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June 11, 2008
Revised education aid by community
The House Finance has increased the governor's budget for schools by $12.8 million. Check how much money your community will get. Providence got $3.5 million in extra money in the fiscal year starting July 1.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 7:56 PM
Police issue warrant for kidnapping, rape suspect
WARWICK -- The Warwick and Providence police have obtained arrest warrants for the man they allege kidnapped a woman in her car from a Quaker Lane parking lot and raped her in Providence’s Roger Williams Park early Sunday evening.
Warwick Detective Capt. Michael Babula identified the suspect as Saul Pizzarro-Aviles, 27, whose last known address was in Providence.
The Warwick warrant, he said, charges Pizzarro-Aviles with kidnapping and first-degree robbery, and the Providence warrant charges him with first-degree sexual assault.
On Tuesday, the departments reported that the carjacking occurred shortly after 5:30 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot of a Super Stop & Shop. They released a photo from a store security camera of a man leaving the store whom they later identified as Pizzarro-Aviles.
According to the police, Pizzarro-Aviles entered the store through its north doors, changed his shirt and then left the store. Once in the parking lot, Pizzarro-Aviles allegedly brandished a knife to commandeer the car, which was idling with the woman in the passenger seat waiting for her mother to finish grocery shopping.
Babula said Pizzarro-Aviles drove the woman to Roger Williams Park.
-- Journal staff writer Barbara Polichetti
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:04 PM
Goddard reopened for swimming; Ninigret is closed
The state Health Department today reopened to swimming Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick. Samples showed bacteria levels back to within acceptable limits.
The department closed to swimming the Ninigret Park Beach in Charlestown because of high bacteria counts. The area will reopen when it is deemed safe for swimming, the health department said.
For updates about swimming at Rhode Island beaches, go to www.health.ri.gov or for recorded information call (401) 222-2751.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:38 PM
OSHA criticizes and fines Lincoln factory
PROVIDENCE -- The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration today cited a Lincoln manufacturing company for not having adequate guarding to prevent a Guatemalan immigrant from getting pinned in a machine last December, and for failing to properly train the worker to use that machine.
The worker, Leonardo Cos Elias, lost his leg, buttock and half of one hip after the accident at Packaging Concepts Ltd. He is now confined to a wheelchair at a Massachusetts rehabilitation hospital.
OSHA has recommended a total of $21,000 for three serious citations. OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is “substantial probability that death or serious harm could result,” and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
OSHA also issued a “letter of significance” to the company that notes there was no emergency stop device installed on the routing machine Cos was using, and that routing machines “were being utilized without formalized training and documentation.”
OSHA has asked that the company develop a training manual for operation of the computer-numerically controlled routing machines, and to train its employees on the procedures set out in that manual.
-- Journal staff writer Karen Lee Ziner
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:28 PM
4 Laos Pride members arrested after shooting
PROVIDENCE -- Four members of Laos Pride, a Smith Hill-based street gang, were arrested on weapons charges Monday night just minutes after they allegedly opened fire on a rival gang -- the Hanover Boys -- in the city’s West End.
No one was hit in the barrage of gunfire, but the police seized two guns from the car of the suspected shooters.
In two other unrelated incidents on Monday night and early today, police made two more arrests and grabbed loaded guns.
Maj. Stephen M. Campbell, who oversees the Providence police detective division, said that removing guns from the street is a department priority and a proactive way to stem bloodshed.
``We really want to keep the violence down and we’re keeping it down by going after guns,’’ he said. ``We are out there and we are focused.’’
-- Journal staff writer W. Zachary Malinowski
A tip from a police informant led to the arrest of the Laos Pride gangsters.
Around 11 p.m. Monday, Detective Peter Chabot, a state trooper assigned to the Providence Police Gang Unit, received a tip from a confidential source that a house at 121 Bellevue Ave. in the West End ``had just been shot into.’’
The police received information that the shooters fled in a white Toyota Camry.
The gang unit officers knew of a Laos Pride gang member who drives a car fitting the description of the Toyota used in the shooting.
