Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: May 14, 2010

The last shoe has dropped (though I don’t know why you’d have three shoes): the third North Providence councilman arrested by the FBI for alleged extortion, Raymond Douglas III, has resigned. At this point, it looks to be a developing story, but you can read Douglas III’s letter of resignation here.

Hope High School students know what they want, and it isn’t a new class schedule. Sounds like the school district is considering making the school change to a daily six-period schedule like other schools in Providence, away from Hope’s current block schedule. But the block schedule, the protesting students say, has proved beneficial for them. Some Brown students helped the Hope ones organize the walkout, which even got its own police escort. You can watch a video of the action here.

The Central Falls police chief has launched an internal investigation into a possible case of racial profiling. Mario Ortega, a Central Falls resident, has accused a desk-duty officer of refusing to let him report a beating because Ortega was assumed to be an “illegal immigrant,” Ortega said through an interpreter.


Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: May 12, 2010

The ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition might be coming to Central Falls High School. The producers of the show invited school officials to apply for renovation; the school is already in the process of making a video to showcase why they need the renovations, though school officials clearly stated that they are not guaranteed a spot just by applying.

Speaking of Central Falls High School, more than 700 people have applied for teaching and other jobs at the school. This includes almost all of the people who were fired three months ago; those 87 applicants will have quite the competition, Superintendent Frances Gallo said.

A bill passed in a Rhode Island House committee would require that any student suspected of having a sports-induced concussion be removed from the practice or playing field and not allowed to return until a doctor grants clearance. The language of the bill, which is actually an amended version, has been made clearer and more specific than what was in the original.


Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: May 10, 2010

After North Providence Town Council President Joseph Burchfield resigned Friday after being arrested by the feds on charges of extortion, another party who was arrested for the alleged scheme, Councilman John Zambarano, has also resigned. Mayor Charles Lombardi has expressed hope that the third party arrested, Raymond Douglas III, will soon resign as well.

The federal government still needs to approve Providence Mayor David Cicilline’s ’83 employment program that he envisions as creating 500 new jobs in the city. Local officials are pushing the federal government to speed things up.

Two weeks before Teresa Mahony turns 80, she will check off one more item from her to-do list — becoming a college grad. Mahony, a registered nurse, mother of 12 and a grandmother of 34, will graduate from the University of Rhode Island on May 23. It took her ten years to complete her degree in history, but she’s doing it — and graduating with honors.


Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: May 7, 2010

Three North Providence councilors were busted by the FBI on Thursday under charges of extortion. The arrested include Council President Joseph Burchfield and two other council members, John Zambarano and Raymond Douglas III. A fourth council member turned them in by filming a conversation between the councilmen and a real estate developer named Richard Baccari; the footage shows Zambarano promising $25,000 in exchange for votes on building a Stop & Shop across the street from North Providence High School.

Good news! Apparently budget officials at the State House think that Rhode Island’s rising unemployment, foreclosure rates and shrinking consumer confidence will taper off soon. This is all in spire of the floods last month.

A Rhode Island woman is a bit unnerved after finding out that Faisal Shahzad, the man who confessed to the attempt to place a car bomb in Times Square on Saturday, used to live right around the corner from her. Deborah Bashar has had brushes with suspected terrorists in the past — while house hunting, the tenant in the home she was looking at turned out to be Mohammed Y. Mullawala, who was under investigation for terrorist activity himself and arrested in 2006.


Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: May 5, 2010

Things got interesting last night for the state’s gubernatorial candidates as they debated their stances on a variety of social issues. For the most part, the candidates agreed on many things, such as the need for comprehensive sex education. Highlights include General Treasurer Frank Caprio relating his story of facing teenage parenthood when he was a high school senior (“I was a teenage father,” Caprio, a Democrat who favors abortion rights, said) and Victor Moffitt making things awkward by criticizing the “Big Brother” aspects of the national health-care overhaul (apparently the audience, composed mostly of 400 women, was not amused). The candidates didn’t stop there, though — they debated the economy this morning.

The push to legalize marijuana in Rhode Island, or at least decriminalize it, moved forward yesterday at the State House. A Senate committee heard testimony from both sides of the debate, and by the end of the hearing the opinions of Governor Carcieri, Attorney General Lynch and the state police all had their opinions known either through personal testimony or via letter. For the record, Carcieri wrote in his letter that he thinks substance abuse should be taken seriously — and that includes marijuana — but he stopped short of threatening to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk.

State lawmakers are considering legislation that would overturn a 1944 law that seals the birth records of all adopted children in the state. Though such a law would not make all records for adults born in Rhode Island available, proponents say it will give adoptees access to their own familial and genetic information. Though the legislation has the approval of adoptees and their supporters, opponents worry the legislation would jeopardize the privacy of birth mothers and adoptive families.


Cup o’ (Pro)Jo: May 3, 2010

Immigration reform activists rallied on the steps of the State House on Saturday after spending the day marching through Providence’s neighborhoods and calling for legislation that would reform immigration on a national level. (Go here for a video of the State House rally.)

The ProJo is running a series this week that follows the lives of students, teachers, parents, and dropouts at Central Falls High School. Part One in today’s paper (written by Brown’s Visiting Lecturer in English Tom Mooney) follows Antonio Cruz as he goes from high school dropout to poet-rapper all while trying to earn his GED from the Blackstone Valley Community Action Program.

Rhode Island College will honor four people with honorary degrees at the school’s commencement ceremonies later this month. Those honored include Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble founder Frank Battisti, Rhode Island Monthly Communications owner John Palumbo, and House Speaker Gordon Fox.