The Suntech Optics line of sunglasses and reading glasses includes brands such as Infokus and Solair, and the company's retail distributors include more than 2,800 locations throughout Canada. Bugaboos Eyewear Corp.'s Ryders Eyewear brand of performance glasses are sold at more than 1,800 retail outlets in North America, South America and Europe.
"The Suntech acquisition strengthens our position as the leading non-prescription sunglasses and over-the-counter reading glasses company, and is a key strategic business accomplishment to solidify our position in the North American market," said FGX International CEO César Melo, commenting on the acquisition.
FGX International, a wholly owned subsidiary of French eyewear manufacturer Essilor International, comprises the Foster Grant, Sight Station, Magnivision, Solar Shield, Gargoyles, PolarEyes, Corinne McCormack and Anarchy eyewear brands.
"We are stoked!" said Brent Martin, CEO for the combined Suntech/Bugaboos companies. "With the deep pool of talent and resources of FGX and Essilor we are now in a strong position to take these brands global."
The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.]]>
According to the Boston Business Journal, Gerschick will receive a $115,000 bonus for the year and a significant $615,000 severance package, leading some analysts to speculate that she was asked to leave. Her involuntary departure might signal that Brookline Bancorp is preparing for a possible acquisition, said analysts Mark Fitzgibbon and Matthew Forgotson of Sandler O'Neill.
Fitzgibbon and Forgotson identified People's United Bank, headquartered in Bridgeport, Conn., as a likely acquirer, if Brookline is in fact seeking a sale.
Neither Gerschick nor Brookline Bancorp President and CEO Paul A. Perrault were available to provide a comment to the Boston Business Journal on Monday. The news release announcing Gerschick's resignation stated she is leaving the company "to pursue other business interests."
"Julie, with her finance and consulting background, made significant contributions to the further development of the company's finance area following our recent acquisitions," said Perrault in a statement. "We are extremely appreciative of her efforts and wish her the best."
Gerschick, a Harvard University graduate, has served as Brookline's CFO since 2011, during Brookline's acquisition of Bancorp Rhode Island Inc. Before joining Brookline, she was president of The Andover Group Inc., a specialized consulting firm that provides advisory services to large and mid-sized financial institutions, the Federal Home Loan Bank, and other companies.
She also worked as an audit and consulting partner at KPMG in Washington, D.C., as senior vice president for Great Lakes Bancorp, and as a fellow at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in Washington, D.C.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Paul and the company's management team, and assist with the company's transition to a multi-bank holding company," said Gerschick. "At the same time, I look forward to my next opportunity and challenge."]]>
According to a release from Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee's office, millions of residents in the eight petitioning states are exposed to unhealthy levels of ozone formed by airborne pollutants carried northeast from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
"Our goal is to eliminate Ozone Alert Days in Rhode Island," said Chafee in a prepared statement. "Despite aggressive state and regional efforts to reduce ozone-causing emissions within our borders, Rhode Islanders still face bad-air days each and every summer because of air pollutants from upwind states. Stronger controls, including the expansion of the Ozone Transport Region, are needed to level the playing field and improve air quality in downwind states such as Rhode Island."
Under Section 176A of the federal Clean Air Act, states can petition the EPA to add any state to an air-quality region such as the Ozone Transportation Region if there is reason to believe the state in question is the source of pollution that violates air-quality standards elsewhere. States added to the Ozone Transportation Region would have to take actions consistent with the air-pollution efforts of the downwind states through available control technologies and reliance on cleaner fuels.
The eight-state petition would require that the nine upwind states be added to the Ozone Transportation Region. The EPA administrator is required to approve or disapprove the petition within 18 months.
The eight states filing the petition with the EPA include most of the current members of the Ozone Transportation Region - Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Maine, New Jersey and Pennsylvania did not sign the petition.
"Massachusetts and our partner states have already implemented significant air-pollution control measures that have dramatically cut ozone pollution from localized sources," said Mass. Gov. Deval L. Patrick. "However, ozone-causing pollutants transported from upwind states cross our borders and pose threats to public health and safety, our economic vitality and our overall quality of life."
The petition comes the day before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case to determine the fate of a related EPA regulation, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which would impose pollution restrictions on 27 Midwest and Southern states whose coal pollution contributes to ozone formation in East Coast states.
High ozone levels can irritate the respiratory system, causing coughing, throat irritation and chest pains and aggravate asthma and other chronic lung diseases, according to a news release announcing the eight-state petition. The petitioning states cited "decades of inaction" by the nine upwind states, during which time they claim to have spent tens of billions of dollars to reduce their own air emissions.
"Emissions from power plants and factories in upwind states have a dramatic impact on ozone levels in Rhode Island's air," said R.I. Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. "According to an EPA analysis, more than 80 percent of elevated ozone levels in Rhode Island air are caused by pollutants that are emitted in upwind states and carried into our state by prevailing winds."
The eight petitioning states estimate that the cost of removing an additional ton of pollution in their states is between $10,000 to $40,000, compared with as little as $500 a ton in upwind states, where "even some basic control technologies have not been installed."
"We applaud Governor Chafee for working to protect the health of Rhode Island families from out-of-state pollution," said Abel Collins, manager of the Rhode Island chapter of the Sierra Club environmental organization. "Environmental Protection Agency data shows that in many parts of Eastern states, like Rhode Island, more than half the harmful smog and air pollution associated with coal plants originates from out of state. By working together to protect our families from out-of-state pollution, these eight governors are showing a commitment to public health and a readiness to lead our nation away from the dirty energy sources of the past toward a clean, renewable energy future."]]>
Schools included on the Affordable Colleges Online ranking were four-year, degree-granting colleges and universities, both public and private, with full accreditation and in-state tuition totaling less than $40,000 for four years. Affordable Colleges Online calculated each school's average 30-year net return on investment using annual Payscale.com survey data.
At No. 37, URI boasts a $268,600 return on investment, just below the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with $270,200 and just above the University of Maryland-Baltimore County with $266,600. The average starting salary of a URI graduate is $44,700, according to Affordable Colleges Online.
The George Institute of Technology placed first in the top 50 ranking, with a return investment of $836,000.
Alongside the university's ranking, Affordable Colleges Online noted that URI "offers the cutting-edge research, discovery and experiences typically found at much larger institutions, alongside the friendly, student-centered atmosphere of smaller institutions."
In 2009 and 2011, The Wall Street Journal's Smart Money magazine ranked URI first in New England for "best return on investment."
In a separate ranking of high-return Rhode Island colleges - which did not require schools to meet the $40,000 four-year tuition criteria - the University of Rhode Island ranked at No. 4, below Brown University (No. 1), Bryant University (No. 2) and Providence College (No. 3). Affordable Colleges Online estimated the Brown University return on investment at $1.1 million.
URI ranked No. 1 in the state for the most affordable online degree program, followed by the New England Institute of Technology at No. 2 and Johnson & Wales University at No. 3.
In Massachusetts, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth placed at No. 7 in the state for online-degree program affordability, and placed at No. 20 for its $698,400 return on investment. Stonehill College in Easton ranked at No. 21 with $637,800 and Wheaton College in Norton ranked at No. 29 with $492,300.]]>
Somerson, who succeeds departing President John Maeda and became provost after an international search in 2012, is an acclaimed furniture designer with deep roots at RISD - starting as a student and moving on to alumna, professor and academic leader.
The art and design college's 16th president, John Maeda, last week announced he had accepted a position with the Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
The board of trustees will begin a search for the institution's 17th president in January.
Somerson was instrumental in the creation of RISD's 2012-17 strategic plan, "Critical Making, Making Critical." She is also co-editor with Mara L. Hermano of the recently published "The Art of Critical Making: Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice," for which Maeda wrote the forward.
"Provost Somerson is an inspiring, passionate and dedicated leader for RISD," noted RISD Board of Trustees Chair Michael Spalter in a statement. "The board genuinely appreciates Provost Somerson's willingness to lead our institution at this time. We have every confidence that she will do so with the same passion, grace and unwavering commitment to RISD that she has demonstrated throughout her career."
Somerson said in a statement she is honored "by the trust in me demonstrated by RISD's board of trustees."
