The Hummel Report

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As we round the corner toward the final few months of 2013  - there are new developments on a handful of our investigations. Topping the list: a story that Rhode Island's Speaker of the House can't seem to shake - Gordon Fox is facing another Ethics Commission investigation, while federal investigators are asking questions about some of the loans he did legal work for with a troubled city loan agency.

 

Click HERE to watch our report on the Risky Business conducted at the PEDP.

 

Click HERE to watch the PEDP's efforts of Mopping Up the "astounding" default rate Hummel exposed.

 

Click HERE to see how a Cranston business secured a Providence loan by using a Phantom Address.

 

Click HERE to watch Hummel ask Speaker Fox A Questions of Disclosure regarding his unreported income.

 

SCRIPT:

As we round the corner toward the final few months of 2013  - new developments on a handful of our investigations, beginning with a story that Rhode Island's Speaker of the House can't seem to shake.

Fox: ``I'm not going to comment on anything that's going to be looked at in terms of...''

Hummel: ``Well, how do you know it's being looked at?''

Fox: ``Because I was asked questions by an agency. How would I not know...Jim, c'mon...''

House Speaker Gordon Fox continues to be dogged by his work as closing attorney for the Providence Economic Development Partnership.

The Hummel Report has learned one of Fox's clients - Donna Mollo - was questioned by the FBI in August about the loan she received from the city agency. We reported a year ago Mollo used a phantom Providence address to secure a $4,000 loan for her Cranston construction business. The address she used: the same Providence office building where Fox's law practice is located and where she closed on the loan.

The FBI wanted to know, among other things, who told her to use the address. Fox said he has not been questioned by the FBI.

Last week former Providence resident Judith Reilly, who we interviewed for the Mollo story, filed a complaint against Fox with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission, saying he did not report five years' worth of legal work for the PEDP on his disclosure form.

This week the Ethics Commission voted to authorize an investigation into Reilly's complaint.

Several PEDP loan recipients complained to The Hummel Report about exorbitant legal fees. In one case a business received a $50,000 loan but had to pay 10 percent out of the proceeds in attorney's fees. Another business backed out after hearing how much those fees would be.

We have asked Fox for a full accounting of how much legal work he did for the city,  but so far he has ignored our requests.

The superintendent of the Portsmouth school department - who was reluctant to give up her out-of-state license plates decided over the summer: she'd had enough of Rhode Island.

The chairman of the School Committee billed it as a resignation - but it comes with a price tag for the town's taxpayers, as the district bought Lynn Krizic out of the last year of her contract..

The total tab: $176,782.96

Krizic - who had been at odds with the committee for months - had been granted a 30-day leave of absence before officially resigning July 31st.

The Hummel Report revealed in January that Krizic was still driving with Illinois vanity plates that she had arrived with in the summer of 2011 when she took the superintendent's job, despite being directed by the School Committee to have them changed.

Rhode island law says motorists have 30 days to change registration once they move here.

In our interview Krizic didn't seem to grasp the connection between the car tax in Rhode Island and her school department's budget.

Even after our story ran she refused to have her Saab registered here - until the Little Compton police stopped her on the way to work one day. Krizic then got the vehicle registered, but had to go to Traffic Court to have answer to the ticket.

The School Committee has appointed an interim until it can find a permanent replacement.

Last spring we told you about a multimillion upgrade to the bike path in Coventry that includes a controversial parallel horse trail. The project is heading toward the homestretch, but it's not quite there yet.

This is how a section of the Coventry Greenway looked when the town's Recreation Director gave us a tour in January. Some of those who were regulars on the bike path told the Hummel Report they were not pleased a 2 and 1/2-mile section was fenced off during the upgrade.

And plans for a parallel horse trail had raised more than a few eyebrows.

Now, nine months, this is how the path looks. It is largely finished, and while it is still officially closed, with the fencing down we found many people getting a jump start on the re-opening.

This is where the horse trail will begin, leading up onto the main bike path with an adjacent crushed stone path before branching off to the right as it goes west.

Officials say they are hoping to have the path completed and reopened by sometime next month. Meanwhile, work on Phase Two of the path, which will extend to west to the Connecticut line began over the summer.

 There may be a new harbormaster in the town of Bristol - but questions still linger about his predecessor - including the hard drive of an office computer that may have been wiped clean.

Marshall: ``Yeah, I'm guilty as charged. I have an agenda.''

Bristol resident Mike Marshall got the ball rolling after he raised questions about former longtime harbormaster Joe Cabral, who retired last fall amidst a growing controversy.

The day our story ran in May the town council appointed an outsider - Greg Marsili - to replace Cabral bypassing assistant harbormaster Matt Calouro, who is also Cabral's son-in-law.

Marshall pushed for an audit of the department for what he called financial irregularities. Town Administrator Antonio Teixeira says he has a computer expert trying to find out why the hard drive of the harbormaster's office computer appears to have been wiped clean.

Texiera also tells The Hummel Report he found four radios, which cost a total $7,000 sitting unopened in a box at the harbormaster's office.

The Hummel Report has learned that Calouro is considering legal action against the town but as of a last week no lawsuit had been filed.

And remember we rely on you for many of our story idea. If you have a tip send it to me, directly and confidentially at jim@hummelreport.com.