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WSAR News Headlines Archives for 2014-09

Fall River Recall Signature Redactions

There are new issues surfacing regarding the information provided on petitions dealing with a potential recall aimed at Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, as several women who have domestic protection orders signed the recall petitions, and are finding out now that their addresses and other information are showing up on Facebook pages related to the recall, as the names of those who signed the petitions are being published on Social Media.
There is nothing currently in Massachusetts General Law that prohibits that information from being circulated. 
Under current Massachusetts General Law, the recall petitions are public documents; Attorney Les Rich, who is assisting those organizing the recall, has asked Fall River's Corporation Consul for her assistance in redacting information, as has been requested. 
Bristol Plymouth First District State Senator Mike Rodrigues tells WSAR the issue is one he wants to research to see if a future session of the Great and General Court could act to try to control that flow of information. 


Fall River Signature Complaint Filed

The attorney representing Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan regarding the recall effort has filed a complaint with the City Clerk's office, which is being transmitted to the Election Division. 

Attorney Preston Halprin tells WSAR that there are issues with the more than 3,800 signatures that were certified last week, including people who are calling his office, and telling them they were mislead on issues when they signed the petitions this summer. 

No  hearings have been scheduled regarding when the complaints might be heard, and how long it might take for decisions to be made; City Council Members Ray Mitchell and Leo Pellitier are asking that the recall election happen before the end of 2014. 


Jasiel's Recall Petition--Where Is It?

First Term Fall River City Council Member Jasiel Correia II is indicating to WSAR that the Recall Petition he signed in August on the first night that petitions became available was not part of the more than 3,800 that were certified, and that one in the Elections Division has been able to locate it. 

Correia says he was hearing from various sources that his name never turned up on a petition signed in August, and he called the Fall River Elections Commission. 

Recall Organizers have indicated they have copies of each petition, and that the petition with Correia's name on was submitted on Tuesday, September 2; it somehow did not turn up as the process of certification continued, 


The Recall Countdowns

While Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan has scheduled a press conference for 3pm at Government Center in the aftermath of Thursday's Announcement of the certification of signatures that will move a Recall Process forward, a special Fall River City Council Meeting is set for 7pm Tuesday Night that will see the nine member council likely approve a report prepared by the City Clerk's Office regarding the certification and the next steps to be taken in a 1981 law approved by Fall River Voters.

One of those steps will be a five day countdown that would begin on Wednesday of next week, and end on Sunday of next week, in which Flanagan could decide to leave office or stay and campaign against a recall from office. 

A date for the actual recall election will likely be set at some point on October; that would then begin a 60 day countdown in which contenders for mayor would file papers with 50 signatures of supporters. 

There would be no mayoral primary, as there will be in 2015 during the next municipal election cycle. 

There has also been no determination of whether or not Flanagan could appear on the same ballot as a candidate for Mayor, while being the subject of a recall at the top of the ballot. 









Recall Proceeding

According to sources with the Recall Effort, along with Fall River City Council Member Mike Miozza, the recall aimed at Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan will proceed to the City Council, which must set a date for a recall election. 

According to a letter sent to Council Members, and read live on WSAR by council member Mike Miozza, some 3,847 signatures were certified as part of more than 5500 collected in a process that began in August.

WSAR has reached out to Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan and his attorney specializing in Election Law, Preston Halprin for comment. 


Fall River Fiola v Steinhof Signs

Fall River Office of Economic Development Executive Vice President Ken Fiola tells WSAR that he did in fact remove some David Steinhof yard signs from public property early Wednesday Morning, and took them to the house of the Republican Fall River Dentist and put them in his driveway. 

Ken Fiola is the husband of Democratc Bristol Sixth District State Rep Carole Fiola, who is running for reelection to the seat she first won in a special election. 

Steinhof told WSAR he wanted his signage left alone, and that Fiola had no reason to take his signs and bring them back to him. 

Fiola and Steinhof are running against each other for the second time. 


