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May 20, 2008
Tonight: Celtics open NBA Eastern Conference finals
All eyes were on Boston last night -- for the Sox's victory on the shoulders of a no-hitter pitching performance -- and all eyes will be again tonight when the Celtics open their NBA Eastern Conference Finals series against the Detroit Pistons.
The game starts at 8:30 p.m.
Read more about it tonight at projo.com's sports blog and keep up with the score and post-game stories on our Celtics page.
For those who want to get out and hear bands, in Providence the Zuma Band, Ductape and Burning the Canvas play rock at AS220, 115 Empire St. Call 831-9327. 10 p.m. $6. All ages.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:55 PM
Wake, funeral set for slain Cranston man
The family of James A. Pagano, the Cranston firefighter who police say was killed Sunday by a neighbor, will hold a wake Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Nardolillo Funeral Home in Cranston, with a funeral service to follow Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Mark’s Catholic Church, which Pagano attended as a boy.
A burial will follow the service at St. Ann’s Cemetery.
“We’ll have our firefighters in dress uniform,” said Cranston Fire Chief James B. Gumbley. “We want to have a solemn and dignified remembrance.”
Earlier today, the state medical examiners office ruled that Pagano died from a single gunshot wound to the torso with injury to the aorta, pancreas and liver.
The police have charged Nicholas Gianquitti, 40, with murder. A District Court judge yesterday ordered him held without bail.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer David Scharfenberg
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:51 PM
Plea deal ends possible test case on medical marijuana
SOUTH KINGSTOWN -- An Exeter man who was allowed to possess marijuana under the state’s medical marijuana law has admitted to drug possession in the first criminal case that would have tested the law had it gone to trial.
Steve Trimarco pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of possessing marijuana with intent to deliver in a plea agreement reached Friday in Washington County Superior Court.
Trimarco, 50, refused to surrender when the police arrived at his trailer at 480 South County Trail in 2006, but was taken into custody after three hours of negotiations, the police said. The next day, the police entered the trailer with a search warrant, seizing 71 marijuana plants, a homemade silencer and four guns, including a Chinese assault rifle.
Trimarco at the time held a registration card from the state authorizing him to grow 12 marijuana plants and possess 2 ½ ounces of the drug under the law enacted in January 2006 over Governor Carcieri’s objections.
Nineteen other charges, including contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possessing a silencer, were dismissed under the deal.
The Senate approved legislation Friday that would create "compassion centers" where chronically ill patients enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program could openly purchase the drug. That bill has been referred to the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee, but an identical House-generated bill has been stalled in committee, said House spokesman Larry Berman.
-- Journal staff writer Katie Mulvaney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:37 PM
Update: Family, friends rally around Kennedy / Photo
AP photo / Stephan Savoia
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., center, is surrounded by family members, left to right, son Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., stepson Curran Raclin, son Edward Kennedy Jr., daughter Kara Kennedy, and his wife, Vicki, in a family room at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston this afternoon.
WASHINGTON -- The first word to congressional colleagues of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s diagnosis with a malignant brain tumor came earlier today in a telephone call from his son Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
By mid-afternoon, California Democrat Pelosi was among the congressional leaders rushing to express their affection and support for the longtime liberal stalwart. Kennedy’s closest friend in the Congress Sen. Christopher J. Dodd said Kennedy ``is a strong guy and he has great heart and we’re confident in getting him back.’’
Patrick Kennedy was at Massachusetts General Hospital this afternoon as the news broke of his father’s cancer diagnosis. He plans to remain with his father as family members deliberate with physicians over his treatment.
``He’s going to take it one day at a time,’’ said the Rhode Island congressman’s spokeswoman, Robin Costello. ``Obviously, he’s concerned. This is difficult news for any son to hear."
But Patrick Kennedy remains hopeful, she said. ``His father has always been a fighter and the congressman knows that if anybody can beat this he can,’’ Costello said.
Costello said the younger Kennedy has been commuting between Mass General and his home in Portsmouth since his father was stricken by a seizure Saturday morning at his home in Hyannisport. The congressman does not yet know exactly what course of treatment the senator will opt to undergo or what the timing will be, according to Costello.
