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June 27, 2008
Carcieri vetoes bill to build Blackstone Valley courthouse
Governor Carcieri has vetoed a measure to build an $88-million Blackstone Valley courthouse, saying that "never, not even once, has any Rhode Islander -- save a legislator or a judge -- ever spoke to me of the pressing need to build a courthouse in the Blackstone Valley."
During his six years as governor, Carcieri's veto message says, "Rhode Islanders from all walks of life have approached me to discuss important issues, including: taxes, health care, roads, open space, budget deficits, renewable energy, education ... ."
But, Carcieri adds, building a courthouse has not been one they approached him about.
Carcieri acknowledged it's true sometimes people are "forced to deal with cramped spaces, inadequate parking, peeling paint and other difficult conditions."
But given that the executive and legislative branches succeeded in closing a $425-million deficit -- and the legislature "could only find $2.5 million in open space bond money" -- Carcieri asks how an $88-million courthouse gets "the imprimatur of the people's representatives."
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 7:09 PM
Tonight: Tribute bands and the blues
Tonight, there are a couple of tributes to rock bands known to represent their eras.
First up, the '60s and '70s. Classic Albums Live - The Who: Who's Next, is a tribute to The Who at Mohegan Sun, Wolf Den, Mohegan Sun Boulevard (exit 79A off Route 395), Uncasville, Conn. (888) 226-7711, www.mohegansun.com. 8 p.m. No cover.
Next up, the '80s. Jovi, as the name suggests, is a tribute to the band Bon Jovi, playing at Twin River, Lighthouse Bar, 100 Twin River Rd., Lincoln. Call 723-3200, (877) 827-4837, www.twinriver.com. 8:30 pm. No cover. 18+.
There are also some blues acts tonight.
Roger Ceresi, Gary "Guitar" Gramolini and Richard Ribb play rock and rhythm and blues at Duffy's Tavern, 235 Tower Hill Rd., North Kingstown. Call 295-0073. 5 to 9 p.m.
The James Montgomery Blues Band plays at Chan's Restaurant, 267 Main St., Woonsocket. Call 765-1900. 8, 10 p.m. $15 early show; $10 late show; $18 both shows.
Vieux Farka Toure plays blues at Waterplace Park, exit 22 off Route 95, Providence. Call 751-1177, www.providenceri.com/ArtCultureTourism. 7:30 pm. Free.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 7:00 PM
Brown's Haffenreffer Museum in Bristol to close Aug. 30
Brown University announced it will close its Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology in Bristol on Aug. 30 because of fire code and environmental issues.
But Brown intends to move the "Haffenreffer collections closer to its main campus and is seeking a suitable location in or near Providence," according to a news release.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:10 PM
January assault preceded fatal shooting, police say
PAWTUCKET -- The man accused of murdering Mayra Cruz Wednesday night was arrested in January on charges he broke into her Pawtucket apartment, struck and choked her, and ripped the telephone off the wall.
After the incident, Juan L. Diaz, 24, was charged with breaking and entering, felony assault, simple assault, disorderly conduct, vandalism and preventing Cruz from using the phone.
He was released on personal recognizance after being arrested by Pawtucket police after a traffic accident unrelated to the Jan. 18 break-in at the Galego Court housing project, on Weeden Street in Pawtucket, where Cruz, 26, lived with her 6-year-old daughter in apartment 1D.
Juan L. Diaz
Diaz was scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court last week on charges stemming from the assault and beak-in. A warrant for his arrest was issued when he failed to appear.
Diaz is now being held in a jail in Albany County, N.Y., where he was picked up on a warrant charging him with Cruz’s murder. The Pawtucket police said he fled to Albany after shooting Cruz in the basement apartment at 14 Reservior Ave., where he had been living since the end of March.
-- Journal staff writer John Castellucci
In an interview yesterday, Diaz’s landlady, Jacinta Fernandes, said Cruz was a frequent visitor to the apartment. Diaz introduced her as his girlfriend, Fernandes said, and she usually dropped by at night.
The police were called to the apartment at 9:46 p.m. Wednesday, after Diaz called and said he had accidentally shot Cruz during a struggle over a gun.
When they arrived, Diaz was gone, Cruz was lying dead in the apartment. The state Medical, Examiner’s Office ruled yesterday that she died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
The police found Diaz in Albany after learning he had family there and tracing a cell phone call he had placed to a girlfriend in the Prospect Heights housing project.
Michael J. Healey, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, said it is unclear when Diaz will be returned to the state.
“We’re waiting to hear whether he waives extradition,” Healey said. “We won’t know anything until Monday, at which time, if he waives, Rhode Island state marshals will be going to Albany to bring him back.”
It was unclear today what has happened to Cruz's 6-year-old daughter. In a written statement she gave police after the Jan. 18 break-in, she said she awoke at approximately 1:40 a.m. to find Diaz trying to remove the girl from the room.
Diaz struck Cruz several times, Cruz said in the statement, then choked her, holding her against the bedroom mirror. When she was finally able to leave the bedroom, she told the police, she noticed that Cruz had ripped the telephone from the wall.
She sent the girl to her sister’s apartment to get help, but Cruz’s sister, who is not identified by name in the police report, wasn’t home.
Diaz finally left the apartment at 4:30 a.m.
Diaz is described in the police report as Cruz’s ex-boyfriend. Cautioning that he was not commenting on this case in particular, Healey said, “Unfortunately it is fairly common” for a domestic assault victim to continue to associate with the victimizer.
“Oftentimes these relationships are controlled by one person,” Healey said. “It’s very difficult for a whole host of reasons for the person being abused to withdraw.”
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:01 PM
Update: Jamestown lifeguards accused of drinking, fired
JAMESTOWN –– Three lifeguards who police said were drinking alcohol while on the job Thursday were fired yesterday, according to William Piva, Jamestown’s recreation director.
Kristy Lebelle, 19, of 100 Asquah Drive, North Kingstown, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, first offense, a misdemeanor.
She was arraigned yesterday in district court, where she entered a not guilty plea, and released on $1,000 personal recognizance.
Lebelle is next due in court on July 11.
No charges have been filed so far against the other two lifeguards, whom police would identify only as a 17-year old man and a 17-year-old woman, both from Jamestown.
The matter remains under investigation, Police Chief Thomas P. Tighe said.
Jamestown police received a call at about 3:19 p.m. Thursday about an erratic driver on Beavertail Road headed toward Mackerel Cove Beach.
Tighe said Lebelle and the 17-year-old female, riding as her passenger, had gone to the Cumberland Farms on North Main Street and were driving back to the beach.
Lebelle’s car was swerving on the road and at one point driving on a flat tire “from an apparent impact with a curb,” the police said.
The police had to close Mackerel Cove Beach briefly as the three lifeguards were the only ones on duty at the time of the incident.
The town later recalled an off-dute lifeguard, reopening the beach until 5 p.m., the regular closing time, said Piva, the recreation director.
Piva said there were less than a dozen people on the beach at the time, and that there was no one in the water.
The three lifeguards had been suspended as of Thursday afternoon. Termination letters were mailed yesterday morning, Piva said.
Mackerel Cove Beach re-opened at its regular time this morning, but Piva said the town plans to post signs reducing the guarded beach area until more lifeguards are hired.
The town plans to readvertise the positions and raise the salary to $12 an hour from the current $10 an hour, Piva said.
Paiva said in his two years as recreation director, and 20 years as a police officer, he can’t remember any similar incidents.
“We hold them in high regard,” he said of the lifeguards, noting the training and certification they have to complete. “We expect these kids to be more mature.”
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson, with reports from Journal staff writer Maria Armental
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 5:05 PM
West Nile virus, EEE not found in R.I. sampling
Test results from mosquito samples around Rhode Island found no West Nile virus or eastern equine encephalitis, the state Department of Environmental Management announced today.
The results are for 48 mosquito pools, or samples, from 22 traps set statewide during the week of June 16.
But the DEM cautioned that mosquito samples in Connecticut, near the Rhode Island border, recently turned up positive, indicating a "high probability that West Nile virus and possibly eastern equine encephalitis is present in certain areas of the state, though test results to date in Rhode Island are negative."
The DEM encouraged residents to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and avoid getting bitten:
* Remove anything that holds standing water -- old tires, buckets, junk and debris.
* Clean gutters so they drain properly.
* Maintain swimming pools correctly.
* Use screens on windows and doors and cover up at dawn and dusk.
* Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages if outside.
* Use mosquito repellant with no more than 30 percent DEET -- but don't use repellant on infants.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:53 PM
Fisherman struck by lightning has died
PROVIDENCE -- A man who Bristol authorities said was struck by lightning earlier this week died yesterday at Rhode Island Hospital.
