Council Suspends City Manager Chapman: 2018 City Council Elections in Question
The East Providence City Council voted at its March 28, 2018 meeting to suspend, with the intention of firing, City Manager Timothy Chapman. With little to no discussion, the council approved Ward Two councilwoman Anna Sousa's agenda request to dismiss Chapman. Joining Sousa was Ward Three Councilman Joe Botelho and Ward Four Councilman Brian Faria. Voting against the firing was Mayor and at-large councilman James Briden and Ward One councilman Robert Britto.
"In my three years on this council, this has been the second attempt to fire Tim Chapman. I wish there was another way. We are fixing roads, talking about a new high school, there is waterfront development. Mr. Chapman has done a very good job," said Britto.
"I'm not in favor of this," said Mayor Briden. Tim has done an excellent job and has received high praise from this council before."
Current Finance Director, Malcolm Moore was appointed Acting City Manager and will also keep his role as Director of all city finances. Moore and Chapman have clashed in the recent past.
This marks another in a long line of City Managers fired by a city council in East Providence. Richard Brown, Peter Graczykowski, Paul Kirby, Bill Fazioli and Paul Lemont are some of the managers let go in the recent past. Fazioli wasn't fired but left at the conclusion of his contract with rumors that he wasn't being appropriately supported by the council. Lemont, twice, wasn't renewed as manager, although he wanted to stay on. A first-ever elected Mayor will take office in November, 2018.
After the vote to fire Chapman, the deposed Manager left the room to sustained applause from a couple dozen supporters. One resident leapt to his feet from the front row and screamed out at the council, "embarrassment, you're an embarrassment to this city," as he and others stormed out of the meeting.
Elections in 2018 Raising Concerns
In 2012 East Providence voters gave approval to four year terms for city council members instead of the current two year term. Voters also approved the same for school committee members and also allowed for the city council approval of teacher contracts. Only one problem. No one took any action on the ballot amendment and each council has been subsequently elected for two years with ballot language in 2012, 2014 and 2016 which clearly stated council candidates were running for "two year terms." The council approval of teacher contracts was allowed, however. School committee members come under state Title 16 laws and may not be involved in this current controversy.
After Chrissy Rossi asked why the public vote was never reflected in the city charter, Mayor and councilman-at-large, James Briden asked the city law department for a ruling last month. "In accordance with the East Providence City Charter, I have requested a written legal opinion from our City Solicitor on whether State ratification is required for the ballot question changing the Council term from two to four years approved by EP voters in November 2012," said Briden.
"The second part of my request is that if the answer is no, then does the current Council term now change to four years or must the change become effective in the next term following the election in November 2018," Briden added.
City Solicitor Gregory Dias did not give an opinion rather an assistant solicitor did so. It is not readily known why Solicitor Dias did not render a legal opinion.
North Kingstown resident Robert Craven, an assistant solicitor in East Providence, gave an opinion on the status of the 2018 East Providence General Election. Craven is also a probate judge in Charlestown, RI and a State Representative from North Kingstown, RI.
The city's assistant solicitor wrote the following: "I have reviewed the language of Ballot Question #4 from the East Providence Ballot question ballot which was passed by the voters in East Providence in the November 2012 general election. Based on that review, I have determined that the election was valid and certified by both the East Providence Board of Canvassers and the Rhode Island Secretary of State ... The amendment took effect for the 2014 election and shall therefore be applicable to every election thereafter." - Craven.
Prior and current council members, as well as other city officials have said very little or nothing since that 2012 vote. Two prior public votes to move ahead with bonding for a new city recreation center have also been long denied by city councils and officials. And although the 2012 vote should have amended the city charter, the recently concluded charter commission evidently did not address the issue.
Until mayoral candidate Chrissy Rossi pushed the issue at a recent council meeting, the issue remained dormant. Rossi was a member of the council when the initial vote took place. The city clerk at the time is also the current city clerk, Kim Casci. Casci was the person who would have codified the 2012 vote and had the charter language amended in 2012. However she didn't do so "on the advice of the then city solicitor, Timothy Chapman."
Former City Solicitor and now City Manager Timothy Chapman advised the council after the 2012 vote that the public's vote for new terms needed State House ratification. A belated House and Senate ratification occurred but was never transmitted to the Governor's desk for a signature. The matter seemingly died on the vine.
The city council has not said if Casci has now amended the charter to reflect retroactive council terms. It is a process that has the support of a majority of the sitting council which would now see their seats automatically rolled over for two more years without need of the previously announced 2018 election.