-- BY JOHN E. MULLIGAN
Journal Washington Bureau
Journal file photo
Father and son greet each other in January 2002 at the Pawtucket Day Nursery in Pawtucket, where they were talking about their efforts to get money for daycare.
Speaking of the Senate as a family, the majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters shortly after 2 p.m., ``We as a family are tremendously concerned about Senator Kennedy. But Reid repeated the general view: ``Anyone who knows Ted Kennedy knows he’s a fighter’’ and expressed confidence that he would rise to the fight against his illness.
Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., said, ``Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family have faced more adversity more times and in more instances with more courage and more grace than most families ever have to face.’’
Noting that Kennedy is famous for rushing to the side of friends and colleagues in need, Kerry said that it is now time for others to rally behind him.
The diagnosis appeared to come as a surprise to many colleagues. After a Senate Banking Committee hearing this morning, Connecticut Democrat Dodd told reporters about what great spirits Kennedy seemed to be in during their conversations over the weekend. Dodd humorously recounted a phone call from Kennedy, mimicking his friends voice as he groused good-naturedly about the tests he was undergoing at Mass General.
Dodd and Sen. Jack Reed, who has been in close touch with Patrick Kennedy, both spoke light heartedly – before the bad news broke – about how pleased the elder Kennedy had been about the Boston Celtics weekend victory in a key pro-basketball championship series, and about the no-hitter that Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester threw last night.
Read the latest from the Associated Press
Doctor's statement on Kennedy's tumor
Members of Rhode Island, Mass. delegation react
Your turn: React to the news
Posted by Jack Perry at 5:43 PM
Update: House approves paying toward health insurance
PROVIDENCE -- The House today approved a bill requiring the part-time members of Rhode Island’s General Assembly to pay 10 percent of the cost of their state-provided health, dental and eye-care insurance.
The vote was 66-2, with six not voting, this afternoon. The measure next goes to the Senate. Without the Senate’s consent, the proposal will not become law.
But House Republicans, who are the minority in the Democrat-dominated House, were saying they thought the proposal will not go anywhere in the Democrat-dominated Senate.
House Minority Whip Nicholas Gorham, R-Coventry, challenged colleagues to sign a form today to voluntarily pay the 10 percent regardless of what happens to the legislation.
"You can vote green [yes] but you know as well as the rest of us that this is N.G.N. in the Senate. It's dead," said Gorham, who defined N.G.N. as "not going nowhere."
Gorham added: "So it's either going to be a publicity stunt today or it's going to be the real thing."
Voting no in the House were Rep. William San Bento, D-Pawtucket, and Rep. Timothy Williamson, D-West Warwick.
Rhode Island lawmakers meet three days a week, six months a year. They get paid $13,508 a year. And right now, they are eligible to get all of these benefits for free at a cost to taxpayers of $5,831 a year for single coverage, $16,293 for a family, according to newly revised cost figures from the General Assembly.
The proposal by Rep. Amy Rice, D-Portsmouth, would not only require they pay 10 percent of their premiums, it would also eliminate the $2,002 waiver payment currently given to lawmakers who forgo the free health-care even though they all still get free Delta Dental and eye-care insurance.
Being required to pay 10 percent for the full package would cost each lawmaker $48.59 monthly for an individual plan, $135 monthly for the lawmaker and his or her family.
The co-pays will not make a big dent in the $434 million potential deficit the state is facing in the year that begins July 1, and recent statements by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, raised serious doubt the Senate will agree to go along. In a recent interview, she said, she believes “that it should be a voluntary decision. It certainly defeats whatever power of example that they are attempting to demonstrate by mandating it, rather than having it be voluntary.’’
-- Katherine Gregg of the Journal State House Bureau
A 2007 nation survey by the United Benefit Advisors -- an alliance of 142 employee-benefit companies across the country -- indicates the 10 percent is well below-average, even by Rhode Island standards.
While the full survey encompassed 16,485 health plans sponsored by 11,723 employers with 1.9 million employees between them, it included 170 Rhode Island companies with between 10 and 250 employees. Among the key findings: the average Rhode Island employee contributes 28.8 percent of the premium cost for individual coverage, which equates to $118 monthly, and 40.4 percent -- $397 monthly -- for a family plan.
Looked at from that perspective, Joseph E. Cardello, one of the principals in the UBA affiliate in Rhode Island -- the Cornerstone Group in West Warwick -- said the lawmakers’ gesture is modest.
“Believe me, they work very hard and hopefully, honorably at the State House,’’ he said. But, “to be honest with you, there not a lot of love for those elected officials,’’ he said, when their benefit costs are compared to “somebody who’s working 50 hours a week at a jewelry manufacturing facility …paying 30 percent of their health insurance, making $10 an hour…That’s a harsh reality. ‘’
As the vote neared, more and more legislators volunteered to pay 10 percent of the cost of their coverage.
In the House, 26 of the 57 lawmakers receiving health insurance are already paying 10 percent of the cost voluntarily, 15 are slated to receive waiver payments in December, though four have pledged to return 10 percent of the payments and two announced they would forgo the waiver payments. (The 75-member House has been one short since former Rep. Roger Picard, D-Woonsocket ran for an open Senate seat and won.)
In the Senate, 9 of the 32 senators with health coverage are paying 10 percent of the premiums, three are positioned to receive the waiver payments and three have announced they will forgo them.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 5:10 PM
Reed plays key role in foreclosure relief compromise
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.
WASHINGTON -- With Rhode Island's Sen. Jack Reed providing a crucial piece of the compromise, a key Senate committee overwhelmingly sealed a deal today that could help hundreds of thousands of homeowners refinance their troubled mortgages. Unlike a House measure passed last week, the Senate plan is said to have the president's blessing.
The Senate Banking Committee cleared the foreclosure prevention package on a vote of 19 to 2, sending the full Senate a loud bipartisan signal that, according to Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, the committee's chairman, could spell enactment of broad mortgage relief -- along with a strong dose of banking reform and low-income rental housing aid -- by July 4.
"Now we can respond to three pressing concerns: keeping people in their homes by preventing foreclosure, creating the housing program for the poor, and paying for both with a special new surcharge on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Reed said. Rhode Island's senior senator, a Democrat, is a committee member in the bipartisan talks that forged the compromise.
Dodd, and Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the panel, credit Reed with a key role in fashioning the so-called "pay-for," a levy on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that allays Republican concerns about what some have portrayed as a taxpayer bailout of ill-advised mortgages.
Shelby said President Bush -- who has threatened to veto the mortgage relief package that passed the House last week -- will not veto an anti-foreclosure bill akin to what the Senate panel produced today. Bush said last week that the House bill would help "speculators and lenders," while risking taxpayer money.
The Senate bill would raise an estimated $500 million -- less than one-fifth the projected cost of the House version of the bill -- by collecting just over half a penny on each dollar’s worth of mortgages issued through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The Senate version of the foreclosure remedy would assist an estimated 500,000 families, according to Dodd.
-- John Mulligan of the Journal Washington Bureau
Your turn: Are there foreclosed homes on your street? How are they affecting you?
The Senate bill reduces the cost of the aid package in part by limiting its life to three years.
In the first year of its existence, 65 percent of the new fund would go to finance federally backed mortgage insurance that would rescue homeowners from foreclosure by allowing lenders to reduce the outstanding principal owed on troubled mortgages. The loans could then be rewritten as long-term, fixed-rate mortgages. Much of the foreclosure crisis is attributable to adjustable-rate mortgages that proved too expensive for homeowners when they were adjusted upward.
The remainder of the fund, 35 percent, would be used to help expand the pool of housing that poor people can afford. The Department of Housing and Urban Development would administer the new program through state agencies such as Rhode Island Housing.
In the second and third years of the program, the fraction of the fund devoted to the low-income housing aid would expand, while the fraction devoted to troubled mortgage relief would shrink.
Congressional liberals, including Reed and the House Banking Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., have long viewed fees on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- the huge, government-backed companies that largely finance the U.S. mortgage market -- as a potential source of revenue for expanding low-income housing assistance.
Rhode Island’s foreclosure rates on sub-prime mortgages are among the highest in the nation. Foreclosure initiations almost tripled to more than 1,000 during the first quarter of the year, according to calculations by Rhode Island Housing. The state also faces an acute shortage of affordable housing for poor citizens.
Reed, Dodd and Shelby all pointed to their compromise bill as a potential source of stability -- not only for the troubled housing market but for the economy at large. The purpose of the bill, according to Dodd, is to ``put a floor’’ beneath a market that has plummeted in recent months, with serious consequences for the nation’s growth as well as for hundreds of thousands of individual homeowners.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:02 PM
RIH doctor: Prognosis for Kennedy's type of tumor poor
PROVIDENCE -- The prognosis is not good for patients with the type of malignant brain tumor diagnosed in U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Rhode Island Hospital neurosurgeon said today.
“The prognosis is usually poor, with a life expectancy of one year or less,” said Dr. Curtis E. Doberstein, interim chief of neurosurgery at the hospital.
Doberstein said he knows of cases with younger patients who have survived several years with similar brain tumors. Kennedy is 76.
Doberstein said the hospital sees about 50 to 70 such tumors a year in Rhode Island, statistically more than one would suspect.
He said Kennedy could be expected to leave the hospital soon and go home, if his treatment is confined to radiation and chemotherapy.
The senator has been hospitalized in Boston since Saturday after suffering a seizure at his Cape Cod home.
-- Journal staff writer Peter Lord
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:35 PM
After long wait, governor nominates 3 to Elections Board
PROVIDENCE -- Following months -- if not years -- of delays, the governor today announced three new nominees to the state’s Board of Elections, filling vacancies that some had said could lead to a “political crisis” in this state if not addressed.
The nominations are John Clarke of West Warwick, Martin E. Joyce, Jr., of Cumberland and Richard H. Pierce of Cranston. Their appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.
Clarke is the owner and president of “The Insurance Store, Inc.,” according to his resume. He also serves as the parliamentarian for the Rhode Island Republican Party and is a former member of the West Warwick Canvassing Board. In 2006, Clarke ran unsuccessfully against Senate Finance Chairman Stephen D. Alves for his District 9 seat in West Warwick. His Board of Elections term would expire in 2013.
Joyce is a former director of personnel for the city of Pawtucket and before that, personnel director in Central Falls. In recent years, he has served as an investigator on the state Labor Relations Board and as a consumer protection investigator with the Attorney General’s office, according to the governor’s spokesman. Joyce’s term would expire in 2017.
Pierce, a lawyer with the Providence firm Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, is a former Cranston City Council member and a past Cranston School Committee member, governor's spokesman Jeff Neal said. Pierce has twice previously been nominated to the Board of Elections, but was never confirmed by the Senate, prompting the governor to withdraw his name on both occasions. Pierce’s term would expire in 2021.
In a letter to Governor Carcieri last month, Common Cause Executive Director Christine Lopes said the organization was “gravely concerned that if appointments to fill three vacancies are not submitted immediately for Senate confirmation, a major political crisis faces Rhode Island."
-- Cynthia Needham of the Journal State House Bureau
Member Judith Bailey resigned in 2005; Roger Begin departed in 2006; and, Thomas V. Iannitti turned in his resignation in March, according to Executive Director Robert Kando.
Until today, Governor Carcieri had not filled any of the three seats, despite a law that dictates that he must appoint replacements within 30 days.
Last month, Kando said if a fourth member, Florence Gormley, resigns as expected this summer, the board would be unable to convene a four-member quorum that is necessary to oversee and administer elections and certify the results of primary and general elections.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:24 PM
Langevin, Whitehouse offer thoughts, prayers for Kennedy
U.S. Rep. James Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat who serves in the House of Representatives with U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, had this to say on the news that Kennedy's father, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, of Massachusetts, has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor:
“My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Edward Kennedy and his family, especially my friend and colleague, Congressman Patrick Kennedy. I know from personal experience that it is never easy to have a parent facing such a serious illness. I wish the Senator a speedy recovery.”
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, said "this is difficult and saddening news, but Senator Kennedy’s energy, strength, and force of will are legendary, and we are hopeful.
"Sandra’s and my thoughts and prayers remain with Senator Kennedy, Congressman Kennedy, and their family as they face this new challenge.”