Edgardo Torres died at 5:40 p.m., according to a hospital spokeswoman.
The Journal reported on Wednesday that a 42-year-old man had been struck by lightning Tuesday as he was fishing off the rocks near Roger Williams University, in Bristol.
About 20 volunteer firefighters worked their way down the shore to the unconscious man, who had collapsed and become stuck in the rocks, Bristol Fire Chief Robert J. Martin said Tuesday. The firefighters lifted him into a Stokes basket and carried him off the rain-slicked rocks, he said.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with Associated Press and Journal archival reports
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:49 PM
Senator takes aim at his party's majority leader
In the state Senate where debate is rare – and dissent even rarer – Sen. Leonidas “Lou’’ Raptakis, D-Coventry, has done the unusual.
He has launched a political grenade aimed at taking out Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport.
In a statement that he began circulating on Thursday, Raptakis said he “can no longer support’’ Paiva Weed as majority leader because she “failed to live up to her word in terms of promoting’’ several of his pieces of legislation, including a bill to increase the penalties for drunken drivers who drive with suspended and revoked licenses.
Raptakis also blamed her for the end-of-session pileup that he said forced Senate votes on “150 bills in the final two days of the session.’’
“To me that’s a sign of ineffective leadership and a willingness to push through bills with little or no public input,’’ Raptakis said. “I had hoped for much better from Sen. Paiva Weed and I think the time has come to give someone else a chance to run the Senate floor in a manner more consistent with the public interest.
He didn’t say who he felt would do a better job.
-- Katherine Gregg, Journal State House Bureau
Raptakis was the sponsor of a number of high-profile bills, included a failed bill to raise the state’s $7.40-an-hour minimum wage. But the only one he cited in his call for Paiva Weed’s replacement was a measure that would have made it a felony – punishable by up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine – to drive with a license that has been suspended for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or refusing a Breathalyzer test. It stalled in the House Judiciary Committee, after clearing the Senate in May.
In a brief interview before the State House swearing-in of a new state judge, Paiva Weed said: “Many pieces of legislation are introduced, pass one chamber, don’t pass the other ... It appears that this year, I am being held responsible for every piece of legislation, pass or fail, which is just not true.’’
With respect to Raptakis’ drunk-drivers’ bill, she said she “absolutely, very strongly supported this legislation,’’ but “the House leadership conveyed to me that the committee had concerns about it.’’
Raptakis said her didn’t in any way hold Senate President Joseph Montalbano, D-North Providence, responsible for any of his legislative frustrations, including the Senate’s refusal to pass a House bill requiring all legislators to pay 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance premiums. (Raptakis joined those voluntarily contributing late last week).
Why give Montalbano a pass? “Because she’s the one who runs the Senate floor,’’ said Raptakis of Paiva Weed, who is being challenged for reelection by Donna Perry, who is the executive director of the state GOP, and sister of WPRO radio talkshow host John DePetro. Raptakis acknowledged yesterday that he sent his statement to WPRO a day before he distributed to other media. Why? He said that was the only email address he had handy.
Posted by maria caporizzo at 3:40 PM
High court upholds September 2005 murder conviction
PROVIDENCE -- The state Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Jacques Gautier, who 10 years ago stabbed his estranged wife's boyfriend multiple times in Providence.
A jury in September 2005 convicted Gautier, who lived in Providence, of second-degree murder in the death of Geoffrey Indellicati, who was 17. The verdict was a lesser charge than the first-degree murder in the indictment before trial, and the judge had granted a defense motion to dismiss several indictment counts.
In the early morning of Oct. 6, 1998, according to the prosecution, Gautier entered the first-floor Barbara Street apartment of his wife, Minerva Gautier. The Gautiers were separated at the time and a District Court “no-contact” order was in effect because of a charge pending against Jacques Gautier for allegedly assaulting her.
Indellicati was awakened in the apartment and the two men began fighting. Gautier chased Indellicati, attacking him again and again, according to testimony, and eventually forced Indellicati to a bathroom floor and stabbed him repeatedly. Indellicati had more than 60 wounds and was stabbed with two knives, according to the Supreme Court opinion.
Gautier grabbed Minerva Gautier and the Gautiers' 21-month-old son, Eros, and forced them into his car at knifepoint and fled, according to testimony.
