WJAR: Cicilline, Langevin weigh in on divided Congress

WJAR: Cicilline, Langevin weigh in on divided Congress

By Michelle San Miguel

The midterm election left the country with a divided Congress — Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives, while Republicans picked up more seats in the Senate.

Rhode Island Democratic Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, who both won their bid for re-election, are optimistic Democrats and Republicans can find common ground.

“I hope right away we take up an infrastructure bill,” Langevin said. “The president had campaigned on infrastructure and the promise of a perhaps one-trillion dollar infrastructure package. Democrats welcome that.”

With Democrats in control of the House for the first time since 2010, Cicilline is seeking a leadership position. If Cicilline becomes the assistant Democratic leader, it would make him the fourth ranking Democrat in the House.

“I hope that the work that I did as a member of the House Democratic leadership in helping to bring us into the majority will be valued by my colleagues,” Cicilline said.

Cicilline and Langevin welcome the checks and balances that Democrats will have now that they’re in control of one of the two chambers.

NBC 10 political analyst Wendy Schiller cautions that Democrats should pick their battles wisely.

“Democrats should not spend all their time investigating Trump. That’s a no win for the voters. They don’t want to see that. They want to see the Democrats worrying about healthcare, education, security,” Schiller said.

Cicilline said, “I think there’s an enormous amount of work that have to do with respect to our oversight responsibilities that have nothing to do Mr. Mueller’s investigation — that have to do with administration policies, child separation policies, the Department of Justice’s policies. I mean there are a whole range of issues that require immediate review from this administration.”

As for whether House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi should be named House Speaker once again, Schiller said, “At this point in time, the Democrats need an experienced politician who can go toe to toe with Trump, who knows Washington, who knows how to deal with McConnell. The very person that is – is Nancy Pelosi.”

Cicilline said he’ll support Pelosi for the speaker position.

When NBC 10 asked Langevin if he would vote for Pelosi, he said, “I think all options are on the table right now. I’m not announcing my support for anyone just yet to be the next speaker. I’m excited that it’s going to be a Democrat.”

WJAR: Beyond the Podium- Congressman Jim Langevin

1. What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

  • It is my experience working for middle class Rhode Islanders that differentiates me from my opponent. I have fought tirelessly for our state’s working class families. All families deserve a fair shot at achieving the American dream, and that means quality and affordable healthcare, good jobs with good pay, and quality education.
    I am proud of my record fighting for Rhode Island seniors and people with disabilities against Republican efforts to privatize Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I also continue to work on policies and funding to improve our nation’s career & technical education programs so workers have the skills to succeed in 21st Century jobs.
    I have nearly two decades of experience fighting for Rhode Islanders, and I know how to be their champion in Washington.

2. Explain what you see as the most important issue facing the state, and how you believe it should be addressed.

  • Rhode Island’s economy is on the rise, but in order to see sustained, long-term growth, we need to do a better job of closing our skills gap and aligning what is taught in the classroom with the skills our local businesses need. Our hardworking students deserve good-paying jobs and Rhode Island’s businesses need workers who are ready to work on day one. I was proud to fight for increased career and technical education funding to address this skills gap, but there is still more work to do. I remain committed to fighting for the necessary resources at the federal level to ensure all Rhode Islanders have the opportunity to succeed with 21st-century skills, in the 21st-century economy.

3. RI is scheduled to expand tractor trailer tolling along I-95. Do you agree with those expansion plans?

  • This is a state issue that will be determined by the General Assembly and Governor.

4. Are the current gun laws in Rhode Island too strict, too weak, or just right? If not just right, what needs to be changed? Should teachers and/or other school employees who are not law enforcement officers be armed?

  • Many federal laws affect gun safety for Rhode Island residents. While I support the second amendment, I believe in common sense gun safety laws. I support universal background checks, and closing the “gun show loophole”. I am also strongly opposed to efforts to impose “concealed carry reciprocity,” which would invalidate state laws relating to carrying a concealed handgun and instead allow most people to carry automatically. I am also fighting for federal support for strong child access protection laws that hold parents accountable when their child accesses an unsecured gun. As someone who was injured, albeit accidentally, at the hands of well-trained professionals, I reject the notion that arming teachers will keep our kids safer, and help reduce risks in schools.

