July 13, 2014 Ward Letter

This week’s letter discusses the tax shifting ordinance, open vending in Providence and my re-election campaign.

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On July 3, the Mayor delivered a Veto Message explaining the reasons for his opposition to the tax shift ordinance.  As you can see, he is skeptical about the City’s ability to find $6.6 million in additional revenues next year to “pay for” this tax cut without increasing taxes on homeowners.  He also is skeptical about whether the tax cut will generate any rent relief for tenants, notwithstanding the “tenant tax” label being circulated by the ordinance’s proponents.  Tomorrow (Monday, July 14 at 5:00 p.m.), the City Council is scheduled to hold a special meeting devoted to the single topic of the possible override of the Mayor’s veto.  The override petition requires the supporting votes of at least 10 City Council members in order to be successful.  In the previous votes, eleven City Council members (listed Here) have voted in favor of the ordinance, while four (Council members Salvatore, Solomon, Yurdin and myself) have voted against.  I will debate in favor of sustaining the veto, but I do not have a prediction for the outcome of Monday’s vote.

This past Thursday, the Providence Journal published an Op-ed I wrote describing the City’s new Open Contracting program.  The program will implement legislation I introduced and which the City Council approved and the Mayor signed this Spring.  The ordinance will bring transparency to the City’s procurement program and protect its fairness.  The op-ed describes how Providence’s program brings successful initiatives elsewhere to the Ocean State.  In passing the ordinance, the City Council and Mayor concluded that while we have not had any scandals in at the municipal level since Plunderdome or at the State level since the DiPrete administration, it is better to have protections in place to prevent a reoccurrence, rather than being forced to react to yet another scandal.  Also, the new program builds on several other Open Government initiatives the City has adopted over the past three years, all of which build confidence in those who wish to do business with our City or in our City.

Many of you have shared with me your concerns and thoughts regarding the City and the City Council as I have visited houses in recent weeks.  You have identified issues relating to the City’s finances, its schools, public safety and City services, among others.  Based on these discussions, I have prepared a Walking Card I am distributing to voters describing Financial Realism and Quality Schools as two important themes in my campaign.  In the meantime, my lawn signs have arrived and are available for distribution.  Please send me an email if you would like one to place on your lawn, if you would like me to meet with a group of you for a coffee or lemonade, or if you want to pass along an issue you would like me to work on.