Providence City Council Votes on Process for First-Ever Hearing to Remove an Appointed City Official; Witness and Document Lists Determined

Nov 5, 2021 | 0 comments

Tonight, the City Council voted on several matters related to the upcoming Providence Home Rule Charter Section 403 public hearing to remove City Clerk Shawn Selleck from office for allegedly creating a toxic work environment and violating the City’s Code of Conduct.

The public hearing later this month will mark the first time the City Council has held a Section 403 proceeding. The hearing process was established by Home Rule Charter and approved by voters of the City of Providence to ensure there exists a failsafe measure to hold appointed officials in the City accountable, and to remove them from their positions in the most serious cases, “for neglect of duty or gross misconduct having an effect upon the discharge of the duties…..” Section 403 applies to all department directors and deputy directors, appointed officers and any appointee of the Mayor or the City Council, with the exception of the staff of the Mayor’s office.

In preparation for the hearing, the Council voted tonight to establish procedural rules for the upcoming hearing; to request that the City Solicitor provide certain records and documents to Mr. Selleck’s attorney; and to compel the appearance of certain individuals to provide testimony at the hearing.

Council President John J. Igliozzi issued the below statement following tonight’s Council meeting:

“Unfortunately, tonight the City Council was tasked with establishing the parameters of the first-ever Section 403 removal hearing against an administrative officer in the City of Providence. The actions we took tonight were in response to the long-standing complaints by three female employees who allege bullying, harassment and a toxic work environment caused by Shawn Selleck, the City Clerk.

“We all should give the three women who had the courage to come forward with their complaints the respect and dignity they deserve, and avoid minimizing or mischaracterizing their experiences.

“The City’s Code of Conduct, Anti-bullying Policy, Anti-harassment Policy, and the Workplace Violence Policy are designed to protect our employees. An independent investigation found that Mr. Selleck violated all of these policies. The City Council, upon reading those findings, voted unanimously to pursue charges against Mr. Selleck.

“The City Council has an ethical and moral duty to protect City employees from harm, and to exercise our Charter-established checks and balances.

“The charges against Mr. Selleck will be heard at the Section 403 hearing later this month in accordance with the Council’s votes this evening.

“The Council will weigh the charges and vote at the conclusion of the hearing.”

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