At the Bellevue Avenue address, several Hanover Boyz were milling around the backyard. They refused to talk to the police about the shooting. Investigators determined that a stray bullet had struck a Volvo parked nearby.
A few minutes later, the police spotted the Toyota turning from Waverly Street onto Cranston Street. Inside were members of Laos Pride wearing blue bandannas that were partially masking their faces. The police turned on their lights and sirens and called for backup. The car continued for several blocks.
Once the car stopped, the police surrounded the Toyota with guns drawn and ordered everyone from the car. The police looked under the seat and found two guns: a semiautomatic Raven and a Colt revolver. The police said that both guns were loaded.
Two of the passengers, juveniles ages 17 and 16, were each charged with possession of a firearm without a license; possession of a firearm by a minor; possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle; discharge of a firearm in a compact area and possession of a ammunition by a minor.
A Family Court judge ordered them held at the Rhode Island Training School.
Two other gang members, Steven Soundara, 19, of Providence, and a 17-year old juvenile, were charged with failing to have a license or permit required for carrying a pistol. In September 2006, Soundara’s older brother, Bobby, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for throwing a pipe bomb into the home of a member of a rival gang, the Young Bloods.
The bomb did not injure the intended target, but it went off in the face of a gang member’s mother and she lost an eye.
Soundara was also a member of Laos Pride.
Detective Sgt. Michael P. Wheeler, who heads the Providence police gang unit, said the arrests and seizure of guns underscores the deep knowledge of gang activity that his officers have developed over the years.
``We are out there and we know who is out there. The fact that we took two guns from these kids is huge, ’’ Wheeler said.
The other two arrests and seizure of guns took place in the city’s South Side.
About 12:30 a.m. today, officers assigned to the department’s Gun Task Force received a tip that a woman would be driving a car with a loaded gun to Chad Brown, a housing development off of Douglas Avenue.
The tipster described the car, a white Chevrolet, and said that it would be traveling on Broad Street within the next 30 minutes. The officers spotted the suspected car near Parkis Avenue and followed it for several blocks. They pulled the female driver over at the intersection of Broad Street and Pearl Street for a moving violation after it allegedly passed a car on the right.
The driver, Althea Latimer, 39, was driving on a suspended license, arrested and taken into custody. The police opened the car trunk and found a loaded .12 gauge shotgun. She was charged with possession of a loaded weapon in a motor vehicle and operating on a suspended license.
Earlier on Monday, at 10:25 p.m., the police arrested Joshua Carpenter, 22, of 224 Pearl St., after he allegedly threatened a woman with a handgun on Providence Street. The police later searched the Pearl Street address and found a chrome revolver stashed in a Remy Martin canister.
Carpenter was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a weapon without a permit and carrying a dangerous weapon when committing a crime of violence.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:25 PM
Panel recommends finalists for 2 traffic magistrate jobs
A selection committee this afternoon recommended five finalists -- including the Senate president’s chief of staff and a General Assembly lawyer -- for a pair of $128,650-a-year magistrate jobs on the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly gave Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams the power to make the magistrate appointments, which are subject to Senate confirmation. So Williams may now appoint people to the positions that Judge Marjorie R. Yashar and Magistrate Aurendina G. Veiga vacated in 2005 amid ethics complaints.
The selection committee interviewed nine candidates and recommended these five finalists to Williams:
-- Joseph A. Abbate, 56, of Providence, who is director of law revision for the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Services. He is also a part-time Providence Municipal Court judge and was a Providence Housing Court judge from 2002 to 2005.
-- R. David Cruise, 51, of Cumberland, who is chief of staff to Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano, D-North Providence. He was legal counsel and director of governmental affairs for the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation from 2000-03. And he was chief of staff to former Gov. Bruce Sundlun from 1991 to 1993.
-- Alan R. Goulart, 48, of North Kingstown, who is chief of the criminal division at the attorney general’s office. He was deputy chief of the criminal division from 1999 to 2004, and he was a U.S. Navy judge advocate general from 1987 to 1990.
-- Kelly A. McElroy, 35, of Warwick, who is a special assistant attorney general in the criminal division. She is an adjunct law professor at the Southern New England School of Law.