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, another longtime Democrat in the Massachusetts delegation, said news of Kennedy's health "is disappointing to most Americans, and it is particularly sad news for those of us who've had the privelege of working under his leadership for Massachusetts, and for the goals he has championed."
Frank added he hopes the "great fighting spirit" that has helped Kennedy "win so many tough battles will continue to serve him well."
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 3:40 PM
Carcieri taps Kempe to replace Neal as press secretary
PROVIDENCE -- Amy Kempe, who has recently served as a spokeswoman for Newport Grand, will replace the governor's press secretary, Jeff Neal, the governor's office announced today.
Kempe, 36, is a vice president/team leader at public relations firm Regan Communications Group with clients such as Newport Grand, Dunkin’ Donuts and the Rhode Island Hospitality and Tourism Association. From 1997 to 2000, Kempe, of Newport, was public relations supervisor for lottery giant GTECH.
She is due to start her new job July 1. Neal announced in March that he would be leaving his post after more than five years on the job. He was one of the only members left of Governor Carcieri's inner circle.
Kempe also has a role in organizing and publicizing today's rally at the State House by the organization the Rhode Island Disability Vote Project aimed, in part, at drawing attention to a bill up for a hearing today that would require ramps and other accomodations to ensure polling stations are accessible to disabled people.
"Amy boasts over ten years of public relations experience in Rhode Island and already has strong connections with a number of reporters in the state and region," Carcieri said in the statement. "With that experience in mind, I believe Amy will do a terrific job of working with the local media to convey my views and public policy positions to the people of Rhode Island.”
The governor's office said Kempe has a master of arts in modern European history from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor's in political science from the University at Albany – State University of New York.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with reports from Katherine Gregg, Journal State House Bureau
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:37 PM
CVS trial: Celona tells of becoming point man for CVS
Journal photo / Frank Gerardi
Former state senator John A. Celona, left, answers questions from prosecutor Stephen G. Dambruch, right. Below, lawyers for former CVS executive and co-defendant Carlos Ortiz, left, view a check made out to Celona. Co-defendant John R. Kramer, far right, looks on as Judge Mary M. Lisi presides.
PROVIDENCE -- John A. Celona, the government's star witness in the CVS corruption trial, returned to court this morning and testified that he became the point man for legislation beneficial to the Woonsocket-based giant drugstore chain.
Celona, a corrupt ex-senator from North Providence serving a federal prison sentence, said he followed directions from CVS executives to submit or kill bills at the State House. At the time, Celona was earning $1,000 a month as a paid consultant for CVS.
Celona had also been appointed to the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority and he promoted an effort to allow University of Rhode Island pharmacy students to get a break on their student loans. The proposal would address a shortage of pharmacists in the state, New England and nationwide, and would also be beneficial to CVS.
Celona also testified that he attended an event at the Narragansett home of Tom Ryan, who is CVS's chief executive officer and a URI pharmacy graduate. At the event, Celona said that Ryan spoke to his guests and thanked him for pushing the loan reduction plan for pharmacy students.
Celona's consulting arrangement with CVS came to an end in August 2003 on a golf course in Norton, Mass. He was sharing a golf cart with John R. "Jack" Kramer, a then-CVS executive who is the other defendant on trial, and, Celona said, Kramer told him a flap at the time involving House Majority Leader Gordon Fox and his legal work for GTECH had caused CVS great concerns.
Still, Celona said, Kramer arranged and paid for him to attend a lavish American Airlines golf tournament in Newport Beach, Calif., the following month.
Celona admitted today -- after this all became public and he resigned from the Senate in March 2004 -- that he had lied to the news media and to federal investigators.
At 10:30 a.m. today, prosecutor Stephen G. Dambruch finished his questioning of Celona. He was followed by Scott Corrigan, one of Kramer's lawyers, who began questioning Celona about his grand jury testimony involving his consulting agreement with CVS.
Corrigan spent the final two hours of the day trying to trip up Celona on discrepancies he had from yesterday’s testimony and past grand jury testimony.
