Police Log: Snowbank DUI, Identity Theft, Warrants

 

By Bethany Hashaway

Tuesday, Jan. 2

10 a.m. – The Rhode Island State Police had arrested a Wyoming woman, 53, on an EGPD warrant. EGPD picked her up; she was arraigned before a bail commissioner and held without bail. She was turned over to the ACI.

6 p.m. – A Cora street resident told police that in September 2017, he got a letter from Cash Central telling him he owed $11,777.50 from a loan. The original loan was for $3,000. He contacted the company to report the fraud, telling them he hadn’t taken out this loan and didn’t know who would have his personal information. The company told him to report this to the police for the misuse of his identify.

Wednesday, Jan. 3

9:48 a.m. – An East Greenwich man told police that on Jan. 2, he received a call at 2:30 p.m. from a man with what sounded like a Middle Eastern accent. The man, who didn’t identify himself, said he was with Visa credit card and they could offer him zero percent on his Visa credit card. The EG man told police he gave the caller the last four digits of his social security and the last four digits on his credit card. After he gave the caller those figures, he started thinking it was a scam and told the man he wasn’t interested. The Visa person was nice about it and told him he would delete his information. The EG man told police he cancelled his credit card and was worried his identity may have been stolen.

5:20 p.m. – Police were called to the McDonald’s parking lot at 1000 Division St., for the report an hit and run accident. When police arrived they found a blue Toyota 4 Runner in the parking lot. The driver told police she was traveling northbound in the parking lot when another car backed out of parking spot and hit the rear driver’s side of her car. She told police the other driver begged her not to call police because he would be in trouble, that he would just pay her. When he learned the police were called he told her that he had to go and left. Police did checks on the other driver involved and checks showed that the car’s registration was suspended. Police issued a warrant for the driver.

Saturday, Jan. 6

9:30 a.m. – Police arrested an East Greenwich man, 66, at his home on a Third District Court warrant. The man was taken into custody and transported to EGPD for processing. Later he was transported to the ACI.

Sunday, Jan.7

8:03 p.m. – Police arrested an Attleboro man, 66, for driving while intoxicated after police noticed a car stuck in the snow near Sanctuary Drive. The driver of the car was standing outside of the car. Police talked to the driver, whose speech was mumbled. The man was also having a hard time staying balanced. When police asked him what happened, he told police he’d lost control as he came out of Sanctuary Drive and ended up in the snow bank. The man smelled of alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot. After the man failed field sobriety tests, he was taken into custody and transported to EGPD for processing. While at the police station, the man refused to take a blood alcohol test so he was issued a District Court summons on the DUI charge and a state Traffic Tribunal summons for refusing to take a chemical blood alcohol test, as well a violation for driving on an expired license and a suspended registration, after he was released to a friend.

Gill E. Thorpe, 86

Gill E. Thorpe, 86, of Wood River Junction, died Sunday, Jan. 14, at South County Hospital. Formerly of East Greenwich and Wickford, he was the beloved husband of Nancy (Aldrich) Thorpe.

Born in Providence, he was the son of the late Walter and Nora (Gill) Thorpe. Founded by his father, Gill was the pharmacist and owner of Thorpe’s Pharmacy in East Greenwich, with locations in Providence, Riverside and Warwick as well. He was also one of the founders of the East Greenwich Rotary Club in 1963. Gill was very active in various other community organizations throughout his life.

A true outdoorsman, Gill loved being on the water, especially racing sailboats, fishing, and cruising Narragansett Bay. Above all, Gill lived for time spent with his family.

Aside from his wife, he is survived by two daughters: Janet Thorpe and Susan T. Waterman, both of Wood River Junction; two grandsons: Richard R. Waterman, Jr. and Samuel T. Waterman; three granddaughters: Tyler A. Thorpe, Courtney E. Thorpe, and Allison G. Thorpe; and one sister: Nancy Widergren of Westerly. He is predeceased by his son: Richard E. Thorpe. He will be deeply missed by his loving family.