-- Bruce W. McIntyre, 56, of Jamestown, who is deputy legal counsel in the state Health Department. He has advised the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline since 1991, and is a former Democratic Jamestown Town Council member.
-- Journal staff writer Edward Fitzpatrick
The four candidates who did not make the cut were:
-- Richard G. Galli, 62, of East Greenwich, who has a law practice in East Greenwich and was a partner in the litigation group of Adler Pollock & Sheehan from 1976 to 1991.
-- Sharon O’Keefe, 61, of Barrington, who has a law practice in Barrington and was the state’s assistant child advocate from 1992 to 2005.
-- Gail M. Valuk, 43, of Richmond, who is deputy state court administrator and oversaw the administrative aspects of building the new $21.8-million Traffic Tribunal courthouse in Cranston.
-- William J. Vescera, 46, of Woonsocket, who has a solo law practice in Johnston, concentrating on residential and commercial real-estate transactions.
The candidates did not appear before the Judicial Nominating Commission, which screens candidates for all state judgeships. Rather, Williams set up a three-member selection committee headed by Traffic Tribunal Judge Edward C. Parker. The other committee members are Robert P. Murray, senior vice president at AAA Southern New England, and Alfred A. Russo Jr., a lawyer and former Democratic state representative from Johnston who served on the transition team of House Speaker William J. Murphy, D-West Warwick, and House Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox, D-Providence.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:16 PM
House panel removes $35M environment bond issue
PROVIDENCE -- The House Finance Committee this afternoon effectively cut a proposed $35 million environmental bond issue from the state’s 2009 budget.
The money had been targeted for saving farmland and open space, cleaning up storm water and helping communities reduce the nitrogen their sewer plants discharge into Narragansett Bay.
The bond item was removed from the budget without comment, and the committee approved the budget article that had contained the bond without comment.
The panel is voting a House budget proposal unveiled today, which differs from that submitted previously by Governor Carcieri.
Save The Bay executive director Curt Spalding said the cuts were troubling because the governor had originally wanted $87 million for the Bay bond, and reduced that figure to $35 million because of the state’s budget problems.
“My big problem is we tried to work with the situation,” Spalding said. “Our good will, trying to figure a compromise, it was ignored. No other programs were cut like this.”
The new budget proposal still must be vetted by the full House, and then the Senate. It is also subject to the governor's approval or veto.
-- Journal environment writer Peter Lord
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:16 PM
Update: House budget plan avoids broad tax increases
PROVIDENCE -- Facing an unprecedented budget deficit, the House leadership unveiled a budget proposal this afternoon that largely avoids broad-based tax increases, but includes tens of millions of dollars in cuts across state government including services for elderly, disabled and low-income Rhode Islanders.
There were some bright spots, however, for those facing even deeper cuts: the House gave cities and towns a slight “bump” in additional education aid -- approximately $12.8 million. There were no new increases proposed in non-education aid.
The proposal was revealed at a press briefing held shortly before a House Finance Committee hearing on the 2009 fiscal plan that began at 4 p.m. Read a summary of the plan here.
The plan also includes funding for 100 of 400 slots slated to be eliminated from the early childhood education program, Head Start. In addition, the budget restores health care coverage for all but 1,000 of more than 7,000 adults slated to lose coverage under a plan released by Governor Carcieri earlier in the year.
House Finance Committee Chairman Steven M. Costantino, the architect of the tax-and-spend plan released this afternoon, said the budget does indeed balance a $425-million budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1, despite unanswered questions about savings related to personnel reductions and sweeping Medicaid changes.
Rhode Island must have a balanced budget, according to the state Constitution.
The budget relies on more than $60 million in personnel savings tied to ongoing negotiations between organized labor and the governor’s office. It also relies on saving $67 million by re-designing Medicaid programs, a figure that both Costantino and the governor’s office have acknowledged may be unrealistic.
Despite heavy pressure applied by organized labor and its allies, the budget does not include any changes to the capital gains or flat taxes. Nor does the budget increase any income, business or sales taxes.
