Providence Police Union Slams City Over New Festival Permits
Friday, August 08, 2014
An email sent on August 4 from city solicitor Jeff Padwa to members of the administration and community outlined the process by which the Department of Tourism can issue permits to groups who are past due over 60 days on outstanding detail debts -- which union head Taft Manzotti with the Fraternal Order of Police and City Councilor Michael Correia say is in direct violation of city ordinance.
"This is the complete opposite of what this ordinance is supposed to be about," said Manzotti of the city ordinance that states that permits can be denied to organizations for not being fully paid for past events. "They're playing games. The whole time that document was put together -- what was it for? If I was on the Council, I'd be upset about this. They're saying the process [to get a permit], which should be issued by the Board of Licenses, can be bypassed and decided by Tourism."
Police Concerns Persist
Manzotti noted that the Dominican festival was recently paid in full, but that that upcoming Puerto Rican festival still was not current.
"They're in arrears but they've got an agreement to move forward," said Manzotti of the Puerto Rican festival. "And the taxpayers are footing the bill. They're getting money from the city council, the Mayor's office, the Tourism department to put this on. The Mayor told us we had to sacrifice, and he's pushing through these festivals for votes. At a time when the city is hard pressed for money, why are taxpayer dollars footing these festivals?"
"This is taxpayers' money. Taxpayers shouldn't be footing the bill," said Correia. They owe us money, the ordinance should be followed. My constituents get notices that the Narragansett Bay Commission will shut off their water in 72 hours. This is about fairness."
Correia said he plans to address the process with the Board of Licenses -- and City Council. "It's just not these permits -- these groups that get special payment plans, it's illegal. The Waterfire contract that lets them pay a fraction of what they should for detail -- that should have gone through Ways and Means, and it didn't."
Regarding the city's decision, Correia said, "I'm not singling this festival out. But I'm going to work to close this loophole now."
"Events like Waterfire, the Saint Patrick's Day Parade, the Puerto Rican Festival and the Dominican Festival are grassroots efforts that have celebrated community and culture in Providence for decades. The Mayor’s Office, the City Council and the Providence Tourism Council have historically supported these and other events with grants that promote tourism and economic activity in our city," said David Oritz, spokesperson for Mayor Taveras. "The Puerto Rican and Dominican festivals each received $5,000 grants from the Mayor’s Office this year."
Ortiz said he could not speak to financial support for the festivals from other departments.
"I would refer you to the City Council and to the Providence Tourism Council – a quasi-public agency not to be confused with the city’s Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism – for questions regarding their support of the festivals."
In total, unpaid Providence detail bills currently stand at close to $2 million.
Related Slideshow: 10 Questions Taveras Has to Answer When Running for Gov of RI
Can Taveras Keep Up with the Big Boys and Girls in Fundraising?
In America today, one issue that is a factor in nearly every election is fundraising. To date, Taveras has yet to demonstrate any consistent ability to keep up with the leading fundraisers in RI.
Taveras will have to compete with General Treasuer Gina Raimondo, who has $2 plus million on hand and a likely run from Clay Pell (grandson of US Senator Claiborne Pell and whose wife is Olympic skater Michelle Kwan).
Raimondo is on pace to raise $5m and Taveras presently has just $692,000 on hand and would be on pace to raise less than $2 mliion.
Pell's family has access to nearly limitless dollars - back in the 1990's Pell's grandfather was ranked as one of the wealthiest members of Congress.
Can Taveras Break the Providence Mayor's Curse?
For more than 60 years, no Providence Mayor has been successful running for Governor of Rhode Island. You have to go back to the 1950 election when Dennis Roberts was elected Governor.
Since Roberts, a number of Providence Mayors have taken their shot at running for Governor and each has failed mightily.
Most notably, Buddy Cianci's run against J. Joseph Garrahy - Cianci got less than 30% of the statewide vote.
Joe Paolino was expected to win the Democratic primary in 1990, but was beaten badly by Bruce Sundlun and then Warwick Mayor Frank Flaherty.
Sundlun went on to win the general election and Flaherty was later named to the state Supreme Court.
Taveras will have to break a very long curse.
#8 Hire or Fire
Can Teachers Trust Taveras - and Will Voters Trust His Relationship with the Teachers Unions?
In the midst of the city's political meltdown, Taveras just into his first few months in office fired all the teachers in Providence.
Taveras received strong public support, but within months he capitulated to pressure from the teachers' unions.
Three years later, he is emerging as the candidate of the teachers' union leadership. Will teachers trust him in a statewide race and will voters trust him if he is perceived as too close to union bosses?
Will Hispanics Vote as a Block in the Primary for Taveras? Are They Influential Enough in the General?
Conventional wisdom is that Angel Taveras will get a big boost from the Hispanic voting block in the primary, but more recently Council members Luis Aponte, Danian Sanchez and Sabina Matos have all openly battled with the mayor on his tax increases and efforts to close pools in low income wards around the city.
While Taveras can rebound and the impact may be large in the primary, the percentage of voters who are Hispanic in the general election is just 7% according to Pew Research:
- Rhode Island’s population is 12% Hispanic, the 13th largest Hispanic population share nationally.
- There are 54,000 Hispanic eligible voters in Rhode Island—which ranks 35th in Hispanic eligible voter population nationally. California ranks first with 5.9 million.
- Some 7% of Rhode Island eligible voters are Hispanic, the 13th largest Hispanic eligible voter population share nationally. New Mexico ranks first with 39%.
Can Taveras Handle the Campaign Pressure and the Office Pressure of Governor?
Taveras had no experience as a chief executive in business or government before taking office in 2011 in Providence. He has increasingly gotten into some very non-productive scrapes.
In 2012, his law office delivered a document to GoLocalProv as part of a FOIA request and those documents included the social security number of every retiree of the City. Instead of taking responsibility he sent his lawyers to court to try to block GoLocal from writing about the mishandling of social security numbers. The judge ruled against Taveras.
In 2013, Taveras has tried to demolish a commuity swimming pool in South Providence because, according to Councilman Danian Sanchez, Sanchez would not vote for Taveras' tax increase.
Will Taveras be able to prove to voters he has the right stuff?
#5 Base outside Prov
Can Angel Taveras Build a Political Base Outside of Providence?
While Taveras has a strong political base in Providence, it is unclear if he can build a strong political network in critical Democratic strongholds like Woonsocket, Pawtucket, East Providence, Johnston and North Providence.
It is well known that both Democratic Mayors in North Providence and Johnston have had a strained relationship with Taveras.
This strain has played out over critical matters like mutual emergency aid and in 2012, North Providence, Johnston and East Providence all cancelled emergency aid compacts with Providence.
#4 Women Voters
Can Taveras Compete for Women Voters?
When Taveras ran for Mayor he won the critical block of East Side Democratic women. Part of his success with this critical block of voters was the support he enjoyed from Democratic power Myrth York.
The two-time Democratic nominee for Governor went all in for Taveras in 2010, but she no longer is active in the inner circle and reportedly would have supported Governor Lincoln Chafee in the primary.
Taveras will need to compete with Raimondo who has already signed former EMILY's list bigwig Kate Coyne-McCoy.
#3 Star Power
Can Taveras Keep Up with Clay Pell's Star Power?
In 2010, Taveras ran under the motto of "from Head Start to Harvard." His claim on the American dream proved a successful juxtaposition to two Democrats who had the same political base - Federal Hill (Steven Costantino and John Lombardi).
Now, Taveras may face the fresh-faced Clay Pell. His bio exceeds Taveras as he can claim the legacy of his grandfather's work and hit the circuit with his superstar wife, Olympian Michelle Kwan.
#2 Issues and Vision
Can Angel Taveras Articulate a Vision for Rhode Island?
#1 Crime and Education
Can Taveras Explain His Record on Crime and Education?
- Unpaid Providence Police Detail Up 50% to Nearly $2 Million
- Providence Police Union Slams Taveras on Unpaid Festival Police Details
- Organizations Past Due on Police Detail: See Who Owes the Most
- Providence Hit with $1.3M in Unpaid Police Details
- Taveras Police Detail Costs Providence $500k
- Providence Police Union—Hispanic Festivals Leading to ‘Anarchy’ on City Streets