5. Under what circumstances would you support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Rhode Island?

  • I support the rights of states to develop medical marijuana rules, and I hope more research will be conducted into its medical uses. To that end, I have voted for legislation that prevents the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. However, marijuana remains a restricted drug at the federal level, and, absent further research, I do not support changing that designation for recreational purposes.

6. Are you satisfied with the way sports betting is being implemented in Rhode Island?

  • Sports betting was regulated at the federal level until a Supreme Court decision earlier this year. Because the ruling was so recent, it is too early to say whether Congress should step in again and introduce new laws relating to sports betting or whether it should be left to the states. I will continue to monitor this issue as new state approaches emerge.

7. Is the minimum wage in Rhode Island too high, too low, or just right? If not just right, what should it be?

  • I believe the minimum wage in Rhode Island is too low, which is why I support federal legislation to increase the minimum wage for all states to $15 per hour by 2025. I don’t think anyone should work a 40-hour workweek and still live below the poverty level. Hardworking Americans should be able to support their families with fair compensation.

8. What are your thoughts about the ongoing opiate crisis? Are current local and national policies appropriately addressing it?

  • I have been devastated by stories I’ve heard from Rhode Islanders who have been personally affected by the opioid overdose epidemic. Addiction is a public health crisis that we must use a comprehensive approach to address, with a particular focus on treatment and counseling. I am proud to have worked with the federal delegation to support the opioids bills that have been signed into law over the past two years to bring millions of dollars to Rhode Island to help with prevention and recovery. I have also introduced legislation that would improve collaboration between local, state, and federal law enforcement when it comes to interdicting potent narcotics like fentanyl at the border.

9. What national issue or controversy do you believe resonates most deeply in Rhode Island?

  • Constituents across my district are deeply concerned about quality affordable healthcare. They are worried about rising costs and if they will be denied coverage if their preexisting conditions are no longer covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We must work together to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for all Rhode Islanders.

10. What is an example of a policy or issue you have changed your view on in the last 20 years?

  • I strongly oppose discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, for much of my legislative career, I did not support same-sex marriage, believing instead that civil unions were sufficient. It was not until 2011, three years after I attended the commitment ceremony of one of my long-time staff members, that I finally understood that preventing same-sex couples from achieving full marriage equality was, in fact, a form of discrimination. Since then, I have proudly fought for full marriage equality.

BONUS ROUND – ANSWER ANY OR ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS:

1.  What has drawn you to public service?

  • I have always had a strong desire from an early age to serve my community. Growing up, I wanted to be a police officer, and perhaps going on to become an FBI agent. When my accident ended my law enforcement dream, the outpouring of support that I received from the community inspired me to give back and pursue a career in public service.

2.  Who is your political hero? Why?

  • I will list two: President Franklin Roosevelt and Senator Claiborne Pell. As President, FDR guided the nation through one of the most difficult, tumultuous times in our history, and he never let his disability get in the way. And Senator Pell was a champion of good public policy for Rhode Island and the nation. He didn’t care about taking credit and he always put his constituents first.

3.  Under what circumstances would you tell a lie?

  • As President George Washington said in one of my preferred fables, “I cannot tell a lie.” I think this a good philosophy for all of us to follow.

4.  What is the best advice you have ever gotten?

  • The best advice I have received is from the late and former State Representative Paul Sherlock, one of my oldest political mentors. He told me that the key to being successful in public service is to be “accessible, responsive, and to never embarrass your constituents.” I have taken this advice to heart, and it has been a guiding principle throughout my career in public service.

5.  Top item on your “bucket list?”

  • I’d love to visit the Egyptian pyramids.