He also spent more than an hour reviewing Senate Corporations Committee votes on pharmacy choice legislation. In 1998 and 1999, Celona was a leading proponent of the legislation that CVS opposed. After Celona became a company consultant, he was absent on days that the committee voted on the legislation.
Corrigan continues his cross examination of Celona at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
Read Journal coverage of yesterday's testimony.
Special Report: Continuing coverage of the bribery trial of two former CVS executives.
Click below for a look at exhibits submitted in court today:
-- Journal staff writer W. Zachary Malinowski
Exhibit F19: Read John Celona’s memo swearing loyalty to new Senate leader Bill Irons and taking credit for helping Irons oust Paul Kelly.
Exhibits 16, 352, 17, 353 and 328: Read e-mails and meeting minutes documenting Celona’s efforts to promote a loan forgiveness program for pharmacy students on CVS’s behalf.
Exhibit 358: Read a fax from Jack Kramer to John Celona with "talking points" for opposing a Canadian drug-imports bill.
Exhibit 109: Read a job description that Celona testified was drafted by Carlos Ortiz and Todd Andrews at CVS a year after his consulting job began.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 2:50 PM
Update: Doctor's statement on Sen. Kennedy's tumor
BOSTON -- U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy has a brain tumor.
Doctors for the Massachusetts Democrat said tests conducted after Kennedy suffered a seizure this weekend show a tumor in his left parietal-lobe. The usual course of treatment includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy, but Kennedy’s treatment will be decided after more tests.
The 76-year-old senator, who is the father of U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., has been hospitalized in Boston since Saturday, when he was airlifted from Cape Cod after a seizure at his home.
His wife and children have been with him each day but have made no public statements.
His doctors said in a statement released to The Associated Press that he has had no further seizures, is in good spirits and resting comfortably.
Here's a statement released by Dr. Lee Schwamm, Vice Chairman, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Dr. Larry Ronan, Primary Care Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital:
"Over the course of the last several days, we've done a series of tests on Senator Kennedy to determine the cause of his seizure. He has had no further seizures, remains in good overall condition, and is up and walking around the hospital. Some of the tests we had performed were inconclusive, particularly in light of the fact that the Senator had severe narrowing of the left carotid artery and underwent surgery just 6 months ago.
"However, preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe. The usual course of treatment includes combinations of various forms of radiation and chemotherapy. Decisions regarding the best course of treatment for Senator Kennedy will be determined after further testing and analysis. Senator Kennedy will remain at Massachusetts General Hospital for the next couple of days according to routine protocol. He remains in good spirits and full of energy."
Last October, the senator, who has served since 1962 and has never lost an election in his home state, had surgery to clear a blockage in a neck artery that is a major supplier of blood to the brain. The procedure was intended to prevent a stroke. At the time, doctors said Kennedy had a major blockage in his carotid artery.
-- With reports from the Associated Press, Journal archives and projo.com
Posted by Mike McKinney at 2:19 PM
Alert: ME says gunshot wound killed Cranston firefighter
James Pagano, the 44-year-old Cranston firefighter who police say was killed by a neighbor Sunday, died from one gunshot wound to the torso with injury to the aorta, pancreas and liver, the Office of Medical Examiners said today.
Pagano and his wife hosted a birthday party Sunday for their young son. Children were playing in the street and, neighbors said, Nicholas Gianquitti, 40, came out yelling and swearing at them when a ball struck his car, the Journal reported.
Pagano, 44, a Cranston firefighter for 15 years who had been officially promoted to lieutenant just last week, rushed over to confront Gianquitti. Punches ensued. Witnesses reported hearing several shots and seeing Pagano, lying in the street, mortally wounded. Many neighbors and relatives began calling 911 that afternoon.
Pagano died at Rhode Island Hospital Sunday.
Read the Journal's full coverage of what happened Sunday.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with Journal reports
Posted by Mike McKinney at 1:35 PM
Local fund set up for Chinese earthquake relief
A relief fund has been set up in Rhode Island to help victims of the earthquake in China that has left at least 40,000 people dead and 5 million people homeless.
A group of various Chinese and Chinese-American organizations has started the China Earthquake Relief Committee of Rhode Island. So far, the group has raised nearly $20,000.
