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City Solicitor Rejects Voter Initiative for Stadium Ordinance in Providence

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

 

Luis Aponte

Council President Luis Aponte said on Tuesday that he received a legal opinion from the City Solicitor that the voter initiative petition regarding ballparks does not comply with Section 209 of the Providence Home Rule Charter -- and the City Council will not take it up.  

See the Initiative HERE

The Council office noted Tuesday that the City Charter "provides for voter initiative to enact ordinances, with the exception that such ordinances cannot be related to the budget, capital programs, the appropriation of money, or the levy of taxes."

The petition to the Council for an ordinance titled "An Ordinance Establishing Rules for Stadiums," included language to set parameters on capital programs, the appropriation of money and the levy of taxes related to stadiums and other athletic facilities.

Acording to Aponte, the City Solicitor said that because the ordinance contains provisions that can not be enacted through the voter initiative process, the City Clerk does not need to certify the signatures of qualified electors.

The needed documentation regarding the law department memorandum and response to the petition will appear on the agenda of the October 1st City Council meeting.

 

Related Slideshow: PawSox Stadium Aftermath: Winners and Losers

The Providence baseball stadium looked like a sure thing. Powerful owners pushing the project. Top politicians coupled with influential lobbyists and PR consultants all on board. Then, everything changed.

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Winner

Coalition Radio -- A small group of libertarian activists relentlessly advocated against any public financing for a private venture. Pat Ford, Dave Fisher and Tony Jones leveraged internet radio and social media to pound the project and the costs.

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Loser

Speaker Nicholas Mattiello -- The Speaker was all in for the project. He repeatedly voiced his strong support for the project. Some said it was a project for his legacy and others said he supported the project as a result of influence of the ownership group and their lobbyist Bob Goldberg.

It wasn't long ago that the Speaker said the Providence Stadium would be revenue positive.  In a few short weeks, the project somehow went from supposedly financially advantageous to taxpayers to DOA. 

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Winner

GOP -- The Rhode Island Republicans came out against the project early and kept raising questions about the cost and the approval process.  Despite being in the political minority, the Republicans used their thorn-in the-side status to play the spoiler. 

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Loser

Old School Top Down PR Strategy -- Renderings, fact finding trips for leaders and listening tours were all the strategies embraced by the ownership team and each came back and burned them. The listening tour had higher attendance at many sites by taxpayers who were opposed to the project -- and the fact they had to write their questions down, and be lectured to in response, did not go over well by opponents.

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Winner (maybe)

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien -- It looked like the Mayor was a loser for sure with his city's most valuable asset moving from Pawtucket just 6 miles away to a gleaming new $100 Million project in Providence. With the Providence Stadium dead, Pawtucket has a window to try and create a proposal that improves McCoy, is financially viable and acceptable to the ownership group.  

The window is very short, and Grebien will move from the winners' column to the losers' bracket if the PawSox leave RI.

As the Mayor wrote in a GoLocal MINDSETTER™ piece, "We remain hopeful that the new owners will see the value that Pawtucket has given their brand and that the growth we are experiencing will only strengthen it. We hope they will Join the Evolution here in Pawtucket."

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Loser

Jorge Elorza -- The Providence Mayor was unable to put together a deal and a location that worked for taxpayers. There was -- and still may be -- an opportunity to bring hundreds of thousands of new visitors into the city annually at the 195 site.

Elorza needs to change the present narrative from crime, a decrepit recreation system, and visits to meet with Guatemalan corrupt leaders to where the city needs to be.

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Winner

Taxpayers -- A coalition of taxpayer groups and activists scored their most significant political victory to date. This may spark an empowered effort to take on other issues with enthusiasm.

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Loser

Public Financing of Stadiums in the US -- The dramatic defeat of the proposed stadium in Providence may cause other cities, counties and states to take a harder look at the economics of public financing of stadiums.  

There is now a blueprint for how taxpayers and progressives can build a coalition to oppose a professional sports team, organized labor and billionaire ownership interests.

The PawSox defeat and the Boston Olympics collapse may speak to a broader grassroots movement opposed to the spending on public funds on private projects.

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Winner

Grassroots Activists -- Multiple grassroots efforts sprang up to oppose the stadium move, and perhaps none as vocal - or visible -- as "Organizing for Pawtucket" and David Norton.

Even when a new stadium looked like it was on life support, Norton and supporters utilized both social media and traditional boots-on-the-ground techniques (read: canvassing the Speaker's neighborhood -- in Cranston) to keep the pressure on until the deal was dead. 

 
 

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