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.
Approved budget contains no tax increases and uses $42 million in stimulus funds for small business relief, youth investments, free public Internet access, and more.
Tonight, the Providence City Council voted to approve a $539 million FY 2022 City Budget including $42 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to address both immediate needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic and longer-term investments that will pay dividends for years to come. The budget holds the line on residential and commercial property taxes, while funding key City services that residents expect and deserve.
Tonight’s vote to approve the FY 2022 City budget follows 5 weeks and more than 11 Finance Committee hearings to receive input from the Mayor’s office, Council members, and city residents and community organizations.
“I want to thank my colleagues on the City Council and Mayor Elorza for working collaboratively to put together and pass this budget that invests in our city at a time of great challenge for our residents,” said City Council President John J. Igliozzi. “Developing this budget during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge. Through months of hearings, we have heard just how hard hit our families, small businesses, and community organizations have been by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. To address these needs, I am pleased that we are able to utilize $42 million in ARPA funds to invest in summer programming for our youth, early learning programs, free public internet access at parks and recreation centers, anti-violence programs, homeless interventions, street sweeping and sewer repairs, our public libraries, and relief for our small businesses. In addition, this budget continues to invest in core City services including inspections and public safety, while holding the line on taxes.”
Continued Igiozzi, “I also want to highlight this budget’s investment in public safety, which will provide the staffing and resources necessary to respond to criminal activity and to keep the people of our city safe. Talking with residents, many have said they are worried about a rise in crime and support smart investments in our police department, as well as substantive reforms to address community concerns about some policing practices. That is why this budget includes funding for recruitment of new police officers to protect our neighborhoods, and also creates a new Community Relations and Diversion Services Major position within the police department to resolve public safety issues that would be better dealt with through outreach and partnerships with City agencies and community-based organizations.”
“During this time of great need, I am pleased that my colleagues on the City Council and Mayor Elorza have worked together to pass a budget that helps our residents, small businesses, and community organizations get through the COVID-19 pandemic, while making long term investments in our city,” said Councilwoman and Finance Chair Jo-Ann Ryan. “I am particularly pleased that this budget provides $7 million in direct relief for Providence’s small businesses, invests in early education for our youth, and invests in basic City services like public safety and housing and building safety inspections to address quality of life issues.”
FY 2022 City budget highlights include:
•No property tax increases.
•Invests in the Department of Inspections and Standards to deal with quality-of-life issues.
•Invests in the Department of Public Property to hire additional personnel to handle projects in a more efficient and timely fashion.
•Creates a new Department of Equity and Inclusion.
•Invests in public safety, including expansion of diversion efforts, creating anti-violence programs, and provisions to fund recruitment of new Providence Police officers.
•Continues to invest in City parks with a portion of Tax Stabilization revenue going to the Parks and Recreation fund.
•Provides an additional $300,000 for Providence Community Centers for programs that qualify for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resources.
•Creates a new Community Relations and Diversion Services Major position within the Providence Police Department.
•10% of tax revenue from projects with a Tax Stabilization Agreement (TSA) will be dedicated to supporting debt service on the $25M Providence Redevelopment Agency Special Obligation Bond that funded the Providence Housing Trust in FY21.
•Invests $350,000 to expand the number of pre-kindergarten classrooms in Providence, increasing access to quality early learning programs.
•Invests ARPA funds for night basketball, recreational center programs for our youths, free internet access at our largest parks and recreation centers, sewer repair fund, and a $7 million small business relief fund.
I am pleased to share that the Providence Police Department has announced the 70th annual Police Training Academy will commence on Monday, May 24th. The academy will be located in Ward 5, at the former Providence Water Supply Building at 552 Academy Avenue and will run Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
With fifty new recruits, part of the most diverse class in history, this is a great opportunity for our Police Department to grow and improve based upon the unique needs of our city. These men and women will be trained in classroom and role play scenarios on how to best serve and protect all Providence residents and visitors.
In my role on the City Council, I have been an advocate for the expansion, development, and enhanced training of our police force. With a large swath of our existing police officers approaching retirement eligibility, it is crucial that a new generation of officers is recruited and trained. I extend my appreciation to the Providence Police Department for working to get this year’s academy up and running despite the complications presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I welcome this year’s recruits to our neighborhood and wish them the best of luck as they begin their training. I look forward to seeing the value that they bring to our community as future members of the Providence Police Department.