A Hummel Report InvestigationThis week Jim Hummel has developments on half a dozen investigations, including one we first brought you nearly two years ago. From Block Island and East Matunuck to Fall River, Cranston, Bristol and Rehoboth - there are new details on some now-familiar targets of Hummel Report investigations.
We are back this week with our quarterly update - new information on a handful of our investigations. We begin with developments on a story we brought you nearly two years ago.
Hummel: ``I'm asking you, do you live in the caretaker's house?''
Spadoni: ``I'm saying I'm not talking to you.''
Hummel: ``Is that a yes or a no?''
In the summer of 2010 we tried to ask D.E.M. employee Angela Spadoni why she was getting to live rent-free in the caretaker's house at Colt State Park. Spadoni, the niece of a D.E.M. supervisor, hadn't paid rent for nearly a year and a half - even though she was supposed to. The state was also picking up thousands in oil and electric costs. A total of five people were disciplined after our investigation showed they'd dropped the ball.
Michael Sullivan, D.E.M.'s director at the time, ordered Spadoni to repay the state $9,568 and agreed to an installment plan. We've learned Spadoni has only paid back $5,923 of it. A D.E.M. spokeswoman says Spadoni was making the payments though through payroll deduction - but she went out on unpaid personal leave of absence last August, and the payments stopped. Spadoni's no longer living in the house and she has a year to return to her position as a semi-skilled laborer at Colt State Park, when the deductions will resume.
In January we got a tip that fire exit doors at a Cranston charter school were regularly being chained for part of the school day. Our story got some quick results.
A state fire marshal and state trooper visited the school after we alerted them to the practice, at the New England Laborer's Construction Career Academy off Pontiac Avenue.
The head of the school told us they had begun using the chains to secure the broken doors at night. But this undercover video showed the doors still locked after students had arrived for the school day.
The school was cited for two fired code violations and told to stop chaining the doors immediately. Within weeks these brand new doors were installed, something officials said they had been planning to do for months.
Last summer construction on a state-of-the art beach pavilion right at the height of the season, raised the eyebrows of a few beachgoers. Well now, that pavilion is almost ready to open.
This is what greeted visitors to East Matunuck State Beach last summer, cramped parking and port-o-johns because of no facilities, with construction crews just a few hundred feet from the sand. This is what they'll see this summer, as The Hummel Report got a sneak peak last week of the new $4 million pavilion - a state-of-the-art environmentally-friendly facility, complete with lifeguard tower.
The state also secured stimulus money to install solar panels that will provide hot water and electricity for the pavilion, There will also be ample shaded area for extra hot days, something they didn't have before. It should be completed by early May, in plenty of time for the beginning of the beach season.
Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan was sworn in for a second term three months ago. Next month it looks like he'll face the recall petition we reported on right after his inauguration.
Retired city firefighter Bob Camara, along with Dan Robillard ran into legal obstacles when they made their first attempt to start a recall petition in December. They are waiting the requisite 90 days after Flanagan's inauguration to begin the process at City Hall. Once approved, they'll have two weeks to secure signatures from 5 percent of the city's voters - about 2,400 people. If they get that, Mayor Flanagan would be the first in the city's history to face a recall vote.
Rehoboth Police Chief Stephen Enos has kept a low public profile since being forced out of his job a year ago. Well now we've learned that Enos has applied for another chief's position - 1,400 miles from Rehoboth.
After a series of Hummel Report investigations about Enos in early 2011 that helped cause a shakeup in town government, the new Board of Selectmen voted to put the chief on paid suspension last May. He never returned and his contract ran out in September.
Enos tried unsuccessfully to obtain a private investigator's license from the city council in East Providence, where he was an officer for 20 years. The Hummel Report has learned Enos applied to become chief of police in Port St. Lucie, Florida, a city of nearly 200,000 an hour north of West Palm Beach - and a world away from his troubles in Rehoboth. The motto of the department is Courage, Knowledge, Integrity.
The clerk there tells the Hummel Report Enos is one of about four dozen candidates for the position and a decision won't be made until later this spring.
Last fall we reported from Block Island about a trash-hauling controversy that wound up in court on the mainland. Now that lawsuit is moving forward.
South Kingstown businessman Mark Cullion went to court after the Block Island Town Council rejected his bid last fall to take over the trash-hauling contract from BIRM - the Block Island Recycling Management company - offering $157,000 more to the town for the service, but losing out on the contract anyway.
BIRM has tried to have the suit - first filed in Washington County Superior Court - dismissed.
The case has since moved to Providence, where a judge denied that motion, meaning the suit moves forward.
Finally, it seems we can't do an update without Fall River firefighter Michael Coogan making the cut. And this week is no different.
We introduced you to Coogan when he ran unsuccessfully for a Fall River state senate in 2010. But he was also facing allegations from a Barrington man who said he was working as an unlicensed contractor in Rhode Island - and did shoddy work to boot.
A state board agreed and fined Coogan 10s of thousands of dollars. But he has ignored the judgment. That resulted in the Rhode Island attorney general's office filing criminal charges. Coogan, who has since filed for bankruptcy, was arraigned earlier this month and pleaded not guilty. He's scheduled to be back in court April 2.
That's a wrap. We'll be back next week with a brand new Hummel Report investigation.