Participants include The New England Chinese Nurses Association, the Confucius Institute at the University of Rhode Island, the R.I. Association of Chinese Americans and various Chinese student associations at colleges and universities around the state.
In addition, the group has begun putting collection boxes in restaurants around the state and holding cooking classes and dinner events, according to Sunny Ng, one of the committee's organizers.
Tor more information on the committee, visit the China Earthquake Relief Committee of Rhode Island Web site.
Donations can be mailed to China Earthquake Relief Committee of Rhode Island, 48 Blackstone Ave., Pawtucket, R.I. 02860. Checks can be dropped off at any Rhode Island branch of Sovereign Bank or at the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center, 175 Main St., Pawtucket, R.I. 02860. Make checks payable to China Earthquake Relief Fund.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 12:38 PM
Mobster Marrapese gets out of prison tomorrow
Jailed mobster Frank L. "Bobo" Marrapese Jr., imprisoned more than two decades for murder, will be released from the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston to a home confinement program with an electronic bracelet after 1 p.m. tomorrow, according to Tracey Poole, Department of Corrections spokeswoman.
He has employment, a requirement of the program, but corrections would not disclose what or where.
Marrapese, 65, had been scheduled for release last month but because of media attention, his then-expected place of work had second thoughts about employing him, Poole said previously.
Marrapese will leave the Pinel Building at the ACI.
Read more on Marrapese.
Read a special report on the state of the Rhode Island mob.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer W. Zachary Malinowski
Posted by Mike McKinney at 11:58 AM
CVS trial: CVS defendants arrive for another day / Photos
Journal photos / Bill Murphy
PROVIDENCE -- Former CVS executives John Kramer, above, and Carlos Ortiz, below, arrive with their wives today as their trial continues in U.S. District Court on corruption charges as part of the government's Operation Dollar Bill investigation.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 11:20 AM
Cleanup to begin this afternoon on boat that ran aground
A Coast Guard cutter is en route to Point Judith where a 63-foot fishing boat ran aground yesterday.
Willow, the Coast Guard boat, will join crews that are already at the scene this morning to oversee the cleanup of some 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel that is believed to be on board the fishing boat Blue Sea.
The fuel will be removed by Clean Harbors Environmental Service, according to Petty Officer Lauren Jorgensen at the Coast Guard. The private company is waiting for low tide –– about 2:15 this afternoon –– before it gets to work, stretching a hose 300 feet from a vacuum tanker truck to the boat.
The Blue Sea’s fuel tanks are made of steel and have separated from the hull.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 10:52 AM
Lawmakers to vote on paying toward health insurance
PROVIDENCE -- Rhode Island lawmakers making deep budget cuts that affect other people will soon consider one that hits their own wallets.
House lawmakers are scheduled to vote today on a bill that would require members of the General Assembly to pay 10 percent of the cost of their state-funded health insurance. Right now, they get it for free.
Those health care plans cost the state $5,810 for an individual lawmaker and $16,233 for a family.
The proposal would also eliminate a $2,000 payment given to lawmakers who forgo the free health care.
The bill is mostly a symbolic step, considering the state faces a $434 million shortfall for the fiscal year starting in July.
-- The Associated Press
Your turn: Should state legislators pay part of their health care costs?
H8262a: Read the full text of the bill
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:00 AM
Public records bill headed for vote today
PROVIDENCE — A plan to strengthen the state’s Open Records Law by allowing slightly faster access to police reports and public records is headed for a key vote in a Senate committee this afternoon.
Amended several times in recent weeks and finalized late yesterday, the proposed law would require state agencies to answer records requests from the public and the media within 7 business days as opposed to the current 10 days.
Police departments would be obligated to turn over the accused’s name and arrest charge within 24 hours, though they would have seven days to release the details of the alleged crime as provided in the narrative sections of the arrest report.
-- Journal staff writer Cynthia Needham
“Right now it’s [up to] 10 days for compliance with requests, so any reduction in time is an important step forward,” said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.
While pushing for expeditious release of all public records, the ACLU and the freedom of information group Access/RI say it’s the arrest records that have caused the greatest friction between open records advocates and state and local government.
