Councilwoman Nirva R. LaFortune (Ward 3), Council President Pro Tempore Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Majority Leader James Taylor (Ward 8), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Majority Whip Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilwoman Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), and Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1), penned a letter to Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee regarding the state’s response to the recent uptick in cases of COVID-19.
The City Council promised to give Providence Police the tools they need to help solve the city’s 23rd homicide of 2021, following a deadly shooting Saturday night on Huxley Avenue, in the Elmhurst neighborhood.
“I am troubled to hear of, yet another young life taken by violence in the City of Providence, especially in a neighborhood that I call home and represent,” said Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5). “I am working with police and city departments. A full investigation is underway. We need to keep our neighborhoods safe. I have led the effort on the City Council to strengthen our police force through recruitment and training. We need more officers on the streets.”
Council President John J. Igliozzi (Ward 7) condemned the violence and promised police the Council’s full support. “I commend the men and women of the Providence Department for their quick response to last night’s latest act of violence. Too many guns are on our streets. Too many young people are dying senselessly from gun violence. I’m committed to giving Providence Police the resources they need for this investigation,” said Igliozzi.
Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3) released the following statement after last night’s deadly shooting. “As our city grapples with its 23rd homicide this year during a season that is supposed to be filled with joy and celebration, I am calling on my colleagues in government, public safety officials and community members to join me in putting an end to this senseless violence. This is an issue that affects not only Providence, but our entire state. As we approach 2022, I hope we can work within communities to take a restorative approach to these issues. We must keep working for the those who have lost a son, brother, husband, or friend; not just last night, but every time a family has faced tragedy like this in our city.”
This evening, the Providence City Council voted unanimously to approve a Providence Home Rule Charter Section 403 resolution to bring charges against City Clerk Shawn Selleck, and to seek his suspension or removal from office. The resolution charges Mr. Selleck with the following:
· Violations of the City Code of Conduct
· Violations of the City Anti-bullying Policy
· Violations of the City Anti-harassment Policy
· Violations of the City Workplace Violence Policy
· Creation of a Toxic Work Environment
· Inappropriate Management
The charges contained in the resolution are based on an independent investigation conducted by respected employment and labor attorney Carly Iafrate, which determined Mr. Selleck violated the City’s Code of Conduct, Anti-Bullying, Anti-Harassment, and Workforce Violence policies through a pattern of bullying, confrontational, and intimidating behavior that created a toxic work environment within the City Clerk’s office.
Pursuant to Section 403, these charges will be presented in writing to the Mayor and Mr. Selleck, and after a 30-day period, the Council will call a public hearing to weigh the charges and vote on the suspension or removal of the City Clerk (two-thirds vote of the Council required).
I am deeply saddened by the numerous violent acts that took place across our city last night, which resulted in multiple injuries and the death of a 20-year old woman.
I have spoken with Mayor Elorza, Police Chief Clements and I am working with the Public Safety Department and the Institute for Non-Violence as our community grapples with these devastating events.
The families of the young woman who tragically died, and all those who were injured last night, remain in my prayers. I have reached out to the young woman’s family to offer my condolences and support.
As elected officials and community leaders, we must work together to keep guns off our streets and create productive and healthy alternatives for youth in our city.
This is not who we are as a city. As we move forward let us remember that violence only brings pain and suffering. I will continue to work with the community and stakeholders in honor of those who have been impacted by the violence in our city.
Councilwoman, Ward 3
Providence City Council
At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilors Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3) and John Goncalves (Ward 1) proposed a resolution calling for a review of Mayor Jorge Elorza’s license agreement with the charter school Achievement First, which grants the charter school use of space in a City-owned elementary school. The resolution describes how the execution of license agreement did not follow the required public process outlined in Section 416 (6) of the City Charter which requires a resolution of the City Council to enter into a lease of a City building. This resolution was passed by the full council.
“With the current state of Providence’s school system, City leaders should all be working together to ensure that major decisions such as this license agreement are carefully considered and deliberated. It is customary for the City Council to review any lease of City property, and it is in the best interest of Mayor Elorza, Achievement First and all Providence students for the Council to take the time to properly vet this agreement,” stated Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2).
According to the City Charter, any lease of City owned property must be authorized by the City Council. Mayor Elorza entered into a license agreement wherein Achievement First will rent a portion of the property located at the Charles M. Fortes Elementary school for the purpose of operating a charter school at this location beginning in September. The City Council was not given the opportunity to review or approve this agreement prior to it being finalized.
“The City Council is the legislative body of the City of Providence. We are here to provide an open, democratic process for the City’s development and initiatives. It is disappointing that the mayoral administration did not initially reach out for Council input on a plan which involves the lease of valuable public property. We are calling on the administration to comply with the City Charter and allow for due process,” added Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1).
In March of 2015, the City Council reviewed a similar situation, in which The International Charter School was being considered to lease the Windmill Street School building. This request was communicated by the City’s Director of Public Property to the City Council. The Council’s Committee on City Property reviewed the request and reported back to the full Council, which voted to against the lease agreement.
“Moving forward, communication and transparency between our City’s governing bodies should be a priority. As a City Council, we cannot fulfill our duties if we cannot work collaboratively with the Mayor and other City departments. While charter schools remain a contentious issue in our city, this is also a matter of principle and good government. We are committed to adhering to the requirements set forth by the city charter, which provides the foundation of our city government,” added Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune.
Before going into summer recess, the Rhode Island State Senate passed Senate Bill Number 788 which regulates third-party delivery services. The bill prevents third-party delivery services such as Grub Hub, Door Dash or Uber Eats from using the likeness, registered trademark or intellectual property belonging to a merchant without first obtaining the merchant’s consent. While the General Assembly had been debating the merits of this bill, the Providence City Council had also been working to create similar regulations at the City level.
In April of 2020, Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune first introduced an ordinance targeted at curbing predatory practices of third-party delivery services which had become major components of the hospitality industry during the pandemic. Following extensive community input, as well as meetings with representatives from the third-party delivery companies, the Councilwoman introduced a revised ordinance in January of 2021 which was sent to the full council with a positive recommendation from the ordinance committee. In addition to her advocacy at the local level, Councilwoman LaFortune provided written testimony in support of Senate Bill 788 based upon the feedback received during the local deliberation of her ordinance.
“I commend Senator Lombardi, Representative Craven and all of the legislators who worked on on Senate Bill 788 and House Bill 5346. While third-party delivery services have proven to be an expedient and accessible way to order food, these services can also be exploitative and leave local restaurants on the losing end of this convenient proposition. It is a relief to see measures being taken at the state level to protect local business and small business owners throughout Rhode Island,” stated Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3).
Third-party delivery services became especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic when take-out has been the safest and easiest way for Rhode Islanders to access their favorite restaurants. However, these services have also caused significant difficulties for partnering restaurants. With the passage of Senate Bill 788, the local ordinance will no longer move forward as the protections that would have been provided at the city level are now in place for businesses throughout the State of Rhode Island as well as Providence.
“As technology advances, it is great to see innovations that make it easier to do things like order food from your favorite restaurant. However, lawmakers at all levels of government should be putting in the work to make sure that the interests of Rhode Islanders and local business owners are being protected from any exploitation or unethical business practices. I look forward to continuing these efforts with my colleagues in government at both the state and local levels,” added Councilwoman LaFortune.