A private service will be held.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to Hope Hospice & Palliative Care Rhode Island, 1085 North Main St., Providence, R.I. 02904; South County Hospital and Home Health Care, 100 Kenyon Avenue, Wakefield, R.I., 02879; or your favorite charity.

Visit the online obituary at the Carpenter-Jenks Funeral Home website here.

School Committee Considers Audit as First Step Against Council

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

At the School Committee meeting Tuesday (1/9/18), members dipped their toes into legal waters, deciding to draft a request for proposal (RFP) for a dual audit of both finances and program to prepare for what could be another tough budget year for the schools. The Town Council level-funded the schools this year, while providing some money to help pay for non-educational expenses.

The audit would be the first step toward invoking the Caruolo Act (R.I. General Law 16-2-21.4), in which a school committee brings suit against a town council (or whoever holds the budgetary purse strings) if it determines the approved budget appropriation – together with state education aid and federal aid – is not enough to carry out its contractual commitments, as well as basic mandates under state and federal law and regulations.

Schools lawyer Matt Oliverio suggested that the School Committee consider undertaking the audit.

“I’ve been having some discussions with Supt. Mercurio and Ms. Mark that really started after last year’s budget cycle closed, in light of what the School Committee had requested and the fact that the Town Council had for the most part level-funded the school department. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for any of us,” he said. “I’m not suggesting we get in an adversarial relationship with the council but I think we should be proactive and consider undertaking a programmatic and financial audit.”

He added, “I thought it would be prudent to at least open the discussion about undertaking what is contemplated under the Caruolo Act but is really a pre-Caruolo action.”

The audit would give the School Committee hard evidence to take to the Town Council, Oliverio said. But not just the Town Council.

“If you go through another budget cycle like you did last year, I’m assuming there’s going to be significant hurt to programs, to extracurriculars.”

“It gives the public an indication of what are we willing to pay to fund this level of curriculum and extracurricular activity,” he said. “If you go through another budget cycle like you did last year, I’m assuming there’s going to be significant hurt to programs, to extracurriculars.”

But the audit comes at a cost, both financially and time-wise. Oliverio estimated such an audit – which would involve both an accountant and an outside school administer or former administrator – would cost upwards of $50,000. And it would take a lot of Supt. Victor Mercurio’s time, he said.

“Even thought he’s not going to be doing the audit, he will be supporting it and it’s gonna be a time drain on him,” Oliverio said. “You should understand that. It is a pretty intense process. it’s a time consuming process.”

“What kills me is the prospect of spending a significant amount of money to figure out  what minimum looks like,” said Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Mark. “I feel like we shouldn’t even be having this conversation in this district. At the same time, I think we have to be realistic about the situation that we’re in. If we’re ultimately going to have to it anyway, I’d rather do it sooner than later.”

We don’t know if we will have to do this, Oliverio replied. “We’re just speculating…. But we can’t put our heads in the sand. That’s why I’m raising it now.”

Jeff Dronzek asked if it was necessary to do both a financial and a programmatic audit since so the school district’s financials had been explored extensively just last year (by Providence Analytics, made up of the two consultants who are now the town manager, Gayle Corrigan, and the finance director for the schools and town, Linda Dykeman).

“It really is different,” responded Dykeman. “They’re looking at it through a different lens, they really are. You’re not going to be served if you do half the project. If you’re going to do it, you need both in my opinion.”

School Committeewoman Lori McEwen agreed.

“That different lens would be looking at alignment between the programmatic and the fiscal, looking at return on investment, at waste. . . . ”

Committeewoman Mary Ellen Winters said she thought the district should ask the Town Council to pay for the audit.

“I don’t see why they wouldn’t,” she said, since it would be “for the schools, which is for the town.”

Committeeman Jeff Dronzek agreed that the committee should push the council to pay for the audit, but he said, “if we think this is important, then we should do it.”

