Trader Joe’s Opens Downtown Providence Store
by Sarah McLaughlin ’23
Great news for fans of frozen fried ravioli and strawberry mochi—Trader Joe’s opened a new location in Downtown Providence this morning, Nov. 3. Located at 425 South Main Street, the store is within walking distance of Brown’s campus and PVDonuts and is now the closest Trader Joe’s location to PC’s campus, as Providence students previously would have had to travel to either Warwick, RI or Foxborough, MA.
Trader Joe’s is known across the U.S. for its low prices, which is due in part to how the chain sells primarily products of its own brand (about 80 percent of products on shelves) rather than typical name-brand groceries. PC students, often strapped for spare grocery cash but just as often out of Friar Bucks, could benefit from this new opening.
Through the company’s long standing Neighborhood Shares Program, Trader Joe’s locations pledge to make daily donations of 100 percent of the unsold, unexpired products they would otherwise throw away to local nonprofit organizations. The company has one of the best food waste management programs in the country; most grocery store waste ends up in landfills. In 2021, Trader Joe’s donated more than $349 million worth of food and beverages to nonprofits across the country. The new Providence location will ideally contribute to this environmental and socioeconomic initiative.
Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District Election: Seth Magaziner vs. Allan Fung
by Sarah McLaughlin ’23
With Congressman Jim Langevin not seeking re-election, the Rhode Island 2nd Congressional District seat is up for grabs this election season. The Providence College campus, as well as the surrounding off-campus neighborhood, is a part of this district, which spans from western Providence to the northwestern, southwestern, and southeastern reaches of the state.
Democrat Seth Magaziner and Republican Allan Fung are the two leading opponents for the seat. Magaziner is the current Rhode Island General Treasurer, has a teaching background, and is a graduate of both Brown University and Yale University. Fung has served as the current mayor of Cranston since 2008, has a law background, and is a graduate of Rhode Island College and Suffolk University Law School. Both candidates have previously run for governor and were unsuccessful. Magaziner originally began this year’s election season with a bid for governor, announcing his candidacy in September 2021. In January, he changed course for Congress.
Magaziner states that he “is running for Congress to fight for the middle class and those working hard to join it.” He pledges to protect Social Security and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), lower the price of prescription drugs, and lower gas prices by returning the profits of big oil companies to consumers. He has stated he supports suspending the federal gas tax. Magaziner is pro-choice; he helped pass the Reproductive Privacy Act, which codified Roe v. Wade into Rhode Island state law. He has also initiated clean energy programs as the state’s treasurer. Magaziner has received the endorsement of current Congressman Langevin.
Fung also pledges that he will lower the cost of living and gas prices. He argues that the U.S. should not be dependent on imported oil and that we should instead increase domestic oil production. He has stated that he is in favor of completing undrilled oil wells. Fung also states that concerning energy, he is “laser-focused on bringing new approaches…to the table that protect working families’ paychecks while also preserving our environment for years to come.” He believes that renewable energy brings an opportunity to create jobs in Rhode Island, stating, “Let’s take the debate over climate solutions out of the political arena and put [it] into the paycheck arena.” On the issue of abortion, Fung’s views are unclear. In 2018, he said he supported “a woman’s right to make medical decisions,” with some restrictions. If he wins, Fung would be the first nonwhite representative of Rhode Island in Congress.
The two candidates went head-to-head in two debates this week. The first debate took place on Monday, Oct. 17 at the URI Kingston campus. It also featured independent candidate Bill Gilbert, who is currently polling at about 5 percent.
Among other topics discussed were the events of January 6, 2021. “January 6 was a very dark day in our country’s history, and I spoke out on that day,” Fung stated, likely in an attempt to differentiate himself from the Republicans who supported the events. “I’m not President Trump,” he said. “I don’t act that way. I’m not about divisiveness.” However, Magaziner pointed out that Fung has “made clear” that he would vote to “put election deniers in charge of the House,” citing his support of Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan. Fung argued that Magaziner’s support of Nancy Pelosi is a larger issue, believing that her actions have “crippled the economy.”
I spoke with Dr. Cammarano of the PC Political Science Department about his thoughts on the debate. “This is a year where both sides are trying to say they’re not like the typical person in their party,” he said. “The reality is they’re both going to vote with their party.”
Magaziner also spoke on how he supports lowering interest rates for student loans so students can focus on pursuing their desired careers after graduation. Fung agreed that he would support lowering the interest rates, and he also stated he would support “doubling the amount of Pell grants” awarded.