“Access to police reports has been the single most consistent problem throughout the years with Open Records Law compliance,” Brown said.
When a serious crime or police event occurs, journalists and public watchdogs tend to push for official information, while police departments and the state’s attorney general often argue that releasing details could hurt the investigation.
Scott Pickering, managing editor of East Bay Newspapers and president of the Rhode Island Press Association, agrees that while the bill may not offer a perfect solution, it creates a much-needed sense of uniformity and consistency in how records are released.
The problem now, Pickering says, is that each police department has a different policy for doling out arrest records and what constitutes a complete report.
“In an electronic age when so many records [are] available with a few clicks on a computer, to have to wait 10 days” for basic records from one’s community government or police department doesn’t make sense, he said.
The bill also calls for state agencies to train employees who would be authorized to grant or deny open records requests so as to avoid time-consuming confusion about what is public and what is not. And it would increase fines for those who knowingly ignore the law.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said last night that he was surprised to learn the amendment had been finalized –– that office believed the particulars of the language were still being hammered out.
The Department of Administration, meanwhile, has sent a letter to the legislature saying it will undoubtedly be difficult for state agencies to comply with large records requests in a week’s time (the bill allows an extension to 20 days for complicated requests).
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the amended bill late this afternoon. A similar bill in the House has been postponed while Senate sponsor J. Michael Lenihan, D-East Greenwich, and the stakeholders worked out the amendment on the Senate side.
Posted by Jack Perry at 9:53 AM
Providence contest honors sustainable building design
The winners of Providence's first Sustainable Housing Design Competition proposed housing projects that were not only sustainable and efficient, but affordable as well.
Christine West of Providence-based Kite Architects and Robert Swinburne, from Brattleboro, Vt., were the winners of the contest which challenged participants to be efficient, to conserve and to use renewable energy in their designs.
"These winning designs are an excellent example of 21st century housing that is energy efficient, affordable and good for our environment," Mayor David Cicilline said in a statement this morning. The awards were presented at the city's Celebration of Housing breakfast.
More than a dozen designs were submitted to blind judging, according to the statement. Judges focused on design and community context, LEED certification and technology standards, replicable design and realistic budget and materials.
Cicilline also awarded the executive director of the West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, Sharon Conard Wells, with the Top Producer Housing Award.
Cynthia Langlykke, executive director of the Greater Elmwood Neighborhood Services, was given the Mayor's Partnership Award for the group's merger with the Elmwood Foundation.
Cicilline also went over some of the programs that the city was initiating as a response to the growing number of houses going into foreclosure, such as penalties for abandoning properties and $1 million from the Housing Trust Funds to be made available for repairing foreclosed homes.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 9:51 AM
CVS trial: Celona to return to stand
PROVIDENCE -- The CVS corruption trial resumes today for a seventh day of testimony.
The lone witness is expected to be former state Sen. John Celona of North Providence.
Celona, who is serving 2-1/2 years in federal prison for selling his office to CVS as well as Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Roger Williams Medical Center, is cooperating with the government and is the prosecution’s star witness at this trial.
He will likely be on the stand for several days, depending on how long lawyers for the two defendants, former CVS executive John Kramer and Carlos Ortiz, take to cross-examine him.
Read about yesterday's testimony.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 7:02 AM
Rain may be coming, but not for a while
Don't be fooled, there is a chance of rain today, but the first drops probably won't fall until early this evening. We're starting out partly sunny, but the National Weather Service is forecasting increasing clouds and south winds between 8 and 13 mph. The temperature should reach about 61 degrees.
The rain should fall until about 9 tonight, with clouds, a mild north wind and a low temperature near 44 degrees.
Tomorrow evening may bring more showers. Until then, expect cloudy skies with a high temperature near 64 degrees and west winds between 7 and 14 mph.
To keep an eye on the rain, see projo.com's weather page.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 7:01 AM
Today's front page
Today's front page features stories and photographs of the fatal shooting in a Cranston neighborhood that left a Cranston firefighter dead and his next-door neighbor, a former police officer, under arrest.
There's also coverage of former state Sen. John Celona's testimony during the trial of two former CVS executives in U.S. District Court, Providence.
Download a copy of today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM