “roots rock,” “pure Americana,” Waits, Dylan and Guthrie. (Not that there’s much intentionality behind the phenomenon, but it’s there, and notable.)

The Low Anthem made NPR’s song of the day last week.

Deer Tick just announced the (eventual) upcoming release of Born on Flag Day and sets off on a tour that culminates at SXSW. (No Providence date, guys?)

filed under: Only In RI |

“Jurisprudential Stuff”

10PM ON 13/12/2008
BY Beth Comery

GavelSupreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams surprised everyone when he announced Thursday that he will be stepping down from this coveted and prestigious post at the end of the month.  And while the legal community may be stunned, I doubt they are terribly sad.  And now the delightful personality of this tedious jackass is on display for all to see.  According to The Providence Journal, he’s in a pet because he can’t believe the citizens of Rhode Island find this all a little bit curious if not downright suspicious.

“…I want to be relieved from the administrative burdens that are 24/7 as chief, and I want to continue to do jurisprudential stuff … Why can’t that be accepted?”

He goes on to blame our inordinate interest in this sudden turn of events on our defects of character.

“If I think outside the box and say, at [age] 68, I have other interests, in cooking and Lincoln [Williams considers himself quite the Lincoln scholar] and writing, why isn’t that acceptable? Because this is Rhode Island, because people here are suspicious and cynical?”

Well Mr. Williams, when the salient features of one’s professional career have been naked ambition and self-promotion — not to mention a breath-taking legislative expansion of your authority over judicial budgetary matters — yes, people are going to ask a few questions when you suddenly vacate the throne after less than eight years.

Of course as noted in the article, cynicism is a completely rational response for Rhode Islanders.  One former Chief Justice Joseph A. Bevilacqua stepped down in 1986 amid allegations of mob ties. (There was also a charming front page photo of him zipping up his fly after exiting a mobbed-up no-tell motel after a tryst with some dame.)  Seven years later his successor, Thomas F. Fay, resigned after an impeachment vote by the RI House. That proud jurist was charged with among other things, channeling state money into a slush fund for purchasing beer and Red Sox tickets.

So goodbye, Frank. Good luck trying to get Doris Kearns Goodwin to return your calls.

filed under: Civil Rights | Democracy

Providence Roller Derby New Site Design

10AM ON 12/12/2008
BY funkEpunkEmonkE

Providence Roller Derby, 2008

We’re proud to present the newly redesigned with more of what you love. Below you’ll find a brief introduction to our new design and what it has to offer.

  • Simple, Clear and Consistent – Providence Roller Derby has made every effort to create a Web site that’s simple, clear and consistent. No matter where you go on the site, you won’t be surprised by confusing clutter.
  • Easy to Navigate – Each page is equipped with a drop-down menu. Simply move our mouse over any choice on the navigation bar, and you’ll be able to go wherever you want in one easy click.

In the months to come you can expect regular additions to our news and events on the front page. Make sure you sign up to get our newsletter!

Also, Providence Roller Derby is still recruiting for the 2009 season.

filed under: Arts | Only In RI

Networks 2008 – Art Opening!

8PM ON 20/11/2008
BY Michaela Colette

Straight up! Watch some movies about some local peoples you know. You can also rent them at the library, i think. For serious. Here’s the press release:

Networks 2008
Reception: Friday, November 21st 5pm-7pm
Reception free for Newport Art Museum Members, $10 for Non-Members

Griswold House and Cushing Galleries
The Newport Art Museum
76 Bellevue Avenue,
Newport, RI 02840

115 Empire St.
Providence, RI 02903

NetWorks 2008 is a multi-disciplinary exhibition of selected contemporary RI visual artists curated by Dr. Joseph Chazan & Umberto Crenca, Artistic Director of AS220. Networks 2008 includes fifteen videos that celebrate Rhode Island’s incredible community of artists. These videos will begin airing on Rhode Island PBS affiliates beginning Thursday, November 6th.

more »

filed under: Good Ideas | Only In RI

Thanks, Lieutenant Governor.

12PM ON 20/11/2008
BY Jessica Ramsey

I like Elizabeth Roberts. Some people think the only solution to our state’s current economic crisis is to rile up anti-immigrant sentiments and chat on talk radio about how much he would love to eliminate the state income tax. It’s nice to see someone up top paying attention to real solutions for building Rhode Island’s economy.

The Lt. Gov. is doing just that with a new “Buy Local RI” campaign to support locally-owned businesses.

From the press release:

“The economy in Rhode Island is struggling,” Roberts said. “As we look at our economy turning down, we need to invest our dollars here in Rhode Island. One of the best things we can do is to support local businesses. We know that Rhode Island is home to thousands of unique artists, artisans, retailers, manufacturers, cafes, restaurants and farmers whose small businesses are locally owned and crucial to our neighborhoods, our quality of life, and Rhode Island’s overall economy.”

In the works for the Buy Local RI campaign are a few “Main Street” events in Westerly, Greenville, Wickford, Warren, Newport, and even our little village of Providence.

Roberts wants to encourage folks to shop at local businesses for their holiday gift shopping. So, yes, skip that sterile shopping mall and buy your grandma a bag of coffee from White Electric or a trinket from Oop!

filed under: Only In RI | Politics

I agree with Nick…

12AM ON 10/11/2008
BY Dave Segal

I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of the race he just lost — but Gorham is dead-on about the need for consolidation of services. (Though not the towns themselves.) And Nick probably would’ve been wise to have held some focus groups before deciding on the name Westconnaug.

Gorham feels vindicated

He is not coming back to the House in January, but House Minority Whip Nicholas Gorham is still making noise.

The Coventry Republican was defeated by Democratic newcomer Scott M. Pollard, who campaigned against Gorham’s oddball plan to merge five communities and part of a sixth to form a super-town called Westconnaug.

At an unrelated economic forum hosted by Governor Carcieri last week, stakeholders from business executives to labor leaders agreed that consolidating municipal services would be a good way to save Rhode Island some much needed cash.

“I just couldn’t believe my eyes this morning [when I read the] story about consolidating municipal services,” Gorham declared in a fiery e-mail to Political Scene. “Great idea, and exactly one of the reasons I lost! I was relentlessly attacked by my opponent and others… I tried desperately to explain we were just trying to have a discussion about consolidating municipal government services…but the tide had already turned against me.”

filed under: Comedy | Only In RI

Providence Domination

10AM ON 08/11/2008
BY funkEpunkEmonkE

filed under: Only In RI | Television

Caffee break

5PM ON 02/11/2008
BY Beth Comery

Sooner or later we all end up posing in front of the electric company.  Tonight is the opening episode of the third season of Showtime’s ‘The Brotherhood’.  It’s shot entirely in Rhode Island so that is very cool, but I watched the first hour of this show and couldn’t really get into it.  The drama of corrupt snow-plowing contracts eludes me and how come I never bump into Jason Isaacs?  And where are all these Irish people supposed to be living anyway?  Maybe I should get out more. I’m up to my pupik in Jews over here at the Dose, I’ve probably lost my perspective.



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