July 6, 2014 Ward Letter

I hope you enjoyed your Independence Day weekend.  This week’s letter discusses the tax shifting ordinance and the hiring of a second assistant principal at Nathan Bishop Middle School.

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 On Thursday, July 3, the Mayor vetoed the tax shifting ordinance.  You can read the Providence Journal’s report describing the veto by clicking here: Veto Article.  I commend Mayor Taveras for his thoughtful  defense of the homeowner taxpayer against the special interests.  Under the City Charter, the City Council now has 30 days (i.e. until August 2) in which to hold an override vote.  The override requires a 10-vote supermajority to pass.  The ordinance has 11 co-sponsors; therefore, it is necessary for at least 2 City Council members to change their vote in order for the veto to be sustained.  The next regular City Council meeting is July 17, and that is the only regularly scheduled meeting within the 30-day window.  With that said, the City Council may hold one or more special meetings, and the proponents of the override may choose to schedule the measure for a vote at one of them.

 Many of you contacted the Mayor’s office to express your views.  Some of you have asked what you can do to influence the override vote.  As should be clear, I will vote against the override.  Other City Council members are primarily accountable to their own constituents; therefore, your emails to them are likely to have less effect than your emails to me.  If you know someone who (1) is a homeowner, (2) opposes the ordinance and (3) lives in the ward of a City Council member who voted in favor of the ordinance, then you may wish to contact your friend and urge them to contact their City Council representative.  For a list of the City Council representatives who voted in favor of the ordinance, a map of the ward they represent, and a contact email for that representative, you can click on this link: Tax Ordinance Proponents.

On Monday night, the Providence School Board will vote on the proposed appointment of Edward Halpin as a second Assistant Principal.  My family is familiar with Mr. Halpin from his years of distinguished service as Assistant Principal at Nathanael Greene Middle School, and his addition to the Nathan Bishop staff will support further improvements at the school.  The School Department supported the hiring of a second assistant principal at Bishop after the City Council’s Education Committee raised the issue concerning the need for equal minimum staffing levels of key positions at all schools – Nathan Bishop was the only school of its size without a second assistant principal, a key position to help support the school’s operations and to provide adequate resources to evaluate teachers.

 As this year’s session of the City Council heads into summer recess, these Ward Letters will take a similar hiatus.  With that said, I have enjoyed receiving feedback from you during my conversations at your doorstep as part of my re-election campaign.