A Hummel Report InvestigationThis week we have new information on half a dozen of our investigations: From parking and passenger numbers at the new Wickford Junction commuter rail station - to the Providence Police response to our investigation showing 15 registered sex offenders living within 300 feet of city schools. And we discover that while The Hummel Report was investigating an embattled police chief last year, he was trying to get the FBI to investigate Jim Hummel.
With the midpoint of 2012 right around the corner, we have some new information this week on several of our investigations - starting with what has happened since the April opening of the commuter rail station at Wickford Junction.
The $44-million project opened with great fanfare in April, providing commuter rail service to Warwick, Providence and ultimately Boston. D.O.T. Director Michael Lewis told us 1,500 people are projected to use the service daily by 2020, and the state built a $25 million, 1,100 car parking garage to accommodate them.
Lewis said it will take time to build ridership. Meanwhile, the state is paying more $56,000 a month to have a private company operate the garage, banking on parking revenues to eventually offset those costs.
D.O.T. tells us the average daily ridership for June was 139 people, up from the 119 riders in May, a 17 percent increase.
The department also tells us 60 to 70 of those riders are paying $4 per day to park their cars in the garage. That's about $5,500 a month so far.
D.O.T. says the ridership numbers are quote: ``a positive move in the right direction.''
In February our investigation showed the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management had been slow to take punitive action against a metals recycling company in Providence. Last month it finally happened.
D.E.M has visited Rhode Island Recycled Metals numerous times over the past several years - ordering it to make changes, which the company has largely ignored. In May the state fined the company more than $46,000 and ordered the business to stop taking in new materials.
It also ordered the company - within 60 days - to remove all scrap metal, engines and vehicles and to start dismantling the Russian Sub, which is what Rhode Island Recycled Metals said it initially planned to do in 2009 when it got a permit from the state.
But the company is fighting D.E.M.'s order - which means it can continue to operate pending the appeal. And this was how it looked from Allens Avenue on Tuesday: business as usual.
It's been more than a year since embattled Rehoboth Police Chief Stephen Enos was booted from his job. Now we learn that when The Hummel Report was investigating Enos, the chief was trying to get the FBI to investigate us.
In March of 2011 we reported that Enos was spending large parts of every work day at his girlfriend's apartment in Pawtucket, after we followed him for more than a month. The chief would usually leave early for the station, but be gone by noon.
On the same day our story ran, Enos contacted an FBI agent in Lakeville, Massachusetts, according to heavily redacted FBI documents obtained by the Hummel Report. He told the agent we had quote ``been following him around and harassing him.'' Enos said he believed a former councilman in town and critic of the chief's had been paying the Hummel Report to investigate Enos and to do stories about him - directing the agent to our website.
The FBI found no merit to Enos's complaint, one of many he filed with the feds during his three tumultuous years as chief.
We've also learned Enos, who applied to be chief in Port. St. Lucie , Florida, didn't make the cut of finalists.
In March we heard from an Exeter man who discovered his EZ pass transponder had extra charges on it and he wanted to know why. That triggered an investigation and this week we have the results of what they found.
Lance Edward's first bill had a charge from the Mass Pike even before he received the transponder he'd ordered from ACS in New Jersey. Turns out the company was not packing some of the devices it shipped in a Mylar protective bag designed to keep it from being read at toll booths in transit. And it turns out Edwards wasn't alone.
Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Director David Darlington ordered all of its transponder accounts reviewed, finding that 526 had been improperly charged a total of $2,430. That's an average of $4.61 cents per account, all of which has been refunded.
The agency has since fired ACS and is now shipping transponders from its headquarters in Jamestown.
Back in April the results of a three-month investigation showed that 15 registered sex offenders were living 300 feet or closer to public or private schools in Providence - and that's illegal. So what did the police have to say?
Major Keith Tucker, who oversees the department's sex offender unit tells us his officers went out to talk with each of the registered sex offenders we found within the 300-foot limit mandated by state law.
The police reminded the offenders about the law - and have given them 30 days to leave their houses or apartments - or face arrest.
Finally, the saga of a former state senate candidate from Fall River moved to a courtroom in Rhode Island.
Michael Coogan, the former president of the Fall River Firefighters union Department and briefly the interim chief, insists he never did work on the Barrington home of John Angelo, even though Coogan signed a contract on his company's letterhead.
Coogan repeatedly ignored the Rhode Island's Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board final order of a $20,000 civil fine and $18,335 in restitution to Angelo.
The Rhode Island attorney general's office charged him with two criminal misdemeanor counts. Coogan opted to take it to trial. After hearing two days of testimony, a District Court judge found him guilty. Coogan - who has also filed for bankruptcy - is appealing his conviction to Superior Court.
And if you have a story you'd like us to investigate send an email directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org