But it generates $5.6 million in new revenue by increasing the health insurer tax on medical premiums from 1.1 percent to 1.4 percent. Costantino said he hoped the increase wouldn’t be passed on to health care consumers, although that’s what happened when the tax was expanded last year. The tax, previously only applied to health insurers, would now apply to Delta Dental as well.
The House Finance Committee will work into this evening to adopt the budget bill, which will be laid out in a series of complex budget “articles.” As each budget item is read, the committee takes a vote. The hearing is being televised live on Capitol TV.
-- Steve Peoples, Journal State House Bureau
The budget does not include a proposed fine for drivers caught with hand-held cell phones. But it increases fines for all driving violations by $10.
The plan also caps the state’s film and television tax credit program, allowing no more than $15 million in credits to be issued each year, a change that may jeopardize plans to bring a movie studio to Rhode Island.
The release of today’s plan is the most significant step forward to date for a state that is struggling with its worst fiscal problems since the credit union crisis of the early 1990s.
It has been a long road to this point.
As is the case every year, Governor Carcieri releases a proposed budget in January. (He subsequently proposed a separate plan to close a $181 million budget hole for the current year, which has already been approved by the Assembly.)
Facing an additional $384 million deficit for the coming year, the governor’s plan relied heavily on cutting government spending, particularly on human service programs that he described as overly generous.
But state officials learned in May that the deficit was even larger than Carcieri thought.
That left the General Assembly, which releases its own version of the state budget every spring, to close a significantly larger hole.
The plan released this afternoon is expected to be approved by the House Finance Committee by the end of the day. The full House is expected to vote on the budget bill next Wednesday, in what is traditionally a marathon session that includes dozens of last-minute amendments.
Therefore, the plan adopted today may be changed slightly next week, but substantial modifications on the House floor are rare.
The Senate must approve the budget next, but that chamber cannot make changes to individual articles. That means the Senate would have to vote down the entire tax-and-spend plan to make any changes, which is not expected.
And there’s always the question of whether the governor will veto the Assembly’s final budget plan.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:27 PM
Update: House Finance unveiling new budget plan today
STATE HOUSE – After months of protest rallies and lengthy hearings and a hours-long delay this afternoon, the House Finance Committee has begun to unveil the latest version of the 2009 state budget today.
The committee had expected a hearing on the plan to begin at about 2 p.m. today, according to a press release from House spokesman Larry Berman.
But a press briefing on the proposal by House Finance Committee Chairman Steven Costantino and his staff -- originally scheduled for 12:45 p.m. -- started late and ended a short while ago.
The committee went into its hearing on the budget plan next, starting at about 4 p.m. It is being held in Room 35 in the basement of the State House. The committee is also expected to vote on the proposal today.
While a summary of some of the budget proposals was provided to the press, the committee will distribute its complete proposal at its meeting this afternoon. Based on past practice, that may come out in sections at a time.
Details of the new plan, which aims at dealing with a massive budget deficit in a tough economy, have been hard to come by.
Projo.com will provide updates on the budget plan as they become available.
The previous version of the plan is online here.
The hearing today is scheduled to be broadcast live on Capitol Television, which can be seen on Channel 15 for Cox Communications and Full Channel cable subscribers and Channel 34 for Verizon subscribers.
-- With reports from the Journal State House bureau
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 4:13 PM
DMV's West Warwick branch to be closed tomorrow
The Division of Motor Vehicles branch in West Warwick will be closed tomorrow because of work by the Kent County Water Authority.
The motor vehicles division asks that customers go to the DMV's main office in Pawtucket or other branch offices tomorrow. Those with driving tests scheduled tomorrow in West Warwick are asked to reschedule by calling 462-5700 or take the test in Pawtucket.
Other DMV offices open tomorrow, from, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., are Pawtucket, at APEX plaza; Wakefield, Tower Hill Road; and, Middletown, 73 Valley St.
Some services, such as renewal of vehicle registrations, are also offered online. Click here to see what's available.
As long as the water authority work finishes tomorrow, the DMV's West Warwick office is slated to reopen Friday.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:03 PM
Man airlifted to hospital after van hits tree in Burrillville
BURRILLVILLE -- Police and rescue crews are still at the scene of an accident early this afternoon that led to one man being airlifted to a nearby hospital.
