The Hummel Report

Investigative Reports That Get Results

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This Just In

This week, Jim Hummel is back with our quarterly update: new information on a handful of Hummel Report investigations. From the Portsmouth school superintendent driving on out-of-state license plates for more than a year and the beleaguered Central Coventry Fire District - to the resignation of a local fire marshal and a great ending for a high school wrestler caught in bureaucratic red tape.

SCRIPT:

This week: major developments on a handful of our investigations - beginning with the Portsmouth school superintendent, who had refused to register car in Rhode Island - until we called her on it right before Christmas.

Hummel: ``You know the law in Rhode Island says 30 days?''

Krizic: ``You know someone did inform me of that, that I have 30 days once you move here. So yes, it's obviously something I have to take care of once the new year happens.''

In fact Portsmouth's School Superintendent, Lynn Krizic, had been told by her own School Committee more than a year ago she needed to switch out the Illinois vanity plates on her 2003 Saab and get registered in Rhode Island.

After we asked her about it in December, Krizic told us in a followup email several days later that because the car was jointly registered with her husband, who still lives in Illinois, she didn't plan to register in Rhode Island - something Krizic never mentioned in our interview.

That didn't fly with the police in Little Compton, where she lives. An officer stopped her on the way to work one day, issuing her a citation - and in February, after several trips to the Division of Motor Vehicles in Cranston, Krizic finally registered and got Rhode Island license plates - keeping a University of Illinois plate holder on her 2003 Saab.

But the superintendent was still required to appear last week before a magistrate in traffic court, where she produced the registration. The judge dismissed the charges but she had to pay $35 in court costs.

All of this - 20 months after Krizic took the job in Rhode Island.

Will the Central Coventry Fire District survive its financial problems - or dissolve and be merged into surrounding fire districts? It's a question that has been the subject of a hot debate going back to last fall when the district went into receivership.

Taxpayer: ``And you think the most efficient way is, on yeah, let's tax the people!''

Receiver: ``Sir, I'm going to ask you to calm down.''

Taxpayer: No, I won't...''

Tempers flared at another special meeting in February, where fire district voters ultimately rejected a budget that would have significantly increased their taxes.

That led court-appointed receiver Richard Land to tell the assembled crowd the district would not have enough money to operate and he had to begin making plans to dissolve it.

Bonn: `` I hope you're happy John; you got what you wanted John.''

That prompted District Board Chairman Joe Bonn - who was on the board as they district fell into debt - to start yelling at businessman John Asselone, a vocal critic of the department.

Police quickly moved in to help Assalone get out of the building.

This week, voters were back - more than 1,800 packing into Coventry High School to vote on a revised budget, with some spending cuts. But it still called for a 35 percent tax increase.

By the end of the night voters told the leaders of their financially-beleaguered fire district they'd had enough- rejecting the spending plan by a 3-1 to margin.

That leaves the district few options.

Land: ``Unfortunately with no budget being approved, there's no ability to raise any money from the taxpayers and we will run out of money very shortly. So the next step is to meet with the judge and develop the next stage. Frankly I can't tell you what that's going to be.''

And speaking of fire departments - Pawtucket's fire marshal called it quits in December - after we revealed that he had put his girlfriend's daughter on his Blue Cross family plan..

Hummel: ``I wanted to ask you about your health benefits and why you put your girlfriend's daughter on your family plan last year?''

We asked Fire Marshal Steve Parent about it as he arrived for work in December. Parent, a 25-year veteran of the department, said the city had given him permission to add his girlfriend's daughter to his Blue Cross family plan more than a year earlier because the couple had planned to get married.

But his explanation didn't sit well with Mayor Donald Grebien, who ordered a police investigation. While detectives decided no criminal charges were warranted, Parent decided to retire several weeks after our interview and left the department just before Christmas.

We've been hesitant to call it the final chapter in Central Falls tumultuous history over the past three years. But last month's sentencing by a federal judge of now-former Mayor Charles Moreau means we won't be hearing from him for at least the next two years.

Hummel: ``Mr. Moreau, your lawyer said this was a victimless crime.  Do you believe that; did you not hurt the people of Central Falls by standing her convicted today?

Moreau: ``I did hurt the people of Central Falls and the reputation of the city. And I apologized last time, I apologize again here...''

Moreau, who had been under state and federal investigation since our story three years ago revealed that he'd gotten a free furnace from a contractor. Moreau finally admitted his guilt in September.

The former mayor reported to begin serving a two-year sentence in federal prison in Maryland earlier this month.

Finally - a great ending for a high school wrestler - who got caught in a bureaucratic tussle last year that cost him an entire year on the mat.

Our story prompted the Rhode Island Interscholastic League to hold an emergency hearing and grant a waiver for Xavier Lopez and Jonas Xiong to go back and wrestle for Hope High School, where they'd been members of the team before transferring to a specialized charter school for nursing.

Before we got involved the two were not allowed to compete

But the waiver didn't come until the very end of the season, costing them their entire junior year.

This year, Lopez bounced back - as co-captain leading the Hope Blue Wave to a strong showing in its division. Lopez placed third in the state for his weight class at February's Divisional meet at Ponagansett High School and made  first team all-division.

And remember many of our investigations begin with you. We'll be back next week with a brand new Hummel Report investigation.