He added, “It sure would be nice for all of us if we had [this] information at our fingertips. If we need more and it’s proven by this … then we really have something.”

Chairwoman Mark asked Supt. Mercurio to have a draft RFP for the audit at the committee’s next meeting, Jan. 23.

To watch video of this part of the meeting, click here. This story was amended since it was first posted.

AG Finds Council Violated Open Meetings Act in June, August

The latest violations bring to 7 the number of times the Town Council violated the OMA in a 60-day span last summer.

The state Attorney General office ruled Friday that the Town Council violated the Open Meetings Act in June and again in August, which brings the count to seven OMA violations since June.

One violation was for insufficient notice for the June 26 Town Council meeting, and another for a insufficient agenda item for their Aug. 28 meeting. 

Former town employees Pam Aveyard and Sharon Kitchin brought the complaint about the June 26 meeting. The agenda for the June 26 executive session included discussion of “collective bargaining or litigation,” but according to minutes from that session (not made public), the council discussed a restructuring plan that included layoffs of municipal employees which was not on the agenda. Four days after the meeting, on June 30, Aveyard, Kitchin and a third employee, then-Finance Director Kristen Benoit, were laid off. Aveyard and Benoit have since filed suit for wrongful termination.

Michael Walker of Berkshire Advisors at the Town Council meeting Aug. 28 where he gave a report that was not included on the agenda.

East Greenwich News and resident David Caldwell brought the second complaint, after the Town Council failed to include mention of a report on the agenda for its meeting Aug. 28. The report was on the past two firefighter collective bargaining agreements and was presented by an out-of-state consultant.

“The decisions by the Attorney General’s office are very concerning. I raised those concerns at the meeting back in June,” said Councilman Mark Schwager, the only Democrat on the council and the lone voice of dissent over how the council has been conducting business this term. “It’s not just good government to do those changes correctly – it’s also the law.”

Council President Sue Cienki did not respond to requests for comment.

The latest violations follow five violations found by Superior Court Judge Susan McGuirl in her ruling in November. In her ruling, McGuirl said those violations were “willful and knowing.” The Attorney General’s office did not find either of the most recent violations willful and knowing.

“It’s surprising that the Attorney General’s office did not find a knowing and willful violation of the Open Meetings Act when the Superior Court, facing almost identical allegations, did find the violations to meet that standard,”said John Marion of Common Cause.

Complainant Caldwell agreed.

“Given the Town Council’s brazen conduct, Judge McGuirl found five ‘willful and knowing’ violations – including two alleged in my complaint,” he said in a statement released Saturday.

The Attorney General’s office did not find violations with four other OMA complaints – all involving accusations of illegal meetings.

Three revolved around the Town Council meeting June 5. Aveyard alleged three council members met at the end of the June 5 meeting and that the members met again in the parking lot that same night. Kitchin also accused the council of meeting behind closed doors “well after” the June 5 meeting.

In response to those complaints, the Attorney General’s office said it found no violation because “the evidence fails to establish that a quorum of Town Council members collectively discussed or acted upon any matter within their supervision, jurisdiction, control, or advisory power.”

In other words, members can meet but it’s only a violation if it can be proved that they discussed official council matters.

The Attorney General’s also rejected a second complaint from David Caldwell, in which he alleged an illegal rolling quorum on Aug. 23, when three Town Council members – President Cienki, Vice President Sean Todd, and Councilman Andy Deutsch – met at Town Hall after recently-laid off employee Laurie Perry of the finance department had come in to collect her belongings, upsetting Finance Director Linda Dykeman, who accused her of taking more than her personal belongings and called police, who issued Perry a No Trespass order for the non-public area of the finance department.

The three members acknowledged they were all at Town Hall at the same time but said they did not meet together and that they were each, individually, discussing the situation with Town Manager Corrigan.

“Based on the evidence presented, we cannot find that a collective discussion between or among Town Council members occurred and, accordingly, do not find a rolling or walking quorum.

Caldwell said he was disappointed with that ruling.

“That’s a pretty impossible standard – how can a complainant have evidence about a secret meeting only attended by government officials?” he said.

Of the four complaints that were not found to be violations, Common Cause’s Marion said,  “Those can be difficult to prove without a record of what was discussed, such as an email chain. They come down to weighing the word of the complainant versus the word of the public body.”

 

This Week in EG: MLK Day Holiday, Planning Board, Poetry Slam

A weekly article that lists happenings in East Greenwich and nearby. If you have something you’d like to add, send your information to egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

Monday, Jan. 15

Martin Luther King Jr. Day – A national holiday so schools, government offices and many banks are closed. Trash pickup is delayed one day this week.

Want to Help EG Schools Raise Money? The School Committee is establishing an ad hoc committee to “create, review, and implement revenue generating opportunities” for EG schools. They are looking for up to eight parents or guardians to volunteer for the panel. Read the committee’s charge here. If you are interested, contact Supt. Victor Mercurio (vmercurio@egsd.net) by Jan 17.

Tuesday, Jan. 16

Municipal Land Trust meetingOn the agenda is discussion of a ground-mounted solar panel project at Boesch Farm. The panel meets in Council Chambers at Town Hall. 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 17

Lunch on the Hill – If you are looking for some good food and company, stop by the dining room at St. Luke’s Church on Peirce Street where you will find both. A free lunch is offered every week, sponsored by various local churches and restaurants – a different church-restaurant combination each week.From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Planning Board meeting – On the agenda, the panel will again review the Coggeshall Preserve condo development proposed for 52 So. Pierce Road. The board meets in Council Chambers at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 18

Poetry Slam! – A new group known as the Library Lions is holding this poetry event, where people who attend may read their own poetry or a favorite poem written by someone else, or just listen. The Library Lions formed in response to the lack of a librarian and subsequent closing of the library at EGHS. The event is free, open to all, and will be held at the Westminster Unitarian Church, 119 Kenyon Avenue, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 20

Community Pancake Breakfast – The EG Democratic Town Committee is hosting a pancake breakfast in the dining room at St. Luke’s Church, 9 to 11 a.m. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Sec. of State Nellie Gorbea are scheduled to attend. Click here for more information.

First Ladies’ Fashions – From Martha Washington to Melania Trump, the styles worn by our presidents’ wives have fascinated Americans. Join us on Saturday, Jan. 20, when the Friends of the East Greenwich Library present “First Ladies’ Fashions.” Clothing historian Karen Antonowitz will examine the fashions worn by our first ladies, from Martha to Melania – those who changed contemporary fashion, followed it or had no effect on it at all. In this illustrated program she will explain how the fashions worn by first ladies reflected our society and the history of the time. The program begins at 1 p.m. at the East Greenwich Free Library at 87 Peirce Street. Light refreshments will be served.

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is OFF this week.

Register for email updates from the town – Sign up through the town’s Notify Me system and you can receive anything from a weekly email listing meetings and events to targeted emails about specific boards and commissions you are interested in. In addition, you will be notified in case of emergencies (i.e. parking bans, other important information). Click here to get started. And, for those who signed up before August, revisit the link if you have specific topics about which you’d like more information.

Photo: Skating in front of Eldredge Field circa 1970s. The EGFD used to flood the field in the winter to create an ice rink. Photo courtesy of Bruce Mastracchio. Photographer unknown.

Celebrating Martin

By Bob Houghtaling

As we take a moment to reflect upon the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I think it is imperative to recognize that his work is not done. Let us hope that America will continue to pursue fairness for all. Sometimes such things get lost when our fear takes over.

