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Newsroom notes, May 12

May 12, 2010

This week, as the political season heats up, our reporters have been catching up with several political stories. WRNI political analyst, Scott Mackay, reports on Rep. David Segal’s entrance into the race to succeed Patrick Kennedy in Congress. According to Scott, Segal’s candidacy, if nothing else, “will provide a test of how much influence the “netroots,” the new social media and the enthusiasm of young liberals, can wield in one of New England’s most diverse congressional districts.” Segal, 30, is a former Providence city council member and current state rep from a district that includes Providence’s Fox Point neighborhood. He will face Providence Mayor David Cicilline and former Democratic state Chairman Bill Lynch of Pawtucket in a three-way primary that could become a four-way race if conservative Anthony Gemma gets in. Scott writes, “Segal is young, energetic and a hard-worker.” On the other hand, “Segal has no real ties to Rhode Island; he has lived here for less than a decade. He has never held anything resembling a conventional job, and his surname isn’t Kennedy.” Scott’s full column on Segal’s entry into the race can be found on our political blog, On Politics:

Our general assignment reporter, Flo Jonic, reported this week on the latest debate between the six candidates running for Governor, who squared off in Providence to talk about how to tackle poverty in Rhode Island. The forum was organized by the Rhode Island Interfaith coalition. In 2008, over 118,000 Rhode Islanders — 12 percent of the population — were living below the federal poverty level. All six gubernatorial candidates (Republicans John Robataille and Victor Moffitt, Democrats Patrick Lynch and Frank Caprio, Ken Block of the Moderate Party and Independent Lincoln Chaffee) agree this is a problem but disagree on ways to solve it. “In the end, the candidates offered no silver bullets to solve the problem of poverty,” Flo reported. “But their answers indicated that they had given it some thought, and for the people of faith who organized the debate, that’s a good start.”

Morning Edition host, Bob Seay, sat down this week with Phil Zarlengo, a native Rhode Islander from Jamestown, who is the newly elected Board Chairman of the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP). Zarlango talked about the new health care reform act, which the AARP supported. “Among our priorities,” said Zarlango, “ is to make sure that the new law holds insurance companies accountable so they don’t penalize people for pre-existing conditions or for being old.” Bob’s interview with Zarlengo airs on Morning Edition on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, everyone in the newsroom is continuing to work on WRNI’s next One Square Mile series, which will focus on the town of West Warwick. Among the theme we will be exploring is how an economically distressed former mill town can remake its economy for the 21st century. West Warwick has an unemployment rate of 14 percent — one of the highest rates in the state. “This is one of the hardest hit communities in the nation because of the recession,” says Luke Peterson, who was hired eight months ago to direct economic development for the town. Peterson hired two graduate students from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to come up with an economic development plan, which he says will set some goals for the town. “If you don’t know where you’re going then you can’t get there,” he says. Peterson says one of the biggest challenges is the town’s self-image. “We need to send out the message across Rhode Island that this is a place where businesses can prosper,” says Peterson. “And we need to start believing that ourselves.” Our One Square Mile Series on West Warwick will air on Morning Edition during the week of May 24th – May 28th. We will conclude that week with a town meeting in West Warwick that will focus on economic development (location and time still to be determined).

That’s all for this week. Thanks for listening, and stay tuned.

-Anthony Brooks

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 20, 2010 5:31 am

    Central Falls Superintendent Fran Gallo sees only two options for bringing rapid improvement to Central Falls High School. “Either we get new staff,” she says, “or we need a lot of operational flexibility.” Gallo made national waves early this year when she fired the entire faculty of Central Falls High School. The move came under

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