At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1) proposed a resolution requesting Governor Dan McKee and Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Greene impose a state-wide policy mandating all K-12 teachers and school employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or comply with weekly testing.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. It is the best way for school employees to protect themselves as well as the students they serve. With many Providence students still too young for vaccination, it is important to ensure that teachers who care for these children all day, five days a week, do not go unvaccinated and untested,” stated Councilman John Goncalves.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Providence County has been classified as an area of substantial COVID-19 transmission. Nearly 800,000 Rhode Islanders have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, however school children under 12 years of age are not yet eligible, leaving them at a high risk for contracting and spreading the virus.
“It is critically important for the safety of our school community that we vaccinate as many people as possible for COVID-19 who interact with our students, staff, and teachers. We now have a safe and effective FDA-approved vaccine that will provide a path back to a more normal school experience for our kids. I appreciate Councilman John Goncalves’ and the city council’s work on this resolution to increase vaccine update,” says Dr. Liz Goldberg, MD, ScM, Emergency Physician and Providence School Board Member.
Surrounding states including New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware have required their K-12 teachers to get vaccinated or go through weekly testing. Tonight’s resolution indicates that exemptions could be made for those with legitimate medical or religious restrictions.
“The School Board is working directly with the Superintendent and senior leadership at PPSD to support the District’s ongoing vaccination efforts. Increasing vaccination uptake is an important way to improve safety in our schools and we look forward to working collaboratively with our school partners to enhance uptake,” added Kinzel Thomas, President of the Providence School Board.
This resolution was co-sponsored by Councilwoman Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), Councilman Oscar Vargas (Ward 15), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14) Councilman Nicholas Narducci (Ward 4), Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9) and Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6) and was referred to the Committee on Ordinances.
Tonight, the Providence City Council voted to approve a new position in the police department to help strengthen community relations and public safety in Providence neighborhoods. The budget ordinance which creates the new position also maintains the funding for the position of an additional Police Major which the Council approved in the original FY 2022 budget ordinances adopted in July.
“We are excited to create this new position. The duties and responsibilities will be to coordinate the efforts of the community relations unit and infuse a culture of equity in the department as it shifts back to community policing and diversion services,” stated Council President John J. Igliozzi. “We heard loud and clear from residents and community organizations that the City needs a return to the approach to policing that includes community building and empathy.”
Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Chair of the Finance Committee stated, “The Chief of Police provided the Finance Committee with a job description for the new role and a clearly defined scope and charge, which is in line with a civilian (non-sworn police officer) position in the department. We strongly urge the Mayor to publicly post this high profile position, in order to attract the best candidates in an open and fair process.”
The Administrator of Community Relations and Diversion Services salary is $99,517- $125,905 plus health care and benefits.
“We chose to set the Administrator of Community Relations and Diversion Services salary at a substantial level because this is an important job that requires someone with broad and varied experience, with a track record of effective community building and understanding of diversion services,” stated Ryan.
Second passage of the ordinance is scheduled for October 21st.
The following statement was offered by Providence City Councilman Nicholas Narducci Jr. (Ward 4) regarding the cleanup of a homeless encampment area that has developed under the Route 146 overpass on Branch Avenue.
“Earlier today I participated in the cleanup of an area under and around the Route 146 overpass on Branch Avenue. The area was cleaned up in coordination with the Department of Public Works after many complaints from neighbors about trash and litter. Police were there for traffic safety and did not approach anyone. I also want to make very clear that no homeless who use this space for shelter were displaced and that I am continuing to work to ensure that these individuals have access to social support services.”
This morning, my neighbors and I were shocked to see large amounts of water flowing down our street and into our lawns and driveways. Providence Water crews quickly arrived on the scene and were able to manage the issue. Water was shut off on Dorothy Ave for about three hours, but is now back up and running and the flooding has stopped.
I would like to commend the great work of Anthony Martone of the Providence Water Board, along with foreman Mike Quirk and his crew, who were able to manage this issue quickly and minimize any damage to the street and surrounding personal property.
The City of Providence remains in working order thanks to the many crews that go to work every day to ensure that our water is running, our streets are clean and our lights are on. So, I extend my appreciation to the crew who helped my neighbors and I today, and to all the city employees that make a career out of helping their neighbors.
During the summer months, I have been communicating with residents, City departments and Strive Realty regarding the redevelopment of the property located at 663 Admiral Street. Tonight’s scheduled community meeting at the property has been postponed due to rain, but will be rescheduled in the coming weeks.
This week, I learned that a demolition permit was erroneously issued to the property owners by the City’s Department of Inspections and Standards without receiving all proper documentation from the Rhode Island Department of Health. In order to acquire a demolition permit, developers must submit letters regarding all utilities, a surety bond, lead and asbestos reports, a certificate of liability, and a copy of the developer’s professional license. The developers of 663 Admiral Street were issued a demolition permit without submitting proper asbestos testing documentation from the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Therefore, a stop work order has since been issued to halt the demolition. No further work will take place until the City’s Department of Inspections and Standards receives the proper documentation from the Department of Health confirming that there is no asbestos present at the site of 663 Admiral Street.
I have been in touch with the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Management to confirm that the developer is complying with all regulations. I have also been in touch with the Department of Inspections and Standards to find out when and why this faulty permit was issued.
Additionally, it has come to my attention that the developer has changed the scope of the project and will no longer be seeking a zoning change for the site. This means the project will no longer be under the purview of the City Council. Instead, the City Planning Commission will be reviewing the project, based on regulatory requests made by the developer.
At this time, the matter does not fall under the jurisdiction of the City Council; however, I will remain closely engaged with the project and will continue to keep residents updated as new development plans emerge. The redevelopment of 663 Admiral Street is a keystone in improving the quality of life and public safety on Admiral Street and in the surrounding neighborhoods. The building has fallen into disrepair, becoming a hotspot for crime and dangerous behavior including a homicide last year.
I will continue working with all community stakeholders to ensure that the construction process, the scale and design of the project are all carried out with the utmost regard to the safety and character of Wanskuck and Elmhurst Neighborhoods.
Please follow this link for the Department of Inspection and Standards viewpoint page relating to this property: https://bit.ly/2Xa6UKK.
City Council President John J. Igliozzi, joined by other Council colleagues has sent an open letter urging Mayor Jorge Elorza to work with the Council to reclassify the Community Relations and Diversion Services Police Major position to a Public Safety Community-Police Liaison, and to clarify that the new role is a civilian position. The open letter also notes that the Council is prepared to authorize a new Police Major position to provide a much-needed opportunity for a minority police officer to rise within the department’s ranks.
Today, the budget ordinances will be reintroduced to rename the new position and clarify its scope and role, and to create a new Police Major position.
The full open letter to Mayor Elorza can be found in PDF format using this link.