Hummel Report

The Hummel Report Quarterly Update

foxAs we round the corner toward the final few months of 2013, there are new developments on a handful of Hummel Report investigations.

Fox and the Feds – Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox continues to be dogged by his work as a closing attorney for the Providence Economic Development Partnership – a controversial taxpayer-funded business loan program that has come under federal scrutiny.

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 that Mollo used a phantom Providence address to secure a $4,000 loan for her Cranston construction business. The address she used was 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 month, 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. Late last month, 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 asked Fox for a full accounting of how much legal work he did for the city, but so far he has ignored our requests.

Plate-gate: The finale – The superintendent of the Portsmouth School Department – who was reluctant to give up her out-of-state license plates – decided over the summer that 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 Supt. Lynn Krizic out of the last year of her contract. The total tab was $176,782.96

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

The Hummel Report revealed in January that Krizic was still driving with Illinois vanity plates that she 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 answer to the ticket. The school committee appointed an interim until it can find a permanent replacement.

Happy trails – Last spring we discovered a multimillion dollar 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.

The Coventry Greenway is a popular place for bikers, walkers and roller bladers. Some of those who were regulars on the bike path told The Hummel Report they were not pleased that a 2-and-a-1/2-mile section was fenced off during the upgrade.

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

Now, 10 months later, the path 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. Officials say they hope to have the path completed and reopened later this month. Meanwhile, work on Phase Two of the path, which will extend west to the Connecticut line, began over the summer.

Troubled waters – Bristol may have gotten a new harbormaster over the summer, but controversy continues to plague the office after a computer expert found that the office desktop was wiped clean a day after the assistant harbormaster was passed over the for the job.

Matt Calouro was one of three candidates to replace his father-in-law and longtime harbormaster, Joe Cabral. On May 22, the town council instead appointed Greg Marsilli.

EastBayri.com reported that the next morning someone attempted to wipe clean various files from the harbormaster’s computer, “including payment vouchers, references to harbor management commission memos, references to harbormaster equipment, and video clips of inappropriate content — in other words, pornography.” Calouro no longer works for the town. 

The Hummel Report is a 501 3C non-profit organization. If you have a story idea or want to make a donation to the Hummel Report, go to www.hummelreport.org. Or mail Jim directly at jim@hummelreport.org.