The reaction by announced non-incumbent candidates has been predictably incredulous. Most, if not all candidates are discussing legal challenges. "Saying that the current council members now have two more years left to serve is assuring that all incumbents are automatically re-elected," said announced council-at-large candidate Bob Rodericks. "This is unheard of and tramples all over democracy. I agree with the four year term as it removes the annual political campaigning that happens with two year terms but this isn't the way to fix a wrong. If this blockage of candidates stands, it will go a long way to keep citizens from seeking elective office in the future. Maybe this is the intent of some," added Rodericks. At press time, at least three members of the city council have announced a special meeting to fire the current City Manager, Timothy Chapman. This is another of several prior attempts to fire Chapman. Chapman is out of a job as the manager is set to be replaced by an elected Mayor in November of 2018.
RIDOT Closing Parkway and Warren Avenue Ramps to I-195 in East Providence
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced at the end of last month that it will close the I-195 West on-ramps from Veterans Memorial Parkway and Warren Avenue in East Providence on Wednesday, April 4.
"The closures are necessary for the complete replacement of the structurally deficient Parkway Ramp Bridge. This bridge carries traffic from both the Parkway and Warren Avenue ramps as it passes over the I-195 corridor," said a RIDOT press release.
Detour routes will be signed for both on-ramps to the I-195 West on-ramp at Broadway. Traffic heading north on the Parkway will follow a detour using Lyon Avenue to Warren Avenue to Broadway. Local traffic on the Parkway north of Lyon Avenue can use Mauran Avenue (the last street before the Parkway on-ramp) to Burgress Avenue to reach Warren Avenue and the detour route to Broadway. A detour map is available at www.ridot.net/detourmaps.
Those heading to destinations on the East Side of Providence may wish to follow Valley Street to North Brow Street to Massasoit Avenue to use the Henderson Bridge as an alternate detour. Alternatively, motorists may wish to use Pawtucket Avenue or the East Shore Expressway for I-195 West access.
The bridge replacement will be completed in late fall, however work on the nearby Washington Bridge may extend its reopening.
The bridge work is part of a new multi-bridge project in East Providence and Providence. The $20.7 million I-195 Corridor Bridges includes work on five bridges, two of which are structurally deficient. All schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change.
The I-195 Corridor Bridges Project was made possible by RhodeWorks, RIDOT's ongoing commitment to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring Rhode Island's transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair," said the RIDOT statement.
RIDOT Also Fixing Popular EP Bike Path
In a recent press release, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) said they are ready to repair 12 miles of the East Bay Bike Path from Bristol to East Providence, removing cracks and resurfacing one of the state's most popular bikeways. Approximately 900,000 people use this path annually.
Starting in late March, path users have encountered crews on the path on weekdays. "They will cut back brush and limbs encroaching on the bike path, remove any hanging limbs or dead trees, patch cracks, and clean up debris blown down from this winter's strong storms."
In late spring, RIDOT will resurface the path between Independence Park in Bristol and Riverside Square in East Providence. There are some sections in between that were resurfaced in the past few years through local utility work, and those areas will be seal-coated. The cost for this work is $1.4 million.
"The path will not be closed. There may be brief daytime closures in areas where crews are working, and no work will take place on weekends. When paving and restriping takes place in late spring, single day closures of short sections of bikeway will be needed."
All schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change. The project is scheduled to finish in late June.
"Repairs to the East Bay Bike Path are made possible by RhodeWorks, RIDOT's ongoing commitment to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring Rhode Island's transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair, promote economic development, and create jobs."
The East Bay Bike Path is the first multi-town bike path built in Rhode Island. It travels 14.5 miles from India Point Park in Providence to Independence Park in Bristol, passing many state and local parks and recreation areas. Connecting neighborhoods, schools and business districts, the path is popular with commuting cyclists heading into Providence. The bikeway was constructed in four phases from 1987 to 1992.
Amore to Introduce Bills on School Resource Officers and Security
Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) will be introducing two pieces of legislation aimed at preventing violence in Rhode Island’s schools in the wake of the tragic events in Florida.
In a press release Amore said that “Simply put, too many of our children are dying in our schools. And while the debate over access to guns continues to wage on a national level, these two bills will protect our children while we fight for a solution to our national gun violence epidemic,” said Representative Amore.
The first bill would require that all Rhode Island public schools have a school resource officer on the premises. If a school has over 1,200 students, two school resource officers would need to be present.
“This bill is necessary because some of our schools already have a resource officer, but, others do not. Having a trained police officer in our schools is the first line of defense in stopping a potentially deadly and tragic situation from unfolding in Rhode Island’s schools,” added Representative Amore.
The second bill would appropriate additional state school and housing reimbursement for renovation and construction in schools that follows national school security best practices.
“The amount of upgrades and new school construction that is needed in our state is no secret. But, along with making our schools into acceptable teaching facilities for our students, we cannot ignore security updates that will protect our kids from acts of violence as well. Our schools need to be safe, dry, healthy, and most importantly, secure, and this bill will accomplish that,” concluded Representative Amore.
Amore Appointed to New England Higher Ed Board
In other State House news, Amore has been appointed to the New England Board of Higher Education. The New England Board of Higher Education is a body that promotes greater educational opportunities and services for the residents of New England.
“This is a true honor to be appointed to this board. As an educator, I have witnessed the good work that the New England Board of Higher Education has done on the behalf of not only my past and current students, but also for all Rhode Islanders as a whole. I am looking forward to working with my new fellow board members to ensure that every Rhode Islander who wishes to better themselves through higher education has access to high-quality and affordable educational opportunities,” said Representative Amore.
Representative Amore was appointed to the board by House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston). He is replacing Rep. Jeremiah T. O’Grady (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket).
Kazarian Bill to Safeguard Access to Contraception in RI
Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) has introduced legislation (2018-H 7625) that would require health insurance plans to provide coverage for a 12-month supply of birth control to all those who are insured, as well as their spouses or dependents.
“This act would preserve the Affordable Care Act’s regulation that contraception is a preventive health care measure and thus not subject to patient cost-sharing. The bill would allow up to a full year of prescribing and dispensing of contraception and cover over-the-counter contraception when prescribed. With constant threats and attempts from Washington to repeal the ACA, it is imperative that we ensure Rhode Island’s women have open access to birth control and other contraception services,” said Representative Kazarian.
The bill would protect access to contraception in Rhode Island, regardless of what happens nationally with efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It would ensure affordability and accessibility of the most effective forms of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) options such as IUDs and implants. It would also protect the current zero cost-sharing for contraception by preserving in RI law the ACA provision that says birth control is a preventive health care service.
If passed, health care providers would be able to prescribe birth control up to a full year at a time, and would ensure it is covered without a co-pay. Massachusetts passed similar legislation in November 2017, and other states have also taken steps to ensure residents continue to have access to affordable contraception.
City of East Providence Woman’s Day Event “The Year of the Woman”
City clerk, Kim Casci issued a press release on behalf of Ward Two councilwoman, Anna Sousa. "On Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Councilwoman Anna Sousa hosted a Women’s Event and discussion panel entitled “The Year of the Woman”. Young women who attend the Riverside and Martin Middle Schools as well at the East Providence High School were in attendance along with the public. The panelists who participated were Mrs. Kathryn Crowley, Superintendent of Schools, East Providence, Dr. Latha Sivaprased, R.I. Hospital & Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Dr. Peg Van Bree, R.I. Hospital & Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Mrs. Barbara Riley, Sr. Vice President & CNO, R.I. Hospital & Hasbro Children’s Hospital, The Honorable Mayor Lisa Baldelli Hunt, City of Woonsocket, The Honorable Katherine Kazarian State Representative, The Honorable Probate Judge Christine Engustian, East Providence Probate Justice Christine Engustian, Lt. Maari Stainer, of the East Providence Police Department, Fire Fighter, Erica Carcieri of the East Providence Fire Department. In addition, poetry readings were provided by Kiana Michels and Phionna Claude both students at Providence College.
The event was geared to inspire and empower women and to provide an opportunity for the audience to ask questions and discuss with the panel members their relevant stories and experiences on their path to becoming successful leaders in the community. The dialogue of the panel and the audience was uplifting.
“I would like to thank the guest panelists for taking the time to participate in this empowering event”, stated Councilwoman Sousa, she continued, “It was humbling to have a spirited dialogue with outstanding and influential women in Rhode Island leadership roles.” The Councilwoman offered special thanks to Eddy from the Burrito Bowl for sponsoring lunch for the event and the Dunkin Donuts on John Street for providing the coffee as well as the chaperones from the School Department.
Councilwoman Sousa added, “The role of empowering our young women falls on all of us. We must continue to encourage, inspire and uplift these young women, so they can aspire to achieve great things. Women in history have set the way and many doors have been opened, we must have confidence in ourselves to walk through and confront the obstacles that come before us. Don’t let anyone hold you back, only you can limit yourself from achieving greatness, choose the right partner in life and surround yourself with positive people.” In closing, Councilwoman Sousa stated, “Set the standards others aspire to achieve. Go forward confidently in all your endeavors.”
Fiscal Year House Legislative Grants Awarded East Providence Through February 1, 2018
East Providence Heritage Days East Providence $1,000 by Rep. Amore. Emma G. Whieknact Elementary School East Providence $1,000; Goldsmith Manor East Providence $1,000; Orlo Avenue Elementary School East Providence $1,000; Parkway Apartments Residents Association East Providence $1,000; St Margaret's School Rumford $500: by Rep. Kazarian.
Fiscal Year Senate Legislative Grants Awarded East Providence Through February 1, 2018
Cat adoption team services, $1,500; EP Arts Council, $1,500; Heritage Days, $3,000 - by Sen. Conley.
Crescent Park Carousel Preservation Association, $500 by Sen. Coyne.
Narragansett Council Boy Scouts EP, $2,500 - Sen. Cote.
D'amours Step (TOWNIE PROJECT 2.0) $7,500; East Bay CAP, $2500; East Bay R.S.V.P., $5,000; Chorus of EP, $1,000; EPHS PTSA, $1,000; (RSVP) East Providence $5,000 EP Junior Townies, $1,000; EP Prevention Coalition, $1,000; EP Middle School Sports, $1,000; EP Boys & Girls Club After School, $1,500; EP Senior Center, $10,000 and the Portuguese Learning Center of EP, $1,5000 - Sen. DaPonte.
Second Body Washes up on Riverside Barrington Line
A second body in recent days near the end of March was found in Barrington waters known as the Hundred Acre Cove. Barrington Police Chief, East Providence native John LaCross, said his department was investigating but that he didn't immediately suspect any foul play at work.
In another incident, police are checking into a separate incident in which a body was also found, this time near Nayatt Point. One of the recovered bodies has been identified as a Warwick kayaker, Michael Perry, missing since January.
RI Students May be Able to Use Sunscreen in School
Students in Rhode Island schools will not be denied the right to possess and apply sunscreen under legislation sponsored by Rep. David Bennett and unanimously approved by the House of Representatives. The legislation (2018-H 7158), which also passed the House last year, ensures that students, as well as teachers and parents on school property, will be allowed to have and use sunscreen at school, despite state regulations that prohibit anyone other than a school nurse from administering medications, including Food and Drug Administration-approved substances like sunscreen, or possessing them without a doctor’s note or prescription.
Under current law, a student can go to school wearing sunscreen, but cannot bring the product to school and reapply it there. Most sunscreens recommend reapplication every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
The legislation allows anyone to possess and use a topical sunscreen product without a physician’s note or prescription while on school property or at a school-related event activity, as long as the product is regulated by the FDA for over-the-counter use. It also states that school personnel are not required to assist students in applying the product, nor can schools be held liable for damages resulting from sunscreen’s use. The bill encourages schools to teach children about sun protection.
Zarembka Foundation helps EPHS Music Theater Program
The Lauren Zarembka Memorial Foundation is proud to once again be a major sponsor of East Providence High Schools Music Theater Program.
This years' production of “Rent” will be presented on April 5th through the 7th. Tickets can be purchased at the high school in advance or at the door. Come on out and support the best high school theater program in the state.
The Lauren Zarembka Memorial Foundation wishes the best of luck to the cast, crew and all of those who play such an important role behind the scenes.
Tax deductable donations to the foundation can be made year round at: Lauren Zarembka Memorial Foundation, PO Box 154544, Riverside RI 02915.
The Lauren Zarembka Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing scholarships to assist graduating and continuing students whose studies will be in the disciplines of, medicine, music/theater and culinary arts. Additionally the foundation also provides funding for music/theater programs and families battling Pediatric Cancer in cooperation with The Tomorrow Fund at Hasbro Children’s Hospital from Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts. There is a Facebook Page with further information; Lauren Zarembka Memorial Foundation.
City Rabies Clinic, Animal Licensing
East Providence Schedules Clinic for Rabies Vaccinations for Dogs and Cats and Dog Licensing
(East Providence, RI) The City of East Providence, Office of the City Clerk, in conjunction with the East Providence Animal Shelter and the Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association will be hosting a Rabies Clinic on Sunday, April 15, 2018, from 10:00am-12:00pm, at Breed Hall, 610 Waterman Avenue, East Providence. Appointments in advance are not required. Dogs must be on a leash and cats must be in carriers.
In an effort to help residents comply with the State Rabies Law, the cost for obtaining a rabies vaccination for a dog or cat is just $10.00 per companion animal. In order for a dog or cat to receive a three year vaccination, human companions must present proof of previous vaccination, a copy of their previous rabies certificate, dated within the last three years is required, otherwise the companion animal will receive a one year vaccination only.
In addition, dog licenses will be available at the Clinic. The City of East Providence requires dogs to be licensed, a license fee with proof of the companion animals spay or neuter is just $13.00 per dog, $5.00 for senior citizens/disabled. If the dog is unaltered the cost is $33.00, $15.00 for senior citizens.
For vaccinations, residents will need to pay in cash only, checks, credit and debit cards will not be accepted. For Dog Licensing, residents may pay by cash or check, credit and debit cards will not be accepted. For questions contact the East Providence City Clerk’s Office at 435-7596.