This week’s Ward Letter addresses the hate-based attack on our neighborhood, the School Department’s search for a superintendent and the financial impact of the fire fighters’ dispute.
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This past Thursday was disturbing, as one or more people left leaflets with Ku Klux Klan insignia and messages of racial and religious hatred on the doorsteps on several East Side residents. The police are working with State and federal authorities to investigate the incident, identify the perpetrators, and bring appropriate charges (which may include the federal hate crime laws). The investigation is in its early stages. While this type of attack was ominous, we can draw some comfort and reassurance from the response of the Police Department, the Mayor’s office and the religious community across all of the major faiths, who joined hands to reject the attackers’ message and stress the ties that bind our community together. While it would have been better to be spared the ugliness of the attack and the fear it generated, the response that resulted helped us to see the strong ties that hold our community together, and which add to the quality of everyone’s life. Thursday’s response demonstrates our City’s commitment of Benjamin Franklin’s admonition that we must all hang together, so that we do not all hang separately.
The Providence School Board appointed a committee to organize the search for a superintendent. (The acting Superintendent has applied for this position.) The committee has scheduled three hearings for the public to offer comments about the public schools and the next superintendent’s role. The schedule is as follows:
Thursday, October 22, 2015, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Pleasant View Elementary School (50 Obadiah Brown Road, Providence, RI 02909)
Wednesday, October 28, 2015, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Providence Career and Technical Academy (41 Fricker Street, Providence, RI 02903)
Thursday, October 29, 2015, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Nathan Bishop Middle School (101 Sessions Street, Providence, RI 02906)
Last week, the Internal Auditor presented to the Claims Committee a Report with his projections of the economic impact of certain contingencies relating to the City’s dispute with the fire fighters. He projected the Fire Department’s costs this year will exceed the budget by $1.8 million, even with the implementation of the 3-platoon work shifts on August 2. He estimated the City’s “final offer” during negotiations with the fire fighters this summer would cost an additional $6.7 million beyond what was budgeted this year, and that it would cost the City $9.6 million if it were required to pay overtime this year on all hours worked beyond an average of 42 per week, even after deducting the 8% pay raise implemented with the August 2 shift change. The City Council has not yet engaged its own legal adviser (as it resolved to do on September 17); however, whatever the timetable and possible outcome of the litigation, the Auditor’s report will provide a basis for funding a contingency reserve. At a future meeting, the Claims Committee will request that the administration present its position on these issues.