On the topic of abortion, Magaziner stated, “There’s no ambiguity about where I am.” He argued that Fung, on the other hand, has gone back and forth on the issue. Fung pushed back, stating that he has made clear his opposition to a national abortion ban.
Independent candidate Bill Gilbert, who has thus far run a very low-profile campaign, spoke on how he believes “hyperpartisanship” is a major issue dividing the country. “We’re still running against Trump, and he’s not in office,” he stated. “We need to heal.” He also argued in favor of public funding for STEM fields and vocational training.
The second debate took place on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at Providence Performing Arts Center. Issues on which the two candidates agreed include federal legalization of marijuana, federal protection of same-sex marriage, and instituting term limits for both Supreme Court justies and congresspeople.
According to Suffolk University and Boston Globe polling data from Oct. 12, Fung leads Magaziner 45 percent to 37 percent. 13 percent of voters remain undecided. David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, stated, “Fung has a lead in this race due to overwhelming support from men, independents, and older voters.” Meanwhile, Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, a Democrat, leads Republican challenger Ashley Kalus 46 percent to 36 percent. Paleologos believes independent voters are responsible in both cases. Fung and McKee both have a hold over independents.
Polling data from Fleming & Associates gives Fung a 6-point lead, while data from the Mellman Group gives Fung a 3-point lead. Despite the polling data it cites, FiveThirtyEight still judges the race in favor of Magaziner; the analysts give him a 55 percent chance of winning as of Oct. 17. However, as Dr. Cammarano pointed out, the margin of error is about 6 points. “We just don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “I would still say Magaziner has an edge, but he has a certain vulnerability.” Dr. Cammarano noted how while Magaziner only recently moved to his district, Fung has lived in and governed Cranston for years.
While Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball categorize the race as one that leans democratic, The Cook Political Report rates it as a toss-up. This seat could be up for grabs for either candidate. The House could potentially swing in favor of the Republicans depending on how many of these toss-up seats they win.
Rhode Island is generally thought of as a deep blue state, but the more rural parts of this district have the potential to vote red. “If water is touching a town, it tends to be Democratic,” Dr. Cammarano stated. Biden won all five counties in the 2020 election, as did Democratic Senator John Reed. However, while Biden saw large margins of victory in the coastal cities like Providence, Warwick, Newport, and Narragansett, he lost many of the inland towns, such as Burrillville, Glocester, Scituate, and Foster, all of which are a part of the state’s 2nd Congressional District. Thus, the race could truly go either way.
If you are registered to vote in Rhode Island, remember that your vote counts. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, and the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Why Does Providence Keep Flooding?
On Monday, September 5, what was expected to be a holiday break full of darties and naps rapidly turned into a modern Noah’s Ark. On Labor Day weekend, heavy rainfall surged into the streets of Providence and nearby communities. With every rain storm, Providence seems to flood. Wet roads and sidewalk puddles have become part of Providence’s charm, but a solution exists. Ultimately, outdated infrastructure combined with the impacts of climate change have left the Ocean State willfully unprepared for major rain events.
While it seemed to be a normal rainy day, Providence’s drainage system failed to perform . This may be a surprise for some, but last month there was also a flash flood that overwhelmed the streets of Providence. So, whenever it rains excessively, it is no surprise that Providence and its nearby communities are inclined to flood.
This heavy rainfall did not only wreak havoc on the streets of Providence but also affected PC campus life. Due to such long-lasting rain, instead of seeing groups of people traveling down to Eaton street for darties, students used the holiday as an opportunity to catch up on work.
From the perspective of inside campus, it looked like a rainy day at PC. However, just a few miles away roads were closed, highways were flooded, buildings were damaged, and daily life was chaotic.
Unfortunately, this was the same day that BOP had traveled to Newport. Interestingly, PC student Natalia Alzate ’24 says, “It was drizzling when we were in Newport so we never expected it to be so bad when traveling back to campus. A trip that was supposed to be 45 minutes took us three hours.”
While it was just another rainy day at PC, it felt like a hurricane in the city of Providence and its nearby communities. This calls into question the quality of the city’s drainage system and procedures.
Given that there was a flash flood not too long ago last month, it seems to be that what happened on Labor Day was of no shock to the residents of Providence – which means that the drainage issue was brought to attention, but not resolved. Myles Johnson ’24 remarked, “You never realize how bad a problem is until you have to fix it. The rain that fell should not have caused flooding. Hurricane Sandy and other casualties have passed and did not cause the I-95 to flood the way it did.”
