The Rhode Island Red Awards

Our annual guide to the dumbest moments of the year.

There are so many deserving recipients of this year’s Red Awards dedication, we were stumped over whom to single out. The Warwick cat running for president? The yoga pants guy? The ill-fated Pokemon hunter? Then, like a devoted parent, we realized that they, and the rest of the Reds we’re saluting, are first among equals for recognition. Thanks guys, and congrats! We can’t wait to see what you’ll do for an encore.


Five reasons we love our public officials

State senator Frank Ciccone introduced a law requiring homeowners to prune their landscaping or face a $500 fine if ‘“plant litter” lands on a neighbor’s property. When someone noticed a tall pine tree in a neighbor’s yard near Ciccone’s driveway, the senator responded, “There was a problem at one point,” but it’s not a problem now.

Six months after the April 15th filing deadline, 14,000 Rhode Islanders were still waiting for their tax refunds.

Former Providence city council member Leon Tejada was sentenced to twelve months and one day in prison for scheming to steal tax refunds from seventy-six taxpayers whose returns he’d prepared.

Providence city council majority leader Kevin Jackson was charged with misuse of campaign funds, including $4,000 to pay off a Board of Elections fine, and embezzling more than $127,000 from the Providence Cobras youth track and field organization he’d founded.

House majority leader John DeSimone avoided a tax sale of his Providence home and office in May when he paid more than $18,000 in overdue taxes and interest. His home has been scheduled for a tax sale four times since 2006 and his office property has been scheduled every year since 2008.

Quotables! “I’m here because I’m loud. I believe there’s a very severe health threat in my classroom.” A North Kingstown math teacher, who says she was fired because she claimed that the school’s WiFi radio signals could make people sick. Officials said she was terminated for failing to proctor a test or attend training sessions.

One month on the funny farm

 (and you thought country life was quiet…)

September 10: Exeter resident Gerry Zarrella claims his neighbor has dumped forty yards of chicken waste close to the property line in retaliation for Zarrella’s hosting a wedding on his farm the next day. Zarrella is battling the town over whether he can hold commercial events there.

September 16: Zarrella and his wife file suit against the manure-toting neighbors, claiming the chicken excrement emitted noxious fumes during the wedding the previous weekend, sickening guests and attracting horseflies.

September 17: Zarrella’s neighbors agree to move the manure away from the property line and cover it with topsoil.

September 26: Zarrella says that the day before guests are due to arrive for another wedding at his farm, his neighbor has placed more than 200 turkeys near a stone wall separating the two properties.

Quotables! “I will not be fat again.” Perpetually annoying reality show contestant Richard Hatch after being eliminated from NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” The Newport resident, who weighed in at the start of the competition at 314 pounds, attributed his problem to the fact he ate more than 10,000 calories a day.

Rock Around our Rollicking State

PROVIDENCE: 781,770 Rhode Islanders are eligible to vote, according to the secretary of state’s data, 189,098 more than Census Bureau estimates.

EAST GREENWICH: Nine motorists in three days blew their tires after ramming into exposed manhole covers along one section of road construction.

WARWICK: All About Pets store owner, Denise Rachiele, says her cat, Stump, considered joining the presidential race.

EAST PROVIDENCE: Former state rep Brian Coogan was charged with attempting to steal an opponent’s political lawn signs. Police say Coogan and a female companion arrived on a motorcycle, grabbed the sign, dropped it in the street and drove away.

PROVIDENCE:  The door of a Brink’s armored truck unexpectedly popped open, scattering $20,500 in loose bills in the street.

RHODE ISLAND: The governor killed the state’s new slogan, “Cooler and Warmer.”  ’Nuff said.

Quotables! “Words cannot even describe how bad it was. It was a complete nightmare.” Motorist Leslie Mansur after being trapped in a massive snarl-up on I-95 when the DOT shifted one lane of traffic during construction through downtown Providence. The change in late October resulted in a five-mile backup.


On the bright side, Tom Brady threw twelve touchdowns.
A Providence youth football team ended its season early, after the coach put a man into the game with thirteen and fourteen-year-olds.

Looking for love in all the wrong places?
Johnston native and reality show star DJ Pauly D entered relationship rehab, along with seven other romantically challenged celebrities, on E!’s “Famously Single.” “I have a reputation as being a ladies’ man,” Pauly D says. “The girl is supposed to come, but she hasn’t so I have to be doing something wrong.”

Where there’s smoke…
The state fire marshal ordered two Providence stations to post ’round-the-clock watches because they didn’t have operational fire alarm systems.

How can we miss you if you won’t go away?
Curt Schilling announced he’s planning a run for the White House.

Survey says…
According to, Rhode Island ranks dead last in the country for charitable giving. On a happier note, says we come in third for drunk online shopping.

Someone was having a very bad hair day.
Cranston’s director of senior services resigned after a press conference where she reportedly asked a male city worker to dress as an elderly woman, complete with lipstick, gray-haired wig and a lapel tag that read “Cranston senior home resident.” The event touted a new city program offering poor and disabled seniors help with shoveling snow.

Just give them the boot.
Two cars used by the Providence mayor’s advance staff racked up 119 parking tickets, some dating as far back as 2003. Records indicate if the city paid off all the tickets plus penalties, it would owe itself $15,115.

And James Franco will star in the movie.
Rescue crews in Narragansett used cooking oil from Iggy’s to free a man who’d got his head stuck between two rocks while trying to retrieve his cell phone.

Talk about a snow job.
West Warwick police arrested two men following an armed robbery at the Prince Food Mart in February. An officer tracked them down by following footprints in the snow to a neighboring house.

Quotables! “I routinely do this due to my severe allergies.” State rep John Carnevale on why he’d wrapped his face in a T-shirt after noticing a TV crew near his Johnston property. Carnevale eventually withdrew his re-election bid after the ethics commission ruled he didn’t actually live in his Providence district.


(Could we make this stuff up?)

• A Burrillville father and son were arrested on charges of domestic assault after police responded to a 911 call at their home and found both men injured, as well as an apparent marijuana trafficking plot.  

• A Coventry woman, who admitted she was speeding, crashed her car into a wooded area while trying to catch a Pokemon monster.

• A man in a top hat robbed the CVS in Providence’s Kennedy Plaza in broad daylight.

Quotables! “If I said it was without risk and that I had no anxiety, that would be dishonest.” Department of Revenue director, Robert Hall, in April, when asked about the upcoming December HP launch of the long-delayed DMV computer system. In November, the state sued HP, alleging the firm had broken its contract and was demanding more money. Still unfinished after ten years, the system’s new launch date is now June 2017.

• Johnston police shuttered Mini Body Works on Plainfield Street after receiving an anonymous tip alleging the “spa” was selling sex. Officials determined the owner was not, in fact, selling skin care services, as her business license application stated.    

• Two teenagers were caught stealing from police cars that were parked in front of the Warwick police station.

• A month later, Warwick police arrested a forty-one-year-old man for driving drunk in the same police station parking lot.


Categories: Culture – Feature, Magazine
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