According to Lt. Kevin S. San Antonio, a van crashed into a tree at about 12:30 p.m. on Victory Highway.
San Antonio said that although it took between 40 and 50 minutes to remove the victim from the van, the man's injuries did not appear to be life threatening.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 2:50 PM
Amtrak's bridge work delayed; will affect N.Y. Acela
NEW LONDON, Conn. — Amtrak says it has rescheduled a bridge replacement project in Connecticut that will disrupt some train service between New York and Boston.
The replacement of a moveable span of the Thames River Bridge between New London and Groton is now set to run Monday through Thursday. It was originally scheduled for Saturday through Tuesday.
All Acela Express service north of New York will be canceled during the project. Express buses will run between New Haven and Providence to connect trains in those cities. Train service between New York and Boston will still be available via Hartford and Springfield.
The work marks the final stage of a multi-year, $83 million improvement project on the 90-year-old bridge.
-- The Associated Press
Extra: MBTA: Providence-to-Boston delays this weekend
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 2:43 PM
Crews responding to structure fire in North Kingstown
NORTH KINGSTOWN -- Crews are responding to a structure fire at a former Brown and Sharpe manufacturing plant on Frenchtown Road, according to dispatch.
More details were not available.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 1:17 PM
2 Portsmouth police cruisers' drivers injured in collision
PORTSMOUTH -- Two police cruisers on an emergency call crashed on Route 24 yesterday afternoon, injuring the drivers, when one of the officers tried to use the median strip of the divided highway to turn around and his car collided with the one behind him.
Patrolmen Jacob Silva, 32, and Nicholas Arruda, 31, were treated at Newport Hospital after the crash, which occurred at 3:07 p.m. yesterday, Police Chief Lance Hebert said today.
He said Silva and Arruda initially headed north on Route 24 in response to a report of a possible drunken driver in a car that was being boxed in.
Then they received an update that the actual location was in the other direction -- on West Main Road at King’s Grant.
Silva was turning left onto the median strip of Route 24, just before the Boyd’s Lane exit, with Arruda car traveling behind him, when Arruda’s car collided with Silva's, according to State Police Capt. James Swanberg.
Swanberg said the impact of the collision forced Silva’s cruiser across the median and both southbound lanes of the highway, onto the shoulder.
State Police are investigating the accident at the request of local police. The cars involved were Ford Crown Victorias.
Hebert said both cruisers -- part of a front-line fleet of 7 marked cars -- sustained extensive damage.
-- Journal staff writer Gina Macris
It has not yet been decided whether the cars will be repaired or scrapped, he said.
The department has four additional high-mileage cruisers reserved for use on special details, he said.
The proposed budget for the next fiscal year contains money for three new cars that were intended to replace some of the older vehicles on the front-line fleet.
“We’ll have to make do with what we have,” Hebert said.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:59 PM
Hidden nail traps planted on disputed road
Someone is hiding nail-studded boards on a sandy road that runs through a disputed stretch of beachfront in Westerly and Charlestown, which leads to the western side of the Quonochontaug Breachway.
Todd Fiske, a landowner there, says his sister Lisa drove her car over one of the hidden nail traps, and she blew out a tire. “I’m just fortunate that my daughter didn’t step on it,” Lisa Fiske said.
Investigators found 10 boards with 3-inch nails concealed in the road, according to Lt. Michael P. Longtin of the Rhode Island Environmental Police.
The incident was revealed during a public hearing on a Department of Environmental Management proposal to ban parking on state land at the end of the road.
Before any action is taken, however, a leading DEM official says his agency is trying to resolve the access dispute in Westerly’s Weekapaug neighborhood by getting landowners to negotiate and compromise.
The disputed sandy road runs from the Weekapaug Yacht Club -- where a guard is posted during the summer -- to the state land on the western side of the Quonochontaug Breachway in Charlestown. Along the way, it runs through property owned by individual families and by organized groups. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the road is closed to everyone except landowners.
For the rest of the year, the road has been open to everyone for generations, according to Don Morris, a long-time shoreline-rights advocate. He said he drives to the western side of Quonochontaug Breachway almost every morning to fish. He is a member of Rhode Island Mobile Sportsmen, a club that owns property near the state land.
