State Report: The Whitehouse DUI, Childhood Well-Being & RIPTA’s Big Investment
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Just one week after the Attorney General's office called for additional information about an underage drinking party hosted by Gov. Lincoln Chafee's son, another state politician's son is the news for a similar circumstance. On Wednesday, Sheldon Whitehouse's son was arrested and charged with a DUI in Middletown. Aside from the Whitehouse story, GoLocal will look at a pair of studies that do not show the Ocean State in a positive light. Lastly, just so it's not all doom and gloom this week, GoLocal will examine two developing stories that may bode well for Rhode Island's immediate future.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s son pleads no contest to DUI charge
Alexander Whitehouse, the 19-year-old son of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse pleaded no contest Friday to a charge of driving under the influence. As a result Whitehouse will lose his driver’s license for three months and must perform 30 hours of community service. Whitehouse will also have to a DUI/alcohol education class and pay a $760 fine.
The incident occurred at approximately 1:30 a.m. Wednesday at a Middletown gas station. Whitehouse was arrested at the gas station shortly after a customer notified police that two intoxicated men had pulled into the parking lot.
According to police, Whitehouse failed a field sobriety test and scored a .09 on a breathalyzer test, which is above Rhode Island’s legal limit of .08. The police report also indicates that Whitehouse admitted to consuming three beers and four shots of gin at his friend’s Portsmouth home.
The arresting officer pointed out that Whitehouse had a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage,” and that his eyes were “severely bloodshot and glossy.” Furthermore, Whitehouse’s car contained an empty 750ml bottle of Svedka Vodka, an empty 12 oz bottle of Bass beer and a half empty bottle of 1.74 liter Hendricks Gin, according to police. Police also discovered a bag of what appeared to be marijuana under the passenger seat.
Aside from being charged with DUI, Whitehouse was also charged with transportation of an alcoholic beverage by a minor and with having an open container of alcohol in a moving vehicle. Whitehouse was then handcuffed and transported to the Middletown police station.
Whitehouse’s passenger, 18-year-old Robert Bauer of Portsmouth, was charged with possession of alcohol by a minor and possession of marijuana.
Sen. Whitehouse responded to the news by issuing a statement saying that he and his wife were “deeply concerned and upset by our son’s poor judgment.” Back in June, the senator acknowledged that his son attended an underage drinking party hosted by Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s son Caleb. The May 28 graduation party resulted in an 18-year-old girl being sent to Kent Hospital for alcohol poisoning.
Newport more expensive than any other U.S. destination this summer
Earlier this month, America’s Cup Series drew nearly 60,000 visitors to Newport. Although a solid turnout, it fell short of initial projections. While officials may have been disappointed, one group that was probably pleased is the owners of Newport’s many hotels. A new study conducted by Cheaphotels.org found that Newport is the most expensive destination in the U.S.
According to the travel site, the City by the Sea’s hotel rates are costlier than anywhere else in the nation June through August. Just how pricey is it to stay in Newport? Cheaphotels.org reports that vacationers will spend an average of $319 for a double room in Newport. The amount was noticeably higher than Santa Monica ($287) and Calistoga ($285), which finished second and third respectively.
While Newport was the only RI destination to make the list, five Massachusetts locations including Martha’s Vineyard (4th), Cambridge (5th), Provincetown (6th), Boston (8th) and Falmouth (16th) cracked the top 20.
Click HERE to read the entire top 20.
RI ranks 25th in new child well-being study
This week, Rhode Island finished 25th in a new study that ranks children’s well-being. The data, which is collected in the 2012 Kids Count Data Bank, examined multiple criteria including overall child well-being, economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
Although Rhode Island finished in the middle of the pack it was last amongst all New England states. In fact, New Hampshire (1), Massachusetts (2), Vermont (3) and Connecticut (7) all fared far better than the Ocean State.
“Many Rhode Island families continue to live in poverty, and struggle with high housing costs and a lack of jobs, a trend being seen nationwide as well,” stated Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT in a statement. “While the economic well- being of Rhode Island families continues to turn around slowly, Rhode Island is making gains in health and education areas. Our teen birth rate is among the lowest in the nation and we are seeing improvements in reading and math proficiency.”
Despite finishing last in New England Rhode Island did rank in the top 10 in teen birth rate and for child and teen death rate.
RI chooses new bank to handle assets
Rhode Island has hired Bank of New York Mellon to provide “master custody banking services” for the state. BNY Mellon will manage the state’s pension assets and cash, collect interest payments on the state’s behalf, and process banking transactions. The decision to select the bank was made by the State Investment Commission, which is led by General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.
Rhode Island issued a request for bank services in March to manage pension assets and cash. The state’s previous master custodian was State Street, which finished second to BNY Mellon. The new selection will save the state more than $300,000, according to the treasurer’s website.
"By selecting BNY Mellon, the state will receive excellent custody services, while saving money," said General Treasurer Raimondo. "In these challenging times, it is my priority to continually assess the state's financial service contracts and vendors to make sure taxpayers are receiving the best service possible."
RI transit authority gets $1.2 million grant
On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed announced that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) will receive a $1.22 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) State of Good Repair program. Of the $1.22 million, $820,000 will go to renovating the East Side Tunnel and $400,000 to a Bus Livability grant to better link Kennedy Plaza with the Providence Train Station.
“Public transportation is critical to our economy and downtown Providence is a major transportation gateway. These federal funds will help renovate the East Side Tunnel and make capital improvements to Kennedy Plaza and the train station to ensure the system is safer, more integrated, and more reliable,” said Sen. Reed.
The $820,000 grant to revamp the East Side Tunnel will support the first renovation to the location in 20 years. The two-lane tunnel runs east/west under College Hill, and connects Thayer Street to South Main Street. Originally conceptualized in 1903, the tunnel was opened in 1908 and cost approximately $2 million.
The $400,000 Bus Livability project will help provide residents with improved ease of access between Kennedy Plaza and the Providence Train Station. The project is primarily intended to improve access for pedestrians and bicyclists. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) originally announced the reconstruction proposal in 2011.