No on Maplewood

The Fall River City Council has rejected a compromise tonight that would have seen the city purchase four lots to expand the Maplewood Park; while a proposal to spend $175,000 in proceeds from empty school buildings passed by a 5-3 margin, a sixth vote to bond out for $100,000 failed by the same margin, as the bonding motion needed six votes. 

In the end, council members Pat Casey, Jasiel Correia II and Paul Da Silva, along with Leo Pellitier and Council President Joe Camara, voted in the affirmative with the rest of the eight members voting no; a family medical emergency prevented Council Member Dan Rego from attending tonight's session. 


Fall River City Council Tonight

The nine member Fall River City Council is set to decide at some point tonight if they wish to bond $100,000 while using $175 in proceeds from the sale of empty school buildings to fund the cost of purchasing four lots to expand Maplewood Park. 
Council will also use an infusion of a little over a million dollars to keep Net School Spending at 100% for the current fiscal year, along with $100,000 to pay for the transportation of Argosey Charter School students; it marks the first time a Fall River Charter has made a request for transportation services. 
Stabilization line items are also set for a $146,000 injection if Council approves. 
Council will also get a first look at a report on the condition of the Bedford Street Police Station; Real Estate Committee Chair Leo Pellitier tells WSAR that the committee's next order of business will be either selling or auctioning off the building once the Maplewood Park situation is resolved. 
Historic Preservationists have told Council that there is renewed interest in the former FRPD Headquarters. 


FRFD Overtime

The Fall River Fire Department has exhausted its current line item for overtime in FY 2015, which will have the City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros before the City Council next week explaining how the deficit will be covered for the rest of the fiscal year. 

Jason Burns is the President of the IAFF Local 1314 representing FRFD members; he tells WSAR that a lack of younger firefighters made it difficult during the prime vacation months of July and August to keep the overtime costs down. 


The Fall River MCAS Numbers

The Fall River Public School Department now has five buildings at Level One Status, as measured by the DESE, as improved MCAS Scores in the Spring of 2014 mean the district only has one building at Level Four Status. 

Viveiros has taken a leap from level 3 to a Level One Building, other Level One Designations belong to Doran, Kuss, Silvia and Spencer Borden. 

Silvia is Commendation School, and the only one in the district so designated by the DESE. 

Watson remains the only level four building in the district. 


Fall River Bags

Fall River Community Maintenance Director Ken Pacheco tells WSAR that a problem regarding Pay As You Throw and the Purple Bags continues to crop up, as some residents are allegedly stealing purple bags out of the green trash bins, cutting open the top of the bags, emptying the trash inside, then reusing the bags themselves. 

Pacheco tells WSAR its something he gets a couple of calls a week about the issue, as a process of fines aimed at around 1,000 households with compliance issues begins this fall. 


Fall River Moorings

The Fall River City Council Committee on Ordinances and Legislation hopes to hear from Battleship Cove Executive Director Brad King as proposals to increase the number of moorings available to private boaters are in the works. 

The discussion continues while work is ongoing on the walkway along the Fall River Waterfront, being paid for with Commonwealth dollars that were approved to fix various portions of the walkway which stretches from Battleship Cove to Point Gloria. 


Special Prosecutor Named

Bristol County D-A Sam Sutter has named William H. Connolly as the Special Prosecutor who will investigate what happened when Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, City Council Members Paul DaSilva and Jasiel Correia II and a Flanagan Associate met inside Flanagan's personal vehicle on the night of August 14. 

Flanagan is alleged to have asked Correia to lie about why he signed a recall petition and to have suggested that Correia carry a firearm, as Flanagan has admitted he does when he leaves his residence. 

In a statement Friday afternoon, Sutter says Connolly will have complete independence to carry out the investigation as he sees fit. 






The MA Campaign Spending Limits

The Massachsettes Office of Campaign and Political Finance are reporting that Charlie Baker and Martha Coakley, along with three Unenrolled Contenders, will each be able to spend up to $8 million on their General Election Campaigns, as Election Day looms on November 4. 
Limits for the 3 contenders for Treasuer and Secretary of State are set at $2 million, while contenders for the Auditor's Office are set at $375,000, as all those involved agreed to have a portion of their campaigns funded by the Commonwealth through tax form donations.
Attorney General Contenders can spend and raise however much money they please, as Democrat Maura Healy and Republican John Miller both agreed to forgo Commonwealth funding. 


The Green Bonds

Massachusetts Treasurer Steve Grossman is announcing that his office will be selling $350,000,000 worth of so called ''Green Bonds'' starting on Monday, with proceeds aimed at funding what are termed as environmentally beneficial projects across the Commonwealth. 
The New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal will be funded in part with the Green Bonds proceeds, as the planned facility will be  the first in the United States to support the construction, assembly and deployment of offshore wind projects. 
The bond sale is underwritten by Morgan Stanley, and starts on Monday with individual investors having a 3 day window to purchase bonds, while bond houses get Thursday to purchase what remains. 
Clean Water and Drinking Water Projects, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Projects in state buildings, and land acquisition, along with river revitalization projects, will use the proceeds over time. 


Flanagan on Bonding Requests

While a political firestorm rages in Fall River, Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan tells WSAR that work on a Pro Forma Financial Audit will be finished later this fall, as a means of indicating where the city is financially; Flanagan tells WSAR he hopes the results can convince a skeptical Fall River City Council to use bonding procedures to pay for a new Government Center Roof, as well as new computer hardware. 

There are also requests for the Gold and Brown Yard Waste Carts, which joined the lineup of green trash barrels and blue recycling carts in 2013. 


Special Prosecutor Statement

The office of Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter has told WSAR that a statement will be released tomorrow as to a decision on how an investigation undertaken by Fall River Police Chief Dan Racine will proceed, after allegeations of intimidation by first term Fall River City Council Member Jasiel Correia II against Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan were made this week. 

Sutter has indicated to WSAR that the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, the office of the U-S Attorney in Boston, or Sutter's office could handle the investigation. 

Flanagan, Council Members Correia and Paul Da Silva and a Flanagan Associate met in Flanagan's personal vehicle in August; Correia maintains that Flanagan allegedly asked him to lie about why he signed a recall petition. 


Flanagan Says He Will Be Vindicated

In an interview on the Thursday Edition of the ''WSAR Newsroom'', Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan tells WSAR that he maintains that in the end, he will be vindicated, as an investigation on allegations of intimidation by first term City Council Member Jasiel Correia II were made this week. 

Flanagan has maintained he will not resign from office; there are provisions in the City Charter that would Flanagan to step aside on a temporary basis if he chooses.

Correia has maintained that Flanagan allegedly displayed a weapon and asked him to lie about why he signed a recall petition on the first night they were released.


City Councilor Correia will not press charges against mayor

(updated at 12:48)

FALL RIVER - City Councilor Jasiel Correia says he will not file a criminal complaint against Mayor William Flanagan despite saying his story has not changed. He then stated the mayor is a "liar" for contending he never asked Correia to remove his name from the recall ballot effort.

In a powerful interview on the Newshour with Barry Richard, Correia reacted to several days of backlash to his bombshell announcement on Monday  when he said that he was intimidated by the mayor, who allegedly brandished a gun in a car, along the waterfront late at night.

"This was never intended to be the media circus that this has become," he said. saying he does not need to press charges. But that does not mean he is changing his version of events.

Correia said that if a special prosecutor was appointed, he said he "would cooperate."

Correia came into WSAR with access to his phone records to prove that he returned the mayor's call that fateful night on August 14.

Mayor Flanagan extended an olive branch to Correai on WSAR this morning but Correia was not taking it pointing out that he extended the olive branch while also disputing their version of events.

"I dont think his offer is genuine, i don't think it is genuine offer. I do agree with the mayor that this negativity is not what is best for Fall River, I do agree with that," said Correia. 

But as far as the mayor's comments that Correia turned on him after being his friend., Correai bristled sand charactorized them as "Mudslinging - that is what it is," he said." I am prepared to answer any questions the public has of me. very dissapointed with what I heard." 

