Providence Police Union Slams Taveras on Unpaid Festival Police Details

Friday, July 18, 2014

 

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Providence Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras is being called out by the Providence police union for "selective enforcement" of a city ordinance.

Members of the Providence police union are taking Providence Mayor Angel to task for not enforcing a 2012 ordinance requiring that past debts owed for detail are paid before an event can obtain a new license.

Two upcoming festivals -- the Puerto Rican Festival and the Dominican Festival -- entered into agreements in 2013 with the City of Providence to pay off, over an extended period of time, past detail debts of $34,090 and $31,448 but Taft Manzotti, on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police, decried the move by the administration to allow certain organizations exemptions to the ordinance, and not others. 

"Our beef isn't with the groups themselves, but the city's selective oversight of the ordinance," said Manzotti.   "There are two sets of standards, those groups the city expects to pay for detail, and those they give a pass.  The ordinance and application say that you have to be current within 60 days on past debt to get a new permit."

"In total, those ones that got 'payment plans' amount to about $60K, but overall past due on all police detail is $1.8 million the city's not taking in," said Manzotti.  "This isn't about the police -- we still provide the detail, we still get paid from the city.  But the taxpayer's on the hook for that.  We could have gotten some new cars with that. We support the ordinance, but which Mayor are you talking to when you talk about this?  The one who supports the ordinance, or the one who turns his head?"

"The organizers of the Puerto Rican Day Parade received their permit after agreeing to a plan under which they will pay $10,863 this year, including $5,000 for this year’s police detail and $5,863 to pay 25 percent of their outstanding balance," said David Ortiz, Spokesperson for Mayor Taveras.  Ortiz did not address the outstanding balance Dominican Festival detail owed. 

Letter of the Law

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Prior to the Cape Verdean festival on July 9, Manzotti issued a letter to Commissioner Pare citing that the believed the festival was in violation of two City Ordinances and two sections of the Providence Public Event Application both for its failure to pay city fees.

Pare responded to Manzotti by informing him the Cape Verdean Festival had entered into a payment plan with the City of Providence.  "The Cape Verdean Festival had an of outstanding balance of $3,302.16 and has since paid $1000 towards that a balance paid, leaving $2306.12 in which they entered into a payment agreement with the City of Providence," wrote Pare.

"I believe it was a last-minute agreement from the city, to again, not honor the ordinance as written," said Manzotti. 

Meanwhile, Manzotti said that he was told that the payment plan enacted for the Dominican Festival had seen only one payment of $495 from the group, and the rest from other sources -- including City Council President Michael Solomon.

"I know from Ray Rao (in the city) that they've paid once, the rest I believe has been through from Michael Solomon," said Manzotti, in terms of the group overseeing the festival, Quisqueya in Action, paying down their former debt. 

"The City Council annually joins with the Mayor’s office in supporting these types of citywide cultural celebrations and events. This year, the City Council is supporting three—the Dominican Festival, the Puerto Rican Festival, and the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy’s Greater Kennedy Plaza Summer Events," said Yvonne Graf, Acting Chief of Staff and Director of Legislative Affairs for the Providence City Council.

Graf continued, "The Council does not oversee organizations’ payment arrangements with regard to police detail services, but expects that any agreement they have with the City with regard to those fees would be honored prior to hosting this year’s festivals, in accordance with requirements of the city ordinance."

Costs of Details

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In total, the outstanding debt owed to the city for police detail stands at $1.8 million, up from $1.3 million when GoLocal's Stephen Beale wrote "Providence Hit With Unpaid Police Details" in January 2013. 

Beale noted the City's arrangement with Waterfire, whose outstanding police detail amount owed is listed at $156,000 is that the "nonprofit organization has had a long-standing arrangement with the city that it would contribute just $25,000 towards its annual police detail costs, with the city eating the rest of the tab" which was spelled out in a five-year contract reached with the city in 2012, according to the Internal Auditor’s office and representatives of WaterFire.

"There are concerted efforts to circumvent the ordinance," said Taft.  "[Taveras] is saying there's no money.  You look great by making the ordinance...but then there's no enforcement.  And it's all being kicked down the road. "

 

Related Slideshow: Providence Events that Owe Providence Police Detail Pay

The following data was obtained from a summary aging report from the City of Providence for the police detail fund, as of July 14, 2014.

City ordinance says that organizations with outstanding balances past due 60 days may not be able to recieve an event license while delinquent, and the Providence Public Event Application says no event permit shall be granted to organizations with 60+ days overdue balance from the Detail office.

Organizations have the opportunity to pay off all debts in full to become eligible for a new event permit. 

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Dominican Festival

$26,882.89 over 60 days past due

* Under Quisqueya in Action, Inc.

Event:

Sunday, August 10, 2014 12-7:30 pm
Broad Street, Providence

See more here

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Bolivian Association

$6,141.26 over 60 days past due

Saturday, August 9, 2014 2-10 pm
Sunday, August 10, 2014 3-6 pm

See more here

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Puerto Rican Parade

$11,819.47 over 60 days past due

Sunday, August 17

Festival information coming soon

See more here
 

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Puerto Rican Food Festival

$2,213.89 over 60 days past due

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St. Patrick's Day Parade

$1,320.27 over 60 days past due

Saturday March 8th, 2014 at noon

See more here

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Puerto Rican Culture

$23,452.38 over 60 days past due

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African American Festival

$503.34 over 60 days past due

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Puerto Rican National

$4,065.76 over 60 days past due

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Guatemalan Center of N.E.

$2,125.26 over 60 days past due

The Festival Guatemala is scheduled to take place on Sunday, September 7, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Temple of Music at Roger Williams Park in  Providence. 

See more here

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Central American Festival

$9,666.13 over 60 days past due

Sunday, September 14, 2014 12-5 pm
Roger Williams Park
Temple to Music, Providence

See more here

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WaterFire

$156,636.83 over 60 days past due

Next WaterFire: Saturday, July 26th - Full Lighting
Sunset 8:11 pm

See more here

 
 

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