The Scoop: City Employee’s Bid for City Council Violates Charter
Friday, October 18, 2013
Insider Status May Hurt Council Contender
Providence City employee Joe Elliot’s potential city council candidacy may be at odds with the Providence City Charter’s “Prohibited activities and conflicts of interest” guidelines.
On Wednesday, The Scoop reported that Elliot is considering running for the Council President Michael Solomon’s soon-to-be vacant Ward 5 council seat, but it now appears that Elliot’s role of inspector at the Providence Department of Inspections & Standards might make him ineligible to run.
According to the Providence City Charter Section 1206:
Employees and/or appointed officers are prohibited from becoming official candidates and from holding any elected public office of the government of the City of Providence. Employees and/or appointed officers who become candidates for such offices in the City of Providence shall be granted an unpaid leave of absence for up to six (6) months, with no individual receiving more than six (6) months leave of absence within a four-year period, dating from the beginning of the first leave of absence. Upon election to a public office of the government of the City of Providence, the individual shall cease to be an employee or appointed officer of the City of Providence.
This would mean that Elliott would either have to resign his position with the City or take an unpaid leave of absence six months prior to next year’s November 2014 election.
The charter also prohibits employees and appointed officers from engaging in political activities during work hours while employed by the City—which would directly affect Elliott.
In January 2013, Mayor Angel Taveras thanked Elliott for his exemplary work for the City in his “State of the City Address.” During his speech, Mayor Taveras told a story of how Elliott and his co-worker Bill Newell worked diligently to help an elderly Providence woman who was living without heat. Elliott and Newell, who were off-duty at the time, coordinated with National Grid and had the woman’s heating problem fixed at no charge.
In addition to Elliot, sources told The Scoop on Wednesday that former Providence Fire Chief George Farrell and former Ward 5 councilman Patrick Butler are also considering throwing their hats into the race.
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Fung's Big Announcement
Mayor Allan Fung announces that big news is on the way.
The Committee for Allan Fung is urging Rhode Islanders to mark their calendars for November 4, because the Cranston Mayor plans to make a “major announcement.”
Although Mayor Fung won’t yet divulge whether he’s running for governor in 2014, Fung’s most recent campaign e-mail announcement seems to indicate that he is.
In the email, Fung’s Committee touts the Mayor’s recently released fundraising figures—which showed that Fung raised over $100,000 last quarter—as well as last week’s Brown University poll that showed the Mayor tied in a potential governor’s race.
In regard to the poll, Patrick Sweeney, a consultant for Fung, told GoLocal: “Though Mayor Fung is still in the process of exploring a potential run for governor, the Brown poll shows he is in a very strong position for being 14 months out."
Sweeney went on to add: “Given Rhode Island's history of electing Republican governors, there is no question that when people get to know Mayor Fung, learn the great things he has done for Cranston, and listen to his vision for RI, our numbers will strengthen."
Fung’s e-mail message concludes by stating: “Of significant note, the people of Rhode Island are only beginning to learn of the great things the Mayor is doing in Cranston, but they are going to be learning a lot more on November 4th!”
Stay tuned for updates prior to Nov. 4, as well as Fung’s big announcement.
A Call to Constituents
Sen. Archambault seeks comments on RIPTA bus stop plan.
Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) is asking his constituents to share their opinions on plans by the RI Public Transit Authority to adjust bus stop distances in his communities.
Senator Archambault was informed, in a letter from RIPTA, that the transit company is working on plans to adjust bus stop distances to meet recently adopted service guidelines. Those guidelines, according to the letter, reflect the industry standard of about 900 feet (about a two or three minute walk) between stops.
While those distances might slightly increase or decrease depending on the route type or community density, in most cases RIPTA said it plans to remove some stops to meet the standards. Transit stops, the letter said, are a major reason that transit service is slower than automobile trips and the planned changes are intended to balance convenience and speed.
RIPTA said exceptions will be made in locations where walking conditions are dangerous, where topographical challenges impede pedestrian access and where other factors compromise safe bus operations.
“RIPTA has indicated that the bus stops will be realigned during the next few months, and asked for my input and concerns before any changes are made,” said Senator Archambault. “I am asking my constituents who are RIPTA users to contact me with their concerns about the existing bus stops so that I might pass that information on to the transit authority planners. We all understand the need for improvements, but I want to make sure that the input of my constituents is taken into consideration before RIPTA starts making changes that riders will find inconvenient.”
Anyone interested in sharing their opinion with Senator Archambault can call him at 276-2599 (State House office) or by e-mailing him at email@example.com.
AG Sues Woonsocket
AG Kilmartin files lawsuit against the city of Woonsocket.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has filed a lawsuit against the city of Woonsocket citing that the city knowingly and willfully violated the Rhode Island Access to Public Record Acts (APRA).
According to Kilmartin, who filed the complaint in Rhode Island Superior Court on Thursday, the city failed to provide Attorney Michael Kelley with documents he requested related to the project for building a new water treatment plant.
Kelly initially requested the public records on Dec. 21, 2012 and the city claimed that it did not see the request until Jan. 2 because the clerk was on vacation. The city then requested an additional 20 days to respond, Despite the extension, Kelly’s request was not granted, which led him to notify the Attorney General’s office on March 15.
"We recognize that many cities and towns are struggling financially, but that cannot be held out as an excuse for failing to comply with the law," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Government has an obligation to its citizenry to be transparent and responsive. In this instance, as in the past, the City of Woonsocket failed to be both."
The maximum penalty under the APRA is $2,000 for each knowing and willful violation.
Taveras Education Tour
Mayor Taveras stops in Denver on his ongoing Mayors for Education Excellence Tour.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras joined Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to tour Denver’s public schools on Wednesday as part of the Mayors for Educational Excellence Tour (MEET).
"The tour offers us an opportunity to share innovative strategies and overhaul how we approach education. Providence is focused on the strategies necessary to dramatically raise the percentage of students reading on grade level by the end of third grade," said Taveras. "Working with a coalition of community partners, we are placing hundreds of high-impact volunteers in city classrooms, boosting kindergarten readiness, expanding meaningful summer learning opportunities and working to address chronic absenteeism. Providence's comprehensive plan to invest in young people and improve third grade reading proficiency has earned national recognition."
The mayors will continue to highlight fresh policies and programs at each of the stops in Sacramento, Providence and San Antonio. Over the course of the next several months, MEET and the Mayors hope to be the voice and start of nationwide change in public schools.
MEET was founded to share successful education policies and programs from each mayor's K-12 public school system that can be implemented in school districts across the country. Though the mayors have employed different educational policies and programs in each of their cities, they are united in purpose: bringing the most transformative, successful measures to schools across the country.
Cicilline on Shutdown
Rep. Cicilline discusses the end of the federal government shutdown.
U.S. Congressman David Cicilline issued the following statement on Thursday in response to the federal government shutdown ending.
"After more than two weeks of an unnecessary and painful federal government shutdown, Congress has finally agreed on a bipartisan proposal that immediately opens the government, avoids a default by the United States, and establishes a budget conference committee between the House and Senate that will work out broader fiscal issues and report back by December 13th.
"Now that we know this immediate crisis has been averted, it’s important that we get back to work on addressing the serious challenges facing our country and focus on growing the economy and creating jobs, reforming our broken immigration system, investing in rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and responsibly reducing the debt."
According to Standard and Poor’s, the government shutdown has taken roughly $24 billion out of the U.S. economy.
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