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June 29, 2006
Skier Bode Miller talks tonight at URI
SOUTH KINGSTOWN -- Champion skier Bode Miller will talk about his experiences at the last Winter Olympics games tonight as part of the World-Scholar Athlete Games event at the University of Rhode Island.
Miller, of New Hampshire, had failed to bring home a medal despite high expectations for his performance at the games in Turin, Italy.
His talk starts at 7:30 p.m. at Keaney Gymnasium on the Kingston campus. Tickets are $15 at the door.
Come back to projo.com and The Providence Journal tomorrow for a report on his talk ...
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 6:23 PM
R.I. GOP to endorse candidates tonight
CRANSTON -- Republicans from around the state will gather at the Rhodes on the Pawtuxet this evening to endorse GOP candidates for the November elections.
The event is open to the public and free, though only delegates are allowed to vote. The state party will officially endorse candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, general treasurer, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Absent from tonight's event will be U.S. Senate hopeful and Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey.
“The state party made clear last September that they prefer the insider candidate over the reformer, and I have no interest in participating in their charade of a convention," Laffey said in a statement released today.
Laffey is set to face off against incumbent Lincoln D. Chafee in a Republican primary in September.
Tonight's convention begins at 6 p.m. Read more about it in today's Journal story.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 5:38 PM
Music, fireworks, WaterFire for holiday in Providence
PROVIDENCE -- There will be music, a WaterFire and fireworks in the days leading up to the July Fourth holiday, according to a schedule of events released this afternoon by the mayor's office.
On Friday night, Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Greg Abate will perform at Waterplace Park at 7:30 p.m. He is considered to be one of the best BeBop alto players in the country, according to the mayor's office.
On Saturday night, a full lighting of WaterFire will begin downtown at sundown.
And on Monday, a series of events are planned. A 12-member orchestra known as Plena Libre will begin playing at Station Park at 6:30 p.m. The Grammy-nominated group specializes in a new and revitalized form of traditional Afro-Rican musical style.
The Rhode Island Philharmonic Pops orchestra will follow at 8 p.m., with fireworks above Station Park scheduled to begin at 10 p.m.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 5:00 PM
Sen. Reed to visit Iraq for 8th time
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jack Reed will make his eighth wartime visit to Iraq next week, traveling with fellow Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware. They will focus on the prospects for reductions in U.S. force levels.
Reed said in an interview this afternoon that he will seek a first hand "sense of the judgement and insights" of military leaders in Baghdad, as well as those of front line troops in the outlying hotspots.
A key question that Reed and Biden will explore is the ability of Iraqi security forces to start taking the lead in fighting battles. Reed said they will try to examine the less dramatic but equally important issue of how far the new Iraqi government has progressed on the political battlefront.
In that regard, Reed said he hopes to meet with top Iraq officials to urge them to make changes in their new constitution that would provide for a fairer distribution of the nation's resources -- especially oil -- among its contesting ethnic and religious groups.
-- Journal staff writer John E. Mulligan
Posted by Steve Peoples at 4:40 PM
Carcieri signs energy bill
PROVIDENCE -- Governor Carcieri signed an energy bill into law this afternoon, a move that helps low-income residents and pushes the state towards increased use of renewable energy.
The bill is designed to "increase energy resources, increase energy conservation, ensure a safety net for low-income families, and bring down the cost of energy for all Rhode Islanders," according to a statement released this afternoon by Carcieri's office.
Under the new law the state will:
-- Merge its two engergy funds to create an even larger funding source for investment in renewable resources. This would move about $7 million toward renewable energy, helping achieve Carcieri's stated goal of obtaining 15 percent of the state’s electricity requirements from wind power.
-- Create the Office of Energy Resources to conduct long-term energy planning.
-- Discount gas and electric rates and discount heating oil procurement for low-income families with money from the gross receipts tax on electricity and natural gas, and a portion of the sales tax on heating oil.
-- Encourage natural gas efficiency by increasing the rebates to consumers who purchase energy efficient equipment.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 4:34 PM
Judge OKs Derderians' request for fire marshal info
PROVIDENCE -- A judge has authorized requests by attorneys for Jeffrey and Michael Derderian seeking to subpoena detailed information about the training of former West Warwick Fire Marshal Denis Larocque.
Superior Court Judge Francis J. Darigan Jr. ruled today that the Derderian defense team can access records regarding Larocque from the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal’s Office, the town of West Warwick, and the National Fire Protection Association.
According to the motions, the Derderians want "copies of any and all itineraries, syllabi, records, reports, or written materials of any kind relative to training received by Denis Larocque."
Darigan also ruled today that he would begin assembling potential jurors for Michael Derderian's trial on Aug. 9. The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 5.
The Derderian brothers, co-owners of The Station nightclub in West Warwick, have been charged with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection to the fire that killed 100 people there in 2003. The brothers are scheduled to be tried separately.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 4:07 PM
Vote today on tuition increases at R.I. colleges
The Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education is scheduled to meet late this afternoon to vote on a proposal to raise tuition and fees at the state's public colleges and universities.
The proposal comes recommended from two of the board's subcommittees and is expected to pass. See the recommendation.
The plan would increase in-state tuition by 6 percent at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, and 8.7 percent at the Community College of Rhode Island. Out-of-state tuition would go up 7.5 percent at URI and RIC, and 8.9 percent at CCRI.
A last-minute increase in the proposed fees at RIC and CCRI was announced last week.
The Board of Governor's meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Office of Higher Education in Providence.
See the full agenda.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 4:00 PM
Play suspended at U.S. Women's Open / Photo
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Fans waited, and hoped, for hours for the start of the tournament at the Newport Country Club today, but the fog and damp eventually forced officials to put it off until tomorrow.
NEWPORT -- Tour officials officially suspended play today at the U.S. Women's Open due to the wet weather. The decision was made at 2:45 p.m., after fog-bound players had been waiting since 7 a.m. for play to begin.
Get more details, and a look at what the players and the crowds did today to pass the time, from projo.com's U.S. Women's Open blog ...
Posted by Steve Peoples at 3:23 PM
Update: Lynch took donations from DuPont during lead-paint talks
PROVIDENCE -- Attorney General Patrick Lynch accepted campaign contributions from the chief negotiator for DuPont Co. at the same time he was in talks with the company to drop it from the state's landmark lawsuit against former lead paint companies, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Attorney Bernard Nash, who represented DuPont, negotiated the deal reached with the state in June 2005 to drop it from the lawsuit in exchange for DuPont donating about $12.5 million to three charities. Campaign documents filed with the state show that both before and after the settlement was reached, Nash contributed at least $1,500 to Lynch's campaign committee (see the filings).
The deal allowed DuPont to drop out of a lawsuit that now may cost other companies in the industry billions of dollars. A jury in February decided that three of the remaining companies in the lawsuit were liable for creating a public nuisance by manufacturing and selling toxic products.
The campaign of Bill Harsch, Lynch's Republican challenger in this year's elections, has filed a complaint today with the state Ethics Commission, alleging conflict of interest and influence peddling, Harsch told the AP.
Lynch's campaign manager dismissed the allegations this afternoon as a political stunt.
"[Harsch's] allegations of an ethics conflict are so absurd and political that we intend to seek an immediate and summary dismissal of his complaint," Lynch campaign manager Andrew Roos said in a statement. "It is wrong for Bill Harsch, on the day after he’s filed his paperwork declaring himself a political candidate, to misuse and politicize the Ethics Commission."
Nash did not immediately return a phone message left at his office in Washington.
-- Staff and wire reports
The deal with DuPont dismissed the company from the lawsuit in exchange for its donations to the Children's Health Forum, a nonprofit group that works to prevent lead poisoning, Brown University Medical School and the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in Boston.
Nash first made contact with Lynch's office to work out a deal for DuPont in 2003, according to court documents related to the lead paint case. Depositions from January of Lynch and his chief of staff, Leonard Lopes, show Nash was DuPont's primary contact with the Attorney General's Office as the deal was negotiated. The deal was announced June 30, 2005.
Documents filed by Lynch's campaign with the state Board of Elections show Nash gave Lynch donations totaling at least $1,500.
The first, for $500, was on June 30, 2004. On Dec. 20, 2005, Nash gave Lynch's campaign $1,000, the maximum individual political donation allowed in Rhode Island per calendar year.
According to campaign records, Lynch also accepted a $250 donation from Olivia Morgan, executive director of the Children's Health Forum, which stands to receive millions of dollars from DuPont's deal with the state. Her donation was recorded Dec. 20, 2005, about six months after the settlement was reached.
Morgan did not immediately comment when reached by telephone this morning.
Lynch is seeking a second term as attorney general. He was sworn in as Rhode Island's top law enforcement official in 2003.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Steve Peoples at 2:37 PM
Cicilline unveils graffiti task force
PROVIDENCE -- Mayor David N. Cicilline held a press conference this morning to unveil an intense effort to combat graffiti, something he says has become "an assault on our neighborhoods."
City officials this morning showed off two special vans with power-washing capabilities. The vehicles are covered with bright colorful words urging residents to report graffiti, offering up to $500 for information leading to the arrest of offenders.
The city recently amended its graffiti ordinance to increase the penalty for graffiti offenses from $200 to up to $1,000 and up to 200 hours of community service. The new law prohibits anyone from selling aerosol paint containers, broad tipped markers, etching equipment, paint sticks or graffiti sticks to a minor without written permission from a parent or guardian.
The Providence Police Department has also assigned a police officer at each of the nine district substations to handle graffiti problems.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 2:12 PM
Hammer hitman gets 30-year sentence
WARWICK -- The man who was paid to kill a Coventry woman and badly injured her with a claw hammer was sentenced this morning to serve 30 years in prison.
Thomas M. Kenna pleaded guilty in January -- on the day his trial was to begin -- to assaulting Kris M. Sao Bento at her Coventry home two years ago, while her infant son played nearby.
Kenna, an acknowledged drug addict, was hired by Sao Bento's ex-husband, Thomas J. Lewis, to commit the crime. Earlier in the month, Lewis was given the same sentence that Kenna received this morning.
Both men were facing a maximum sentence of 35 years to serve, according to terms outlined in plea bargains. Superior Court Judge Melanie Wilk Thunberg sentenced them both to 60 years in prison, 30 to serve.
"In my eyes, you are nothing less than a depraved assassin," Thunberg said to Kenna at today's hearing.
Sao Bento and her mother were in the front row of the courtroom today. Prosecutors showed pictures of her bloodied face and head on an easel to encourage a harsh sentence.
Kenna made a brief statement before his sentence was handed down, apologizing to his victim.
Read a previous Journal story about the case.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Benjamin N. Gedan
Posted by Steve Peoples at 11:50 AM
Report: Region losing highly educated workers
The percentage of young workers with college degrees will drop in most New England states, including Rhode Island, by the year 2020, if current trends continue, according to a report released in Boston this morning by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
The trend has troubling consequences for the economic vitality of the region, say education leaders, who want more young people to attend and graduate from college, and remain in the area to work in good-paying jobs.
The report, New England 2020: A Forecast of Educational Attainment And Its Implications for the Workforce of New England States, is available online at www.nmefdn.org
At the same time, all six New England states will see dramatic increases in the percentages of minorities in their workforces. By 2020, nearly half of the 25 to 29 year olds in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts will be minorities.
-- Journal staff writer Jennifer Jordan
The region must grapple with these changes, says Jack Warner, Rhode Island's commissioner of higher education.
"Highly skilled workers are migrating out of New England, and they are being replaced by lower-educated workers, many of whom are low-income or immigrants," Warner said.
Rhode Island and other New England states are developing strategies to deal with these shifts, Warner says.
The effort includes doing a better job educating the people currently in New England, bringing more college students to New England and keeping them here by offering high-paying jobs.
"It's not rocket science," Warner said. "It's really all about jobs."
-- Journal staff writer Jennifer Jordan
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:11 AM
Update:Fog delays start of U.S. Women's Open / Photo
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Fog shrouded the grounds of the Newport Country Club causing a delay in starting times for the players. The first delay was a 1-hour delay pushing the time from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. But the fog hung around and the starting time has been pushed back several times. Officials are now hoping the first players can tee off at 11 a.m.
Read projo.com's U.S. Women's Open Blog.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 10:00 AM
Report: Financial health of R.I. hospitals improving
The financial health of Rhode Island hospitals is improving, but they aren't as profitable as other hospitals, according to a report by the state Department of Health.
The Health Department's financial review of the state's 13 hospitals found that the top-performing hospitals in 2005 were Newport, Miriam and Bradley, according to the report, which was released today.
The net worth of Rhode Island hospitals grew at a faster pace than hospitals in other parts of the Northeast and the country, but the state's hospitals were less profitable, the report says.
Rhode Island hospitals did well collecting accounts receivable, and their capacity to borrow improved, the report says.
Read the report.
Posted by Jack Perry at 8:33 AM
Governor eats to promote tourism
CRANSTON -- Governor Carcieri plans to dine at the Twin Oaks Restaurant this afternoon, the beginning of a summer eatery tour designed to promote the restaurant industry.
The governor is scheduled to make brief remarks at the restaurant at noon before having lunch with Cranston city officials and State Tourism Director David DePetrillo.
The restaurant industry is "one of the most vital engines powering the state’s economic development efforts and tourism industry," according to an announcement released by the governor.
As part of his summer restaurant tour, the governor plans to visit "everything from favorite local breakfast nooks, to lunch counters, to evening dining spots" across the state.
Posted by Steve Peoples at 7:52 AM
Weather service warns of lightning risk
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather advisory for Rhode Island and much of southern New England for thunderstorms, lightning, high wind gusts and possible flooding.
The forecast, which calls for showers and thunderstorms, could hamper play at the U.S. Women's Open, scheduled to start this morning in Newport.
Temporary downpours could cause flooding in urban areas and areas with poor drainage, the weather service says.
Areas of fog by the coast should lift after 9 a.m. A high surf advisory continues on the coast.
For more weather and updates, check projo.com/weather.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM