Last night, there was yet another senseless murder in our community, and I am deeply troubled by this event and the recent violent crimes we have seen all across Providence.
I continue to search for answers as to why this is happening in our City. Understandably, so many feel significant unrest due to all that we are facing, not just as a city but as a nation. Violent crime is up all over the country, and pundits and others have given us several different reasons for this. Still, I am asking our community to work together to support each other and to be responsive, and if you see something, say something.
We are living in a divisive time, unlike anything I have seen before. Our community is suffering, and the daily news reports of yet another person shot, or stabbed, or kidnapped is leaving many in our community at wit’s end. Our residents remain afraid. So many of our residents have felt trapped in their own homes due to the virus, and now that anxiety has been compounded by the fear of violent crime. None of us want to live like this.
I’m asking the community, our elected leaders, and our community leaders to come together to work to find solutions to the troubles that we are facing. No one can fix these issues alone. It will take all of us to do our part. I am pledging my support today to do whatever I can to build bridges and find solutions.
Lastly, I send my deepest condolences to the friends and family of Dante Mann, who so tragically lost his life last night.
Pedro J. Espinal
Providence City Council
Councilman – Ward 10
On Saturday, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4) was joined by City Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia (Ward 6), Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Director Brett Smiley from the Rhode Island Department of Administration, Senator Maryellen Goodwin, and Representative-Elect Nathan Biah for the official opening of the Hawkins Street Bridge.
“The Hawkins Street Bridge was closed to traffic since October of 2017,” stated Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. “When I first learned that the bridge was being closed without notice, I was very frustrated. However, I took that frustration and put that into action. Working with Mayor Elorza, the Office of Governor Gina Raimondo, and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, I was able to bring everyone to the table and share how this closure was disrupting our community.”
The bridge repairs were initially slated not to be completed until 2024, which would have caused significant hardship for the North End for several years.
Senior Deputy Majority Leader Narducci Jr. continued, “The closure of the bridge caused a major disruption to the resident of the North End. It was pushing more vehicles on to Branch Avenue and causing longer commutes for neighbors. I am proud that the City and the State were able to work together to bring this bridge back online sooner than expected, and the North End is no longer divided.”
In addition to Saturday’s Ribbon-Cutting Senior Deputy Majority Narducci Jr. Joined Mayor Elorza at the City’s Gun Buyback Program held at the Da Vinci Center in Ward 4. Several stolen and illegal guns were taken off our streets. The program was in-part funded by Providence youth, who created a series of art pieces using repurposed weapons. Those pieces were sold to help generate the funding for this program.
“The Hawkins Street Bridge project was the second major restoration project to be completed in Ward 4. Recently, the Canada Pond Dam reconstruction project was completed and the pond is full once more. It was a great weekend for Ward 4 and I am proud of the work we have been able to do to better our community,” continued Senior Deputy Majority Leader Narducci Jr.
Ensuring the Jobs of Over 700 Providence Hotel Employees
City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) introduced an Ordinance, which was passed by the Council for the first time, at tonight’s City Council Meeting ensuring that any hotel worker who was laid off or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic would be rehired before other candidates, as City hotels come back online. The Ordinance is being co-sponsored by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Council President Pro Tempore Michael J. Correia (Ward 6), Majority Whip John J. Igliozzi, Esq. (Ward 7), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), and Councilors David A. Salvatore (Ward 14), Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), Rachel Miller (Ward 13), James E. Taylor (Ward 8), Pedro J. Espinal (Ward 10), and John Goncalves (Ward 1).
“Over 700 Providence hotel employees are currently laid off due to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” stated Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan. “As the industry comes back online, it is important that we get our City’s hotel employees back to work. If you worked at a hotel in March and were laid off, then you should be called back when that hotel reopens. This important piece of legislation will ensure that our hardworking hospitality professionals get their jobs back and can reclaim their livelihoods.”
Leader Ryan continued, “Tourism is a vital component and revenue stream for the City of Providence. Currently, the City’s room occupancy tax revenue is down nearly $700,000 from last year. As travel begins to open up, the hospitality industry will return as a large economic generator for the City of Providence. The proposed legislation will ensure that these dedicated workers will have the option to return to their job by classification and seniority. It’s about fairness.”
City Council President Sabina Matos stated, “Providence hotel workers are the lifeblood of our tourism industry. They are the ones that welcome our visitors, take care of them during their stay, and are part of the very reason why so many people fall in love with our diverse and beautiful City of neighborhoods.”
Over the past several decades, the City of Providence has invested heavily in tourism, from its support of iconic cultural events like WaterFire and its Annual RI PRIDE celebration. Through tax stabilization agreements that gave investors the help, they needed to bring their hotels to Providence. This investment was also an investment in the City’s workforce. With 700 jobs on the line, this legislation will ensure that hotels located in Providence will not be able to permanently fire their employees and ask them to reapply as if they were just starting out with the company.
Majority Leader Ryan continued, “We have read about hotels across the country telling dismissed employees that they could reapply for their jobs. Yet, they start from the bottom-up. Many hotel employees go to work at these establishments for the opportunity to grow within the organization. This is simply not a good business practice. During a time when so many are out of work and are not making ends meet with unemployment, it is incumbent on us as elected leaders to do all we can to protect the interest and livelihood of our hospitality workers. It’s about fairness.”
The legislation also includes protections and enforcement for employees that are not brought back to work, including the right to bring legal action and penalties. The legislation does include a sunset clause and will remain in effect until November 1, 2022, unless it is repealed or the City Council approves an extension or re-authorization.
The Hospitality Worker Comeback legislation had its first passage tonight and will be referred to the Ordinance Committee for further review and discussion.
Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) along with Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia (Ward 6), Majority Whip John J. Igliozzi Esq. (Ward 7), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 8), and Councilman James E. Taylor (Ward 8) are calling on Mayor Elorza to create a city-wide public safety plan to address growing violent crime in our neighborhoods. The comprehensive city-wide safety plan will call for an immediate start to the police academy, a dedicated funding stream for social services in each police district, a police training curriculum that prioritizes cultural and socioemotional competencies, and a re-emphasis on community policing as a proactive strategy to mitigate violence and crime.
“After several weeks of violent crimes including shootings, a kidnapping, and murders, it is clear that the City needs to support a proactive approach to policing,” stated City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan. “Violent crime is up overall across the country, and much of that seems to be due to the global pandemic and the social strife that has plagued our nation. However, we cannot allow the quality of life of our residents to be further impacted by the violent crimes happening in our neighborhoods. We need to properly staff our department and give police the support and tools they need to keep residents safe.”
While Providence has had community policing programs for years, the department’s depleted numbers have caused officers to shift their focus to responding to calls rather than fostering healthy relationships with their communities and performing the proactive investigatory work that stems crime. This has diminished the effectiveness of our community policing programs.
Therefore, the Councilors are calling on the administration to start the new police academy without further delay.
“We appreciate the action from the City Council to allow us to continue to move forward with the 70th Providence Police Academy. The Training Division is in the midst of the recruiting/selection process and we are eager to move forward,” stated Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr., Chief of Police, Providence Police Department.
City Council President Sabina Matos stated, “We have seen how community policing has a direct effect on our neighborhoods. When residents are familiar with and know who the officers patrolling their communities are, it leads to a better sense of security. It provides residents with direct contact if they see something that doesn’t seem right. If we are going to lower the crime rate, we need to support the police by providing social services needed in the City.”
Further, the Councilors are calling for the City to establish a dedicated funding for social service programs for each police district in Providence. They are also calling on the administration to provide more training for officers, with training focused on equity, diversity, and cultural understanding of the City’s diverse population.
“I am concerned that we are going to see a mass exodus of officers retiring in the coming year, and that causes me great concern,” stated Finance Chairman and Majority Whip John Igliozzi. “Reduced ranks will further stress an already overburdened department. We need to ensure that our police force is at capacity and that we have in place a strategic plan for crime prevention.”
The Councilors are also calling on the City to implement and explore best practices in violent crime prevention practices. The Councilor’s will be introducing legislation with further details and desired goals and outcomes at the November 5, 2020, City Council meeting.
Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. stated, “I am in full support of our men and women who go to work every day to serve and protect our community. We need to support them to do the work they are charged to do. I believe that these actions and best practices will help us put a tamper on violent crime in the City and improve the quality of life for our residents.”
For more information, visit us on the web at council.providenceri.gov
Tonight, many of us are angered and shocked to hear the news of another incident of violence in our City. The reports of multiple shootings outside of the Rhode Island School for the Deaf in the area of Corliss Park late this afternoon should be alarming to residents, city leaders, and public safety officials. We need more police presence in the North End, and I have been in contact with the Providence Police Department asking them to increase patrols both on foot and by cruisers.
This senseless shooting did not just occur by a park and school, but also by Independence House, an affordable housing complex for people with disabilities. Had today been a warm and sunny day, this could have impacted children in the park and residents enjoying the fall weather.
I will keep residents updated as I know more and will work with community members and our police department to address these this recent uptick in violence we are facing.
David A. Salvatore
Providence City Council
Councilor – Ward 14