Statement from Council President Sabina Matos

Statement from Council President Sabina Matos

It has been reported that Councilman Aponte has filed for protection under the Federal Bankruptcy Laws, and I believe that this is a personal matter. This is a decision that many Americans face every year, and it’s a difficult one.  He has a constitutional right to chart this course, and this is not something that should be used as political fodder.

Councilman Aponte’s current situation has no bearing on his role as a City Councilperson, and I ask my colleagues to be respectful as he begins this extremely private process.

Providence City Council Elects Shawn Selleck as City Clerk

Providence City Council Elects Shawn Selleck as City Clerk

(L to R) Katia Lugo, Sheri Petronio, Tina Mastroianni, Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris, Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan, Council President Sabina Matos, City Clerk Shawn Selleck, Antonieta Falconi, Councilwoman Helen Anthony, and Council President Pro Tempore Michael J. Correia

Selleck, a Resident of the West End of Providence,
as Elected to Serve a Four-Year Term

At tonight’s City Council meeting,  Shawn Selleck of Providence was elected to serve as Providence’s City Clerk for the 2019-2022 term.

Selleck previously worked for the Clerk’s Department, as he served there as the open government and civic innovation consultant from 2013 until 2014. During his tenure, he was instrumental in launching the City’s first Open Meetings Portal, and he worked with the City Council to purchase laptop computers so that the legislative body could go as “paperless” as possible. He also implemented a paperless pre-procurement process which resulted in the elimination of thousands of pages of documentation monthly, by utilizing digital approval and workflow technology. Currently, he serves as a project manager in the Department of Information Technology for the State of Rhode Island.

“First and foremost, Lori Hagen has been a tremendous leader and has been an astounding civil servant, and I cannot thank her enough for all the work she has done to keep Providence moving forward. During her tenure she has digitized thousands of documents, provided access to thousands of meetings and other important historical information on the Open Meetings Portal,” stated City Council President Sabina Matos. “As we started this new term, I have been thinking about the future of the City Council, and all its departments, and what that looks like in 2022 when several of us step off the Council and several long-time employees will likely retire.  I want to ensure that our incoming Councilors and employees have a steady foundation to build upon, and there is not a ’brain-drain’ of important institutional knowledge.  The vision that Shawn expressed to me to transform the Clerk’s Department to become more technologically focused resonated with me and my vision for the future of the departments that the Council oversees.”

The Department of the City Clerk is the official repository for all ordinances, resolutions and official documents related to the government of the City of Providence. The Clerk also is responsible for the authenticity of all legal documents and oversees the Providence City Archives. The Archives houses an extensive collection of manuscripts, printed material, maps, blueprints, and images that span the period from the Colony’s founding in 1636 to the present.

“I’m honored to be elected by the City Council to serve in this important role,” stated newly elected City Clerk Shawn Selleck. “Six years ago, I had the pleasure of working on behalf of the Providence City Council, the Office of the City Clerk and the Office of the Mayor to act on recommendations of the Open Providence Commission for Transparency and Accountability. By leading a modernization effort that included accomplishments with a wide range of complexity, from the simple replacement of cassette tape recorders with digital recording devices to the more challenging implementation of the City’s first Open Meetings Portal, our residents were provided better access to the records of City Hall. I am grateful for this new opportunity to continue that progress, serve the Council and my fellow residents and work with the staff in the Department of the City Clerk.”

Majority Leader Ryan stated, “I am proud of my colleagues on the Council. While change is difficult, it is important that the Clerk’s office keep abreast of state-of-the-art technology to increase transparency and public participation. Mr. Selleck brings a host of technology skills that will enhance the Clerk’s office operations and the Council’s goals for a more open government.” Leader Ryan continued, “The City Clerk’s office by City Charter is the keeper of the City’s Records and Archives. This office needs to communicate with legislators and residents regularly and inform the public of ongoing City-wide business all with the goal of encouraging robust public participation.  I thank Ms. Hagen for her exemplary professionalism and her years of service to the City and wish her well.”

Lori Hagen has served the City of Providence for nearly 30 years and has been the City Clerk for the last two terms.  Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. said, “It has been a pleasure to work with Lori for all these years. She has been a consummate professional, and I wish her well in all her future endeavors. I along with my colleagues welcome Shawn, and remind him that he has very big shoes to fill.”

“Shawn will be stepping into a very big role, and we have big plans for him and the future of the Clerk’s Department,” stated City Council President Pro Tempore Michael J. Correia. “I am looking forward to working with him to make the Clerk’s office more engaging and continue serving the people of Providence with a focus on customer service and accessibility.  Everyone on this Council and in this office wishes Lori the best as she moves on from this role, and we thank her for her 30-years of service.”

Shawn Selleck lives in the West End neighborhood of Providence with his wife, Antonieta. He begins serving as City Clerk immediately.

Three Providence City Councilors Introduce Resolution Opposing Monetization of Providence Water (House Bill 5390)

Providence City Councilors Rachel Miller, Seth Yurdin, and Katherine Kerwin introduced a resolution opposing the plans to privatize Providence Water and opposing the proposed state enabling legislation (House Bill 5390).

“It’s not credible that the City of Providence will somehow receive hundreds of millions of dollars today without residents, rate-payers and employees bearing the cost for future decades through higher rates, lower wages and potential water quality issues,” said Yurdin.  “It’s a false choice to pit our water supply against the city’s fiscal health.  No one disagrees that the city faces long-term financial challenges, but the water-transfer scheme is yet another one-time fix with serious long-term costs to our community,” Yurdin continued.

“To consider removing control of our water from the public hand’s in 2019, when access to affordable, quality water is a global risk, is a short-sighted proposal,” Miller said. “What we know from communities across the country, is that when private entities manage public resources like water, rates go up, quality goes down, worker protections are eroded, and the environment is threatened,” she added.

“Water monetization is being presented as the only option in a financial crisis,” Councilwoman Kerwin said. “But, our city spending priorities don’t align with the idea that we are in crisis. There are options we have not yet taken, and after hearing from countless members from my community, I feel selling water, one of our most precious assets at the expense of raising water rates, should be our last resort.”

The resolution was crafted in partnership with the Land and Water Sovereignty Campaign, a group led by Black, Indigenous, people of color, and environmental advocates. They shared the following joint statement:

“Water is an inalienable human right and shouldn’t be commodified. Monetization /privatization would negatively impact our most vulnerable communities and our environment. Over 600 cities and towns have already suffered the negative effects of monetization/ privatization. We oppose Mayor Elorza’s House Bill H5390, and we call for a moratorium of all negotiations and actions leading to monetization/privatization.”

City Council Awards $70K in Support of City Year Providence

City Council Awards $70K in Support of City Year Providence

Providence City Council President Sabina Matos, Ward 15, on Friday, February 15, 2019 awarded City Year Providence $70K to support its partnership with Providence Schools.

“City Year Providence is an organization that the Council has long supported, and has great respect for,” stated City Council President Sabina Matos. “The work that City Year AmeriCorps members do in our schools is life changing, and has a proven track record of helping our students achieve great things.”

In Providence, City Year supports the Providence Public School Department by providing focused supports to ensure students stay in school and on track to graduate. In each school, City Year AmeriCorps members add capacity to universal student support and school climate initiatives, family engagement nights, before and after school programs, whole-classroom management and engagement support.

“City Year provides critically important supports to our kids and improves education outcomes in our Providence schools,” said Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “Through this award, City Year corps members will be able to continue their tremendous work helping our kids reach their full potential.”

The funding to support the City Year program was set aside by the City Council and the Administration during last year’s budget cycle. Councilman David A. Salvatore was a strong supporter of the cause, as well as the Council’s Committee on Finance.

“We are so grateful for the City, City Council, and Providence Public School District partnership, and for their trust and belief in our support of our schools and students,” stated Jennie Johnson, Executive Director, City Year Providence. “We look forward to continuing to work alongside our school leaders, teachers, and families to provide support to our amazing students as they strive to realize their full and amazing potential. Thank you, for your belief in the power of young people and for your investment in our service and partnership.”

City Year Providence has successfully worked with the Providence Public School District to provide partner schools with a holistic portfolio of research-based and data-informed academic and social-emotional interventions, expanded learning programs, and activities that foster a school-wide climate of achievement. City Year provides a cost-effective solution that increases the adult-to-student ratio in schools and builds schools’ capacity to deliver individualized supports to students. With these supports, more students can reach grade-level academic proficiency, develop their non-cognitive social-emotional skills, and benefit from caring mentoring relationships with City Year AmeriCorps.

Superintendent of Providence Schools Christopher Maher said, “City Year continues to be an invaluable partner with Providence Public Schools, and we cannot thank them enough for their commitment to education and to our student’s well-being.”

Photo (Left to Right): Alex Molina, Managing Director of Impact for City Year Providence, City Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia, City Council President Sabina Matos, Jennie Johnson, Executive Director of City Year Providence, Providence Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Maher, City Council Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr., and Matthew Shumate, Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Jorge O. Elorza.


City Council Honors Black History Month With Exhibit

City Council Honors Black History Month With Exhibit

On Thursday, February 14, 2019 a new exhibit will open to the public on the day of Frederick Douglass’ believed date of birth. The exhibit shares the story of the African American Community in South Providence, commemorating a history full of both triumphs and struggles.

In honor of Black History Month, the Providence City Council and Providence City Archives partnered to create the exhibit “South Side: Where Providence Begins,” which will be showcased throughout the month of February until April 12, 2019. Located on the third floor of City Hall, the display showcases archival documents and historic information including maps, city documents, newspaper articles and biographies.

City Council Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), the Chairwoman of the Black History Committee and Councilman Luis Aponte (Ward 10), Co-Chairman will host the official opening ceremony for the exhibit on Friday, February 22, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. “This year we are shinning the spotlight on South Providence as a whole,” stated Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris. “People of color came to this City with limited resources and transformed South Providence into the vibrant neighborhood that it is today. Through this exhibit we are highlighting this resilient community and how they have shaped the history of Providence.”

“South Side: Where Providence Begins” is an homage to a region, whom many consider, the cultural and ethnic melting pot of Rhode Island. The exhibit is narrated through the social and historical lens of the African American community. From the post-WWII era; through the Civil Rights, education, and the Fair Housing Movement of the 60s, 70s & 80s; to the present, this exhibit explores the diaspora, adversity, growth, and achievement of African Americans – and people of color – who inhabit Wards 9, 10, & 11 of Providence.

Curated tours will be every Thursday starting at noon on the third floor of City Hall. Tours will also be available upon request by calling the Providence City Council Office at (401) 521-7477.

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