Rounding the Corner
As we head into the final three months of 2014, Jim Hummel has significant developments on a handful of investigations - all included in our quarterly roundup. From a controversial firing at the University of Rhode Island that has caught the attention of the FBI, to an ousted police chief returning to familiar territory to ask for a private detective’s license. Plus a preview of our coverage during the upcoming homestretch to Election Day.
As we round the corner into the final three months of 2014, and the heart of another election season, there are several significant updates on a handful of our investigations - beginning with our two-part series on the University of Rhode Island last spring that now has the attention of the FBI.
Our story profiled Andrews Winters, a veteran URI employee working with the Lesbian, Gay and Transgender community on campus. Winters quickly fell out of favor with David Dooley when he became URI’s 11th president in 2010. Within a year Winters found himself out of a job, after the head of human resources forced him into what Winters called a coerced agreement. And the university spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rid of him.
Winters: ``Handed me an unsigned, undated, not on university letterhead, list of seven things they were going to offer me for my immediate retirement. And the stipulation that I not tell anybody was hanging in the background.’’
Dooley has refused to discuss the case with us our anyone else who has approached him. But he may have no choice now as The Hummel Report learned the FBI opened an investigation after our story ran.
Board of Education chairwoman Eva Marie Mancuso, who also would not discuss the case on camera with us, did respond to our recent email saying she has not been contacted by the feds. Dooley did not respond to us…again.
In June we reported on a charitable trust designed specifically to help ``poor and unfortunate’’ residents in Barrington. Our story helped free up several thousand dollars for a woman who seemed to fit that description but had been denied funding, despite millions sitting in the bank.
The Spencer Trust had operated largely out of public view until recently, when the town council came under fire for using large chunks of the multi-million fund on affordable housing projects, when a woman who needed money for an emergency hookup to the Bristol County Water Authority was denied, even though her well had run dry. The town planner - the town’s point person for the fund - told her at the time there were more pressing needs, even though hundreds of thousands of dollars were available
After our story ran, the town manager and planner met with Gary Morse, a vocal critic who had advocated for her and they reversed course, giving her a total of $3,500 from the trust to pay for the hookup.
Former Rehoboth Police Chief Stephen Enos - who lost his job three years ago, was back East Providence this month - a city where he spent 20 years on the police department before going to Rehoboth. Enos was asking the council for private detective’s license.
Enos was forced out of his job in 2011 after a series of our reports, beginning with an incident in later 2010. Enos was at a party at this restaurant in East Providence. He later admitted to mixing alcohol and prescription drugs and was found lying in a nearby driveway screaming ``Kill me.’’
The selectmen at first brushed it off, calling it an error in judgment, and did not discipline him. But public pressure after a series of follow up stories forced their hand and an election in April of 2011 cost the chairman of the Selectman, and strong Enos backer, Ken Foley the race.
Enos, who listed his address as his mother’s house in Riverside , told the council he had been doing some work for a private investigator and wanted to formalize it with a license. The council, without discussion, unanimously rejected his request.
Just down the road in East Providence a homeowner continues to defy the city’s order to stop blocking a right of way to the water next to her house. That defiance has earned her a date in court next month.
Tabitha Glavin insists this strip of land adjacent to her property at 61 White Avenue leading to the water is hers. The city says there is no proof of that and Glavin was unsuccessful proving her case in Superior Court. Since then the city has repeatedly told her not to obstruct the right away, and took down taking the fence that had stood there for years.
Over the summer, Glavin she planted flowers and put in a small removable dog fence. City workers took that down and she put them back in. Now Glavin will have to answer to a municipal court judge on Oct, 9, where she faces up to $1,000 in fines for every week she defied the order.
Finally, Providence City Council President Michael Solomon was the front runner in the mayor’s race for months - until our story about a business loan he still owed the city 27 years after it was first issued.
Solomon: ``We are paying our mortgage. We are paying our loan off.’’
That was Solomon when we questioned him in July about a $500,000 loan from the city of Providence he and several partners took out in 1987 for this condominium project on Westminster Street. Twenty-seven years later they still owe more than $400,000 - even though Solomon poured more than $300,000 of his own money into his campaign to succeed Angel Taveras a mayor.
That bid came to an abrupt end on Primary Day, when Solomon lost to Democratic challenger Jorge Elorza.
Join us next month for a series of stories we’re planning leading up to Election day - including in-depth profiles on the candidates for governor, and a closer look at whether voters should authorize a constitutional convention that would be the first in 30 years. Jim Hummel for The Hummel Report.