slides: The Scoop: Kilmartin Hits Back at Hodgson, Harrop Urges Right-To-Work Municipal Ordinance, and More
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
With the General Election now 36 days away, GoLocal is bringing you the daily campaign updates of note -- who's getting new endorsements, bringing in money, or making big, bold announcements, with all eyes on November 4.
In today's Scoop, Kilmartin responds to Hodgson's no bid contract claims, Gamba calls for the end of legislators being solicitors or municipal judges, Dr. Harrop urges right-to-work municipal ordinance, Elorza adds to his campaign team, and more.
Related Slideshow: The Scoop-September 29, 2014
Kilmartin Hits Back at Hodgson's No Bid Contract Claims
Kilmartin's statement in response to Hodgson's claim is below:
“The Office of Attorney General retained attorney William Conley as conflict counsel to represent the State of Rhode Island in a civil lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice. It was determined that conflict counsel was needed because the Office was already engaged in a federal/state criminal investigation of the same nature.
Attorney William Conley had served as conflict counsel for the Office since 2010. He enjoys an excellent reputation as an attorney, and previously served as legal counsel to the Ethics Commission. Based on those prior working relationships, and based on the very specific and specialized nature of the case, the Chief of the Civil Division within the Office retained Attorney Conley in early January 2013. That decision was based solely on his legal reputation and expertise in special education and disability law, with no knowledge of his political standing.
To use the term “no bid contracts” in this case is misleading, as the state law makes clear (Section 37-2-70) that contracts for professional legal services are not subject to the same bid requirements as other purchases. Once hired, payment for Mr. Conley’s services was governed by Section 9-31-11 of the Rhode Island General Laws, which states,
'§ 9-31-11 Conflict – Payment of counsel fees by state. – In the event there is a conflict of interest or the attorney general determines it is not in the best interest of the state or the state employee or former state employee to represent him or her, the state shall pay for reasonable counsel fees; provided, however, that the attorney general shall consult in advance with the prospective counsel to establish the parameters within which the state will be liable for attorneys' fees; and provided, further, that their reasonableness shall ultimately be reviewed and approved by the court before paid.'
Therefore, when Mr. Conley was hired to represent the State of Rhode Island in this matter, he was hired at an hourly rate, and he was not awarded a contract for any particular total amount. Rather, his monthly bills were submitted to the Superior Court for approval in the same manner as any other conflict counsel hired by this office. As a conflict counsel, Mr. Conley was not an employee of the Office of Attorney General. Due to the conflict of interest which necessitated the hiring of a conflict counsel, he did not report to the Attorney General during the course of this representation.
Attorney Conley’s representation of the State in this matter continued until June, 2013, when he successfully negotiated settlement terms with the United States Department of Justice. Mr. Conley was succeeded by attorney Marc DeSisto, who continues to represent the State through the implementation of this agreement.
On April 8, 2014, the United States Justice Department announced that it had entered into what it termed a “landmark” settlement agreement with the State of Rhode Island “that will resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act for approximately 3,250 Rhode Islanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
It is unfortunate that Mr. Hodgson’s statement suggests improper action concerning payments made to attorney William Conley’s son. While he concedes that the basis for those payments is unknown, he simply states that those payments should be prohibited under the Code of Ethics. The Office of Attorney General has never retained Dylan Conley as conflict counsel. If Dylan Conley has a contract with a state agency, it is not the Office of Attorney General.
The hiring of William Comely was a situation of the Office retaining the best possible attorney to represent the State of Rhode Island in a civil lawsuit that could have possibly cost the state millions of dollars. Instead, it resulted in a landmark settlement that will make a dramatic difference in the lives over three thousand of our state’s most vulnerable citizens, and as importantly, will make Rhode Island a national leader in the movement to integrate persons with disabilities out of segregated work settings.
Mr. Hodgson’s attempts to compare the outstanding work by Mr. Conley to the ongoing investigation of beach concession contracts is unfortunate. Unfortunately, the political season sometimes results in personal attacks such as this that gather attention when made, but have no legal basis. In the event that Mr. Hodgson feels that a law was broken by the Attorney General, by Mr. Conley or by anyone else, he presumably knows that he has the opportunity to file a complaint as he deems warranted.”
Gamba Calls for the End of Legislators Being Solicitors or Municipal Judges
Sharon Gamba, Republican Candidate for House District 32, called for an end to the practice of elected state legislators also being employed as Town Solicitors and Municipal Judges.
“Allowing sitting legislators to be hired as Town Solicitors and Municipal Court Judges is a long-standing practice that is rife with political manipulation at the expense of the public interest. We must put an end to it,” said Gamba.
“We currently have strong anti-corruption laws that prevent sitting legislators from bidding on State contracts or serving as judges at the State level. This common-sense restriction must also be extended to the municipal level. All one has to do is to look at what happened with this summer’s‘ Beach Gate’ concession scandal and the political food fight that recently occurred in Woonsocket to see why we need real reform in this area," continued Gamba.
“Move RI Forward – Yes on 6” To Host Press Conference October 6
A 51-member statewide partnership of community, business and advocacy organizations, “Move RI Forward – Yes on 6” will announce its support for passage of Question 6, the $35 million transit bond on this November’s ballot on Monday, October 6, at 9:30 a.m. at the Amtrak Station Public Plaza.
The “Mass Transit Hub Infrastructure Bonds,” will help fund enhancements and renovations to transit infrastructure throughout Rhode Island, including development of a statewide transit center adjacent to the Amtrak Station in Providence.
The investments are aimed at improving mobility and access to job centers, schools and health care with greater efficiency and convenience.
The Move RI Forward - Yes on 6 coalition says that a modern transit system will be good for the economy and help grow jobs; will expand the capacity of the state’s system; and provide a more efficient transit network that will reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
Scott Wolf, Executive Director of Grow Smart RI
Federal, State and Local Officials
RI Public Transit Authority Chairman Mayor Scott Avedisian
RI Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis
George Nee, President of RI AFL-CIO
Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Dan Harrop Urges Right-To-Work Municipal Ordinance for Providence
Dr. Dan Harrop, Republican candidate for Mayor of Providence, has announced he will be seeking a “Right-To-Work” ordinance in the City of Providence.
Dr. Harrop, said, “Union contracts often compel employees to pay union dues or lose their jobs. Twenty-four states have passed “right-to-work” (RTW) laws which prevent companies from firing workers who do not pay union dues. RTW laws expand personal freedom while boosting investment and job creation. The government should not force workers to pay for unwanted union representation."
Catherine Taylor Receives RIFTHP Endorsement
Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor Catherine Taylor was endorsed by the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RIFTHP).
“I’m grateful to RIFTHP for their endorsement,” Taylor said. “I look forward to building a strong working relationship with member teachers, public employees, and especially health care workers, as lieutenant governor and chairwoman of the Long Term Care Coordinating Council. I believe we need every individual and organization working together if we are to move our economy forward, and RIFTHP’s unusual endorsement of a Republican is evidence of the respect and cooperation that is possible and that our state needs.”
Elorza Adds New Members to Campaign Team
Elorza has announced several new additions to his campaign team.
Jenn Steinfeld, a former grant writer for the Greater Providence YMCA, joins Elorza’s team as Senior Advisor. She has considerable campaign experience, including serving as GOTV organizer for the Obama team in New Hampshire.
Adolfo Bailon will be Elorza’s new Advance Staff; he previously worked on Michael Solomon’s primary campaign and also for Senator Barbara Boxer of California.
Ivette Luna will serve as Community Organizer, bringing significant experience from her previous role as Organizing Director for Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts.
David Ortiz, most recently Communications Director for Mayor Angel Taveras, will take on the same role for Elorza. He replaces outgoing Communications Director John Taraborelli, who will still serve the campaign in an advisory role, but is stepping away from day-to-day press activities.
Elorza said, “These are enormously talented people who will help us capitalize on the momentum we’ve gained since winning the primary. They believe in our positive message and forward-thinking vision for Providence, and I’m excited to welcome them to the team.”