Gautier took them to his sister's apartment, and a police officer eventually caught Gautier.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with Journal archival reports
Gautier's appeal to the state's highest court asserted the judge erred by:
* Allowing his wife’s prior recorded testimony from the defendant’s probation-violation hearing to be read into evidence.
* Excluding an affidavit made by Gautier's wife in which she refuted testimony she gave at his probation-violation hearing.
* Admitting evidence of a domestic assault incident and evidence the defendant had used cocaine shortly after Indellicati was killed.
* Allowing the state to bolster the credibility of its own witness.
* Failing to give the jury an instruction on voluntary manslaughter.
* Commenting on the evidence while giving the a jury instruction on burglary.
* Denying the defendant’s motion to “pass the case after a witness for the state misspoke.”
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:23 PM
Feds uphold Mass. denial of Fall River LNG terminal
The U.S. Department of Commerce today upheld a decision by Massachusetts regulators to deny approval for the liquefied natural gas terminal planned by Weaver's Cove Energy LLC in Fall River.
The decision is another blow for company, which has been battling widespread public opposition to the LNG plan, as well as series of unfavorable decisions by state regulators and federal agencies.
Today's decision was issued by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admistration.
Weaver's Cove had asked the department to overturn a decision by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management that determined that the project was not consistent with the state's coastal management plan.
But the department upheld that determination.
"Based on information submitted during the appeal, the [Commerce] Department determined that adverse coastal effects – particularly navigational safety concerns associated with delivering LNG to the terminal by tanker vessel up the Taunton River – outweigh the national interest."
"Navigational safety concerns were articulated in a U.S. Coast Guard report that concluded the Taunton River is unsuitable for LNG tanker traffic of the size and frequency proposed by Weaver’s Cove."
Weaver's Cove has proposed building a $550-million LNG import terminal in Fall River. In 2005, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its conditional approval of the project. That approval was contigent on Weaver's Cove obtaining approvals from several state and federal agencies, including Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.
James Grasso, a consultant and spokesman for Weaver's Cove Energy, said the company was "disappointed" in the ruling, but he said it would continue pursuing the project.
"We continue to pursue the project, and we will continue to investigate and examine the documents to decide our next steps," he said.
"For some reason, people do not realize that we need this energy and Fall River and Somerset need all the benefits associated with this project," Grasso said. "Most importantly, LNG has a 60-year exemplary safety record that I would say compares to none other."
Jeff Donald, a spokesman for NOAA, said department decisions can be appealed by filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
In a separate decision issued today, federal regulators approved a request by Weaver's Cove to extend by five years the company's conditional permit to build an LNG facility in Fall River.
The permit issued by FERC to Weaver's Cove in 2005 was to expire in July 2010. The company was required to have the facility built and operating by then. The company now has until November 2015 to construct the facility and put it into operation.
Posted by Tim Barmann at 2:54 PM
Photo essay: A big day for a small N.H. town
Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton have come to the small rural town of Unity hoping to unify the party. Providence Journal photos by Gretchen Ertl
Obama, Clinton appeal together for party unity
UNITY, N.H. (AP) -- Rivals turned allies, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton made a display of unity Friday in a hamlet named for it, their first joint public appearance since the divisive Democratic primary race ended. "Unity is not only a beautiful place as we can see, it's a wonderful feeling, isn't it? And I know when we start here in this field in Unity, we'll end on the steps of the Capitol when Barack Obama takes the oath of office as our next president," Clinton said just after she and Obama took the stage together.
A crowd is gathers in Unity, N.H., to hear Obama and Clinton.
Security amid the tractor parts.
Some 6,000 are in attendance the event in the town of 1,700 people.
Posted by maria caporizzo at 2:29 PM
Hotels, restaurants step up to fund July WaterFire
PROVIDENCE — When organizers announced plans for WaterFire’s 2008 season last month, there was one glaring omission: no WaterFire lightings were scheduled in July, typically one of the slowest months on the city’s arts and entertainment calendar.
Consider the problem solved. Thanks to an influx of donations from local hotels and restaurants, a full WaterFire lighting will be held on Saturday, July 19. The lighting, which will begin at sunset (8:16 p.m.) and continue through midnight, will also serve as the official kickoff for the United Way of Rhode Island’s annual “Live United” fundraising campaign.
At a press conference today, WaterFire creator Barnaby Evans thanked the dozens of hotels and restaurants who had helped make the extra lighting possible, among them: the Hotel Providence, the Renaissance Providence Hotel, The Capital Grille and Pot au Feu.
“We are delighted to be joined by so many of the superb restaurants and hotels of our city as we welcome people from far and wide to enjoy Providence,” Evans said.
After the July lighting, the next WaterFire is scheduled for Saturday, August 2.
-- Journal staff writer Bill Van Siclen
Posted by Jack Perry at 2:21 PM
Reporter's query: Looking into fights at middle school
Are there any Bridgham Middle School teachers who want to talk about the rash of fights in front of the school? If so, call reporter Linda Borg at 277-7823.
Posted by Jack Perry at 2:02 PM
Citing higher cost of diesel, RIPTA raises ferry rates $3
A one-way ticket on the Providence-to-Newport ferry will cost an additional $3 because of increased costs of diesel fuel, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority announced today.
RIPTA said a fuel surcharge has been added this week to the cost "due to unprecedented increase" in diesel fuel costs.
While the fuel surcharge helps with the cost of fuel, it does not allow the company to break even,"
RIPTA stated in a letter to passengers and on its Web site.
Check the fares for using the ferry here.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 1:22 PM
Governor to sign 'reverse' mortgage legislation
Governor Carcieri is scheduled to hold a ceremonial signing at the State House at 3 p.m. today for legislation designed to improve consumer protections against the risks of "reverse" mortgages.
Reverse mortgages allow cash-strapped homeowners age 62 or older who have paid off their houses to borrow against the equity. The loans do not come due until the homeonwer sells the house or dies.
The legislation passed by the General Assembly mandates greater disclosures of fees charged by the lender, and requires that borrowers receive financial counseling prior to obtaining a reverse mortgage that is not government-insured. (Federally insured reverse mortgages already require additional protections.)
The legislation approved by state lawmakers stops short of banning pre-payment penalties, which allow lenders to charge additional fees to borrowers who pay off the mortgage early. The AARP Rhode Island, a lobbying group for the elderly, had opposed any pre-payment penalties, the group's associate director of advocacy, Stephen Jennings,said.
"Our position is that pre-payment penalties trap people in loans that they may have decided weren’t a good thing for them,'' Jennings said, "but we supported the bill because we think other things in it are important.''
The legislation requires, among other things, that borrowers receive financial counseling from a government approved agency prior to entering the loan agreement, creates a three-day waiting period before the closing is finalized, and prohibits lenders from offering or requiring that borrowers also purchase an annuity until after the closing.
The House version of the legislation (H-7723 Sub A), which was signed by the governor on June 6, was sponsored by state Rep. Richard Singleton; state Sen. David Bates sponsored the Senate version (S-2598 Sub A).
-- Journal staff writer Lynn Arditi
Posted by maria caporizzo at 12:59 PM
Woman claims murder defendant assaulted her
WARWICK -- The prosecution rested this morning in the murder trial of a West Warwick man charged with murder, and the defense will have the opportunity to present witnesses this afternoon.
Before resting, the prosecution presented a witness who testified that in 2001, she had been assaulted by Brian Mlyniec, 45, who is on trial before a Kent County Superior Court jury on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of a former girlfriend.
Mlyniec is accused of killing Kelly Ann Andersen in June 2006. She had been strangled, according to previous testimony.
A witness testified this morning that in February of 2001, Mlyniec forced her to drink vodka and take pills in a North Kingstown hotel room. She said she lost consciousness and realized she'd been assaulted when she woke up.
The trial is to continue after a lunch break this afternoon.
Read more from yesterday's testimony.
-- Journal staff writer Nandini Jayakrishna
Posted by Jack Perry at 12:41 PM
Tribe member appeals conviction in smoke shop case
PROVIDENCE -- A Narragansett tribe member has appealed his conviction for assaulting state police who raided a tribal smoke shop in 2003.
A defense attorney for Hiawatha Brown says he filed notice this week that Brown will appeal his conviction on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and simple assault to Rhode Island's Supreme Court.
Attorney William Devereaux says Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas and tribe member Randy Noka may also appeal their convictions.
The three men were arrested for scuffling with state police who raided a tribal smoke shop in Charlestown that was not collecting state taxes. A federal appeals court later ruled the shop was operating illegally.
Brown received a one-year suspended sentence and probation and was ordered to take anger management counseling.