Rise Again

Verdant sprouts arise again
Despite all attempts to mow
Selma’s bridge is beneath the blade
Despite being crossed years ago
Rise up, let’s rise again
We need to hear a voice
Claiming love for fellow men
That Heaven will rejoice

Change has come so slowly
There is much left to do
Memphis handed us the baton
Our Reverend cared for me and you
March on, let’s march again
Joined all arm in arm
God bless this land of ours
It’s time to be alarmed

With love for our neighbors
We understand their fears
There is no need for hatred
Let’s share each other’s tears
For ignorance is our enemy
Along with exclusion and greed
A call goes to rise again
With hope our constant seed

Bob Houghtaling is the East Greenwich substance abuse counselor.

Photo: In 1965, John Lewis with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leads a march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to protest the denial of voting rights to African Americans. (Steve Schapiro)

 

Ethics Investigation: Cienki Says Council, Not Corrigan, Hired Dykeman

Town Charter and testimony from Councilman Todd paint different picture.

Town Council President Sue Cienki, center, at the Town Council meeting Jan. 8.

Town Council President Sue Cienki said Wednesday the Town Council would be “cooperating fully” with the investigation into Town Manager Gayle Corrigan’s role in the hiring her business associate Linda Dykeman as town finance director. This follows the decision Tuesday by the state Ethics Commission to investigate a complaint against Corrigan that argued her role in the hire violated state law.

Cienki issued this statement about Ethics Commission decision:

“Per the Town Charter, the Town’s finance director is appointed by the Town Council, not the town manager. The Council hired Linda Dykeman because of her certifications, qualifications, and school and municipal finance experience. She was hired in an open, transparent process, and was also working for the EG School Department prior to becoming a Town employee. It was the Council’s decision to hire Ms. Dykeman, not Ms. Corrigan’s. The ethics complaint is in the preliminary stages and the process will unfold according to the Commission’s rules. We look forward to cooperating fully with the investigation.”

The Town Charter phrases the role of the town manager differently, stating the finance director “shall be appointed by the Town Manager with the approval of the Town Council.”

Vice President Sean Todd also had a slightly different take on the issue in his testimony during the Firefighters and James Perry versus the Town of East Greenwich trial in October in Superior Court.

In the trial transcript, lawyer for the firefighters and James Perry, Elizabeth Wiens, asked Todd about if Corrigan suggested Dykeman for the finance director position at a meeting June 26, after she told them she would be making staff changes. (According to the transcript, it’s not clear if the council voted on individual terminations and hires or if it just voted for the so-called “One Town” consolidation plan. No minutes were taken during that June 26 executive session.)

From the court transcript:

Wiens: And Ms. Corrigan, at that meeting, did she suggest that her partner — her business partner, Linda Dykeman, be appointed Finance Director?

Todd:  I believe we were consolidating finance and she was the recommendation for the role.

Wiens: Who recommended her?

Todd: The person that put the One Town plan together, Ms. Corrigan.

And,

Wiens: She’s now the Town Manager. Linda Dykeman also worked for Providence Analytics. She is now the Finance Director. You didn’t see a problem with that?

Todd: I didn’t think there was anybody better to implement the plan than the people that put the plan together.

Wiens: Did you discuss putting the jobs out to bid?

Todd: Again, these are like issues that happened within the Town Hall that – we’re an advisory board. We are not making personnel decisions of individuals.

Wiens: Did you have a discussion about putting the matter out for bid?

Todd: I’m not recalling.

Wiens: Or offering it to one of the laid off employees?

Todd: No. I don’t remember.

Wiens: Or posting it?

Todd: We may have; we may not have. I’m not recalling.

The Ethics Commission has 180 days to investigate the complaint.

Fire Chief Says Firefighters Are Professional

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Acting Fire Chief Christopher Olsen appeared before the Town Council Monday night to answer questions about the department’s oldest fire engine, which is in need of costly repairs and is slated to be disposed. But Olsen took a minute to praise the East Greenwich firefighters.

“These firefighters did a great job in this past storm. I just wanted to put it out there and I’m very proud of this department. I’m also very proud of the fact that these firefighters that we have are very professional. I just want you to know that,” he said to the council. Then he turned toward the audience behind him. “And I want the people out there to know their fire department, their firefighters, are professional. I just wanted to let you know that as well.”

The words were notable in and of themselves because of the relentless negativity coming from town officials toward the firefighters in recent months.

But it was particularly striking in comparison to his words to the council just a month earlier, when he outlined what he saw as deficiencies in the department and cited the firefighters “lack of professionalism,” during a report that lasted nearly 90 minutes.

Asked about his apparent change of heart after the meeting, Olsen said he’d gotten to see more of the firefighters’ work in the last month.

“It’s different talking to the firefighters, watching them do their job,” he said. “I wanted to let the community know they have an excellent fire department. No one in this town needs to worry.”

Olsen added that his last day will be Monday, Jan. 22.

It’s unclear who will be following Olsen as acting fire chief or the plan to hire a full-time replacement. Through Chief of Staff Michaela Antunes, Town Manager Gayle Corrigan said Wednesday Olsen would be on the job until a new acting chief is named and that a successor had not yet been recommended to the council.

The Town Council meets next on Jan. 22.

Police Log: Stolen Wheels, Stolen Plates, Stolen Purse

By Bethany Hashaway

Tuesday, Dec. 26

6:40 a.m. – A manager from Flood Ford told police two people stole four wheels off a Ford Mustang parked in the lot awaiting repairs early this morning. When workers arrived in the morning, the wheels were gone and the car had been placed on blocks. Video surveillance showed a small dark-colored pickup truck pull into the lot just after 1 a.m. Two men removed the wheels, put them in the back of the truck and left.

1:15 p.m. – Police arrested a Warwick woman, 21, for driving on a suspended license. The arrest was made after police stopped her for rolling through a stop sign in the area of London Street and Duke Street. She told police that she knew her license was suspended. Routine checks showed that her license was suspended. The car was towed and police gave her a District Court summons.

Thursday, Dec. 28

10:30 a.m. – A High Hawk resident told police about two license plates that were missing from his vehicle. He told police that he came home on Dec. 27 at 11 a.m., and parked his car in his driveway. When he returned to it today both license plates were missing. He said they’d been on the car when he parked it in the driveway Dec. 27.

7:39 p.m. – A couple from Middletown told police that while they were inside eating dinner at the Outback Steakhouse for about an hour, someone broke the front passenger window and stole a purse. At first, they said nothing important was in the purse but they called the police later to say house and car keys had been in the purse and they would be in to fill out a report. Outback did not have a surveillance camera on that part of the parking lot.

Saturday, Dec. 30

1:20 a.m. – Police found candles burning near a car parked beside the skate park at the high school parking lot. Police tracked down the driver of the car at home. The driver said they had held a candlelight vigil at the parking lot and the car had been left behind.

Sunday, Dec. 31

2:35 p.m. – An East Greenwich man, 55, was stopped after police saw he was driving without a front license plate. Police did routine checks and checks showed that the car make and model did not match with the registration. The operator of the car told police that he didn’t have a registration because he was selling the car and he also showed police the car was just purchased, the note was only signed by him and the note was not notarized. Police questioned him about how long he had the wrong plate on the car and he told them about a month, because he wasn’t able to get his own registration due to fines. Police towed the vehicle and seized the license plate. He was issued a citation for improper use of registration.

 

 

Praise for Public Works Department

Dear Editor,

When things go wrong, I, most likely, will be one of the first to complain. On the flip side, however, when things go right I feel it is equally important to make sure that the people doing the right thing be recognized.

Just recently I had occasion to call the Town of East Greenwich Department of Public Works for help with a problem. In a short time, they responded and did a great job to ensure that the predicted heavy rain would have a path to go on come this Thursday and Friday.

I want to thank Bill Pagliarini for the excellent job he did and for Audrey and Mary at DPW Headquarters for their help.

It was a page out of old town EG here in 2017. Great job all!

Sincerely,
Bruce R. Mastracchio