Name:

  • the last live music concert you saw:
    • U2
  • the last movie you saw in a theater:
    • “Mission Impossible: Fallout”
  • the TV show you never miss, or the last one you binge-watched:
    • Game of Thrones
  • What sports team(s) (Pro, college, Little League) do you cheer the loudest for?:
    • Patriots
  • What question do you wish someone would ask you and what would your answer be?:
    • I would like to hear from someone who is considering entering public service and would like to know if it is worthwhile. I would them know that it certainly is. While the intensity of today’s political climate may be intimidating, it’s absolutely critical to get involved. We are in desperate need of good people in the public arena who are in public service for the right reasons.
WPRI: Ground broken on Pawtucket-Central Falls commuter rail, bus hub

WPRI: Ground broken on Pawtucket-Central Falls commuter rail, bus hub

By Bill Tomison

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — With the heft of shovels, Rhode Island leaders launched a transit center project Friday afternoon kicking around Pawtucket and Central Falls for years: a new commuter rail station that will incorporate the state’s public bus service.

The hub project is part of the RhodeWorks bridges and transportation infrastructure improvement initiative. Joining Gov. Gina Raimondo for the groundbreaking were the state’s congressional delegation; Sen. Jack Reed, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rep. Jim Langevin and Rep. David Cicilline all played roles in securing funding for the project.

On Pine Street at Goff Avenue, the new transit center will be situated in a wedge-shaped lot next to a neighborhood of industrial mill buildings – several redeveloped, or being redeveloped, into loft apartments and more – all part of the Conant Thread District straddling the two cities, which itself has lofty goals for development.

When the transit center’s commuter rail connection is finished, it’ll allow riders to connect to Providence, T.F. Green Airport’s InterLink, and Wickford Junction stations on the MBTA’s intercity rail system, as well as Boston and South Attleboro, and all the Massachusetts cities in between.

It’ll take over from Pawtucket’s current bus interchange on Roosevelt Avenue. The center will include an overpass over the train tracks, elevators, ramps and stairs. Early estimates figure 520 people will board transit at the hub each day.

The price tag for the project is $47 million, funded by federal grants known as TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery – now known as BUILD) grants, funding from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), as well as grants from the state and city.

The actual construction work starts immediately, according to RIDOT spokesperson Charles St. Martin, and the bulk of it will take about three years all told. The bus aspects are set to be completed by the end of 2020; train, late 2021, but train service won’t be expected to start until summer 2022 due to safety testing. Most of the work will be done during overnight hours, when Amtrak trains won’t be running on the rails that workers will have to build over and alongside.

Warwick Beacon: CCRI to host symposium on opioid alternatives

Warwick Beacon: CCRI to host symposium on opioid alternatives

SOURCE: Warwick Beacon

WARWICK, R.I. – The Community College of Rhode Island’s health sciences departments will host the second in a series of awareness events about the pre-eminent public health crisis of our time – opioid addiction.

The Non-Opioid Pain Treatment Symposium will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28, in Room 4080 at the college’s Knight Campus, 400 East Ave., Warwick. The event is free of charge and open to all.

The symposium will present data the Rhode Island Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force has collected about the crisis. Two panel discussions will follow. The first includes Rhode Island public officials charged with action steps to reduce drug-related dependency and deaths. During the second panel, medical professionals will present data about the success of non-opioid pain treatment therapies.

The symposium will encourage discussion about changing the culture of pain management and promote evidence-based non-opioid therapies for chronic pain, such as clinical massage therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic care, neuropathic medicine and behavioral therapy.

“The goal of the symposium is share the size and impact of the crisis in Rhode Island and what we are doing about it,” said Regina Cobb, director of CCRI’s Therapeutic Massage program. “Health professionals who attend will better understand their role and the evidence-based interventions they can use for pain management.”

Dr. James McDonald, chief administrative officer, Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline at the Rhode Island Department of Health, will moderate the panels.

