State Report: Another EDC Loan Flop, the Chafee Grad Party & Sex Offenders
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Repeat offender: Another bad loan approved by the EDC
Just weeks after the collapse of video game company 38 Studios, it has been reported that the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation approved yet another bad loan. Earlier this week it was learned that the EDC has been making payments on a $5 million state-backed loan to Capco Steel LLC, which is currently in default. Like the 38 Studios loan, the Capco Steel loan was approved during the final year of former Gov. Donald Carcieri’s administration.
Capco Steel received a $6 million loan from Webster Bank courtesy of the EDC’s R.I. Industrial Facilities Corporation in 2010. The money was intended for Capco to expand its Providence facilities and to purchase new equipment. The loan was guaranteed up to $5 million by the EDC.
So how do lawmakers feel about the EDC’s decision to approve not one, but two substantial loans during the 2008 recession? Sen. James C. Sheehan (D- Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) spoke out against the state-backed loans in a press release on Wednesday.
"This may or may not have been a bad decision by EDC. But, the lack of transparency about Capco Steel's default makes one question the wisdom of the initial decision," said Sen. Sheehan.
Sen. Sheehan went on to add: "38 Studios made one seriously doubt the ability of the EDC to effectively run and oversee another loan guarantee program (Job Creation Guarantee Program) although the two situations may be quite different.”
In related news, Sue Morgan, Chief Financial Officer of the EDC, stepped down from her position on Friday.
Sen. Tassoni named recipient of national award
Now on a more positive note, Sen. John J. Tassoni (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Smithfield) has been named the recipient of the Bruce F. Vento Award, presented by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Sen. Tassoni will be given the award at the 14th annual McKinney-Vento Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C., in November.
Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director of the National Law Center, spoke of Tassoni stating, “as a long-time advocate for homeless and poor persons, and as the architect of the landmark Homeless Bill of Rights, you have demonstrated the power of the law to change lives for the better.”
Signed into law in June, the RI Homeless Bill of Rights is based on legislation sponsored by Sen. Tassoni. The landmark law, which is the first of its kind in the nation, guarantees that no person’s rights, privileges or access to public services will be denied because he or she is homeless.
Aside from being recognized nationally, Sen. Tassoni received the “Senator Jack Reed Advocacy Award from the RI Coalition for the Homeless earlier this year. In 2011, Sen. Tassoni was also the recipient of the Partners in Housing Public Service Award given by Rhode Island Housing.
Attorney General calls for more information about Chafee party
One month after news first broke of an underage drinking party at Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s residence, the attorney general’s office has confirmed that it requested additional information from police pertaining to the incident. Amy Kempe, spokesperson for the attorney general, said that more information is required before it can be determined if prosecutors have enough evidence to proceed with the case.
The event in question occurred at Gov. Chafee’s Exeter home on May 28. The party was hosted by the governor’s son Caleb and was also attended by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s son Alexander. Although Gov. Chafee described the graduation party as “youngsters letting off steam,” an 18-year-old female fell ill at the underage party and was later treated for alcohol poisoning at Kent Hospital.
To make matters worse, Caleb pled no contest in May to trying to purchase beer at a Jamestown liquor store. The charge was later expunged from Caleb’s record after he paid a $100 fine.
History: A woman leading the Office of the Public Defender
On Monday, Gov. Chafee swore in Mary McElroy to the head of the Office of the Public Defender. McElroy, a career public defender with nearly two decades of experience at the state and federal level, becomes the first woman to hold the position since it was established in 1941.
“Mary McElroy has extensive experience as both a state and federal public defender,” said Gov. Chafee. “Over the course of her accomplished career, she has gained invaluable knowledge of the judicial system and its workings and is highly regarded on both sides of the courtroom. I am confident that Mary will live up to the high standards set by her predecessor, the beloved John Hardiman.”
McElroy received her undergraduate degree from Providence College, before attending Suffolk University School of Law, from which she earned her J.D. She went on to clerk for the Honorable Donald F. Shea of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and spent a year with the Providence firm Tate & Elias.
Additionally, McElroy served as Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Rhode Island Public Defender from 1994 to 2006. Since 2006, she has served as Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Office of the Federal Defender for the U.S. District of Rhode Island.
In her new position, McElroy will oversee approximately fifty lawyers who provide legal representation to indigent adult criminals defendants and indigent juvenile respondents. The Office of the Public Defender also provides legal representation to parents faced with losing the custody of their children resulting from neglect.
ACLU sues RI over law targeting sex offenders
The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state over a new law that bars registered sex offenders from living within 300 feet of a school. The Rhode Island ACLU, which argues that the law is too vague and overly broad, is suing on behalf of three men who will face arrest if they refuse to move from their current residence.
According to the lawsuit, two of the men are developmentally disabled and one is a veteran with medical problems. Their lawyers state that the men will likely become homeless if forced to move. Such a circumstance would hinder their support structure, thus increasing the likelihood for them to reoffend, say the lawyers.
The developmentally disabled men, Dennis Gesmondi (54) and Dallas Huard (38), live in Warren Manor II, a Providence assisted-living facility that provides mental health assistance. Gesmondi was convicted of sexual assault in 2008, while Huard was charged with child molestation but plead no contest to an amended charge in 1996. George Madancy, 65, who was convicted of possessing child pornography, lives in an apartment in Providence.
“These folks need someplace to live,” said Chris Stephens, President of NRI Community Services, which runs Warren Manor. “Subjecting them to arrest and eviction is not only contrary to their medical needs and increases their risk of homelessness, but categorically does nothing to make the community safer.”
A 2008 law passed by the General Assembly makes it a felony for a registered sex offender to live within 300 feet of any public or private school. Those in violation face up to five years in prison.
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