Investigative Update

Shining spotlight on waste & corruption prompts further action
Editor’s note: The Hummel Report has new information and developments on a handful of previous investigations:

Living Free

In the summer of 2010 we found Angela Spadoni, an employee of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, living 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. 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; at that point the deductions will resume.

Chained In

In January we found fire exit doors chained at the Construction Career Academy charter school in Cranston. That prompted an immediate visit from a state trooper and fire marshal, who cited the school for two code violations. The head of the school told us they had begun using the chains to secure the broken doors at night. But undercover video showed the doors still locked after students had arrived for the school day.
The school was ordered to stop chaining the doors immediately. Within weeks brand new doors were installed, something officials said they had been planning to do for months.


Bad Timing

Last summer the beginning of construction on a state-of-the-art pavilion at East Matunuck State Beach right at height of the beach season raised the collective eyebrows of many beachgoers, who had to use port-o-johns and distant parking lots. But a warm winter has put construction crews ahead and the D.E.M. plans to open in May a $4 million environmentally-friendly pavilion that will generate its owns electricity and hot water.

Re(Calling) Mayor Flanagan

It looks like Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan may face the recall vote we first told you about right after his second inauguration in January after all.
Retired city firefighter Bob Camara and city resident 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.

A Fresh Start

Rehoboth Police Chief Stephen Enos has kept a low public profile since being forced out of his job a year ago. 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 since learned that Enos has applied for the chief’s job in Port St. Lucie, Florida – 1,400 miles from Rehoboth. It is 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.

Trash Talk

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.

More Trouble

We first introduced you to Fall River firefighter Michael 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 Coogan was working as an unlicensed contractor in Rhode Island – and did shoddy work to boot.
A state board agreed and fined Coogan tens 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 last month and pleaded not guilty.
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