John Bender

Reporter

John started at RIPR in 2013 as the Morning Edition producer; researching stories, interviewing newsmakers, and writing scripts for stories every morning.  Plus special projects and regular reporting on major events.  In early 2017 he was promoted to "general assignment" reporter.  Whatever's happening in the news today?  That's what John is covering. 

Ways to Connect

Matt Sledge / Creative Commons License via flickr

If you face foreclosure in Rhode Island, you’re guaranteed a sit-down with your bank, to try and mediate a deal. But that guarantee is set to expire in July.

That has housing advocates and local leaders concerned that foreclosures will once again blight neighborhoods with abandoned properties. They’re pushing legislation that would extend the program, until at least 2023.     

Adopted in 2013, after the housing crisis, some 700 homeowners have avoided foreclosure as a result of these mediation session, according to Barbara Fields, director of Rhode Island Housing.  

Volvo Ocean Race

Sailors in the around-the-world Volvo Ocean race are coursing through the Atlantic Ocean on their way to New England. 

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Advocates for victims of sexual abuse are imploring lawmakers to repeal Rhode Island’s seven-year statute of limitations for pressing civil charges when the alleged victim is a minor.

A bill introduced by Sen. Donna Nesselbush would repeal the statute of limitations for any type of sexual abuse of a minor. Rhode Island currently has no statute of limitations in cases of first-degree sexual assault.

The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to hold a bill to require armed campus police at Rhode Island’s public colleges for further study.

RIPR FILE

On Wednesday lawmakers will consider arming campus police at Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island. The University of Rhode Island armed campus police in 2015.

The bill would mandate the arming of campus police at all state colleges and universities. The legislation comes amid a growing debate about arming school personnel, after recent, deadly shootings at places like Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As New Bedford slows the rollout of recreational marijuana shops, Fall River is preparing for a windfall. Fall River will impose a three percent tax on retail sales of recreational pot.

Starting this summer, Massachusetts will begin opening retail recreational marijuana shops. Cities and towns are allowed to place an extra tax on local sales. The Fall River City Council voted in favor of a three percent local tax last week.

Mayor Jasiel Correia supports the tax, and said the revenue will go back into the community.

dank_depot / Creative Commons License via flickr

New Bedford is putting a hold on retail sales of recreational marijuana, as shops prepare to come online in the Bay State this July. The New Bedford City Council has voted to wait until October.

Firefighters and emergency medical staff at Newport’s Naval Station regularly lied about training they never received. The revelations come from a newly completed investigation by the Navy Inspector General.

The Navy Inspector General began investigating after a whistleblower issued a complaint that he was marked as having completed training he’d never attended. Upon deeper investigation, the Inspector General found emergency management staff at the station routinely falsified such medical and safety trainings.

Courtsey Brown University

Jeb Bush, the former Governor of Florida and presidential hopeful was in the Ocean State Wednesday. 

John Bender / RIPR

Lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on 18 gun-control measures. Critics and gun control advocates thronged the Statehouse in the hours before the House Judiciary Committee took up bills, aimed at reducing access to firearms

Dozens of gun-rights activists filled the Statehouse halls in yellow t-shirts bearing the slogan “gun control doesn’t work.” Most had similar concerns, saying the measures would infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Next month, the U.S. Census Bureau will dispatch field staff to households in Providence County looking for residents who haven’t filled out the March survey.  

URI

Police at the University of Rhode Island say more than a dozen cars have been vandalized over the last two weeks on the school’s campus in Kingston.

A total of 14 vehicles have had swastikas or pornographic images scratched into them. Some of the vehicles sustained additional damage including broken mirrors and slashed tires.

URI Chief of Police Stephen Baker says so far, police are still looking for a suspect.

Courtesy RI Department of Motor Vehicles

Maybe you’ve already heard of something called Real ID. If not, you probably will soon. In the coming years, Real ID will affect how you board airplanes or walk into a federal building.

So what is it?

It’s a new designation for identification, like state IDs or driver’s licenses. Real ID is actually a federal law that sets national security standards for ID cards. The law was passed in 2005 as part of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission.

Lynn Arditi / RIPR

CharterCare, the local arm of a California-based for-profit hospital company, announced Wednesday it would like to purchase the now-closed Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket. Memorial shut its doors in 2017, after years of losing money.

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea says her office is making progress on security and public access to voting. The state is working with the Department of Homeland Security to protect against hacking of voter systems. Rhode Island has also adopted new technology meant to streamline voting and guard voter information.

Gorbea says the need to protect voting systems now the norm in the U.S. and Rhode Island.

“Cybersecurity is not a destination, but a continually evolving road that requires constant attention to mitigate risk,” said Gorbea.

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