Morris was one of several people, including Todd Fiske, who testified against the proposed parking ban during a public hearing Tuesday evening in Warwick.
No one testified in favor of the proposed ban.
Michael L. Lapisky, chief of the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, was in charge of the hearing. His agency oversees the state land where parking would be prohibited. The land would still be open to anyone who could walk to it or paddle to it from the state boat landing on the eastern side of the breachway, he said.
Some landowners along the road contend that anyone who drives to the state land is trespassing. So, said Lapisky, “We have a piece of state property made inaccessible by private property….One can’t get there except by walking or by boat.”
Lapisky said he will work toward a compromise to resolve the dispute. “We are trying to work with all parties to make this thing work out somehow,” he said.
Several opponents of the parking ban say the disagreement is between the wealthy and everyone else. If the state concedes to wealthy landowners who want to close the road altogether, it would set a precedent, said Todd Fiske, whose family has owned a home there for 30 years. He said that even he could lose access to his family’s property. “Money talks,” said his sister.
James Milardo, president of Rhode Island Mobile Sportsmen, another landowner on the road, also testified against the proposed parking ban. However, he and the club’s lawyer, R. Daniel Prentiss, said they will negotiate with other landowners toward a compromise, rather than go to court.
“These people are connected,” Milardo said. “Even though it seems like a slam-dunk for us, they can afford to wait for the right judge, and we can still lose it. So we’re saying the best way to go is to get an agreement between the two parties, and to come to some solution.”
Though the road dispute has continued for generations, environmental police investigator Longtin said it has descended to new depths with the concealed nail boards. “This was really aggressive and malicious,” he said.
He estimated that three cars lost their tires to the nail traps on May 24, but no one reported injuries. “A kid could have stepped on one of these with three-inch nails,” he said. “Nasty.”
The boards were 18-by-6-inch plywood, each with several 3-inch nails that appeared to have been driven with a nail gun, he said. They were spread along the length of the road.
Anyone who has information about the nail traps, he said, should call the Rhode Island Environmental Police at 222-3070.
“It was very aggressive,” he said. “You don’t know what could have happened.”
Posted by Tom Meade at 12:27 PM
Update: Diocese offers RIPTA passes to the needy
The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, announced a new program this morning to help needy Rhode Islanders cope with high gas prices by taking the bus to get to work, go shopping and make doctor's appointments.
The Catholic Charity Fund has donated $17,500 that will be used to buy RIPTIKS, the bus passes sold by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. The tickets will be handed out in books of 10 one-way tickets to those apply and are determined to be most in need.
The tickets will be available at diocesan satellite offices starting Thursday to people who can prove they need them.
The average price of gasoline is $4.095 a gallon, according to AAA.
-- Business editor John Kostrzewa, with reports from the Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:50 AM
Entwistle trial: Officer describes finding dead baby, mom
WOBURN, Mass. -- A Hopkinton, Mass., police officer has described his gruesome discovery of the bodies of a mother and her baby daughter, who were found fatally shot and snuggled together in bed.
Sgt. Michael Sutton testified today in the trial of Neil Entwistle, a British man charged in the 2006 killings of his 27-year-old wife, Rachel, and 9-month-old daughter, Lillian Rose.
Sutton said he and another officer first checked the Entwistles' home on Jan. 21, 2006, but they did not find the bodies until the following day when they went back and checked again.
He said he lifted a thick comforter on a bed in the master bedroom and saw a woman's foot. When he lifted up the other end of the comforter, he saw a small baby's face, and next to the baby, a woman's face.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Mike McKinney at 11:32 AM
Report: 18 cats abandoned in Woonsocket apartment
WOONSOCKET -- Eighteen cats have been found abandoned in a Woonsocket apartment, and officials say they think the animals had been left alone for at least five to seven days.
WJAR-TV is reporting that the cats were found at the apartment Tuesday after a neighbor complained to the landlord about a smell in the building.
The Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is trying to find homes for the cats. Officials are also looking for the owner.
SPCA president E.J. Finocchio says the cats have not been spayed or neutered and are in "deplorable condition.''
It's hoping shelters in other towns will be able to take in the cats.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Mike McKinney at 11:31 AM
Update: To disaffiliate or not? Today's the day
If you voted in the Republican or Democratic presidential primary, but you’re not sure who you’ll support in the September state and local primaries, today is the last day to disaffiliate, so you can vote for whomever you please.
But you may end up having more time to make a decision. The Senate has green-lighted a bill that could change the date, extending the deadline to Monday, Aug. 11.
Under current law, voters have to change or leave a political party 90 days before a primary, special election or general election. If approved by the House and signed into law, the proposal would condense that period to 29 days.
Voters in the Democratic or Republican presidential primary were automatically affiliated with that party. A record turnout at the presidential primary means there is likely a higher than usual number of affiliated voters.
This September, there may be primaries in the race for state representative, state senate and city and town councils. If voters want to vote in a different primary than in March, they’ll need to disaffiliate from either party -- either today or by Aug. 11.
Wondering what to do?
Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis said today, "While the bill may become law at some point, June 11 is the law today.
"Voters shouldn't gamble with their right to cast ballots in the primary of their choice on September 9. Even if the bill does become law, disaffiliating today will cause voters no harm. It just means they will have another two months to change their minds."
To disaffiliate, contact your local board of canvassers. Find contact information on the Secretary of State’s Web site.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 11:17 AM
Filming for Cianci movie to begin in R.I. in August
Michael Corrente said today that he will begin shooting his long-planned film about former Providence Mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci Jr. in August on Rhode Island locations.
Cianci (left) and Platt
Corrente verified a report that appeared in the Hollywood Reporter that director Steven Soderbergh, whose films include Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve, would be the executive producer of The Prince of Providence and that Oliver Platt would play the former mayor.
The film, which Corrente will direct, is based on the best-selling book by Providence Journal investigative reporter Mike Stanton. David Mamet wrote the screenplay, with an additional writing credit going to Howard Korder.
Corrente said that Platt, whom he courted as early as late last August when he brought him to Providence for a dinner at a posh restaurant, was perfect for the role. Platt was seen most recently as New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in the eight-part HBO series The Bronx Is Burning and his credits include the films Kinsey and The Three Musketeers.
Corrente praised Platt as a journeyman actor that everyone knows can do what Philip Seymour Hoffman did for Capote.’’ (Hoffman won the best actor Academy Award in 2006 for his performance in that film. “I feel this is Oliver’s chance to hit one out of the park,’’ added Corrente.
In the past, Corrente had negotiated with better-known movie stars fort the lead role of Buddy Cianci, including Nicolas Cage and Russell Crowe, who at one time was said to be working on a rewrite of the script.
But for a long time the role went unfilled and some people were beginning to say that the film would never be made. “Everyone thought I was dragging my feet on this,’’ he said, “but I was just waiting for the right actor."
-- Journal movie critic Michael Janusonis
Your turn: Does Oliver Platt fit the role?
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:05 AM
$2 million jewelry heist includes Super Bowl rings
ATTLEBORO, Mass. — Police say New York Giants Super Bowl rings were among the $2 million worth of items stolen from an Attleboro jewelry company sometime over the weekend.
Police say thieves disabled the alarm system at E.A. Dion’s building, cut a hole in the roof and made off with a safe that weighed at least 1,000 pounds and containied gold, gems and the rings.
The incident was discovered by an employee on Sunday when she was unable to access her work e-mail from home, apparently because phone lines had been cut.
Captain David Proia says police are investigating but there are no suspects.
Company President Edward Dion Jr. says the company is running as normal and customers know “we’ve run into a bit of a hiccup.”
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 9:41 AM
Train delays this weekend
If you're planning to take the train between Providence and Boston, or parts in between, take note. The Providence/Stoughton line is going to be doing things a little differently.
The Ruggles Commuter Station will be closed Saturday and Sunday. Passengers going to Ruggles on the Providence/Stoughton line will need to transfer to the Orange Line at the Back Bay station for a transfer to Ruggles.