Read a special report on the smoke shop case.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 12:10 PM
Obama, Clinton almost in Unity, small N.H. town / Photo
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., right, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., wave as they step off the plane in Manchester, N.H., on their way to a joint appearance in Unity, N.H. AP photo/Alex Brandon
UNITY, N.H. -- More than 1,000 people are lined up today in the tiny New Hampshire village of Unity in anticipation of this afternoon’s joint rally, when Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama –– the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee –– will hold a joint public appearance for the first time since the end of their combative primary battle.
A forest of satellite trucks are lined up outside the small elementary school in Unity, a town with no stop lights, and lots of dirt roads, wood stoves and deer hunters.
Unity was picked for obvious reasons; first, the name of the town will be the theme for today’s event. Secondly, in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary in January, Obama and Clinton tied. Each received 107 votes in this town of 1,600 people.
It's not easy to find Unity on map, and the town roads have no numbered route signs. It’s about as far in the woods of New England as you can get.
And the locals here are proud of it.
The town’s unofficial souvenir sold at the one store, Will’s Place, is a screen printed T-shirt with an emblem of a moose sleeping in a hammock and the logo: “Unity; life in the slow lane.”
-- Journal staff writer Scott MacKay
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 12:01 PM
U.S. Attorney: Celona won't testify at execs' retrial
PROVIDENCE -- Federal prosecutors say they don't plan to call disgraced former state Sen. John Celona as a witness in the retrial of two former hospital executives accused of corruption.
Prosecutors in new court papers say they don't intend to involve Celona provided they can use the same documents as in the first trial.
Celona testified against the former executives of the Roger Williams Medical Center convicted of paying him for legislative favors. Those convictions have since been overturned.
Celona was accused of lying on the stand in a separate federal corruption trial of two former CVS executives who were acquitted last month of bribing Celona. Prosecutors have admitted they couldn't be sure what his testimony was going to be.
Read more about the federal investigation dubbed Operation Dollar Bill.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Mike McKinney at 11:54 AM
Foxwoods Resort Casino lays off 200 workers
The tribe that owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino says nearly 200 employees have been laid off.
A spokeswoman for the Mashantucket Pequots says the layoffs of middle managers and some hourly employees are part of what she calls a strategic organizational review process begun in January.
"[Layoffs] are scattered across departments," said Lori Potter, the Mashantucket spokeswoman.
The job cuts are believed to be the first in the casino's 16-year history and follow a similar layoff last month in the tribal government's workforce.
The workers let go yesterday will get two weeks severance pay for each year they were employed up to 13 years as well as health benefits, she said.
Foxwoods employs about 10,000 people at its casinos, including 1,747 at the newly opened MGM Grand.
This week's job cuts do not affect MGM Grand, the $700-million hotel and casino wing opened last month, Potter said.
The addition helped Foxwoods reverse an eight-month decline in slot machine revenues. Foxwoods saw a nearly 8-percent increase in its slot win compared with May of last year. Nearby rival Mohegan Sun also eked out an increase as slot win crept up two-tenths of a percent. Slot win is the money left after the machines pay out any winnings to bettors.
The casino industry, like many other employment sectors, is being hurt by a shaky national economy. Spiking fuel prices and plummeting home values are making many Americans cautious about spending.
Figures from the 12 states where commercial casinos are legal show revenue at gambling halls in those states dropped 1.3 percent, combined, in the three months ending Jan. 31, compared with the same period a year ago, according to the American Gaming Association.
-- Journal staff writer Paul Grimaldi
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:38 AM
AIDS Project RI, Family Service announce merger
In a move designed to achieve bureaucratic efficiencies and improve HIV/AIDS advocacy and prevention efforts, two major social-service groups -- AIDS Project Rhode Island and Family Service of Rhode Island -- this morning announced that they have merged.
AIDS Project Rhode Island will now be known as “AIDS Project Rhode Island, a division of Family Service of Rhode Island,” leaders of both groups said at a news conference in the City Hall office of Providence Mayor David Cicilline.
“This is a win-win situation for both of us,” said Sue Johnson, a board member of AIDS Project Rhode Island. Cicilline, a former chairman of the APRI board, joined discussions that led to the merger.
Family Service CEO Margaret Holland McDuff said the merger will provide a “platform” on which to improve HIV/AIDs prevention and advocacy efforts. Although treatments developed in the last decade extend the life of people with the disease, McDuff reminded those at the conference that the disease has not gone away.
“It’s still, unfortunately, alive and ‘well’ in Rhode Island,” McDuff said.
-- Journal staff writer G. Wayne Miller
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:59 AM
Police go to N.Y. to get Pawtucket murder suspect
Pawtucket police detectives are going to Albany, N.Y., this morning, where the suspect in one of three fatal shootings in three different Rhode Island cities Wednesday night was taken into custody.
On Wednesday night, 26-year-old Mayra Cruz was found dead in an apartment where Juan L. Diaz had been living.
According to a statement released by Pawtucket Police Maj. John J. Whiting, Pawtucket police were informed early into their investigation that Diaz, a suspect in Cruz’s death, had fled to Albany.
Pawtucket police worked with officials in Albany and members of the U.S. Marshals Service to find Diaz. He was arrested on the streets of Albany without incident and is being held on a fugitive from justice warrant and a warrant for murder.
Two 17-year-old boys were also shot and killed Wednesday night; one in Woonsocket and one in Providence. Police are still looking for suspects in both cases.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 10:45 AM
Governor vetoes key renewable energy bill
Governor Carcieri has vetoed a key renewable energy bill passed by the General Assembly that was designed to foster private investment in major renewable energy projects and shift the state away from its reliance on traditional fossil fuels.
The bill would require National Grid to enter into "commercially reasonable" long-term contracts with renewable-energy developers to purchase their electricity. That requirement would give assurance to prospective developers that there would be a buyer for the electricity produced by the project.
"It is with much regret that I find it necessary to veto this legislation," the governor said in a veto statement issued this morning. "Unfortunately, I believe the legislation before me today fails to balance our desire to invest in renewable energy with the realities that ratepayers currently endure."
The governor gave three reasons for his veto. He said he took issue with a provision in the bill that would give National Grid a bonus payment of 3 percent of the renewable energy contracts it entered into, once the project began operations. Electricity customers would have paid for the bonus.
National Grid has said that if it enters into these long-term renewable energy contracts, the cost to borrow money throughout the company would have been more expensive. The payment would have offset those additional costs.
According to calculations by The Providence Journal, National Grid would receive at least $2.8 million a year if it could purchase the required amount of power at a rate of 11.5 cents per kilowatt hour. (That is the rate National Grid is seeking to charge for electricity as of July 1.)
But the governor, echoing arguments made by some legislators, said that any bonus to enter into long-term contracts was "unnecessary and unearned."
Secondly, the governor said another flaw in the bill was that it did not require National Grid to enter into renewable energy contracts from developers who are building a project within Rhode Island. The bill required that the project provide some economic benefit to Rhode Island, but did not require it to be located here.
While it may be true that a renewable energy project located in Massachusetts, Maine or Canada could provide some economic benefit to Rhode Island, projects based here "deserve greater weight."
Lastly, the governor said the most troubling provision was a requirement that 5 megawatts of the renewable energy contracts must come from a Rhode Island-bases solar energy project.
"While it's encouraging to see a Rhode Island project get priority, it's unfortunate that the General Assembly picked perhaps the costliest renewable technology and decided to give it, and only it, preferential treatment."
He said that a recent study by the University of Rhode Island Partnership for Energy report found that the state is not well-positioned for large-scale solar power.
"I'm confident that working with legislative leaders, environmentalists, energy producers and ratepayers we can come up with a better way to support investment in renewable energy projects in Rhode Island," Carcieri said.
Posted by Tim Barmann at 10:35 AM
Performing arts in a neighborhood near you
This summer, the best seat in the house may be your front lawn.
The Department of Art, Culture and Tourism, the Parks Department and Mayor David Cicilline are set to announce the summer line-up for the 2008 Neighborhood Performing Arts Initiative.
The program brings singers, dancers, theater and other performing arts events to neighborhoods across the city.
At the 10:30 a.m. line-up announcement, the dance company JUMP! will perform live on stage at Dexter Training Grounds in the West End.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 10:09 AM
Projo blogs will get an upgrade Saturday
Saturday morning we’ll be upgrading the active projo blogs to a new version of the Movable Type software. All blogs will remain available during this process. Afterwards you’ll see a new look and some new features, and we’ll welcome your comments about them.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 7:41 AM
Alert: Unhealthy Air Quality; the buses are free
Temperatures are supposed to rise just a few degrees above average, but the Department of Environmental Management says today we’re going to have to deal with unhealthy air today.
