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September 12, 2006
Primary: Driving home the message to vote / Photo
projo.com photo / Kate Bramson
Robert W. Martin, 36, Warwick's Webmaster, spreads his message every day, not just on primaries and elections.
“IVOTE,” cried out the little red Mini Cooper in the parking lot at Warwick City Hall today.
With a British flag painted on its roof and tiny British flags painted on the backs of its two rear-view mirrors, the car just sparkled in the sunshine.
And its message blared from its Rhode Island “Ocean State” license plate with the sailboat on it.
Although the car arrives at City Hall every day, and has for about a year, even some who work there couldn’t point to its owner -- Robert W. Martin, 36, the city’s Webmaster.
He calls himself “just a Warwick guy” but also “a big fan of voting.” On his 18th birthday, while a student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis., he “ran out and registered.”
He became a voting fan while growing up with the example set by his dad, Warwick resident Leo Martin.
“He always said, ‘You’ve got to make sure you vote because if you don’t, I don’t want to hear you complaining,’” the younger Martin said.
Leo, 64, called his son at 7:20 a.m. today to ask if he had voted. Not yet, not yet.
At 12:34 p.m., the younger Martin was heading to his polling station over lunch break – not the style of his dad, who voted first thing this morning.
He’s also teaching his daughters, 9-year-old Cassie and 5-year-old Kate, the civic responsibility he learned while stepping with his dad behind the old voting booth curtains that once obscured voters as they made their selections.
Two years ago, after Cassie went with her dad to vote, she wrote to President Bush and Governor Carcieri to congratulate them on their wins, her dad said. And they both wrote back.
“Right there, she felt part of the franchise,” her dad said.
The message those letters drove home for her was that she matters, that she has “an important role to play,” he said.
To this day, the letters hang on her wall.
While Martin’s car spreads his message, it does not reflect his political views. He wouldn’t give those up.
“Oh no,” he said. “You never tell how you’re going to vote. As long as you vote. I never follow a party. I always follow my heart. Whatever I believe in, that’s what I’m running with.”
What he wears on his sleeve is his love for that little Mini Cooper, which has a name: “This is the Freddie Mercury Mobile,” he says in a way that tells you all of his friends know the car and its name.
A longtime Queen fan, Martin has stuck a bumper sticker with a quote from the band’s song “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Freddie: “Scaramouche, Scaramouche, Will You Do The Fandango.”
The flags -- and the British plate on the front of the car emblazoned with the word “Freddie” -- often prompt people to ask: “Are you British?”
“No, but my car is,” Martin replies.
Heading off to vote on this primary day, the Mini Cooper’s owner is definitely all-American.
-- projo.com staff writer Kate Bramson
Posted by Kate Bramson at 5:30 PM
Primary: Low on disaffiliation forms in Warwick, too / Photo
Journal photo / Kris Craig
John Leo, foreground, and Jason Siegel were among those signing disaffiliation papers after voting today at the Jewish Community Center in Providence.
WARWICK -- A desktop paper cutter at the Board of Canvassers office in City Hall was busy early this afternoon, as an employee quickly sliced 8.5-by-11-inch sheets of paper in half.
Pile after pile, the sheets rose on the front counter -- about 8 inches high -- ready for action. The purpose? The creation of perhaps a couple thousand extra voter-disaffiliation forms, plus roughly cut carbon-copy paper.
The new forms aren’t as neat as the official voter-disaffiliation forms from the state, with the yellow carbon copies glued to the top sheet.
But they’ll do the job of gathering the information a voter writes in for the Board of Canvassers and provide a copy for voters to take home.
City Board of Canvassers clerk Joseph E. Gallucci said about a third of Warwick’s 34 polling locations were running low on the forms.
He said polling locations are finding that “more people than not” are choosing a ballot for the primary of their choice and then disaffiliating from that party once they’ve voted.
U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., who's facing a tough primary battle today, was formerly mayor of Warwick.
Polling locations in Cranston -- home of Chafee challenger and Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey -- also reported running low on disaffilation forms.
The state had sent Warwick a couple thousand official forms, he said. But, he added,
“As a precaution, we’re making our own … That way, nobody runs out.”
Outside City Hall, a handful of people came to vote around the lunch hour. More people coming and going said they were in City Hall not to vote but because they work or were conducting business there.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 4:08 PM
Photos: Scenes from polls in Providence, S. Kingstown
Journal photo / Kris Craig
Gavriel, 3, and Leah, 1, went to vote with their parents Shani and Dovid Schwartz at the JCC.
Journal photo / Frieda Squires
Bill Foley and Dot Murray, supervisors at Matunuck Elementary School in South Kingstown, had a full house of primary voters at their polling place this morning.
Planning on heading to the polls? Get information on polling places, ballots and how to cast your vote at: http://projo.com/extra/election/ Come back tonight after polls close at 9 p.m. for results and full coverage.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 3:55 PM
Primary: Supporting their candidates at the polls
Outside Cranston City Hall this morning two "Keep Chafee" signs competed with two "Laffey U.S. Senate" signs along with red, white and blue signs for a local city council race, the state Senate District 28 race and the Cranston mayoral race.
Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey is pitted against incumbent Lincoln D. Chafee, in a U.S. Senate primary that has drawn the eyes of the nation and could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
-- projo.com staff writer Kate Bramson
James Stapleton, 60, who lives in Cranston's Ward 2 and describes himself as an independent, picked up a Republican ballot and "leaned toward Chafee" with his vote.
He voted, he said, on three key issues.
The race will be interesting to watch today, he said.
"I don't believe any man has the right to tell any woman what she can or cannot do with her body," he said.
"I'm for stem cell research, and I'm very much opposed to the war in Iraq."
Weighing in on a race that could have national implications was more important to Stapleton than having a say in local races on the Democratic side.
"I personally believe Laffey has done a very credible job in Cranston, but the other three issues are more important to me," he said.
Standing about 20 feet away from the other sign carriers, two university students held "Laffey U.S. Senate" signs.
Chris Sirr, 20, and Brian Reynolds, 21, are both Middletown residents and Roger Williams University students fulfilling a political science course requirement to complete 10 hours of campaign work.
"And we chose Laffey because we're obviously supporters," Reynolds said.
Both said they had voted for Laffey this morning before coming to City Hall.
"We know that the incumbent, Chafee, is not as conservative as we would like him to be," Sirr said. "He constantly votes against the president, so that's why we're voting against Chafee."
Posted by Jack Perry at 12:56 PM
Primary: Cranston low on disaffiliation forms
The city of Cranston is running low on voter disaffiliation forms, even after the state sent more forms today, according to the city's Canvassing Department.
When unaffiliated voters cast ballots in a party primary, they automatically become registered with that party. If they want to remain unaffiliated, thet must fill out a disaffiliation form when they leave the polls. (They can also legally do it later by going to City Hall, but who needs the bother?)
Maria Madonna, a clerk for Cranston's Canvassing Department, said that people are not disaffiliating in unusually high numbers, but that the state Board of Elections did not send enough of the forms.
"I don't agree with that," said Robert Kando, executive director of the state board. He said each polling place got 100 disaffiliation forms, the same as any election. He also said that any community running low on forms can call the state for more.
"We've sent out, I think, 1,000 or 1,500 extra forms to the Cranston Board of Canvassers," he said. "There's really plenty of forms."
So why does Kando think Cranston is running low?
"Probably because people are disaffiliating at a greater rate than anticipated."
-- Journal staff writer Paul Edward Parker
Posted by Jack Perry at 12:04 PM
Primary: In Richmond, a turnout like no other
At the single polling place for Richmond, the Richmond-Carolina Fire District Station House on Route 112, a polling official said the town had "never" had a turnout for a primary like it's having today.
By 11 a.m., 178 votes had been cast.
Of the votes that had been cast so far, Town Clerk Mary Morgan estimated that 75 percent had been disafilliated. Asked why, she said she believed it was due to a couple of the candidates that happen to be in the race today.
She didn't name names.
-- Andrea Panciera
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:53 AM
Urciuoli's former secretary testifies
PROVIDENCE -- The secretary to former Roger Williams Medical Center president Robert A. Urciuoli was the first person to testify this morning at the trial of Urciuoli and two others in U.S. District Court.
Sheila Capobianco testified about setting up a series of meetings in 1997 regarding the hiring of Celona and getting a state Ethics Commission opinion on whether it was appropriate to hire the longtime state senator.
Urciuoli, former president of the medical center; Frances P. Driscoll, a former vice president; and Peter J. Sangermano, a former associate, are accused of stealing the honest services of Celona, a longtime state senator from North Providence.
Capobianco recalled Urciuoli saying Celona was being hired for his strong ties to the community, but she said Driscoll didn't seem comfortable with the hiring.
After Celona was hired, the state senator offered to help set up a meeting with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island when Blue Cross president Ron Battista wasn't returning Urciuoli's calls, Capobianco testified.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Mike Stanton.
PROVIDENCE -- Former state Sen. John A. Celona could take the stand as early as today in the corruption trial of Roger Williams Medical Center's former president and two associates in U.S. District Court.
Robert A. Urciuoli, former president of the medical center; Frances P. Driscoll, a former vice president; and Peter J. Sangermano, a former associate, are accused of stealing the honest services of Celona, a longtime state senator from North Providence.
Celona has pleaded guilty to selling his office to Roger Williams, as well as the CVS drugstore chain and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
In opening statements yesterday, Urciuoli's lawyer contended that Celona was hired to do honest work after the then-state senator asked Urciuoli for a job. Celona was paid $260,638 from 1998 to 2004.
As part of his agreement to cooperate in an ongoing investigation, Celona is expected to testify. He could take the stand late today or, more likely, tomorrow morning.
Read today's Journal story.
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:39 AM
Funeral today for Providence Army Sgt. killed in Iraq
EXETER – Today is the funeral for Army Sgt. Moises Jazmin, 25, of Providence, who was killed Aug. 27 by a roadside bomb while he was on patrol in the Iraqi village of Taji, about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad.
His funeral and graveside burial with full military honors will be held at 11 a.m. at the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 201 South County Trail in Exeter.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 8:26 AM
Primary: School is out for primary day
PROVIDENCE -- Rhode Island public schools are closed today for primary elections.
It's a new law that went into effect in late June without the governor's signature.
The Board of Elections says it proposed the change for the students' safety while schools are used as polling stations.
School officials say they were not consulted about the new provision, which they say is disruptive for classes and unnecessary.
-- The Associated Press
Read more in The Journal about the change.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 7:26 AM
Weather: Time to put away the summer sandals?
PROVIDENCE – It happened so fast, this turn from summer mornings to fall mornings, didn’t it?
That seems to be the lament these days. It’s just about 45 degrees now, definitely a day to throw on a light jacket before heading out of the house. And, sadly, it’s probably time to put those sandals away.
Expect a high of 69 today, with lots of sun, and a night-time low around 43.
The National Weather Service has also issued a hazardous weather outlook for Rhode Island, Massachusetts and parts of Connecticut, with a high-surf advisory warning of a high risk of rip currents along the coast. Swells from Hurricane Florence could lead to higher waters at high tide this afternoon and some beach erosion along the Massachusetts and Rhode Island coasts.
Get the latest conditions and forecasts from projo.com.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 7:04 AM