The first panel on understanding the crisis will include Peter Neronha, candidate for Rhode Island attorney general; Tom Coderre, senior adviser to the governor and co-chair of the Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force; Linda Hurley, CODAC Behavioral Healthcare; Joee Lindbeck, assistant attorney general; and Lt. Cmdr. Kasim Yarn, director of veterans affairs in Rhode Island.

Panel two, featuring pain management practitioners speaking about non-opioid pain treatment approaches, includes Victoria Moutahir, massage therapist; Charlotte King, acupuncturist; Chrysanthi Kazantzis, naturopathic doctor; Jason Harvey, physical therapist; Nancy Dooley, occupational therapist; Alan Post, chiropractic services; and Dr. Ellen Flynn, Brown’s Mindfulness Center.

U.S. Rep. James Langevin, who has supported and co-sponsored multiple pieces of legislation aimed at ending the opioid crisis, will provide closing remarks.

“Rhode Island is among the states hardest hit by the opioid overdose epidemic. We need federal resources for treatment and recovery to help families struggling on the front lines of this public health crisis,” Langevin said. “But we must also work to halt addiction before it takes root. I look forward to this symposium to learn more about evidence-based non-opioid treatment alternatives and their use in managing pain.”

All participants who complete the session will receive a certificate of completion that can be used to apply for CEUs for various disciplines such as social work, peer certification and more. Learn more about the symposium and register online at www.ccri.edu/rehabhealth/opioidsymposium.

ProJo: Rep. Langevin, seeking to restrain Trump, faces Caiozzo, GOP moderate and veteran

ProJo: Rep. Langevin, seeking to restrain Trump, faces Caiozzo, GOP moderate and veteran

By Mark Reynolds

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –

A 57-year-old West Greenwich man who served in the Army before he ran a plumbing business is the Republican candidate who hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin next month.

To continue his run in Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, which started in 2000, Langevin must vanquish Salvatore G. Caiozzo on Nov. 6.

Langevin has done this before. But the political landscape has changed since the 54-year-old Democrat beat Caiozzo in 2016.

This is not to say that Caiozzo, who ran as an independent that year, now represents himself as Rhode Island’s version of President Donald Trump.

“I am Sal,” Caiozzo says in the early moments of his interview. “Sal is a guy who has been out here with everybody else and knows exactly what everyone is going through. I have my own platform.”

“Yes, I am a Republican, because I stand by certain Republican values, but it doesn’t mean I stand by all of them,” adds Caiozzo, who describes his politics as moderate and not unlike those of a John F. Kennedy Democrat.

That said, here are a few things that Caiozzo and Trump agree on:

Like Trump, Caiozzo supports members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization spending more money on their own defense.

“I think we’ve been used long enough by NATO,” says the candidate, who won endorsement from the Republican Liberty Caucus, an association of the GOP’s libertarian-leaning activists.

But if the U.S. spends less money on its NATO commitments, Caiozzo says, the savings should benefit veterans.

Caiozzo, who says he was disabled by exposure to chemicals on an Alabama Army base in the 1980s, talks quite a bit about supporting veterans.

Like Trump, Caiozzo wants to change the nation’s health-care policy. But he says he would not abandon parts of the Affordable Care Act that provide coverage for preexisting conditions.

Schools and education decentralization are central to the Taunton, Massachusetts, native’s platform. He says he wants to improve education across the country and he believes education should be governed at the state and local levels, not by the federal government.

Neither Caiozzo nor Langevin brought up the probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.

When prompted, Caiozzo says, “I haven’t really seen the Mueller investigation come up with anything.” He adds that he regards the probe as a “waste of money.”

Langevin said if he and other Democrats can control the House after the election, they can provide stronger checks and balances on Trump generally.

He is hopeful, he says, that even with the current Republican majority in the House, Congress will keep Trump from shutting down the investigation.

“I’m determined to let the truth come out and let the facts lead where they will,” Langevin says.

But taking control of the House would “certainly allow us to advocate for and put forth policies that are important to building a strong middle class in this country,” he says.