The DEM is forecasting “unhealthy” air today in the eastern part of the state, and in the southern and coastal areas, because of high levels of ozone.
Providence, however, gets a “moderate” rating for today.
All buses and trolleys will be free for the day.
During “unhealthy” days, people may suffer from a host of health problems, including coughing, eye, nose and throat irritation and other respiratory problems.
Ozone, which forms near the surface when pollutants –– such as car exhaust and industrial emissions –– react with sunlight and sufficient heat.
DEM recommends limiting strenuous activity during the afternoon and early evening. And children, people with respiratory diseases –– such as asthma –– and people who work outside need to pay particular attention to their health because they may be more sensitive to ozone that the general population.
Check the air quality forecast on the DEM Web site.
Click below learn ways to stay healthy during high ozone days.
Limit driving. Avoid unnecessary car trips. Carpool, walk or ride the bus or a bicycle whenever possible.
Minimize starts and avoid unnecessary acceleration. Vehicle emissions are highest during starting and acceleration.
Reduce idling. Avoid congested traffic and lines at drive-through windows.
Drive your lowest emission vehicle. Use the most fuel-efficient, usually the newest, car you have whenever possible.
Refuel at stations, which have vapor recovery. Fill your tank at a station which is equipped with a Stage II vapor recovery system. Don't top off.
Maintain your vehicle. Get a tune-up at the beginning of each summer.
Minimize lawn mower emissions. Tune-up your lawn mower and use electric or hand powered equipment if possible.
Limit use of solvent-based household products. Use water-based or low solvent paints, varnishes, cleaners, and personal care products.
Limit barbecue emissions. Use an electric starter instead of lighter fluid to start charcoal fires, or use an electric, natural gas, or propane grill.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 7:20 AM
Reporter seeks tales of first haircut, last day at home
Staff Writer G. Wayne Miller is looking for candidates for two stories:
FIRST HAIRCUT. Miller seeks a toddler, girl or boy, who’s never had her or his hair cut. Miller and a staff photographer would join the child and parents on the day of the first cut.
LAST DAY AT HOME for a high school graduate who is heading off to college. A student leaving for a distant school is preferable, but not required; the only requirement is that the student will be living away from home. Miller and a staff photographer would be at the student’s home on the last day
If interested, please contact Miller at email@example.com
Posted by Peter Phipps at 7:17 AM
Today in history: Nazi saboteurs arrive by submarine
On this day in 1942, the FBI announced the capture of eight Nazi saboteurs who had been put ashore from a submarine on New York's Long Island.
Watch video about today in history.
Read more from today in history.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:02 AM
Guess what? Rain in the forecast
Will it ever end? Take a look at the abbreviated forecast from the National Weather Service:
Today we've got: a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Tonight we've got: a chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Saturday we've got: a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Saturday night we've got: a chance of showers and thunderstorms
Sunday we've got: a chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Sunday night we've got: likely showers and thunderstorms.
Monday we've got: a chance of showers and thunderstorms.
All with the possibility of hail, lightning strikes and gusty winds.
In any event, aside from the possible rain -- late this afternoon -- we'll see cloudy skies today with mild west winds and warm temperatures, headed toward 87 degrees.
Tonight, aside from the possible rain, expect to see some fog late tonight/early tomorrow morning. Temperatures should drop to about 67 degrees and we'll have calm, southwest winds.
Fog may continue into Saturday morning, and give way to cloudy skies. We'll have very calm east winds with temperatures reaching 85 degrees.
Saturday night may bring more storms and dense fog. Temperatures are expected to drop to 68 degrees with east winds.
Expect more fog and clouds Sunday, and add to that, south winds gusting up to 23 mph. Temperatures should hit the low 80s.
Sunday night looks cloudy, with temperatures dropping to about 68 degrees.
Back to Monday and we've got, of course, a chance of rain, and cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 80s.
If you really want to, you can take another look on projo.com's weather page at the weekend forecast.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 7:01 AM
Today's front page: A violent night in the Ocean State
Today's front page features coverage of a violent night in the Ocean State. Within a few hours late Wednesay night, three people were shot and killed in three different cities.
Download a copy of today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM
Projo blogs upgrade set for Saturday
Saturday morning we plan to upgrade the active projo blogs to a new version of the Movable Type software. All blogs will remain available during this process. Afterwards you’ll see a new look and some new features, and we’ll welcome your comments about them.
Posted by Sheila Lennon at 7:00 AM