"As we search for our next president, I will work diligently with everyone in the RISD community to honor this trust," she said. "I am fortunate to partner with Chief Operating Officer Jean Eddy, who brings great expertise and experience, all of which are invaluable to RISD."
Somerson said she will consult with the faculty and academic leadership before naming an interim provost "so that the important work of advancing our strategic plan's academic initiatives can continue seamlessly."
Somerson earned her BFA from RISD in 1976 and joined the faculty in 1985, going on to help found and then to head the department of furniture design. She served as interim associate provost for academic affairs from 2005-07 and as interim provost during the 2011-12 academic year.
Somerson also has maintained her own studio since 1978, where she designs and makes furniture. Her award-winning work has been exhibited internationally and is included in private, corporate and museum collections, most notably at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Several trustees expressed enthusiasm for Somerson's appointment, including Lisa Pevaroff-Cohn, board vice chairwoman, alumna and artist, and Susan Dryfoos, RISD parent, Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize nominee, member of educational and cultural boards including PEN USA and the New York Urban League.
"Provost Somerson, a renowned global thought leader, has demonstrated time after time her ability to lead RISD and its academic programs with vision, creativity and humility," said Pevaroff-Cohn. "Her countless admirers - former students, current colleagues and members of the board of trustees - know her as a decisive, collaborative and respected leader. She is mindful of RISD's traditions, strengths and core values, yet able to embrace change as well as imagine the boundless possibilities of art and design."]]>
The NOAA oversees the Northeast Fishery Management Council, which regulates the fishing industries of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The Massachusetts suit alleges that the Northeast Fishery Management Council failed to consider the economic impact of the ground fishing regulation, and that the criteria used to assess ground-fish stock is based on antiquated and unfounded methods.
A release from Kilmartin's office called the 77 percent reduction "Draconian" and suggested that, while Rhode Island has not yet been affected by the regulation, such a reduction could devastate the state's fishing community if it were implemented locally.
"As a state, we recognize the importance of protecting and managing the marine fishery resources," said Kilmartin. "We also recognize that we must adopt principles and policies that will ensure the protection, preservation and enhancement of our natural resources so that present and future generations may enjoy them. Although there are numerous provisions of state and federal rules and regulations in place to protect Rhode Island's broad interest in its fisheries, it is more important than ever for the federal government to craft regulations that balance the need to conserve fishery resources with the well being of the fishing communities that it will impact."]]>
A gallon of self-serve, unleaded regular gas averaged $3.50 in Rhode Island in the Dec. 9 survey, 1 cent more than the price a week ago.
In Massachusetts, the average price for self-serve, unleaded regular gas this week was $3.42 per gallon, 3 cents greater than last week.
Rhode Island's average price comes in 10 cents greater than the average a month ago, while in Massachusetts, local gas prices are 13 cents higher than last month. A year ago, the same gas cost $3.58 per gallon in Rhode Island and $3.47 per gallon in Massachusetts.
Self-serve, unleaded regular varied in price from $3.44 to $3.61 across the Ocean State in the survey. The average per-gallon prices for different grades of gas ranged from $3.72 for mid-grade unleaded to $3.85 for premium unleaded to $3.95 for diesel.
Self-serve, unleaded regular ranged in price across Massachusetts from $3.33 to $3.60 per gallon. Mid-grade unleaded averaged $3.63 this week, while premium unleaded cost an average of $3.74 per gallon and diesel posted an average price of $3.96 per gallon.
Prices in both states remain above this week's national average of $3.26 for a gallon of unleaded regular - 23 cents lower than Rhode Island and 15 cents lower than Massachusetts - which fell 1 cent from last week's average.]]>
Mohegan joined the Suffolk Downs proposal after voters in Palmer, Mass., shot down the developer's plans to build a casino in the town.
The original Suffolk Downs proposal involved a $1 billion casino at its racecourse straddling the East Boston-Revere border, but after the project failed to garner support among voters in East Boston, Suffolk Downs reworked the plan to move the casino entirely onto the Revere side of the property, where voters had approved it.
