Providence League

Hollie Courage, Joan Retsinas, Barbara Feldman, and Liz Head

For more information, please contact:
joan.retsinas@gmail.com or 401-272-0422 or emhead603@hotmail.com or 401-351-2269

Join the League for Tea at Blithewold
On Monday, October 3, 2016 at 1:00 p.m., Blithewold Mansion will be open exclusively for League members
at a tea organized by the LWV Providence. Enjoy tea and a tour of the mansion and gardens for $40.
RSVP here.

Providence League of Women Voters Conversations offer members
a chance for informal conversation over coffee and dessert.

Past Conversations & Events:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 7:00pm
Revisiting State Assistance to Rhode Island Libraries
Speaker: Karen Mellor, Director
RI Office of Information and Library Services

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at 7:00pm
New Voices on the School Committee
Speaker: Mark Santow

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
A Woman's Perspective: New Voice on the City Council
Speaker: Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11)
Why she ran and the obstacles she faced.

Mary Kay Harris, Ward 11 councilwoman, has worked as a welder at Electric Boat, an executive secretary, and most recently, for 15 years as a community organizer at DARE. She defeated an incumbent in the primary and went on to win in the general election.

On campaigning: she credits a stupendous organization, devoted, diverse and savvy, including some students. All worked hard throughout a hot summer. Mary Kay walked the streets; and when she flagged, "they pushed me to walk." Her opening line to people who were reluctant to open their doors: "I come in peace."

On campaign money: she spent very little. In fact, she had 13 signs posted in Ward 11. On Election Day, when she wanted to put signs at the 7 polling places, she retrieved them from supporters' yards.

Controversial issues in her ward: existence of private sewer lines that must be replaced; demolition of Flynn School; upkeep of Grace cemetery; possible placement of parole office to Broad Street (her ward now hosts more than 20 social service agencies, including Crossroads, Amos House, Salvation Army); saving 125 year-old Bannister House for its 80 patients, 130 employees.

Key issues for the city: proposed Red Sox stadium on 1-195 land, need for jobs; upcoming contract negotiations with key unions; proposed spending for trolley.

October 8, 2014
"Crumbling Schools: Too Awful to Ignore"
Speaker: Joseph Da Silva, School Construction Coordinator, RI Department of Education

Facts from the Conversation

  • The Public School Assessment rated all RI public school building conditions from 1 (best) to 4 (worse)
  • Culprits in crumbling schools:
       Age: average age of schools rated 4 was 70
       Delayed maintenance, poor upkeep of facilities
       Communities struggle to regularly budget for capital improvements in schools, so major repairs go unmet
  • 14 schools rated  4 – needing "major renovation" or to be replaced; 39 schools rated 3
  • Total funds needed to bring all buildings to "1" is $1.79 billion
  • General Assembly extended 3-year moratorium for 1 additional year on state aid to communities for school construction
  • Moratorium excludes  Immediate Health and Safety Approvals
  • Bonds and borrowing: communities typically borrow for school construction, as well as major repairs; state reimburses communities for moneys spent, including the interest on their bonds (when the project is completed)
  • Budget appropriation
  • Borrowing in general is costly: 40 cents of every dollar annually spent on construction will go to interest payments
  • Borrowing is especially costly for poor cities and towns, because their bond rating may be poor and thus their interest rate will be high. RIHEBC has managed to get them better interest rates. When Providence bonds for projects, the State pays for principle payments plus interest incurred at a rate of approximately 80+% .
  • Reimbursement for communities for school construction, based on sliding scale, is based on communities' wealth (up to 95 % for poorest communities), but wealthiest communities still receive 35% reimbursement

School Construction Websites:


Annual Meeting & Barbecue of Providence League of Women Voters
June 19, 2014

The Gangs of Providence: What Can We Do?
Sergeant Michael Wheeler discusses street gangs in Providence
March 31, 2014

Jeanne Bondarevskis, Providence Water Supply Board Sr. Director of Administration; and Xay Khamsyvoravong, Chair
Water: we collect it, treat it, disburse it, and sell it to 60% of the state.
January 30, 2014

Councilman Sam Zurier
A Providence Conversation: Taxes in Providence
Rates? Exemptions: Collections? Who Decides?
November 13, 2013

Renay Brooks Omisore, Commissioner, Providence Board of Canvassers
Kathy Placencia, Administrator of Elections, Providence Board of Canvassers
Voting in Providence
September 26, 2013

Keith Oliveira, Chair, Providence School Committee
Improving Providence Schools Charter schools
 February 7, 2013

Colin Kane, Chair, I-195 Redevelopment Commission
From Highway to Open Space to City-Scape
December 12, 2012
Surrounding Institutions
Property Development Parcels - Master Plan

Michael Solomon, President, City Council, and Seth Yurdin, Majority Leader
Rescuing Providence From the Financial Brink
May 21, 2012

Michael D'Amico, Director of Administration
The City's Pension Abyss: Climbing Out
February 21, 2012

Stephen Pare, Commissioner of Public Safety
Public Safety: What We Can Pay For, What We Need
November 1, 2011

Robert McMahon, Director, Department of Parks and Recreation
The Great Gap: What We Can Pay For, What We Want
September 22, 2011

Michael Solomon, President, City Council, and Seth Yurdin, Majority Leader
How Budget Choices Will Shape Our Future
May 18, 2011

Ann Robinson, Director, Providence Community Library
The Status of the New Kid on Providence's Block
April 8, 2010

Mary Beth Fafard, Senior Policy Director, The Education Alliance, Brown University
Are Providence schools racing to the top or sinking to the bottom?
February 18, 2010


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