Another commuter rail closure, the Hyde Park station will be closed from Saturday until Tuesday, June 17. Passengers instead will need to use the Readville station. There will be shuttle buses to take people to and from Hyde Park to Readville.
All Providence line passengers should expect 10-15 minute delays between Saturday and Tuesday; travelers on the Stoughton lines should expect similar delays on Monday and Tuesday.
And scheduled work by Amtrak means there will be no Amtrak trains passing through Canton Junction from Saturday through Tuesday, June 17.
For more information, including maps and schedules, see the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Web site.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 8:10 AM
Judge orders arrest of Mashantucket Pequots chairman
HARTFORD, Conn. -- A family court judge in New York has issued an arrest warrant for the chairman of the Indian tribe that runs Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut as part of a child custody case.
The Westchester County Family Court judge issued the warrant on Monday because Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Michael Thomas failed to turn over his 4-year-old daughter to her mother, said David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the New York court system.
The girl's mother, Vanessa Hyman of New Rochelle, N.Y., said Thomas took the child for a routine visit May 17 and was supposed to return her the next day, but did not. Hyman went to the tribal police department Tuesday morning in eastern Connecticut to try to get her daughter back, but was unsuccessful.
Hyman said tribal police told her she would have to bring the issue before the tribal court on Wednesday.
"All I want to do is take my daughter home," Hyman said. "I don't know how she is, where she is. He just took her away."
-- The Associated Press
Thomas occupies a powerful position as chairman of the 850-member Mashantucket Pequot tribe. The tribe owns Foxwoods, one of the largest casinos in the world located about an hour's drive southeast of Hartford.
Linda Mariani, Thomas' attorney, said the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court granted Thomas custody of his daughter in February in proceedings that began in 2004. She said courts in New York and Connecticut ruled against Hyman earlier.
Mariani alleged in a written statement that Hyman, in documents submitted to the New York court, falsely said that her daughter was not the subject of action by any other court, and wrongly said the girl was not a Native American child subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Thomas has hired a New York attorney to try to have the family court judge's orders vacated, Mariani said.
"Please be assured that all involved are working toward a parenting plan that will serve the best interests of this child," Mariani said.
Joshua Katz, Hyman's lawyer, said the family court judge ruled that the couple's daughter should be released to Hyman's custody immediately and ordered the arrest warrant because Thomas did not bring the child to court Monday so that she could be returned to her mother.
Katz also said the judge ruled that New York state has jurisdiction over custody of the girl.
"I would hope that this poor little girl is able to come home to her mother and sister and go back to school," Katz said.
The girl is supposed to attend her upcoming preschool graduation, her mother said.
Hyman talked with state troopers about the issue at the Ledyard post office Tuesday.
Trooper William Tate, a state police spokesman, said state police would not enforce a civil court order unless it came from a court in Connecticut. He did say authorities were trying to help resolve the dispute.
Hyman appeared at Norwich Superior Court Tuesday, but was referred to tribal court, according to David Gage, deputy chief clerk.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:14 AM
Today in history: A civil rights confrontation in Alabama
On this day in 1963, Gov. George Wallace confronted federal troops at the University of Alabama in an effort to defy a federal court order to allow two black students to enroll at the school.
Listen to audio.
View a video report of highlights from today in history.
Read more about today in history.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:02 AM
Hot, but getting better
We're in for another warm day, but not as hot as it's been. The National Weather Service is forecasting a high temperature near 91 degrees. The morning clouds should give way as the day goes on and we'll have blue skies and winds from the northwest, gusting up to 21 mph.
Of course, we're still nowhere near the average temperature for this time of year -- 76 degrees!
Tonight should stay clear, with temperatures dropping to a pleasant 62 degrees with mild, northwest winds.
Tomorrow's looking sunny, with temperatures hitting a much more reasonable 83 degrees.
Keep an eye on the forecast at projo.com's weather page.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 7:01 AM
Today's front page: Another record high
Today's Providence Journal front page features more coverage of the record-breaking heat wave that's hit Rhode Island and a report that nearly 5,000 Rhode Islanders ran out of unemployment insurance benefits in the first quarter of this year.
Download a copy of the front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM