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May 21, 2008
Tonight: Civil War re-enactors discuss R.I. regiment's role
Catch a little history tonight.
There's a roundtable discussion going on: The 14th R.I. Heavy Artillery -- a group reenactment of the state’s black Civil War regiment -- is holding a talk about the war and the regiment’s role in it.
The free event, open to the public, is running from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Cranston’s William Hall Library, 1825 Broad St.
For information, call (401) 781-2450 or go to www.cranstonlibrary.org or www.14thri.org.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 7:00 PM
Bail revoked for man accused in rape of disabled man
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. -- A man accused of raping and stalking a mentally disabled man has had his bail revoked.
Buddy Smith is charged with rape, indecent assault and battery on a retarded person for allegedly assaulting the 25-year-old man multiple times between 2004 and 2006.
Smith had been free on $1,000 bail.
Today, a judge revoked his bail and ordered him held until his July 21 trial.
The ruling came after a witness testified about seeing Smith peeping in the window of the alleged victim's group home in Foster.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:54 PM
Summit seeks ways to fix R.I.'s dismal math scores
PROVIDENCE -- About 250 educators attended a day-long Mathematics Summit today, kicking off a statewide conversation about how to improve math education in elementary, middle and high schools.
Governor Carcieri and education officials convened the event at Rhode Island College in response to dismal math scores on the latest state testing, when just 22 percent of high school juniors scored proficient on a new, tougher test.
“It was a wake-up call to a lot of us,” Carcieri said.
But the problem has existed for a long time, and has only come to light as the state struggles to align what is taught in the classroom with what is tested each year, said Education Commissioner Peter McWalters.
For the first time, officials, schools and parents have a clear picture not only of how individual students perform on the tests, but also of how well districts and schools have adapted to a more demanding set of grade level expectations that outline what students are supposed to be learning each year.
The disappointing test scores show that school systems have a lot of work ahead of them, officials said.
“What we’ve found out, from many teachers, is that many schools have not aligned (classroom instruction) to the state standards,” McWalters said, calling the discovery “a slap in the face.” Just half of the state’s high schools said they were far along in this effort. “Why would we expect any other result, then?”
Elementary and middle school math scores were better, with 54 percent of third through eighth graders scoring proficient. But students who struggle with math find their problems compound over time and often leave them ill-prepared for the rigors of algebra and geometry by the time they start high school, officials say.
The state Department of Education will work with schools and districts this summer and in the coming year, offering them support and helping them to identify their weaknesses and cooperate with other districts, local colleges and educational collaboratives, McWalters said.
-- Journal staff writer Jennifer D. Jordan
Other problems identified at the summit are:
* Some classroom teachers lack of deep content knowledge in math, which makes it impossible for them to help their students reach the higher standards now required.
* Many schools continue to “track” students, preventing many from taking the higher level algebra, geometry and calculus courses demanded by colleges and the work force.
* Students are too dependent on calculators and lack the ability to perform high level work on their own.
* Teachers are struggling to “differentiate instruction” so they can reach non-traditional learners, special education students and others who find math challenging.
“The two most important areas are teachers figuring out what is happening with their students during instruction, and the depth of their own content knowledge,” said Diane Schaefer, director of instruction at the Rhode Island Department of Education.
Carcieri and McWalters emphasized that many states face a similar challenge. Rhode Island developed the new test, called the New England Common Assessment Program, with New Hampshire and Vermont, states that generally score higher than Rhode Island and have fewer diverse students living in poverty. Yet their scores were also low: 27 percent of juniors scored proficient in New Hampshire and 30 percent in Vermont.
“You were not brought here to be reprimanded,” McWalters told the teachers and administrators who came from 31 of the state’s 36 districts and some charter and state run schools, as well as representatives from all the state’s public and private colleges.
Representatives from Burrillville, Foster-Glocester, Glocester, North Smithfield and Westerly did not attend, in some cases due to scheduling conflicts.
“This is a national problem,” McWalters said.
The United States does not score among the top nations by international math measures, either. Instead, U.S. students lag behind students in Asia and Europe, including countries such as Latvia, Russia and Hungary.
Educators who attended the summit said building relationships across districts and education levels -- elementary, middle and high school and at the college level -- will help them figure out how to solve the problems in math education.
“I’ve found that there has been an increase in deficits in students’ ability to think mathematically,” said Anne Veeger, chair of the geosciences department at the University of Rhode Island. “If you take the calculators away, the mental strategies at their disposal don’t seem as strong. They also want the answers to come to them easily and quickly and they get frustrated if they have to work through multiple strategies to get the answers.”