“We would end attempts to try to dismantle the Affordable Care Act,” he says. “And we would hopefully work on ways to strengthen and improve health care, quality health care, in the country, and also work on growing good-paying jobs to further grow a strong middle class.”

The experienced politician has lots to say about how he would proceed if given the chance.

Langevin’s focus is on the middle class, improving the health-care system, launching infrastructure projects, protecting the country from cyberattacks and reducing gun violence.

“The country is at its best when we have a very strong middle class,” says the Warwick resident, who also says political leaders must do what’s possible to help Rhode Islanders gain the skills they need to find good-paying jobs.

Langevin, the first quadriplegic elected to Congress, was paralyzed when he was accidentally shot as a 16-year-old. He says he’s captivated by research that shows that a large proportion of all guns tied to crimes are funneled through a very small proportion of companies that supply guns.

“There is something wrong with that,” he says.

 

Salvatore G. Caiozzo

Age: 57

Residence: West Greenwich

Occupation: Retired from plumbing business, disabled veteran

Affiliation: Republican Party

Education: Monsignor Coyle & Cassidy High School, attended Labore Junior College and the University of Palermo

Previous elected office: None

Family: Single with two grown sons and one daughter

 

JAMES R. LANGEVIN

Age: 54

Residence: Warwick

Occupation: U.S. representative

Affiliation: Democrat

Education: Rhode Island College, Harvard University

Previous elected office: Rhode Island secretary of state, 1995-2000; state representative, 1989-1994

Family: Single

WPRO: RIPTA unveil 3 new zero-emissions buses

WPRO: RIPTA unveil 3 new zero-emissions buses

By The Associated Press and Tessa Roy, WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island’s public transportation agency has its first electric buses.

Gov. Gina Raimondo joined federal and state officials Monday to unveil the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s three new zero-emissions, electric buses. She called it a “major step toward a cleaner and greener future.”

“We bought three buses now, like the ones we just rode on, and over the next four years, we’re going to be replacing about one third of our fleet. So four years from now, we think we’ll have a third of our fleet to be electric,” she said.

A number of officials, including Rhode Island’s whole congressional delegation [including Congressman Langevin], took rides on the new buses on Monday. Senator Jack Reed said they will benefit not just the environment, but also public health.

“We have, particularly in urban areas, significant outbreaks of of asthma, chronic lung problems. One of the major contributing factors is transportation, cars, buses. Once we get those under control,  we’re going to have a situation with better health outcome,” he said.

The leased buses will be tested and staff will be trained in the maintenance and charging of the vehicles before they are put in service.

The $14.4 million plan includes replacement of aging diesel buses with the purchase of 16 to 20 electric buses starting in 2021, as well as installation of a charging infrastructure in the state for private electric vehicles.

The state’s portion of the settlement with Volkswagen over its emissions testing scandal will help pay for the program.

PBN: URI receives $746K for aquaculture worker training

PBN: URI receives $746K for aquaculture worker training

By Chris Bergenheim

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. – The University of Rhode Island received $745,815 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for its Rhode Island Sea Grant program, the R.I congressional delegation [including Rep. Jim Langevin] announced Thursday evening.

The funds will be used to strengthen training programs for entry-level aquaculture workers in Rhode Island and support the development of an online training curriculum that could be deployed nationally.

The in-person training will include initiatives to improve aquaculture worker safety, promote critical skills and boost employee recruitment and retention.

The URI Rhode Island Sea Grant Extension supports the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries by providing scientific and research-based data to public- and private-sector entities.

The grant will also support a pilot program to train both in-person and online instructors in select states.

“Year after year, Rhode Island’s aquaculture industry continues to grow, producing jobs as well as high-value seafood that’s enjoyed up and down the East Coast. This new federal grant will expand job-training opportunities and help Rhode Island continue to cultivate homegrown businesses,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said in a statement.

The state’s 73 shellfish farms sold more than 8.4 million oysters in 2017, accounting for the bulk of Rhode Island’s aquaculture exports, according to the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. Aquaculture farms in the state also grow clams, scallops and mussels.

ProJo: Expert tells URI crowd that climate-change research may mean ‘our survival’

ProJo: Expert tells URI crowd that climate-change research may mean ‘our survival’

By Alex Kuffner

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — The former head of oceanography and meteorology for the Navy argued for more funding for research to understand the impact of climate change while delivering the keynote speech at a science symposium at the University of Rhode Island on Tuesday.

“It’s not just science at stake. It’s our survival,” Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White said to hundreds of people at the event at the Graduate School of Oceanography campus in Narragansett.

White is president and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for ocean research, education and policy. His name was mentioned last year in connection with the top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but President Donald Trump instead nominated Accuweather CEO Barry Myers.

Standing in front of images of the destruction wrought last week by Hurricane Michael at Tyndall Air Force Base, in Florida, and flooding around Naval Station Norfolk, in Virginia, he said that climate change is a threat to coastal military installations and, in a larger sense, to national security overall.

“Our military, the more and more they have to deal with infrastructure and the effects of climate change, whether it’s helping others or trying to get in and out of our bases, the less ready they are going to be to go on missions … all over the world,” he said.

It was a point that was also raised by U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin, who has pushed for an assessment of the military’s vulnerabilities to climate change.

“The dangers to national security are real and we must support the researchers who improve our understanding of the threat and ways to mitigate it,” he said.

The symposium’s focus was not just on security issues but on the effects of sea-level rise, more powerful storms and increased rainfall on coastal communities in general.

ProJo Editorial: For U.S. House: Cicilline, Langevin

ProJo Editorial: For U.S. House: Cicilline, Langevin

SOURCE: Providence Journal Editorial

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island benefits from experienced, hardworking leadership in Washington. For that reason, we encourage our readers to vote to re-elect U.S. Representatives David Cicilline and James Langevin. As Democrats, they could become more powerful after January, if pollsters’ predictions hold true and control of the U.S. House flips to their party.

Representative Langevin, who serves Rhode Island’s Second District, sits on the House’s Homeland Security and Armed Services committees. Far from being content to serve as a partisan back-bencher, he has been a been a strong and assertive voice on defense and security matters. He supports internet privacy protections and wants to harden cyberprotections for the critical infrastructure of Rhode Island and the country.

He has correctly identified diagnosed weaknesses in America’s cyberdefenses, even as cyberspace is increasingly a battlefield for nation-states, terrorists and criminals. He has demonstrated a grasp of the havoc that could follow a widespread, malicious attack, and consistently advocated for greater cooperation among the interdependent public and private sectors.

Mr. Langevin also has advocated for broader and deeper health care services for all, especially the disabled. As a paraplegic, he provides a unique and personal perspective on issues ranging from stem-cell research to study of the most effective ways for people to undergo rehabilitation after becoming paralyzed.

He is popular, too, with Rhode Islanders, enjoying sizable electoral majorities after successful stints as a state representative and Secretary of State.

Representative Langevin is opposed by military veteran and Republican Sal Caiozzo, who is an advocate for veterans harmed by toxins while serving. Mr. Langevin’s experience and willingness to reach across the aisle suggest he is the better choice.

In the First Congressional District, which includes Providence and Newport, former Providence Mayor Cicilline enjoys a huge party registration advantage over Republican challenger Patrick Donovan and should coast to victory.

Mr. Cicilline has been an advocate for trying to limit the spread of guns in America. He has aggressively pushed for expanded background checks for gun purchasers and a ban on assault weapons.

In Washington, Mr. Cicilline’s articulate tongue has served him well. He has been willing to appear on conservative TV programs, making the case for his party’s values and helping to bridge the yawning partisan chasm in the nation’s capital. He has also spoken out for manufacturing in America. And he has been a champion of newspapers and a free press.

Mr. Cicilline could well be leadership material. A respected member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he is competing for the new elected position of assistant majority leader. Little Rhode Island can use all the power it can get in Washington.

We believe Rhode Island voters would be well-served by returning its incumbent U.S. House members to office.