Why has this issue been unaddressed? Why are we continuing to ignore climate change?
While it is common to view flooding as something inevitable, there are a lot of factors that play a part in this catastrophe. One of the most imperative factors leading to this unfortunate event is the oversight by the city’s officials. Providence can no longer put infrastructure investments off to the side. There are grave issues that lie underneath the flooded walkways.
Flooding Causes Major Disruption in the City of Providence
This past Tuesday, Providence experienced extreme flash flooding and a 48-hour rainstorm that caused delays and destruction. I-95 completely flooded over a local bridge, where five cars were stuck. Major traffic delays followed, causing many to arrive late to work or school. Other communities, such as Cranston, reported similar events. The area seems to have accumulated about 11 inches of rain that the soil seems unable to handle. This is all after a severe drought that has plagued all of the Northeast, so the soil had hardened up from the heat, leaving it unable to absorb the water. This caused extreme runoff and flooding.
Many events occurred during the tropical storm. An unoccupied building collapsed from the heavy rain on Monday around Peace Street. Luckily, no one was injured, but it raises some concerns about the stability of the older buildings in the area. Dormitories at Brown University even reported flooding. One family even reported that their pool became heavily polluted from storm runoff. Providence does have multiple polluted bodies of water, so this is an unfortunate reality of what happens when polluted water runs into communities.
The flooding garnered national attention, with an article from the Washington Post being released during the storm. Flooding events like these raise questions about global warming—due to rising water levels, flooding is becoming more common in coastal states. Rising water levels can lead to intense flooding during storms, especially in areas where houses aren’t lifted or when basements aren’t above sea level.
A student from the class of 2025 said, “I don’t know why they didn’t cancel class here… My teacher said they didn’t even know if they would get home safely due to the flooding. Not to mention that commuter students definitely struggled to make it to class both days.” Another student from the class of 2025 said “It was so bad that the buses weren’t even running. I had to wait for the bus for an hour and I had to get to work off campus and Ubers were charging insane prices because of the storm…This was definitely an unusual amount of rain for Rhode Island, and the fact that the storm lasted so long is crazy.”
Disparate Representation: Candidate Photographs Play a Role in Local Providence Mayoral Race
Appearance and politics. The influence the media has in the democratic process. The institutions that continue to have a presence in our daily lives. These are all present regarding the upcoming democratic primary in Providence, Rhode Island. Nirva LaFortune, a current city councilwoman, is opposing Brett Smiley and Gonzalo Cuervo for the upcoming mayoral election.
Last Tuesday’s issue of the Providence Journal (August of 2022) released a front-page story about the pitches the three mayoral candidates made accompanied by photos. Where Smiley and Cuervo’s images are their official, smiling onward-facing headshots, LaFortune’s is an action photo of her from the side, appearing angry, while passionately speaking.
LaFortune tweeted at the Providence Journal, “Oh, how I love opening up the paper and finding a photo of me in mid-sentence looking ‘angry’ but actually speaking passionately about a matter. Why couldn’t I get a headshot photo, similar to the guys?”
Both Smiley and Cuervo spoke up for their competition, calling the use of the image “disappointing” and “inexcusable.” The opposition speaking up for their competitor demonstrates the resilience and passion they have to fight institutionalized racism, specifically in the media.
The discrepancies in the images could be attributed to racism as well as sexism. LaFortune is the only female or person of color candidate in the race of three, making conversations about both issues prominent. LaFortune called the Providence Journal out for racist journalism, stating that the comparison in images is a “prime example of racism in media.”
Cuervo made it known in his tweet that the Providence Journal has a multitude of professional photos that they shot earlier in the cycle. LaFortune also tweeted a professional picture of her, demonstrating the various options the Providence Journal had for their story.
Providence Journal Executive Editor David Ng apologized for the use of the photo in a statement to NBC 10, in which he wrote, “We regret the photo selected for this story and sincerely apologize.”
Whatever the intention behind the photo was, the audience as well as the portrayed candidates understood it as racism. Media plays a prime role in our view of political candidates, and the picture of LaFortune could potentially have a negative effect on her campaign.
LaFortune hopes that this will shed light on the influence the media has in the electoral process and how it is simple to make a candidate look unprofessional. Furthermore, she hopes it demonstrates the importance of the diversity of the community being represented and sharing their experiences. LaFortune released a statement saying: “This was sad and it also shows us the importance of having more people of color, more black women, more black people, brown people, indigenous folks, [and] people who represent the diversity of our community also leading the effort to tell their stories.”