Ring in the New...
As we get ready to ring in 2014, The Hummel Report takes a look back at a handful of our investigations that have new information. From a shakeup at East Providence City Hall and the opening of a blocked right of way, to the results of a special recall election and a state employee finally making good on restitution ordered in 2010.
It's hard to believe another year has gone by - but as we go into our fifth year of The Hummel Report in 2014 important developments on some of our investigation. Including some good news on the three wind turbines in Providence.
We were there a year ago when the Narragansett Bay Commission turbines first began spinning. The commission says the turbines are now providing 42 percent of the energy used by the plant, just about what planners had estimated. During windy months it has been more than 50 percent.
That translates to about a million dollars saved on electricity costs for the first year.
The turbines are still not running at full capacity because of a phased startup. The commission expects to be at full capacity shortly after the new year.
It has taken nearly five years, but a fence blocking a right of way to the water in East Providence has finally come down - despite threats after our story ran to sue us and the people who spoke out against it.
Retired Providence Police Officer Tabitha Glavin bought this house at 61 White Avenue in Riverside in 2009 - within months she had put up two fences, blocking a city-owned right of way to Crescent Beach below her property.
In our story two neighbors said they had complained to the city for years with no action. Glavin, through her lawyer, claimed there was no proof the city owned the land in question, adding that she had a deal to keep the fences up. Her lawyer repeatedly threatened to sue us - and the two neighbors who spoke with us - after our story ran.
But there was no agreement and this fall the city forced Glavin to take down the fence near the road. The back fence remains up because of safety concerns over a steep drop to the water.
There was also a shakeup at East Providence City Hall several months after we tried to find out how a resident's social security number wound up on a city website.
Joann Durfee has been a longtime vocal critic of the Pond View Recycling operation across the water from her home in Rumford. She was shocked to find her social security number wind up on a city website after she had complained about Pond View in a police report one weekend in July.
Durfee filed a claim with the city in October asking for $75,000. She also asked for an explanation about how it happened and for a change in Police Department policy on use of social security numbers.
The city has not responded, so this week her attorney filed a lawsuit in federal court.
Hummel: ``Why can't you answer the question?''
Meanwhile City Manager Peter Graczykowski, who repeatedly refused to answer our questions about Durfee, found himself out of a job when the city council voted to remove him from his position in November. Our story was one of many issues the embattled city manager had faced during his stormy tenure in the corner office at City Hall.
In the summer of 2010 we found a DEM employee living rent free in a state-owned house at Colt State Park. She was ordered to repay nearly $10,000. It's taken more than three years, but the bill is almost paid off.
Hummel: ``I'm asking you, do you live in the caretaker's house?''
Spadoni: ``I'm not talking to you.''
Hummel: ``Is that a yes or a no?''
Angela Spadoni didn't want to talk with us, her but DEM Director at the time, Michael Sullivan did, ordering Spadoni, whose uncle is a DEM supervisor, to repay more than $9,500 for back rent and utilities over a 15-month span.
Five DEM employees and supervisors were also disciplined at the time as a result of our investigation.
Spadoni has been reimbursing the state through payroll deduction and is on track to have the debt fully paid off in late February.
Meanwhile she was transferred last year to a job at DEM headquarters in Providence, sources say as a result of a new policy prohibiting employees from working directly for relatives.
Finally, we first brought you a gun-registration controversy in Exeter that led to a recall petition of four town council members. Now the results of the election are in.
This meeting at an elementary school in Exeter last March set in motion the recall effort of four town council members who favored having gun-permitting authority transferred from local officials to the attorney general's office.
Edwards: ``I'll be taking names of volunteers for the next election to go door-to-door to make sure that these people do not get back in office again.''
Lance Edwards led the charge that night and the subsequent recall campaign.
But voters ultimately rejected the effort, as all four council member retained their seats by a 2-to-1 margin. Thirty-seven percent of the town's eligible voters turned out on a snowy December Saturday to cast their ballots - more than double the usual numbers in an off-year election.
We hope you have a great holiday season and a great New Year. And remember - keep your story suggestions and tips throughout 2014.