Stacy Simmons, math coordinator for Riverside Middle School in East Providence, said the summit has given her ideas about how to improve her own math instruction.
“I’m thinking about myself, as a teacher, how I know what the students know and when to move on and when to slow down,” Simmons said.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:52 PM
Two taken into custody after dispute over car-repair bill
JOHNSTON -- The police took two men into custody and confiscated a handgun earlier this afternoon when they went to a local service station to investigate a heated dispute over a repair bill.
During the argument at Hawk’s Mobil, 119 Greenville Ave., a customer pulled out a handgun, according to Johnston police Maj. Ralph Bubar III.
Detectives are waiting to review a surveillance tape and determine the precise circumstances that led the customer to display the gun, said Bubar, who declined to name the two men until authorities have decided if they will be charged.
The man who drew the gun does have a permit to carry the weapon, Bubar said.
The other man, an employee, allegedly wielded a bat during the argument, which was over a $2,500 car repair bill, according to the police.
-- Journal staff writer Mark Reynolds
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:40 PM
Bush pays tribute to Sen. Kennedy with bill signing
WASHINGTON -- As Sen. Edward M. Kennedy settled in at home in Hyannisport today to ready for his battle against brain cancer, President Bush paid tribute to the Massachusetts Democrat’s long fight for a new anti-discrimination bill that he signed into law at an Oval Office ceremony.
As he prepared to sign the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, Bush said he wished to "pay homage’’ not only to the bipartisan group on hand for the ritual "but also to Senator Ted Kennedy, who has worked for over a decade to get this piece of legislation to a president's desk.’’
Bush said, "All of us are so pleased that Senator Kennedy has gone home, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.’’
The gathering was typical of the sort of ideological cross-section that the Massachusetts Democrat – very liberal but very practical-minded – has long specialized in lashing together to pass laws.
Bush’s description of the bill at hand was likewise a good fit for the type of compromise between public welfare and business needs that is Kennedy’s stock in trade. The bill "protects our citizens from having their genetic information misused,’’ Bush explained, "without undermining the basic tenets of the insurance industry."
The White House ceremony for the signing of the health-related legislation came hours after Kennedy, the longest-surviving brother in the nation’s most celebrated political family, was discharged from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where doctors diagnosed his malignant brain tumor on Tuesday.
Kennedy, who traveled home by car with his wife, Victoria, was to remain there as he and his doctors chart a course of treatment over the coming days.
Rhode Island Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy planned, meanwhile, to spend as much time as possible at his father’s side. He returned to his home in Portsmouth after seeing the senator off at Mass General. Family members have spent much of the time there since last Saturday, when the elder Kennedy was stricken by a seizure later determined to have been caused by the tumor.
-- John E. Mulligan, Journal Washington bureau
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 5:17 PM
Power failures hit Warwick Mall, 2 S. County sites
Power failures this afternoon are affecting Warwick Mall and some streets in the Ashaway section of Hopkinton. National Grid crews are on scene, said company spokesman David Graves.
A substation appears to be the source of the mall situation, and Graves said the National Grid crew is trying to figure out the problem. The failure happened about 4:10 p.m.
In Ashaway, at about 2:55 p.m., some 543 customers were without power because of a falling tree limb. Shortly before 5 p.m.,service is still out for customers on Potter Hill, Laurel Street and Maxson Street.
Earlier today, there were scattered power failures in Richmond and South Kingstown this morning, but Graves said power has since been restored. That had been attributed to a blown fuse on a power line.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:03 PM
Prov. schools chief vying for Cincinnati, Newark posts
PROVIDENCE -- Supt. Donnie Evans is one of at least 17 candidates who have applied to be superintendent of the Cincinnati public schools, according to Cincinnati School Board President Eve Bolton.
The current superintendent, Rosa Blackwell, is retiring after more than three decades as the leader of the 35,000-student district. She is paid $202,820 annually and the Cincinnati School Board said it would go higher if necessary. Blackwell will retire in July.
The Cincinnati School Board has hired Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Chicago to conduct the search and the firm will accept applications until early June, according to a secretary for the school board. Several school board members told the Cincinnati Enquirer that experience in a large, urban setting is a top consideration for the job.
The candidate pool includes superintendents from 11 school districts, including St. Louis, Beloit, Wis., and Sarasota County, Fla. A community advisory panel will select the semifinalists, whose names will be referred to the school board for review.
Evans is also one of three finalists for the Newark, N.J., superintendent’s position. He is joined by former Washington, D.C., Supt. Clifford Janey, and former Randolph, N.J., Assistant Supt. Ross Danis. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine will review the finalists and appoint a replacement for outgoing Supt. Marion Bolden, who is retiring June 30.
Evans announced in late March that he would not seek another term when his contract expires in September. He withdrew his candidacy hours before the school board was prepared to vote on whether to renew his contract for another three years.
A week later, Mayor David N. Cicilline announced that a new superintendent had been chosen: Thomas M. Brady, a retired Army colonel who is interim superintendent of the Philadelphia school district. The mayor did not conduct a national search as he did with Evans. Instead, he asked the Broad Center, a national education leadership program, to recommend a list of candidates. Brady emerged as the group’s first choice.
-- Journal staff writer Linda Borg
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:53 PM
House scuttles vote on political pamphlet anonymity
PROVIDENCE -- House leaders have scuttled a planned vote today on a bill to provide anonymity to political pamphleteers and those placing political-attack ads in newspapers.
House spokesman Larry Berman said he was advised by House Majority Leader Gordon Fox, D-Providence, that the bill is being sent back to a House Judiciary Committee instead for a second look. Whether it will ever re-emerge is unclear.
Action on the bill was postponed for the first time last week after it created a ruckus on the House floor. House Minority Leader Robert Watson, R-East Greenwich, led the charge.
Reminding a Democratic colleague across the room of the bare-knuckled reelection campaign he endured a few years ago, Watson said: “At least you knew who was firing those missiles. At least you knew who was building those bombs and lobbing them into your lap.
“Mr. Speaker, we’re going to have a bunch of anonymous terrorists playing in our political sandbox and I’m not sure I agree with that.”
Current law bans the airing or distribution of any campaign flier, poster or newspaper advertisement that is designed to “injure or defeat” a candidate for public office, criticize “the candidate’s personal character or political action” or defeat a ballot question unless it contains the name and address of the person responsible for it and, with respect to print ads, the word “advertisement” is displayed on a separate line in the same typeface.
The bill sponsored by Representatives Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, and Patricia Serpa, D-West Warwick, to repeal these requirements was recommended by the state Board of Elections, at the urging of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.
-- Katherine Gregg of the Journal State House Bureau
In an interview late last week, ACLU Director Steven Brown said “people may have legitimate reasons for distributing a pamphlet or putting up a poster anonymously,” including fear of retaliation. He said members of the voting public have to decide for themselves how much they are willing to rely on anonymously provided information, but “to demand disclosure is to chill speech on important public issues.”
In his arguments to the Board of Elections and lawmakers, Brown also cited an April 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision -- McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission -- that struck down that state’s law requiring the disclosure of personal identity on political literature.
Hailed by some over the years as “an important case for privacy and free-speech advocates,” the case centered on these facts:
In 1988, Margaret McIntyre was fined after distributing pamphlets opposing a proposed school tax levy that were signed by “Concerned Parents and Taxpayers.” She was fined $100 under a provision of the Ohio code that prohibited the distribution of campaign literature that does not contain the name and address of the person who issued the literature.
Briefly stated: The Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the First Amendment by inhibiting core political speech. The Supreme Court also said that the ban on anonymous speech is not justified by the state’s asserted interest in preventing the distribution of fraudulent and libelous information.
The court wrote: “Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.”
In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Donald Lally, Brown said repeal of Rhode Island’s law “should thus be seen as merely a housekeeping measure designed to avoid the enforcement of clearly unconstitutional laws.”
But the dustup last week over the proposed repeal of Rhode Island’s political disclosure law sparked a flurry of behind-the-scenes legal activity at the State House.
Robert Kando, executive director of the state elections board, said he was informed the Ohio decision was specific to the very specific fact pattern in that case, and a decade later the Federal Elections Commission still has a clear disclaimer requirement for political communications and advertising.
At this point, Kando said, “there is some question in my mind if the statute is unconstitutional or not.”
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:00 PM
Mobster Marrapese takes first steps out of ACI / Photo
Journal photo / Steve Szydlowski
Convicted mobster Frank L."Bobo" Marrapese Jr., right, is escorted to a waiting car from a building at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston today by ACI Special Investigator David Baptista.
CRANSTON -- Convicted mobster Frank L."Bobo" Marrapese Jr. today took his first steps outside the prison without handcuffs and leg shackles in 25 years.
Marrapese was fitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet before being released from the Adult Correctional Institutions this afternoon.
The terms of Marrapese’s parole prohibit him from associating with known felons without the consent of his parole officer. He also will be required to wear the electronic bracelet for at least a year, and he will remain on parole for the rest of his life.
He will move back to his home at 104 Elwyn St., in Cranston, not far from the Silver Lake neighborhood in Providence.
Last month, The Providence Journal reported that he had landed a job at a Anthony’s Restaurant in Johnston. The consequential news coverage resulted in the restaurant withdrawing its offer, and Marrapese’s release was postponed until he could find another job.
In the ’60s and ’70s, Marrapese was a feared enforcer and capo regime in the Patriarca crime family. He operated from the Acorn Social Club midway up Atwells Avenue in the heart of Federal Hill.
The club was recently razed and a restaurant is being built in its place.
In September 1987, Marrapese was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for killing mob associate Richard "Dickie" Callei on March 15, 1975, in the Acorn Social Club. His bullet-ridden body was discovered later that day near a golf course in Rehoboth. The murder remained unsolved for nearly a decade.
Meanwhile, in the 1980s, Marrapese was charged in two other murders: the 1982 gangland slaying of Anthony "The Moron" Mirabella at Fidas Restaurant on Valley Street and the baseball-bat beating of Ronald McElroy, of East Providence.
Separate juries found Marrapese not guilty in the Mirabella and McElroy killings.
-- With archival reports from Journal staff writer W. Zachary Malinowski
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 3:18 PM
CVS trial: Sports fan Celona pitched himself to Jets
PROVIDENCE -- Former Rhode Island senator John Celona not only sold out his public office –– he tried to sell out his New England sports allegiance, too.
According to evidence introduced today in the federal trial of two ex-CVS executives accused of bribing Celona, the fan who proudly flew a New England Patriots flag outside his North Providence house and once tried, as a senator, to get the Patriots to build a football stadium in Providence, sought work from the New York Jets.
Sports is a major interest of Celona’s, as evidenced by his testimony today about his efforts to promote the CVS Charity Golf Classic and Downtown 5K road race in Providence on his cable-access television show.
Then, toward the end of today’s testimony, defense lawyer Scott Corrigan showed jurors a letter that Celona wrote in 1997, when he was seeking work following the failure of his family’s lawnmower store.
The letter was to Bill Parcells, who had just bolted as coach of the Patriots following a Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers, to take charge of the team’s arch-rival, the Jets.
In his quest for work to support his family, Celona acknowledged sending out hundreds of resumes. On March 10, 1997, he wrote to Parcells pitching a new consulting group he had formed, The Image Group.
"With perception so important," Celona wrote, "we at The Image Group can train you and your team to manage the news and the media in a way that is positive and beneficial to the Jets."
A few minutes later, sparring with a defense lawyer over how many times he had met with FBI agents, Celona paraphrased the words of another Pats football coach and one-time Parcell's disciple, Bill Belichick: "If that’s what it is, that’s what it is, then that’s what it is."
-- Journal staff writer Mike Stanton
Celona testified that The Image Group was something that "never got off the ground." Nor, he said, did he use that corporate name when he discussed consulting work with Woonsocket-based drugstore giant CVS a few years later.
Corrigan was apparently driving at the fact that Celona was trying to hustle consulting clients to fill out his income after the failure of the family business.
Earlier today, Corrigan introduced a letter that Celona wrote in 2003 to the head of the Ocean State Hearing Aid Center, discussing a prospective consulting agreement. There was no evidence, however, that any agreement was ever signed, and Celona’s tenure in the Senate came to an end months later after publicity regarding some of his financial dealings with companies that he later pleaded guilty to selling his office to CVS, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, and Roger Williams Medical Center.
The Parcells revelation came toward the end of Celona’s third day on the stand, and his second day of cross-examination by Corrigan, a lawyer for defendant John Kramer.
Prior to that, Corrigan walked Celona through a series of transcripts of his TV show, The Celona State House Report, on which Kramer appeared eight times from 2000 to 2003 to promote CVS’s charitable endeavors.
Celona, often reluctant to concede making remarks attributed to him in the transcripts, conceded that he had promoted CVS’s golf tournament and road race and the company in general.
His love of sports came through in the transcript of one show, in which he described CVS’s chief executive, Tom Ryan, as a nearly "perfect individual" –– Ryan’s only fault, Celona added, was that "he’s a Yankees fan."
It’s unclear how much longer Celona will be on the stand. When Corrigan finishes, a lawyer for his co-defendant, Carlos Ortiz, will take his turn questioning the government’s star witness.
Read Journal staff writer Mike Stanton's earlier report on this morning's testimony.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 1:56 PM
Patrick Kennedy to join his father on the Cape
After spending much of the past four days at his father's Massachusetts General Hospital bedside, U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy planned to follow him to the family's Hyannisport compound, where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has gone after his hospital discharge this morning.
"The congressman is very focused on being with his father and spending time with his father and doing everything he can to support his father," said Patrick Kennedy's spokeswoman, Robin Costello.
For the time being, that meant the younger Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat, has returned to his Portsmouth home only long enough to pack for the trek to the Cape, Costello said.
The family was to confer with the senator's doctors in the coming days to chart his course of treatment for the malignant brain tumor with which he was diagnosed yesterday. Costello said that congressman Kennedy does not yet know exactly how his father will proceed but plans to stay by his side during the coming days.
For now, congressman Kennedy has cancelled the dates on his public schedule.
-- John Mulligan of the Journal's Washington Bureau
Posted by Mike McKinney at 1:39 PM
Rescued seal to be released tomorrow off Charlestown
A yearling female harp seal is slated for release tomorrow at Blue Shutter's Beach in Charlestown.
New England Aquarium in Boston rescued the seal April 10, and it was moved to Mystic Aquarium that day.
She had several wounds on her back, neck and right rear flipper.
The sea received antibiotics, "has recovered well, gained weight and is ready to go home," Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exporation said in a news release today.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 1:08 PM
Providence area YMCA appoints new leader
The YMCA of Greater Providence has announced a new head of its board of directors.
Amy Page Oberg was appointed to head the nonprofit organization’s board at its annual meeting yesterday.
She takes the place of James Purcell, president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island since 2004.
“I am so pleased that Amy has agreed to step up to this leadership role on our board,” YMCA CEO and President Karen Leslie said in a statement. “She has served us so well as the chair of our Bayside Branch Board and now she will have the chance to do the same for the entire association. I welcome the chance to work more closely with her.”
Oberg has chaired the Bayside Family YMCA since 2006. A lawyer, she works with DarrowEverett LLP which has offices in Providence and Boston, and has also served on the Barrington School Committee.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 12:55 PM
Photo: Seeing red at the zoo
Journal photo / Kathy Borchers
A red panda from the zoo in Columbus, Ohio, has taken up residence at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence. His name is Jhiang, and he was put on exhibit Tuesday. He's getting used to his new surroundings, which are near the snow leopards. He eats bamboo, fruit and insects and -- despite his name -- has a bushy tail and resembles a raccoon.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 12:50 PM
Update: Sen. Kennedy home from hospital / Photo, video
AP photo / Stephan Savoia
U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., walks out of at the Massachusetts General Hospital after he was released in Boston, this morning, with his wife, Vicki, right, and niece Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, center right.
BOSTON --U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy gave a thumbs up to well-wishers and kisses to relatives as he walked out of the hospital this morning, a day after learning he has a cancerous brain tumor.
A square bandage at the back of his head marked the spot where doctors performed a biopsy Monday that led them to diagnose the Massachusetts Democrat with malignant glioma. Experts say such tumors are almost always fatal.
Kennedy's dogs, Sunny and Splash, met him at the hospital door. Hospital workers and well-wishers greeted Kennedy with applause. Before he and his wife, Vicki, got into a dark Chevrolet Suburban, he kissed his daughter, Kara, and his niece Caroline Kennedy, embraced his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I, and waved to onlookers.
Television news helicopters followed his 75-mile trip south to his Cape Cod home. Along the way, he could be seen waving to nearby motorists from the front passenger seat of his SUV. He took a walk on the beach with his two Portuguese Water Dogs as soon as he arrived.
The brief leave taking was captured on a live video stream distributed by the Associated Press.
“Senator Kennedy has recovered remarkably quickly from his Monday procedure and therefore will be released from the hospital today ahead of schedule,” said a joint statement from his doctors earlier this morning. “He will return to his home on Cape Cod while we await further test results and determine treatment plans. He’s feeling well and eager to get started.”
The 76-year-old senator, the last son in a famed political family, was airlifted to Boston on Saturday. He underwent the biopsy on Monday and the results were released yesterday.