The new proposal would locate the casino on 42 acres in Revere, about a half mile from the horse track in East Boston. Last week, the Revere City Council unanimously approved a resolution affirming its support for the Suffolk Downs casino, according to a Boston.com report.
On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will decide whether Revere residents' approval of the original East Boston-Revere casino serves to authorize the new plan to move the casino entirely onto the Revere portion of its property.
If it receives the commission's approval, the Mohegan-Suffolk Downs casino will compete with Wynn Resorts Ltd. for the sole Boston-area gaming license.
In a separate meeting on Friday, the commission will consider Wynn Resorts owner Steve Wynn's purchase of land along the Mystic River in Everett, which stirred up some controversy after a federal grand jury investigation into whether a businessman with a criminal record has hidden ownership of the property.
The gaming commission's chairman, Stephen Crosby, has recused himself from the Wynn Resorts vote because he has a past business relationship with a co-owner of the Everett property, Paul Lohnes.]]>
According to the Irvine, Calif.-based real estate data firm, 2.4 percent of all residential mortgages in the state were in some part of the foreclosure process in October, compared with the national foreclosure rate of 2.2 percent. In September, the state's foreclosure rate was 2.3 percent.
Completed foreclosures - an indication of the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure - numbered 1,518 in Rhode Island for the 12 months ended in October, compared with 1,584 completed foreclosures during the 12 months ended in September.
The Ocean State's serious delinquency rate - defined as loans that are 90 days or more past due - was 6.5 percent in October, down from 6.6 percent in September.
In Massachusetts, the October foreclosure rate declined 0.5 percentage points to 1.5 percent compared with October 2012. The foreclosure rate was 1.6 percent in September.
A total of 2,900 foreclosures were completed in Massachusetts in the 12 months ended in October, down from 3,040 foreclosures completed during the 12 months ended in September.
The serious delinquency rate in Massachusetts held steady in October at 4.8 percent.
The October national foreclosure rate of 2.2 percent represented a decline of 0.8 percentage points from October 2012. Completed foreclosures nationwide totaled 636,352 in the 12 months ended in October.
The national serious delinquency rate in October was 5.1 percent, down from 5.2 percent in September.
"The scourge of an elevated foreclosure inventory is easing. In October, every state posted a year-over-year decline in completed foreclosures, which is positive news," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "Additionally, the rate of serious delinquencies, which fell more than 25 percent year over year, is at the lowest level in nearly five years, which is great news as we head into a new year."
The five states with the highest foreclosure inventories in September as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were Florida (7.1 percent), New Jersey (6.7 percent), New York (4.9 percent), Maine (3.8 percent) and Connecticut (3.7 percent).]]>
Reaching agreement is only the first step. Rounding up enough votes to pass in Congress will be the real challenge.
The deal being crafted doesn't slow the growth of the national debt and doesn't rein in the corporate tax breaks Democrats targeted for elimination. The accord also wouldn't fully replace the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration.
Aides to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, chief negotiators on a special panel, say they are optimistic for a compromise by a Dec. 13 deadline to help ease $100 billion to $200 billion in automatic cuts known as sequestration for a year or two.
Negotiations are "making progress, moving in the right direction," Richard Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said on ABC's "This Week" yesterday. "They haven't closed a deal."
"They are really close to a deal," said Ed Lorenzen, a senior adviser to the Committee for a Responsible Budget, which advocates for fiscal responsibility. "They are also really nervous about whether they have the votes" to pass it.
If an accord eludes Ryan and Murray, House Speaker John Boehner is poised to step in.
Boehner and other Republicans don't want to risk another government shutdown, or get blamed for it, so he's prepared to go ahead this week with a stopgap spending plan that keeps funding at current levels - Pentagon cuts and all.
That lower level of funding would be just fine for many Republicans when current funding runs out Jan. 15.
"The key is we not have another government shutdown, that we do keep the spending caps in place, that we don't raise taxes at a time when the economy is still weak," Sen. Rob Portman, the Ohio Republican and member of the special panel, said yesterday on ABC's "This Week" broadcast.
Durbin and Democrats including Maryland's Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, also are demanding that Republicans agree to renew expiring unemployment insurance benefits for 1.3 million Americans, either in a deal or in tandem with an accord.
Extending benefits will give the unemployed "a fighting chance" though negotiators aren't yet ready to say "take it or leave it" to Republicans, Durbin said on the broadcast.
Lawmakers set up the 29-member budget conference panel as part of the agreement that ended the 16-day government shutdown in October, and set a Dec. 13 deadline to complete its work.
Some of the savings would be used to soften the blow of $19 billion in fresh cuts scheduled to hit the Pentagon in January.
Aides to Ryan, of Wisconsin, and Murray, of Washington, say while they the two make progress, significant issues remain, including what portion of savings should come from increasing federal employee pension contributions, a step many Democrats oppose.
A deal could be reached early this week, according to an aide close to the talks.
"I'm hopeful that they'll be able to work this out," Boehner said at a Dec. 5 news conference. "But there's clearly no agreement."
The emerging compromise faces peril in both parties.
Republicans facing potential conservative primary election challengers in 2014 criticize the proposal because it relies on higher spending in the short term while pushing off into future years cuts they fought hard to secure.
With the leaders of both chambers eager to avoid another shutdown, lawmakers want to vote on a budget or temporary spending bill before the Republican-led House leaves Washington on Dec. 13 for a long holiday break.
Public approval ratings for Republicans, in particular, plummeted amid a series of fiscal showdowns in the past three years.
Boehner has signaled he won't wait long in the absence of a deal by the bipartisan committee, signaling he's ready to move legislation that retains automatic spending cuts passed as part of a 2011 budget agreement.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who sets the House schedule, listed a budget agreement among bills that "may become available for consideration" this week.
Boehner has a second option: A short-term spending measure that probably would last for three months, according to a leadership aide. The stopgap bill wouldn't stop the scheduled budget cuts that are to begin Jan. 15.
A spending extension at current levels - including the January cuts - would "pass over here, I believe," said Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp. He and more than a dozen other Republicans met last week to plot strategy on how to maintain the scheduled spending cuts even with a budget deal.
Appropriators who have resisted a spending deal that could force deep cuts on the military signaled they may be willing to back a short-term deal to avert the threat of another government shutdown.
House Republicans told leaders in a closed meeting last week that they didn't want to leave Washington without voting on something that would continue government operations past mid-January, according to several members in the room.
If there is a deal, aides say Murray and Ryan are likely to urge the House and Senate to vote directly on their accord, bypassing the panel.
Among the biggest remaining obstacles is a proposal that would boost federal worker pension contributions. Republicans say the step could save $130 billion. President Barack Obama proposed $20 billion in savings, making it hard for Democrats to press for even smaller savings that Obama is backing.
Leading Democrats say they'll oppose a deal that disproportionately targets federal workers.
"It's inappropriate, absent a big deal," Hoyer said in a Dec. 5 news conference, "to further look to the pockets of federal employees at this point in time."
Congress has already "dipped deeply into their pockets and reduced not only their present benefits and pay, but also their longer-term benefits and pay," he said.
Hoyer is among several Maryland Democrats in leadership who would be responsible for rounding up votes.
Republican objections are coming from a group of at least 18 House Republicans who are concerned that negotiators will trade spending cuts set in law for future savings that may not materialize. They are drafting a letter to Boehner in support of a spending bill of $967 billion that retains the sequester.
The emerging agreement wouldn't raise the nation's borrowing limit, another potential fiscal showdown Congress faces in the first month next year.
The menu of options Murray and Ryan are considering include raising the fees paid by airline passengers, or boosting the so-called Sept. 11 security fee on airline tickets. Budget experts estimate adjusting airline fees could generate as much as $11 billion to offset some automatic cuts.
Another item likely to be part of any deal is auctioning government-owned airwaves. Ryan has previously shared with Republican lawmakers ideas including increased premiums for pension plans backed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and a cut in Medicaid payments to hospitals.
It will not touch the major U.S. entitlement programs that are largely responsible for the long-term growth in the nation's debt, nor will it raise taxes.
"It really is such a small deal," said Bob Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a group that's pushing for lower deficits. "The good to come out of it would be the avoidance of a crisis and a bipartisan budget agreement."]]>