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Biz Owners Slam Governor Over Bridge Tolls [VIDEO]

Gov. Lincoln Chafee heard dozens of protests against bridge tolls Thursday at Town Hall, but referred most questions to DOT Director Michael Lewis.

If there was one thing clear from , small business owners are far from happy. 

"Between the toll and the sales tax, you're putting me out of business," said business owner Jeff Phelan to the governor. 

Phelan, who owns and operates , parked one of his vehicles outside Town Hall with a large "no toll" sign. Phelan wasn't alone. At least a dozen demonstrators held signs and waited for the governor's arrival early Thursday morning. 

Chafee held the community forum to hear from local small businesses and to "discuss ways to help them succeed, grow the economy, and create jobs for Rhode Islanders." Instead, Chafee heard from one resident after another, many of them being business owners, about how bridge tolls on will hurt Aquidneck Island's economy. 

"We're tired of being the ATM machine for Providence," said Portsmouth resident Kathleen Melvin to the governor. 

"You can't do this to businesses," said Portsmouth Town Councilor Judi Staven. One Tiverton resident moved her Portsmouth business across the bridge last month due to the proposed bridge tolls. 

While Gov. Chafee said he understood "there is a lot of anger," he referred most questions to Department of Transportation (DOT) Director Michael Lewis. 

"We're doing the best we can," Chafee said. "There is a lot of anger. The economy is bad. I understand. There's a lot of anger out there. Let's just be smart and not let that anger make bad decisions." 

Lewis said an environmental impact (including economic) study will be conducted this fall. "The rate of the tolls have an affect on traffic, diversion...What are the economic impacts of tolls on both sides of the river...That will influence how the toll rate is established," he said. 

Lewis says there's a need for a permanent revenue stream to maintain bridges.

"If we can't invest in them (the state's other bridges), they will go the way of the Sakonnet River Bridge," he said. 

The governor also directed residents to speak with legislators in attendance, including Reps. Dan Gordon, Dan Reilly, Raymond Gallison and Senator Chris Ottiano.

He waved a hand and interrupted when , began to speak. After the audience yelled, "let him speak," Canario was allowed to voice his opposition to bridge tolls. 

Chafee did not allow a last-minute question from Portsmouth Town Councilor Jim Seveney, who is also running for re-election. 

Jim L August 26, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I have a real for QUESTION for Mike Burk And Jay Edwards since you have proposed moving the toll onto RT24, where were they going in the first plan?, $12.35 says THIS question never gets answered it's not some one style, or 2 people's style
Jim L August 26, 2012 at 02:37 AM
manny, STUPID, STUPID, STUPID, you are now recomending someone attack a public offical, after crying about threats to you, I think it's time for T1st and kick old folks to the CURB to step way away from you, i realy thing it's time for patch to shut you down and mention you to the police
Jim L August 26, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Oh sarcasm, when you make fun of a real name why thats T1's and curb standards sorry i find mine a little higher and any TCC member who is now in office holds to such standars, something that you and your attack dogs don't believe in. like i said, Don't answer the quiestion, attack the messanger
Dan D August 26, 2012 at 03:41 AM
I do not want to be part of Mass. If tolls are put in, so be it, I would rather be a Rhode Islander with tolls, than a Masshole without them.
maloderous August 26, 2012 at 10:33 AM
Dan D: the state will gladly accept a check if you're feeling guilty. The tolls are pretty much inevitable, so it's not like secession would be without them...that's the point. It's secession in spite of tolls, not instead.
Mike Burk August 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Jim L - I don't know what you are trying to say in the comment you posted at 5:10pm the NEA Contract thread in response to Justin Katz's letter. Since that thread isn't related to tolls and this one is, I am responding to you here. Let me be perfectly clear. I DO AND HAVE ALWAYS OPPOSED TOLLS ON THE SAKONNET BRIDGE! Over the several years tolls have been considered, I have expressed that to local reps/senators, other reps/senators, the DOT lobbyist and the Governor's staff. Our local delegation worked hard to keep tolls from happening and were successful for a few years. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful this time around yet put up one helluva fight. Do any of them or I want tolls now - ABSOLUTELY NOT! But my parents always gave me good advice,including being sure to cover your bases. Did I sign the petition calling an end to the tolls - ABSOLUTELY! Am I optimistic that it and other efforts will cause the Legislature to reconsider transferring the bridge to RITBA or for RITBA to decide not to put tolls in place - only very cautiously so. Do I think we should also look at ways to lessen the impact of the tolls if repeal efforts fail - ABSOLUTELY! If the tolls go through, do I think we should continue to fight to get them removed after the fact - ABSOLUTELY! So, if you want to spend your time trying to twist facts and argue with the air, feel free to do so. I will spend my time finding solutions which I hope will mean the best solution - NO TOLLS!
Jim L August 29, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Got 9 new businesses and 160 signatures today spent more time getting into new places than picking up old. Everyday this gets bigger and bigger got another business owned by a Ma, resident, Him 1 full time 1 part time worker, helps from the island he's from Fall River, he's gonna close, Tolls are to much, all this because they didn't want to raise tolls on the Newport bridge, And now were gonna pay double gas tax's? yup bagged and tagged??? I don't think so, we may be the Island in Rhode island but i you we, refuse to be the piggy bank, maybe they should just change the name to Rhode...
Renee Cwiek August 29, 2012 at 06:26 PM
That's awesome Jim! How many signatures do you think there are now?
TECH August 29, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Jim L, once all the petitions are collected, are they going to be presented to the Governor's office or the General Assembly? Is there a plan in place for how they will be presented? I also think many people have signed petitions more than once, making the true number of petitioners a little inflated. There are petitions being circulated by organizers in Portsmouth and on moveon.org. Is there a plan to get all those petitions together, or is it just each one on its own? Thanks for your work in getting these petitions in local businesses.
Jim L August 29, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Tech as far as i know the plan right now is to let folks running for office know just how many folks oppose this and just whom they hold responable, the petition drive will then continue on to be presented to the assembly and the Governor also in janurary and will be used as evidence to prove the the economic impact is believEd to be very harmful to all the voters who signed legaly all the Ma residents who work on the island, and have RI taxes removed from their pay and will get hammered by these tolls, I just consider my job is to get as many voters as i can to sign this, the Women i work with do doing the heavy lifting they are incontact with Legislatores that opposed this civic boards against it, researching votes taken in the assembly, looking thru records of the Turn pike Boys, all and anyways to stop this,The Petition Drive help tremendesly but we knew must move to letter writing also , and radio talkshow and newspapers must be made to pay more attention, I tried to talk to 1 guy from the Radio in fall River, just hung up on me, another host answered one afternoon last week a i asked what he would do about Ma residents and the tolls, clueless!!!I do see a little bit more attention being paid to all of us now, folks upstate are wondering whats going on. The louder we get the better it gets, while the numbers may be of some i believe the numbers are really low, there is one woman in Providense who has collected over 700 sigatures i am trying to contact her,
Jim L August 30, 2012 at 11:42 AM
What elected Rep said the tolls were a "done deal" and petitions were "a waste of time?" I was raised to fight to win , not make plans for loseing, and i would still like to know just where the tolls were suppose to go in the first place, Would you have that info Mr Burke?
BD August 30, 2012 at 11:55 AM
We know it wasn't your boy, TCC-endorsed representative Dan Gordon. He's the only one later to this party than the Tiverton town council. Although the council obviously had more important things to do like outlawing telephone pole postings and telling us how much they have accomplished in office.
Jim L August 30, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Right BD it was your man Jay Edwards and the council didn't outlaw telephone pole posting, the state of RI did, just as it did on any public property, but as a no named posted you can just twist things to find your thinking i guess huh, that T1 and curb for you
Tea Party Shill August 30, 2012 at 12:54 PM
What have you done with the real JimL? Since we have your attention councilor, why would the council waste its time discussing a state matter instead of fighting tolls?
Just Another Taxpayer August 30, 2012 at 01:09 PM
"Real" Jim L, "Fake" Jim L its so hard to keep track of these two intellectual giants!
Jim L September 01, 2012 at 02:30 PM
As of right now the petition is in 206 businessess or workplaces all over Newport county, 82 T/LC,63P,50M. 11N, so things progress well, there is movement now afoot to gather everyone into one large group Things seen to be stirring in Bristol and And rumor says that The Mass, goverment is starting to eyeball this also
Jim L September 01, 2012 at 03:04 PM
why would anyone leaving the island move to Tiverton? They would still be on this side of the tolls??What i have been told by 2 of them that they will go to Fall River or elsewhere in MA. that way they can keep the Employees they have from MA. and not subject them to $8.00 dollars a day just to come to work Ri residents wiil be losing $1.65 a day to go to work, this is called logic manny, There are Many, many Ma. residents that work in Newport county and Do you think the MA, goverment will just let RI subject them to paying $40.00 to keep their jobs without stepping in,just to let you know petitions are showing up in otherplaces in RI, So again remember where the tolls are being MITIGATED to gothis whole money grabbibg deal is going to hurt economics Newport county badly and if you can't see that then your eyes aren't open
Jim L September 01, 2012 at 03:04 PM
and i WILL get that post
Renee Cwiek September 01, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I don't understand why anyone's giving Jim a hard time about fighting the tolls. I doubt anyone wants to have to pay tolls. If you don't agree with him about other issues, fine, but this just seems silly.
Jimmy September 01, 2012 at 04:28 PM
What do you do Manny? Anything to help this town or anyone else? No you just sit online all day and wait for Jim L to write a post so you can criticize it. It's getting to the point of being very creepy. Your a cyber stalker with nothing better to do. Criticize others while you do absolutely nothing is not helpful
Jim L September 01, 2012 at 08:21 PM
little man you lie so much you don't even know it, were going to get business from the island even tho they will still be behind the tolls ? like i said you got in the train line might have to change your name to little manny moron, Son just let this fool slide, he's the type of man that digs a hole under other people to make himself bigger , like i said your just an attack dog, can't even stand on your own, You and Mike Burk can fight for the tolls all you want, you can pretend Jay Edwards didn't say The petition was" a waste of time and the tolls were a done deal"Dan D stated plainly the if folks lost their houses to bad, and i thought the T1 meeting was open to all? Mrs Arruda posts a picture on the curb website that says all the TCC can go to Shtsville And Brian Medorios talks about uniting this tiown while letting you and your other attack dogs of his just back him up, gee i have no problem pointing this out, care about the schools? throwing money at the school s hasn't solved a thing, It's great we have the best early learning schools in the state, so why to the kids in the high school do so poorly and were does all the money go. Are the schools infact now building up another $400,000.00 surplus of taxpayer money, you little manny are good at attack, that alls don't worry i will be here untill the elections and i will back who ever is good for this town, and with brians track record his endorcement don't look good before he even brings them up
Jim L September 02, 2012 at 01:56 PM
little man, why you sound just like brian talking head of kick um to the curb, what. are you now your own attack dog?
Jim L September 02, 2012 at 01:58 PM
even more foolish is you continue to stalk me on a site about tolls i must have really struck a nerve with the truth
Robert E September 03, 2012 at 07:41 AM
Jim I don't support the tolls but don't expect any help from the Mass, goverment. Massachusetts has a turnpike, a toll bridge, and 3 tunnels with tolls. Callahan Tunnel Massachusetts Turnpike Sumner Tunnel Ted Williams Tunnel Tobin Bridge (Mystic River Bridge) The would be in no position to tell Rhode Island not to put a toll on one of their bridges. If the Mass. Government is eyeballing this it is to increase the tolls in Mass. to genarate more revenue.
Jim L September 03, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Robert E, All those bridges were built as toll bridges built with tolls from the start and mainly deep in MA, . the new tolls are to be placed on a bridge that never had tolls are will cost Ma residents either their jobs or from $40.00 to $48.00 dollars a week just to go to work, and will charge Ri folks a fee to get medical care from Ma., If you don't think folks from Ma, have a dog in this fight i would say you are wrong, The economoic impack on Newport coutny would be a a peice of the local money just falling off bit by bit
Jim L September 04, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Why Would the Ri bridge crew go to the state and say "If you give us a way to get money someplace else, we won't raise the Pell bridge tolls?" Isn't their job just to take care of the Pell bridge?
Rio Sakonnet September 16, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Chafee is a one term Govenor if ever there was one. With all due respect Mr. Chafee, please lay off the sauce. Rhode Island needs a clear headed Govenor and not another 'Otis'.
Rio Sakonnet September 17, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Perhaps the residents of RI should seriously consider a recall vote to remove Chafee from office. The voters of California removed Grey Davis as Governor and recently the citizens of Wisconsin voted on removing Gov. Scott Walker. These states are considerably larger than RI so it would take a much smaller effort by Rhode Islanders to organize a referendum vote to have RI's worst ever Governor removed from office.
Rio Sakonnet September 18, 2012 at 01:01 AM
If you believe that something is impossible than you've already lost. I'm glad Americans didn't have that attitude about going to the moon because our nation's flag would not be standing tall on the lunar surface; Nor would the name 'Wright' as in brothers be known to anyone. Imagine if George Washington believed that fighting to beat the British for our independence wasn't possible because they were the Superpower of the day? What if Jonas Salk believed that finding a cure for Polio was impossible? When Americans stop believing that anything is possible then we as a great people will have crushed our dream of the shining city on a hill, forever.
Jim L September 18, 2012 at 11:43 PM
How can the employee of the year, National award winner for NUSC be told to pay $40.00 dollars a week to go to work at NUSC, In ask this of MIKE BURK AND JAY EDWARDS One of the most valuble employee's on the island is being treated like a tourist, and you play go along to get along, sorry you don't care for the folks who put you in office, you care about staying there, Lets hear all about mitigation, straight to your face, where where the tolls going before and how did you not sell every taxpayer in your district out????NO ANSWER AS ALWAYS

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