He was diagnosed with a malignant glioma in his left parietal lobe this week after suffering a seizure in his home Saturday morning. Malignant gliomas are diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year; in general, half of all patients die within a year.
-- The Associated Press
His wife, Vicki Kennedy, told friends the grim diagnosis was “a real curveball” that left his family stunned even as he joked and laughed with them, but expressed pride in how her husband was handling the news.
“Teddy is leading us all, as usual, with his calm approach to getting the best information possible,” she wrote in an e-mail Tuesday to friends.
“He’s also making me crazy (and making me laugh) by pushing to race in the Figawi this weekend,” she wrote, referring to the annual sailing race from Cape Cod to Nantucket.
The diagnosis cast a pall over Capitol Hill, where the Massachusetts Democrat has served since 1962.
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the longest-serving member of the Senate, wept as he prayed for “my dear, dear friend, dear friend, Ted Kennedy” during a speech on the Senate floor.
“Keep Ted here for us and for America,” said the 90-year-old Byrd, who is in a wheelchair. He added: “Ted, Ted, my dear friend, I love you and I miss you.”
In a statement, President Bush saluted Kennedy as “a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength and powerful spirit.” He added: “We join our fellow Americans in praying for his full recovery.”
Kennedy has been active for his age, maintaining an aggressive schedule on Capitol Hill and across Massachusetts. He has made several campaign appearances for Sen. Barack Obama.
“He fights for what he thinks is right. And we want to make sure that he’s fighting this illness,” Obama said Tuesday. “And it’s our job now to support him in the way that he has supported us for so many years.”
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “Ted Kennedy’s courage and resolve are unmatched, and they have made him one of the greatest legislators in Senate history. Our thoughts are with him and Vicki and we are praying for a quick and full recovery.”
Kennedy has left his stamp on a raft of health care, pension and immigration legislation during four decades in the Senate. In 1980, Kennedy unsuccessfully challenged Jimmy Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The Kennedy family has been struck by tragedy over and over. Kennedy’s eldest brother, Joseph, died in a World War II plane crash; President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963; and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.
Ted Kennedy shocked the nation in 1969 when he drove his car off a bridge to Massachusetts’ Chappaquiddick Island and a young female campaign worker drowned. Kennedy, who did not call authorities until the next day, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended two-month jail sentence.
Kennedy, the Senate’s second-longest serving member, was re-elected in 2006 and is not up for election again until 2012. Were he to resign or die in office, state law requires a special election for the seat 145 to 160 days afterward.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 12:26 PM
Toy car carrying real cocaine convicts Providence man / Photo
PROVIDENCE -- A Providence man has been convicted after prosecutors say he was caught trying to traffick in cocaine concealed inside a car too small to ever get caught in traffic.
This photo was taken by CBP agents in Memphis and was introduced in evidence at trial.
The car, with standard-sized file cabinets in the background.
Prosecutors said a kilogram of cocaine was packed inside a toy car shipped from Venezuela to Rhode Island, and a federal jury yesterday found Edward Perez, 24, of Arch Street guilty of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. He faces five to 40 years imprisonment and up to a $2 million fine.
Perez, who is in federal custody, is slated for Oct. 17 sentencing, U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente's office said in a news release today.
A federal customs agent intercepted the shipment in December at a Federal Express location in Tennessee, and agents arrested Perez after he took possession of the package at a Johnston address, the U.S. Attorney's office said.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Prosecutor Gerard B. Sullivan presented at trial evidence gathered by federal immigration and customs agents. In December, a Customs and Border Patrol agent at the FedEx Consignment Hub in Memphis found a kilogram of cocaine concealed in the bottom of a radio-controlled car inside a package from Caracas headed for a Johnston address
The agents in Memphis got the package to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Providence. On Dec. 31, an agent wearing a FedEx uniform, as part of a “controlled delivery” to the intended Plainfield Pike address, delivered the parcel, which now bore a package of sham cocaine hidden in the car.
A woman who accepted the package said it was for her friend “Edwin.”
Immigration and Customs Enfrocement and Drug Enforcement Administration agents, state and Jonston police watched as Perez came to the Plainfield Pike address shortly after. After a few minutes inside, he came out with the package and agents arrested him.
While Perez was handcuffed, agents heard him trying to make a cell phone call, muttering into the phone, “The cops are here.” But cell phone records did not show a call being completed at that time.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:16 PM
Update: Mobster Marrapese due to leave ACI after 1
Mobster and soon-to-be ex-convict Frank L. “Bobo” Marrapese Jr. won’t leave jail before 1 p.m. today, according to Tracey Z. Poole, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections.
The 67-year-old will be leaving from the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston after being fitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet.
Last month, The Providence Journal reported that the 65-year-old had landed a job at a Anthony’s Restaurant in Johnston. The consequential news coverage resulted in the restaurant withdrawing its offer, and Marrapese’s release was postponed until he could find another job.
Marrapese, who was convicted in one gangland slaying and implicated in two other murders, will move back into his home at 104 Elwyn St. in Cranston.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 12:02 PM
Blackstone to host primer on sustainable tourism
We’ve heard about sustainable farming and sustainable building; ways to use resources efficiently without depleting them.
There’s another sustainable market waiting to be tapped: sustainable tourism. The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council’s Sustainable Tourism Planning and Development Laboratory is hosting a primer on the concept tomorrow morning.
Tourism agencies, local policy makers, educators and students and anyone else interested in the practices of sustainable tourism are invited to “An Introduction to Resilient Tourism,” tomorrow beginning at 8 a.m. For $35, participants will hear from a number of speakers on topics such as “experimental tourism,” to satellite accounting.
The event is set to take place at the Blackstone Valley Visitors Center in Pawtucket. Although the Tourism Lab is based in the Blackstone River Valley section of the state, it consists of members from around the world.
Registration is required, find a schedule of events and other information on the Sustainable Tourism Lab's Web site or call the Lab at 401-724-2200.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:47 AM
CVS trial: Celona says he doesn't recall some evidence
PROVIDENCE -- What did John Celona do for CVS?
The corrupt ex-North Providence senator has testified that he did CVS’s legislative bidding at the state house for his $1,000-a-month consulting fee, and that he never performed the community outreaches spelled out in his consulting agreement.
When under cross examination for the second day today in the federal trial against two former CVS executives accused of bribing him, Celona was confronted with his own words –– from e-mail correspondence, grand jury testimony and statements of FBI agents –– that he had done some community outreach for CVS, the Woonsocket-based drugstore giant.
Scott Corrigan, a lawyer for defendant John Kramer, showed Celona an e-mail he wrote to defendant Carlos Ortiz in early 2001, after his first year as a consultant, stating that he had visited senior centers and housing complexes to explain CVS services and to tout CVS as “today’s neighborhood drug store.”
This was after Celona had told Corrigan that he could not recall doing so.
Corrigan also produced a 2001 letter from Ortiz to Celona enclosing 5 $20 CVS gift cards for Celona to use as door prizes at a senior health fair.
He also showed Celona a 2002 Kramer expense report indicating Kramer had attended a CVS-sponsored event hosted by Celona at Amos House, and an e-mail from Kramer’s assistant requesting Celona’s presence at a CVS State House press event. Celona replied that he didn’t recall either occasion.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi has scolded Celona a few times, telling him to stay on track.
“Mr. Celona, listen to the question,” said Lisi.
“Answer the question.”
-- Journal staff writer Mike Stanton
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:25 AM
Kennedy doesn't want to forget about racing in Figawi
AP file photo
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy sails his sailboat, Mya, out of Martha's Vineyard's Menemsha Harbor in August 1997 with then-President Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Kennedy's son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., on board.
U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was apparently eager to leave a Boston hospital this morning and return to Cape Cod at least in part because he wants to race his sailboat this weekend.
The 37th annual Figawi race starts Saturday, and Kennedy's 50-foot sailboat, Mya, is among the 205 sailboats registered to race between Hyannis and Nantucket.
Kennedy regularly takes part in the race, which starts a short sail from the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport. Last year, the Concordia yawl won its division on the return leg.
Kennedy's wife, Vicki Kennedy, has suggested to friends that her husband wants to race this weekend despite his being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
“Teddy is leading us all, as usual, with his calm approach to getting the best information possible,” she wrote in an e-mail yesterday to friends.
“He’s also making me crazy (and making me laugh) by pushing to race in the Figawi this weekend,” she wrote.
The Figawi "is recognized as a top sailing event not only on the east coast but is known nationally as well as internationally," according to the race's Web site.
The early-season race across Nantucket Sound is often marked by foggy conditions -- contributing to its name -- and has a reputation for a party atmosphere. After racing from Hyannis to Nantucket, the sailors spend Sunday on Nantucket before racing back to the Cape on Monday.
Kennedy won Division C on the race back from Nantucket last year, according to race results on the Web site.
Kennedy's boat had finished 10th out of 16 in its division on the race to Nantucket, according to race results on the Web site.
The race also hosts a ball, held last Saturday, that benefits more than 25 charities.
-- projo.coms staff writer Jack Perry, with reports from the Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:02 AM
Iway exit changes will affect traffic flow
The next phase of Iway construction is set to begin tomorrow with one ramp opening and another closing.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation plans to open the new Exit 2 ramp to India Street tomorrow and close Exit 3 to Gano Street.
The new ramp is only accessible to drivers who are driving north on Route 95 and take Exit 19 to the Iway bridge. They can access the new ramp onto Gano Street.
RIDOT plans to close the old ramp from Route 95 North to Route 195. Until then, there will be two Exit 2 off ramps –– the one opening tomorrow and Exit 2 off the old I-195 which leads to Wickenden Street.
RIDOT will have more information at a press conference tomorrow, when officials release more information about the Iway schedule for the rest of the month.
For more information, visit the Department’s Web site, call in for updates at 5-1-1, listen to the Highway Advisory Radio System 1630 AM or call Customer Service at 401-222-2450.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 10:10 AM
Green traffic down for April and 2008
Passenger traffic at T.F. Green Airport declined in April and during the first four months of 2008, compared to similar periods last year, according to statistics released today by the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.
There were 412,471 passengers at Green in April, off .4 percent from April 2007.
For January, February, March and April, 1.50 million passengers used Green. That’s down 1.1 percent from the 1.52 million passengers in the first four months last year.
Southwest Airlines remained the biggest carrier at Green, with 52.4 percent of all passengers at the airport in April. U.S. Airways was the second biggest carrier with 21 percent of all passengers. No other carrier has more than 7 percent.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 9:30 AM
Mobster Marrapese set to be released after 1 p.m.
Imprisoned mobster Frank L. “Bobo” Marrapese Jr. is set to be released from prison today, one month after his last scheduled release was postponed because of an abundance of publicity.
Tracey Z. Poole, spokeswoman for the Adult Correctional Institutions, said yesterday that Marrapese has a job and will be released sometime after 1:00 p.m. today.
Last month, the Journal reported that the 65-year-old had landed a job at a Anthony’s Restaurant in Johnston. The consequential news coverage resulted in the restaurant withdrawing its offer and Marrapese’s release was postponed until he could find another job.
Marrapese, who was convicted in one gangland slaying and implicated in two other murders, will move back into his home at 104 Elwyn St. in Cranston.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 9:00 AM
This bus stop's goal: Making cancer an election priority
Have you ever signed your name on a bus?
Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire hadn't, but on Monday he penned his name to the American Cancer Society CAN Bus.
The bus, which is traveling across the country to share stories of cancer patients and survivors, is working to make cancer a priority issue during this year’s presidential election.
Today, the bus is stopping in Providence and Pawtucket where people are asked to sign their names to the bus, and sign a petition urging presidential candidates to promise a health plan that gives all Americans “access to affordable, available, and adequate health care that eliminates red tape.”
Visit the bus today in front of the State House, at 2:45 p.m. or at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket at 6 p.m.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 8:53 AM
CVS trial: Celona set to testify again
John A. Celona, the corrupt former state senator from North Providence, will return to the witness stand at 9 a.m. this morning in the corruption trial of former CVS executives John R. "Jack" Kramer and Carlos Ortiz. One of Kramer’s lawyers, Scott Corrigan, of New York City, will continue his cross examination of the government’s star witness.
Celona, a former paid consultant for CVS, is serving a 2 ½-year federal prison sentence for his corrupt dealings with CVS, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence.
Read coverage of yesterday's testimony.
-- Journal staff writer W. Zachary Malinowski
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:02 AM
More clouds and more rain (maybe)
Today looks like yesterday, but a little warmer. We may get some rain again in the late afternoon, with breezy southwest winds between 13 and 16 mph. Expect clouds and a high temperature of about 71 degrees.
Rain may continue into the evening, when the temperature drops to about 47 degrees. We'll have cloudy skies and mild west winds.
Another chance of showers tomorrow afternoon with more cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 60s.
To keep an eye on the weather, visit projo.com's weather page.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:01 AM
Today's front page
Today's front page features coverage of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's cancer diagnosis and the trial of two former CVS executives accused of bribing former state Sen. John Celona.
Download a copy of today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM