« May 2, 2008 |
| May 6, 2008 »
May 5, 2008
Tonight: Rockers at AS220 and jazzers at RIC
Coming to AS220 in Providence tonight are rock bands Off Target, Animals Amongst Men, Bill and People of Color. The club is at 115 Empire St. Call 831-9327. Show starts at 9 p.m. $6. All ages.
Or you can head over the Rhode Island College for Swing Into Jazz 2008: The RIC Concert Jazz Band featuring Phil Wilson. The show is at Sapinsley Hall, 600 Mount Pleasant Ave., Providence. Call 456-8144. Things get started at 8 p.m.
Check out projo.com's other club listings.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:58 PM
Photo: Height runs in the family
Journal photo / Kathy Borchers
Mtembei, right, at about 10 feet tall, celebrated his first birthday today with his mother Sukari, center, and Aunt Amber, at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence. Mtembei and his cousin, Kimba, born to Amber, are leaving for the Cincinnati Zoo by the end of May.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 6:57 PM
Update: Carcieri vetoes 24-hour gambling legislation
PROVIDENCE -- Governor Carcieri has vetoed legislation that would allow 24-hour gambling on weekends and holidays at the state’s two video-slot emporiums in Lincoln and Newport.
In the veto message he issued late this afternoon, Carcieri repeated his reservations about the state forcing expanded gambling on communities that don’t want it. The Newport City Council unanimously passed a resolution objecting to round-the-clock-gambling; Lincoln voters overwhelmingly rejected the concept during a non-binding referendum last fall.
“As I have said repeatedly since debate over this legislation started last year, the host communities should have some say when it comes to deciding the hours of operation for these two facilities. Twin River and Newport Grand are very large entities, attracting thousands of people on a daily basis, and whle the state generates significant revenue from their operation, Lincoln and Newport and forced to bear the burdens of having such facilities in their communities.’’
“It is generally the prerogative of cities and towns to set the hours of operations for restaurants, bars grocery and convenient stores and other businesses,’’ Carcieri said. ‘Under the scheme passed by the General Assembly, the people of Lincoln and Newport are at the mercy of large-scale gambling facilities, with no recourse.’’
If support holds for the legislation introduced in the House by Rep. William San Bento, D-Pawtucket, the House and Senate will be able to easily muster the three-fifths vote required to override the governor’s veto.
Not long after the governor issued his message, General Assembly leaders weighed in with one of their own.
Saying they are "disappointed and confused" by the governor's decision, House Speaker William J. Murphy and House Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox said, “Given the state’s fiscal crisis and the fact that we must maximize the revenue from our existing facilities, we will strongly consider overriding the governor’s veto in the coming days.”
-- Katherine Gregg of the Journal State House Bureau, with projo.com reports
Carcieri has presided over a massive expansion of video gambling activity at Twin River and Newport Grand, including the addition earlier this year of virtual Blackjack, without local or statewide voter approval.
"But he drew a line at this proposal, which Twin River sought, and lawmakers are counting on to raise at least $14.1 million in additional revenue annually for the state.
He served notice last week that he would “most likely” veto the legislation because the two communities had objected and because he has “serious reservations and concerns” about the “inflated” revenue projections.
Murphy and Fox said in their message today, "While we appreciate the importance of local input, we don’t believe it can be the deciding factor when state interests are at stake. We believe that such parochial thinking has hampered the state’s economic development opportunities in the past."
The two also said the legislation had included some mitigating factors for host communities, such as a one-year trial period for the hours and an increased local share to offset additional costs they might incur.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:40 PM
Update: Jury selection begins in trial of ex-CVS execs
PROVIDENCE -- Jury selection got under way today in federal court in the corruption trial of two former CVS drugstore executives accused of bribing a Rhode Island state senator.
John Kramer and Carlos Ortiz are charged with bribery and conspiracy to steal the honest services of former state Sen. John A. Celona of North Providence, who is serving a 2-1/2 year prison term after admitting to selling his office to CVS, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Roger Williams Medical Center.
Chief U.S. District Judge Mary M. Lisi told prospective jurors that the trial could last four weeks. Opening arguments are scheduled for next Monday, giving lawyer for the prosecution and the defense this week to choose a jury from about 112 prospective jurors.
To aid in the screening process, the court sent out 18-page questionnaires to would-be jurors about five weeks ago. The questionnaires not only asked whether jurors knew any of the key players in the case, but also probed their feelings about the high cost of prescription drugs and their general knowledge of corruption in Rhode Island.
``The health-care industry is such a profit center, there should be reform,’’ one prospective juror told the judge today. Nevertheless, she said that she could be impartial.
Many prospective jurors said that they were generally aware of the allegations involving Celona, Woonsocket-based CVS -- the nation's biggest drugstore chain -- Blue Cross, Roger Williams, and two other legislators who have been linked to CVS, former House Majority Leader Gerard Martineau and former Senate President William Irons. But they said they didn’t know specifics, and felt that they could keep an open mind in weighing the evidence.
At least three jurors, asked about corruption in general in Rhode Island, alluded to the corrupt reign of Buddy Cianci, the former felonious mayor of Providence, who was convicted in the same Providence courthouse.
One elderly woman, asked if she could provide specific examples of Rhode Island corruption, replied, ``No, because there’s just too much.’’
-- Journal staff writer Mike Stanton
Extra: For more background, see projo.com's special report on the U.S. Attorney's Operation Dollar Bill investigation.
Posted by Jack Perry at 6:18 PM
Aquidneck group forms to oppose R.I. wind farm
A group of Aquidneck Island residents has assembled the first organized opposition to Governor Carcieri’s plan to develop a large-scale wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island.
The group has an unlikely name -- the Rhode Island Alliance for Clean Energy -- which might be more fitting for a group that supports wind farms. And it has an unlikely leader: Anthony G. Spiratos, a young Newport real estate developer who was once a Carcieri supporter and campaign donor.
And the group has a Web site, called www.saveourstateri.org.
The problems with the wind farm, as the alliance sees it, are similar to those presented by those who oppose the Cape Wind project, a proposal to build a similar-sized wind farm in Nantucket Sound:
That a massive wind farm would hurt tourism by detracting from the natural beauty of Newport and other coastal areas; it would devastate recreational sailing and the fishing industry; that it would pose a threat to national security; that construction would be noisy; and that residents who live nearby may become ill from “wind turbine syndrome” -- an illness the groups says leads to headaches and nausea among those who live within three miles of the turbines.
The group's arguments contain many factual errors, said Lefteris Pavlides, a professor of architecture at Roger Williams University, and a supporter of large wind installations.
For example, the group says that an offshore wind farm would have more than 300 wind turbines. That has never been proposed, Pavlides said. The proposal made by Carcieri calls for about 105 wind turbines.
-- Journal staff writer Timothy C. Barmann
The group also points out the problems associated with a wind farm built in the 1970s at Altamont Pass, Calif. The relatively small turbines had fast-turning blades that proved to be deadly to several types of birds.
Andrew Dzykewicz, the governor's chief energy adviser, said wind energy technology has improved dramatically since that wind farm was built. "No one would build a wind farm like Altimont Pass today," he said. "A lot of that stuff is irrelevant."
Today's wind turbines are much higher and the blades turn much more slowly, which has virtually eliminated bird kills, he said.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:00 PM
Providence board to decide on SNM Liquors license
Journal photo / Andrew Dickerman
SNM Liquors owner Sean Merilan listens as two Barrington teenagers testify before the Board of Licenses today.
PROVIDENCE -- The Board of Licenses will decide within 10 days whether to punish the license holder for SNM Liquors, the city store where Barrington teens bought alcohol that another Barrington teen drank before the car crash that killed 16-year-old passenger Jonathan Converse.
During the hearing today, prosecutor Steven L. Catalano, an assistant city solicitor, established through the testimony today of a 17-year-old Barrington boy and Kurt Grusmark, 18, of 7 Lamson Road, Barrington, that they obtained alcohol from SNM Liquors
Catalano established from the 17-year-old, who was 16 at the time of the purchase, that he made the buy on Nov. 5 last year at the counter while Grusmark, who was 17 at the time, hung back inside the store.
The 17-year-old, during the hearing, identified the person who sold him the alcohol as Shawn Merilan. Merilan is the sole owner of the company that holds the liquor license for SNM Liquors, which is on Douglas Avenue.
Testimony was that Merilan sold three 30-packs of Busch Light beer and one pint bottle of Kharkov vodka.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with reports from Journal staff writer Gregory Smith
Testimony also established that some of the alcohol was shared with Michael J. Silveira of Barrington. Silveira and a small group of teens spent the evening of Nov. 5 drinking Busch Light. The car he was driving that night sped down New Meadow Road and crashed, killing Converse.
In December, Silveira pleaded no contest to driving under the influence with death resulting and was sentenced to serve two years at the state Training School. His full sentence was seven years, with five of those suspended.
The 17-year-old and Grusmark at the time were Barrington High School students and played on the school's hockey team. Grusmark is now a senior at the school. The younger teen is a junior at Ocean Tides School in Narragansett and testified he is there under the auspices of Family Court as a result of having been charged with possession of alcohol by the Barrington police in connection with the transaction that came before the licensing board today.
Catalano asked the board to permanantly revoke the store's liquor license. Defense lawyer Stephen DiLibero asked that it not be permanently revoked. Board chairman Andrew J. Annaldo said the board would decide what, if any, punishment to mete out within 10 days.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:58 PM
R.I. sales and income tax receipts are down sharply
PROVIDENCE –– The state’s largest revenue sources –– income and sales taxes –– are down sharply through the first 10 months of the fiscal year.
This is a further sign that Rhode Island’s fiscal problems are mounting as lawmakers struggle to shape a balanced budget facing the largest deficit in nearly two decades.
Economists reported last week that Rhode Island is one of nine states experiencing an economic recession. State Tax Administrator David M. Sullivan supplied data today detailing the effect of widespread job losses, stagnant wages and weak consumer confidence.
Sales taxes are down $23 million, or 3.1 percent, compared to the same period last year, Sullivan reports, while income taxes are down $9 million, or 1 percent.
Should the trend continue through the next two months, as expected, it would be the first time that the state’s largest two revenue sources collectively fell since the early 1990s.
“As far as I’m concerned we’re in a recession,” Governor Carcieri said in an interview today with the radio station WSAR, 1400 AM.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 3:54 PM
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor hears R.I. case in Boston
BOSTON -- Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, this morning began a two-day stint on the federal appeals court in Boston, delving into issues ranging from the murder of a former priest in Massachusetts to a dispute over property in Barrington.
O’Connor, 78, who retired from the Supreme Court in 2006, is sitting by designation on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at the invitation of a federal judge from Providence, Senior Circuit Judge Bruce M. Selya.
With her familiar bob of white hair, O’Connor joined Selya and Chief Circuit Judge Michael Boudin in peppering lawyers with questions in a half-dozen cases, including the Rhode Island case of James H. Reyelt v. William B. Danzell and Louisa F. Beenker Danzell.
So how did it feel to appear before the woman who is arguably the world’s best-known judge?
“It was a very cool thing,” said Dana Curhan, a Boston lawyer who represented Reyelt.
“I am honored,” said Marc DeSisto, a Providence lawyer representing the Danzells. “I think it’s great when a senior Supreme Court judge lends a hand to circuit courts. It’s a great benefit to the court. It’s a great benefit to the bar. And it generates a lot of interest.”
-- Journal staff writer Edward Fitzpatrick
Both Curhan and DeSisto have handled many appeals and appear before the 1st Circuit four or five times a year. So, Curhan said, the identity of the judges really doesn’t come into play once an experienced lawyer gets up at the podium and begins making a client’s case. And DeSisto said he didn’t prepare any differently than he normally does.
“You have to be prepared,” DeSisto said. And even when you are prepared, the judges can fire unexpected questions at your, so “you have to concentrate on the core issues,” he said.
When there is a need, federal judges from the Supreme Court, circuit courts and district courts can sit by designation on appellate courts such as the 1st Circuit, Deputy Circuit Executive Susan J. Goldberg has explained. And the 1st Circuit has been short-handed since Selya assumed senior status on Dec. 31, 2006, she said.
The 1st Circuit regularly uses visiting judges from other circuits and from district courts within the 1st Circuit, which includes Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Puerto Rico. But the 1st Circuit has never had a visiting judge as well known as O’Connor, Goldberg said. Besides being the first female Supreme Court justice, O’Connor was for many years the pivotal vote on the high court, and she has traveled extensively, making her well known in other parts of the world, she noted.
O’Connor will hear arguments in another Rhode Island case Tuesday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald C. “Skip” Lockhart will argue for the federal government in a case involving Anthony Lipscomb, a Providence man who has been sentenced to 16 years and 3 months in prison for cocaine trafficking and firearms offenses.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:52 PM
U.S. Judge Lagueux suffered a minor stroke
PROVIDENCE -- U.S. District Judge Ronald R. Lagueux suffered a minor stroke on Thursday, April 24, the federal court disclosed this afternoon.
A court statement said Lagueux is "doing very well at this time and is expected to make a full recovery."
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:40 PM
Recycling: It's good business too, DEM says
Earlier this year, the Department of Environmental Management put local businesses on notice: It's time to start following the state’s recycling rules.
Tuesday the DEM and the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, which operates the central landfill in Johnston, will be on hand at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo with a friendlier message: Recycling is cheap, easy, and good for business.
The two authorities are launching their “Green Zone” Web site, where business owners can determine if they have to recycle (yes), whose responsibility recycling is, what can and can’t be recycled, and a host of other information.
The site has a frequently asked questions page, tips to help business owners get started recycling, and contact information for people who need more help.
"The Business Expo is the perfect opportunity for us to kick-off the Green Zone, a collaborative effort with Resource Recovery," W. Michael Sullivan, Ph.D. Director of DEM said in a statement.
"Providing Rhode Island's business community with a one-stop resource for business recycling solutions is a key component to help improve Rhode Island's commercial recycling rates."
For more information, visit the Green Zone Web site, or contact Alyson Silva, commercial recycling coordinator at DEM 222-4700 x7134, , or David Bordieri, waste prevention coordinator at RIRRC 942-1430 x110.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 2:38 PM
Judge scolds driver in crash that seriously hurt teen
SOUTH KINGSTOWN — A Superior Court judge today ordered the woman police say was driving drunk when she hit a teenager changing a tire to surrender her license after her urine tested positive for amphetamines.
Judge Stephen P. Nugent also demanded Heidi Harrall submit to a urine screening immediately after learning she missed two tests in the last few weeks.
“This isn’t acceptable,” Nugent said, adding “Frankly, I’m this close to locking her up.”
The police say Harrall’s 1994 Audi was traveling 90 mph. when it crossed Route 1 and struck Sylvia M. Bogusz, then 17, as she waited on the side of the road for her mother to help her with a flat tire last June 23.
Bogusz suffered broken bones in her pelvis, vertebrae and right arm and leg, as well as a head injury. Bogusz, now 18, was hospitalized for months and continues to undergo rehabilitation.
Extra: Read about Sylvia's recovery
-- Journal staff writer Katie Mulvaney
A Washington County grand jury indicted Harrall, 45, of West Side Road, in March of driving under the influence and driving to endanger. Harrall pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Robert Mann said after today’s court appearance that Harrall, his client, had a prescription for the amphetamines, but would not be more specific.
Harrall surrendered her license to the court. Nugent denied a request that she be allowed to drive home, saying he was troubled that her urine showed drugs one week after she attended her first group session for substance abuse.
“No driving,” Nugent said.
Harrall is due to return to court for a review May 12. She remains free on $10,000 cash bail.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 2:32 PM
Sox-Yankees argument leads to murder charge in N.H.
This booking photo released by the Nashua, N.H., Police Dept., shows Ivonne Hernandez on Friday after her arrest in Nashua.
NASHUA, N.H. -- A woman accused of running down a man in her car after a Red Sox-Yankees argument in a bar never hit her brakes as she accelerated toward the small group he was in, a prosecutor said today.
"She never braked, and she accelerated at a high speed for about 200 feet. She went directly at this group of people," prosecutor Susan Morrell said of Ivonne Hernandez, who is charged with reckless second-degree murder in the death early Friday of Matthew Beaudoin, 29.
Authorities won't describe the argument beforehand in Slade's Food & Spirits, but witnesses said it heated up when Hernandez identified herself as a New York Yankees fan. Like the rest of New Hampshire, Nashua, 45 miles northwest of Boston, is Red Sox country.
Bartender Tanya Moran said the argument spilled outside, and at least one person in a group that included Beaudoin began chanting "Yankees suck!" when they saw a Yankees sticker on Hernandez's car.
Hernandez, 43, allegedly gunned her car and struck Beaudoin and his friend Maria Hughes, 21. Hughes had only minor injuries, which Beaudoin's sister Faith said was because her brother shielded his friend.
Hernandez, of Nashua, was arrested at the scene. She acknowledged she had been drinking and refused to take a breath-alcohol test, said Morrell, a senior assistant attorney general. Hernandez said she had been in an argument with the group.
"She indicated to police that she wanted to scare this group of people. She thought they would get out of the way," Morrell said.
-- The Associated Press
Hernandez was ordered held without bail after being arraigned toay in Nashua District Court. The charges, including aggravated drunken driving, are felonies, so Hernandez could not enter a plea.
Her public defender, James Quay, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Beaudoin died of massive head trauma at a hospital, Morrell said.
Moran told The Telegraph of Nashua during the weekend that Beaudoin came to the bar regularly to socialize, sing karaoke and have fun.
"He came to hang out. He didn't really drink much," she said.
Chris Lovett, a disc jockey at Slade's, told the New Hampshire Union Leader that Beaudoin kept to himself and "wasn't an instigator."
Faith Beaudoin said her brother, who lived in Nashua, was a 1997 graduate of Nashua High School who worked dealing poker at Sharky's in Manchester and Nashua. She said his organs, including his heart, live and kidneys, were donated in hopes of saving other people's lives.
"He was always helping people when he was alive, and he's still saving lives," she said, choking back tears during the weekend.
Posted by Jack Perry at 2:21 PM
Business Expo 2008 begins tomorrow
The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce's 2008 Business Expo is hosting more than a dozen workshops and lectures with local and international appeal to help business owners thrive.
From CNN Financial News correspondent Susan Lisovicz to Jack Templin, co-founder of the Providence Geeks, help will be on hand to help your business attract more clients, expand outside of your neighborhood or sell your wares around the world.
And the Providence Journal will be on hand, too, with Food Editor Gail Ciampa offering tips to save money at the dinner table and Michael Delaney, managing editor, photography and graphics, sharing tips to take better digital photographs.
The Expo begins tomorrow at 10 a.m. and events are free with a business card. Register for specific events throughout the two-day expo online, or you can download a .PDF file of events sponsored by the Journal.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 2:01 PM
Jury selection begins for aunt accused in toddler's death
Journal file photo
Katherine Bunnell of Woonsocket, aunt and legal guardian of 3-year-old T.J. Wright, at her 2005 arraignment in Providence County Superior Court in the beating death of Wright.
PROVIDENCE -- Jury selection began in Superior Court today for the trial of Katherine Bunnell who is accused of killing her 3-year-old nephew Thomas J. Wright more than three years ago.
Bunnell, who is being represented by Gerard H. Donley, was in court today. She had her hair combed in a bun and wore a black jacket and pants and a white shirt.
Judge Gilbert Indeglia told potential jurors not to draw conclusions about guilt or innocence because Bunnell had not been able to raise the funds to post bail.
Bunnell and her boyfriend, Gilbert Delestre, face one count of murder and conspiracy to commit murder while serving as guardians for Thomas J. Wright, whose mother was serving time in jail.
Prosecutors say that Bunnell and Delestre beat Thomas so viciously in their Woonsocket apartment, they cracked his skull and femur, killing him in the early hours of Halloween day of 2004.
The couple was initially charged together but soon split up as lawyers for each of them blamed the other for the attacks on the boy. Delestre is in prison, awaiting his trial.
The defense had asked for postponements of Bunnell's trial on several occasions. It's anticipated her trial will take about two weeks.
Assistant Attorney General Stacey Veroni and Assistant Attorney General Scott Erickson are prosecuting the case for the state.
From its beginning, the high-profile case raised questions about the state’s system of screening prospective foster parents, putting the Department of Children, Youth and Families in the spotlight. An independent investigation launched by the Office of the Child Advocate determined that DCYF missed as least five opportunities to rescue Thomas from the couple’s Woonsocket home.
The advocate issued another report in 2006, saying the state had failed to make some of the most important changes that a review panel called for following T.J.’s death. Mostly notably, the state had not held caseloads to recommended levels.
Then, last June, Child Advocate Jametta O. Alston filed for class-action status on behalf of the 3,000 children now in state custody, aiming for nothing less than an overhaul of Rhode Island’s child-welfare system, which the suit portrays as overburdened and mismanaged.
That suit is still in U.S. District Court.
-- Journal staff writer Tatiana Pina, with reports from Journal archives.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 1:33 PM
Gas goes up a penny in R.I., to another record high
Gasoline prices in Rhode Island inched up another penny yesterday to average $3.609 a gallon, setting another record.
A survey of local dealers by the state’s Office of Energy Resources found the prices ranged from $3.549 a gallon to $3.699 a gallon for regular unleaded gas.
In another survey, AAA Southern New England says the price jumped 2 cents this week. That's a lot less that last week, when the price increased 15 cents.
The price of a gallon of gas is up 25 percent from this time last year, when it averaged $2.87 per gallon, according to AAA.
Since March 31, prices have risen sharply by 40 cents a gallon. The price is now 71 cents a gallon higher than a year ago.
Nationally, the average price for regular gasoline rose about 15 cents in the last two weeks, according to the Lundberg Survey of 7,000 stations nationwide.
The average price of self-serve regular gasoline on Friday was $3.62 a gallon. Mid-grade was at $3.74 and premium was $3.85.
Of the cities surveyed, the cheapest price was in Cheyenne, Wyo., where a gallon of regular cost $3.39, on average. The highest average was in San Francisco at $3.95. Across California, the statewide average for a gallon of regular was $3.90, mid-grade was at $4.01 and premium at $4.11.
The state Office of Energy Resources survey also reported that diesel fuel was selling at $4.429 a gallon.
The price of home heating oil averaged $3.989 a gallon, and ranged from a high of $4349 to a low of $3.709 a gallon.
-- Journal business editor John Kostrzewa, with Associated Press reports
Posted by Mike McKinney at 1:14 PM
Conn. man, 80, dies in collision in Foster
FOSTER -- An 80-year-old Connecticut man was killed and four other people injured in an accident yesterday afternoon on Route 6, the police said.
Charles F. Dunn of Danielson was apparently turning onto Route 6 from Boswell Trail when his vehicle was broadsided by a car heading east on Route 6, which is also known as Danielson Pike.
Police received a call about the accident at 3:10 p.m. Emergency personnel had to remove Dunn from his 2002 Saturn sedan using an extrication device. He was taken to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence where he died soon after, according to Police Chief Robert Coyne.
The driver of the other car, Inthava Dupont, 32, of Lowell, Mass. and her three passengers -- a 68-year-old female, a 7-year-old girl, and a 2-month-old boy -- suffered minor injuries and were also taken to Rhode Island Hospital.
The intersection of Boswell Trail and Route 6 is a “T” with one-way stop on Bosworth. Drivers on Route 6 have the right of way, and the speed limit on the road is 45 mph.
Coyne said it is unclear whether Dunn stopped at the intersection or in which direction he was heading.
Coyne said an investigation is ongoing. Police do not believe speed or weather conditions, which were overcast that afternoon, were a factor.
-- Journal staff writer Philip Marcelo
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:44 PM
High schoolers: Register now, vote later
As the nation gears up for two more Democratic presidential primaries, here in Rhode Island, students are getting a lesson in civics that may help them determine the outcome of the eventual presidential election.
Secretary of State Ralph Mollis begins a voting registration drive at area high schools today, stopping at Burrillville High School first.
“Students who register to vote are more likely to become active and informed citizens of this state,” Mollis said in a statement. “Some of these young people will be our leaders of tomorrow. Now is the time to engage them.”
The registration drive moves to North Providence High School on Wednesday, North Smithfield and Chariho Regional High School May 14, Ponagansett High School on May 21 and Warwick Veteran’s High School later in the month.
To register, residents must be 18 years old on or before Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 12:15 PM
Federal housing money coming for homeless veterans
The Providence Housing Authority will get $266,713 in federal money to provide "permanent supportive housing" to about 35 homeless veterans, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., announced today.
Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (VASH) awards, administered through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, provide local housing agencies with rental-help vouchers targeted to homeless veterans, Reed's office said in a news release. Housing and Urban Development will also link local agencies with VA Medical Centers to offer services and case management to eligible homeless veterans.
The money was included in the fiscal 2008 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs Bill.
Reed's office cites the National Alliance to End Homelessness as saying at least 175 veterans experienced homelessness in Rhode Island in 2005 and 2006.
“Our veterans have sacrificed greatly to serve our country, and it is especially important to honor our commitment to them when they come back home," Reed said in the statement. "This critical federal funding will help provide dozens of Rhode Island’s veterans with a place to sleep and important services to get them back on their feet."
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:04 PM
Spring cleaning in Providence's Ward 15
It’s time for spring cleaning in Ward 15. That means throwing out the trash, recycling, taking care of boarded up houses, and even doing something about those unsightly scofflaws.
Tomorrow evening, residents of the ward, which represents the Silver Lake Annex, Olneyville, West Broadway and Valley neighborhoods, can meet with city officials to talk about those issues and how to improve the neighborhoods as the weather takes a turn for the better.
Representatives have been invited from the Providence Police Department, public works, code enforcement, environmental control and the fire department.
The meeting is set for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow at the Webster Avenue Elementary School cafeteria on Webster Ave.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 12:01 PM
3 charged with felonies in peace worker assault
PROVIDENCE -- Three men were charged with felony assault this morning for the vicious attack of a streetworker for the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence outside a downtown nightclub over the weekend.
Nicholas Nalle, 26, Sophea Chao, 21, and Michael Leng, 22, all of Fall River, Mass., were arraigned in District Court on charges stemming from the beating and stabbing of Sareth ``Tony’’ Kim, 32, the streetworker, who the police say was ambushed in parking lot near the intersection of Clifford and Dorrance street.
The police said that a beef between the Fall River men, who are members or associates of the Original Bloods gang, and a group of Providence men with ties to the Providence Street Boys gang started in the Level 2 nightclub on Richmond Street and spilled into the street.
Investigators allege that Nalle struck Kim in the head with a baseball bat. Kim also suffered multiple stab wounds in the brawl. Nalle was charged with assaulting Kim with the bat, and with possession of a dangerous weapon, the baseball bat. Chao was charged with assault for kicking Kim, and Leng was charged with a felony assault for allegedly participating in the beating.
Judge Joseph Ippolito set bail for Nalle at $30,000 surety, or $3,000 cash, while bail was set respectively for Chao and Leng at $20,000 and $10,000 surety bail. They were also ordered to refrain from having any contact with Kim.
Meanwhile, Kim is recovering from his injuries at Rhode Island Hospital.
Extra: A special, multimedia report on the gangs of Providence.
-- By Journal staff writer W. Zachary Malinowski
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:25 AM
Big ideas in nanotechnology
The keys to finding answers to some of the big problems may lie in understanding the nature of the very small.
To that end, Brown University has created the Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation, a new center of study that draws intellects from across the spectrum of knowledge to focus on some of the tiniest particles used in engineering.
Today marks the first of a three-day Nanoscience Forum to inaugurate the institute. Speakers from some of the top universities in the country –– including Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology –– will get together on College Hill to discuss topics from ethics to the environment, using nanoparticles in batteries and for human tissue growth.
Fifty-five faculty members from departments as varied as molecular biology to sociology will be directly affiliated with the institute, which has divided research into three areas: the Center for Advanced Materials Research; the Center for Nanoscience and Soft Matter; and the NanoHealth Working Group.
In addition to the academic speakers, the forum will feature a keynote speech by Mihail Roco, the director of the National Nanotechnology Initiative at the National Science Foundation and a roundtable discussion on nanotechnology policy and safety with representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, IBM, and other public and private research groups.
Download a .PDF file with detailed schedule information.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:16 AM
See Providence tomorrow today
You may love your neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
Residents of the Fox Point, College Hill and Wayland neighborhoods will get the chance this week to talk about what they think would make the areas nice.
In the fifth of a series of neighborhood get-togethers known as Providence Tomorrow, residents and municipal workers will discuss themes on a range of topics from parks and open space to the 1-195 relocation project.
Sessions will be held today through Thursday; today's and Tuesday's evening discussions will be more general, touching on visions and aesthetics for the neighborhoods.
Daytime programs will be held at the First Unitarian Church on Benevolent Street; evening workshops at the Lincoln School, on Butler Ave.
Click below for a schedule of sessions and topics.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
11:30 am – 1:30 pm The Nuts, Bolts & Finishing Touches (plantings, infrastructure)
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Mobility & Circulation
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Neighborhood Visioning
9:00 am – 11:00 am Parks/ Open Space / Recreation
11:30 am – 1:30 pm Commercial Areas and Local Business
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Neighborhood Character & Land Use
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Elected Officials’ forum & Neighborhood Visioning
9:00 am – 11:00 am Historic Preservation
11:30 am – 1:30 pm Town/ Gown Relationships
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Open Studio
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm I-195 Relocation & the Waterfront
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm Final Presentation
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:06 AM
Update: Zambarano guard shoots at alleged trespasser
BURRILLVILLE -- A security guard at the Zambarano Hospital says he fired a gun at someone who came at him with a knife last night in an abandoned building on hospital grounds, according to the Rhode Island State Police.
The state police do not believe anyone was struck by the bullet, and they are looking for the man who the security guard said fled toward Route 100 after the encounter, state police said.
The guard was identified by O'Donnell as Todd Brown, 37, of Warwick, who the major said had a permit to carry a gun and, as a supervisor, was qualified to.
The hospital had called the police earlier in the evening to complain about a vagrant on the property, O'Donnell said, and investigators are trying to determine if the shooting is related.
-- projo.com staffers Michael McKinney and Brandie Jefferson, and Journal staff writer Mark Reynolds
O'Donnell said the state police received a call from the state-run chronic-disease hospital at about 8:15 p.m. about suspicious activity, flickering lights, in an abandoned building on the hospital grounds. A hospital dispatcher told the state police that the hospital had already contacted its own security company, Industrial Security Investigations of North Providence, and the Burrillville police.
About eight minutes later, the hospital called the state police again to report that a gun had been fired.
Security guard Brown said that he went into the building, where he got into an altercation with a man, according to O'Donnell.
The guard told the police that the man fell down a small set of stairs, then came back up toward him with what appeared to be a rusty knife, the state police said. The security guard said he fired once at the man, who then ran away, O'Donnell said.
While the state police don't believe the man was struck, they have contacted area hospitals to see if anyone sought treatment of a gunshot wound, O'Donnell said.
The state police are looking for the man, who is described as being about 6 feet tall, slender with no facial hair. He was wearing dark jeans, a gray hooded sweatshirt and white, dirty sneakers.
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:59 AM
Funding will help establish community policing program
Police departments are about to get some support from the federal government and local schools and universities for community policing programs.
The Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy is getting a $188,000 boost to establish a Center for Community Policing & Cultural Diversity to be run in conjunction with the University of Rhode Island and the Community College of Rhode Island.
The program will focus on training officers for community policing, especially in diverse settings. Some of the money will also be used for retraining officers who are returning from military deployment.
Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy will present the academy with a check today at 10 a.m. at the CCRI Flanagan Campus in Lincoln.
Kennedy, who helped secured the funding, will be joined by Chief Anthony Silva, the academy’s director, and Chief George Kelley of the Pawtucket Police Department, who will represent the Police Officers Commission on Standards and Training. Attorney General Patrick Lynch, Gov. Carcieri and Roger Williams University President Roy Nirschel are among the invited guests.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 10:00 AM
The race (before the race) continues in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. –– After what he called “a rough couple of weeks,” including a big loss in Pennsylvania and a flare-up over damaging remarks by his former pastor, Sen. Barack Obama is attacking Sen. Hillary Clinton on easier ground –– the sagging economy –– in this factory and farm state and what he calls his rivals’ pandering plan to suspend the federal gasoline tax.
But in pointed TV ads and back-to-back speeches before party insiders here last night, Clinton suggested that Obama is the candidate of lofty rhetoric, while she would be a president who takes action to help people.
The presidential primaries tomorrow in North Carolina and Indiana constitute yet another opportunity for Obama, of neighboring Illinois, to put a stop to Clinton’s run of upsets in big, heartland states. For Clinton, it’s essential to win the neck-and-neck Indiana primary and perhaps draw close to Obama in North Carolina, if she is to continue the Democratic presidential race in which he has a persistent lead in nominating delegates.
After months of inter-party squabbling that has taken some of the glow off Obama’s candidacy, some of his supporters are anxious for the contest to end.
“The party," said Rick Fledderman, the mayor of Batesville, a small manufacturing city the state's conservative southeast region, "is beginning to fray around the edges."
-- John Mulligan, Journal Washington bureau
Despite some national polls suggesting that Obama’s strength as a candidate in the general election has been eroded by the uproar over last week’s comments by his long-time Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, polling of likely voters in Indiana’s primary suggests that the race could go either way.
Random interviews of potential voters on a high spring weekend in and around the capitol city suggest, moreover, that Hoosiers are more concerned about the loss of manufacturing jobs and the price of gasoline.
Obama has sought an opening here in attacks on Clinton’s proposal for a summer holiday from the 18.4 cent a gallon federal gasoline tax which he asserts would save drivers only about 30 cents a day.
“That’s the same proposal that John McCain makes,” Obama told 2,300 Democrats last night at the party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner at a downtown convention center. Besides tying his rival to the Senate colleague who is the Republican presidential candidate, Obama also positioned himself as a foe of the petroleum industry. “Does anybody here really trust the oil companies to give you savings” from a gas tax break? Obama demanded.
But there are some hints that New Yorker Clinton is breaking through to voters who are hungry for a candidate who appears to be doing something –– even something modest –– for them.
“I think anything to bring down the price of gas, even if its only a cup of coffee’s worth a day, is a move in the right direction,” said Kaylen Barcus and Indianapolis bus driver who has twice voted –– now with some regret –– for George Bush and plans to vote tomorrow for Clinton. “At least she sows an attitude that she’s going to do something for us,” said Barcus.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 9:25 AM
Feliz Cinco de Mayo
Members of Ballet Folklorico spin while marching during the Cinco de Mayo parade in Detroit yesterday.
Today is not Mexican Independence Day.
It’s instead a celebration of the unlikely victory of what might be considered an inferior army over French troops.
After the Mexican-American War, which ended in 1848, the French began an occupation in Mexico.
On May 5, 1862, an advancing French army was held off, and then driven out by an ill-equipped army of about 5,000 Mexicans.
The battle became known as the Batalla de Puebla, and now, we know it as Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May.
According to the University of California, the festival is celebrated more robustly in the United States than in Mexico.
So put on some red, green and white, try your hand at rolling up some tamales, and celebrate the past victory of our neighbors to the south.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 8:23 AM
Trial to start for 2 ex-CVS execs' corruption case
PROVIDENCE -- Jury selection was set to begin today in the trial of two former CVS executives accused in a widespread federal probe into corruption at the State House.
John Kramer and Carlos Ortiz, both former vice presidents at the Woonsocket-based pharmacy company, have pleaded not guilty to fraud, bribery and conspiracy charges.
They're accused of paying former state Sen. John Celona $45,000 and other gifts to defeat bills the company opposed and take other action on the company's behalf.
CVS has since changed its name to CVS Caremark Corp. The company has not been charged.
Opening statements in the trial are scheduled for May 12. Both men have been free on bond.
Read the Journal's report on the U.S. Attorney's Operation Dollar Bill investigation.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:02 AM
The dry side of spring
Check this out:
Cloudless, sunny skies. Temperatures approaching 70 degrees, and mild winds from the southeast. Sounds like the good side of spring.
Tonight the temperature will drop to about 45 degrees, but skies should stay clear, and mild winds continue from the south.
Tomorrow we'll see clouds, but temperatures will surpass 70, settling in the mid 70s with calm north winds.
To keep up with forecast changes, see projo.com's weather page.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:01 AM
Today's front page
Today's front page features coverage of the makeover of the Silva family's home in Warwick. It was featured last night on the ABC television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Download a copy of today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM