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Spotlight on the Statehouse: February 12, 2015

Rep. arrested for misappropriation

Rep. Joe Almeida, D-Providence, the House deputy majority whip for the General Assembly, was arrested Feb. 10 for misappropriating campaign contributions, the Providence Journal reported.

The former police officer has been proactive about strengthening relations between the community and law enforcement, stating that he would introduce a bill during this legislative session requiring all Rhode Island police to wear body cameras, The Herald previously reported.

Almeida was scheduled to reveal a report on minority recruitment and hiring practices in Rhode Island law enforcement agencies Wednesday alongside the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers and the Providence branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The conference was canceled due to his arrest.

Almeida released a statement Wednesday saying he will focus on “representing the hard-working people of (his) district.” He stepped down as House deputy majority whip, according to a statement by Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, the House majority speaker.


Breaking the snow bank

The recent onslaught of snow storms has drained much of the allotted municipal and state budgets for snow removal.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation budgeted $14 million for snow removal this fiscal year, and current spending is just about to reach that number — most recently due to Winter Storm Marcus. The storm has also depleted the state’s salt inventory, Rhode Island Public Radio reported.

Morton Salt Inc., the state’s supplier, has encountered distribution problems due to the high demand for salt in the Northeast, WPRO reported.

Providence has also spent the majority of its $1.6 million budget for snow removal, with only $500,000 left, the Providence Journal reported. Along with several other cities around the state, Providence will seek federal reimbursement from the Emergency Management Agency.


HUD to be reimbursed by R.I. Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is demanding $887,544 in reimbursements from Rhode Island Housing due to “questionable expenditures,” the Providence Journal reported Feb. 6.

Rhode Island Housing, created by the General Assembly in 1973, is the state’s privately funded corporation for affordable housing.

The corporation had to reimburse HUD for $1,157,573 in October 2014 because it did not create financial controls at a homeless shelter in Pawtucket. Former Executive Director Richard Godfrey Jr. fired his deputy director, Gayle Corrigan, for raising concerns about the issue. But Godfrey resigned Jan. 15 following Corrigan’s reinstatement in May 2014.

Current Interim Director Barbara Fields, who was appointed after Godfrey’s exit, formerly worked as the HUD regional administrator of New England.

Rhode Island Housing will negotiate with HUD on the amount of the reim

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