"He is basically calling me a liar," said Correia. "He is saying he did not ask me to lie for him. That is not true. He asked me to lie for him. He wants to extend an olive branch by calling me a liar? If the mayor wants what is in the best interest of Fall River, he will tell the people, that he is lying. 'What Councilor Correia said happened, happened because it did,' and let him tell the truth."

When asked why he does not want to press charges, Correia said it was for the betterment of the city and his family, not having a long projected court-case.

"He should tell the truth, I certainly right now will not be pressing chargess. It is very simple. At this particular time, I do not see the need to press charges. "

When asked if he felt in danger, Correai said "no."

"I don't think something is going to happen, if it does it would be very unfortunate, there would be serious issues," he said. "I am telling the truth and that is all people need to know. I would find it very hard for anyone in this community to beleive the mayor's story."





Councilor accuses mayor of intimidation with a gun

FALL RIVER - City Councilor Jasiel Correia told WSAR news that he was called to a secret rendezvous with Mayor William Flanagan on August 14, late at night where the mayor brandished his gun and  Correia felt "intimidated."

            The bombshell disclosure occurred on the Newshour with Barry Richard who broke the story with a live interview with Correia.

After the meeting, Correia says he sought out Police Chief Dan Racine who told him a  criminal complaint was an option but Correia has chosen not to pursue it thus far.

            Correia stated that the light-night conversation ended after the mayor brandished a handgun from his car console and placed it on the dashboard in full sight of two other individuals in the car- including City Councilor Paul Dasilva.

Councilor Correai said the entire late night meeting and circumstances were "premeditated" and  " an attempt to intimidate me."

            Mayor denied the story and said he was disappointed with Correia's version of the story and that it would be refuted. DaSilva refused to comment on the story.

Flanagan denied ever brandishing his gun and said he was only discussing the option of Correia obtaining a firearm identification card and that Correia mistook the conversation. Flanagan said  he spoke about Correia that night about being in danger because he said Correia had previously told him he was bullied into signing the recall petition.

Correia maintains he has never been intimidated by the recall petitioners.

            "He did see the gun on my waistband," said the Mayor Flanagan moments later on WSAR.  "He did point it out. I don't have a dashboard... At no point did I ever point the gun at him or threaten him," stated Flanagan. "He did see it. He pointed it out that I had it..."

Flanagan maintains he was only offering advice  on a obtaining a gun for safety reasons.

"I told him If you were to go get your firearm identification card, I would write a letter of recommendation for you if you wanted to get it," Flanagan told WSAR.

            Flanagan  implied Correia has been under pressure by the petitioners.

"Councilor Correia is 23-years-old, a young city councilor," said the mayor. "He has people unduly influencing him at this time - people other than myself. I feel bad for what people are trying to put Councilor Correia through and it is not right."


Correia said a few days later he met with Council President Joseph Camara about the incident and two went to meet with Fall River Police Chief Dan Racine.


            "I gave him options and one of them included filing  criminal charges," said Chief Racine. "He did not want to go forward with them. I told him I was going to call the mayor and speak to him about these allegations and I did that."

The Chief said that the Mayor had a different version of events. Chief Racine said that in order for any investigation to go forward interviews of Da Silva and Gosselin would be needed but first he needs an actual criminal complaint.


"You need a complainant," said the Chief. " He has to want to go forward. he has that option still."


Correia told Richard that he  was at his office painting when he got a call  from the Mayor asking him to meet with him just after midnight that Thursday. Correia said he entered the mayor's car parked along Water Street and found a man in the back seat that he identified as Thomas Gosselin. Correia said he thought it odd that the man was already in the back seat and that he sat in the passenger seat.  The Mayor says that Gosselin exited the passenger seat when Correia arrived.

"It was premeditated him sitting in the back seat when he pulled up," said Correia.

Correia alleged that Flanagan and he became involved in an argument where Flanagan asked him to "lie"  and tell a Herald News reporter that Correia had been pressured into signing the recall petition that was in its infancy at the time. There is a recall  effort underway in Fall River and when the incident allegedly occurred, rumors abounded that Correia had signed the recall effort after being pressured by the recall committee.

Councilor Correia said the car then began moving with the three men in the car discussing the recall effort and Correia's signature.

Correia said the Mayor asked him to "perjure" himself and lie about being pressured.

"I would not do it," said Correia who is out of town on business.

Correia said that he left the car, discussed the incident with his family and then notified law enforcement officials.

"I took the necessary steps to protect myself and my family," he said.

The WSAR report caused an immediate political reaction from City Councilor Ray Mitchell.

"If the incident that is described is true, I think criminal charges should be brought against our mayor and  that he should resign and a prosecutor should be appointed to look into this, said Mitchell. "If he did something like this, especially asking another elected official to lie ...and  then to take out a gun and put a gun into this equation.- unbelievable."



Dustin's Back

For the first time in five games, Red Sox Second Baseman Dustin Pedroia is back in the lineup tonight after missing five games after a play in Tampa trying to break up a double play last week. 

Pedrioa had concussion symptoms after the play; MLB requires a player be on a 7 day Concussion DL that baseball created a couple of years ago.


Fall River School Committee Monday

The Fall River School Committee meets Monday Afternoon at 6:30pm at Kuss Middle School with a 12 item agenda.
The seven member panel could vote on a policy mandated by the Commonwealth that requires Teachers and other staff members that come into contact with students be fingerprinted; the $35 cost will likely be paid for by staff members after being approved by the Great and General Court. 
The most recent evaluation of Fall River Superintendent of Public Schools Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown is also on the agenda as an item to be voted on. 
A proposal regarding Middle School Softball and Baseball is also a discussion item. 


Fall River City Council This Tuesday

The Fall River City Council will deal with Capital Plan Priorities for Fiscal Year 2015 as part of its Finance Committee Session and also take a first look at what can be done with the first batch of Community Preservation Dollars during a Finance Committee Session on Tuesday. 

Preceding that at 4pm is a session of the Council's Committee on Real Estate which could decide if a proposal to buy four lots to expand parkland in the Maplewood Neighborhood will be decided by the full Council. 

Council will also discuss 7 resolutions, including filing a Home Rule Petition with the Great and General Court seeking to overturn Mass General Law Chapter 40 Section 22 F which the Fall River Board of Public Health utilized to proceed with a vote on regulations for private waste haulers; another resolution asks that those who serve on various Boards and Commissions in Fall River actually live in the city, while a third will asked how a Pro Forma Audit, requested by City Council Member Dan Rego earlier this spring, will be funded. 






New Bedford PD

The New Bedford Police Department has added 5 new officers to its ranks after a ceremony Tuesday Morning in New Bedford City Hall. 

The NBPD now has a complement of 258 members, as 7 have been added this year, with two of that number coming from other departments in the immediate area. 

In Fall River, its hoped that 5 more officers can be added to the FY 2016 Municipal Budget; new cruisers are also likely part of the next fiscal year proposal. 






UMass 2014 Enrollment

Administrators with the Five Campus UMass System are projecting that enrollment for the new academic year will top over 73,600 students throughout the system, as part of a 30% enrollment surge over the last decade.

Enrollment for the current Academic Year is up by 2.3% compared to Fall 2013, with more than 9300 freshmen students enrolling in 2014.

The DESE is reporting that 1 out of 7 high school grade in the Commonwealth is enrolling at one of the five UMass locations.  







MA Gas Prices This Week

According to Triple A of Southern New England, Gasoline Prices are down by one cent this week, with an average of $3.44 a gallon, prices locally are 12 cents lower than a month ago, with a national average of $3.43; compared to the same point on the calendar, the average in the Commonwealth was at $3.65
Triple A finds the range in prices at the pump in Massachusetts at 60 cents, from a low of $3.29 to a high of $3.89.
WSAR has noted prices locally of anywhere from $3.39 to a high of $3.69.


Gronk Says He Will Play on Week One

After missing out on the bulk of the NFL 2013 season, Patriots Tight End Rob Grownkowski says he is ready to play in Week One of the 2014 NFL Season, when the Patriots open in Miami this coming Sunday. 

The Patriots are expected to give Gornk around 10 to 20 snaps, as he has not played since breaking his right leg after a tackle last season. 








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