WARWICK, RI — Two speakers at the Jan. 17 Warwick City Council meeting raised concerns about GPS for DPW workers to police their work and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation’s memo of understanding with the city on cargo facility mitigations at TF Green Airport, respectively.
Frequent city watchdog Rob Cote reminded Warwick City Council members it has been six months since Councilwoman Donna Travis unconstitutionally prevented from speaking before the Council during public speaking time. He also reminded them about their oath of office, which requires them to observe his right to speak.
“Mrs. Travis violated that. But more outrageous is the fact that this City Council and this City Charter has no method of admonishment, no procedure of admonishment, punishment, dismissal, discharge or removal,” he said, which makes the oath of office meaningless.
Cote: DPW workers overdue for GPS monitoring
Cote also referenced a column in the Ocean State Current outlining and documenting on video incidents he characterized as wasteful and contrary to City ordinances regulating work and break periods. Cote said he has documented 45-minute lunch breaks, city workers performing no work, one worker idling a diesel truck for hours violating state law and one worker taking a city vehicle on an aimless trip across the city.
“How many more do I have to document? But no one on this council has the guts to employ GPS or to make a motion to put GPS in these vehicles,” he said, “Why? Why don’t we have GPS on these vehicles? Are you guys afraid that the unions might come after you because you’re finally going to have some accountability and traceability?”
Cote criticized the Council for denying pothole damage claims, when the DPW crews, in his opinion, are numerous enough to have documented all the city’s road hazards. “But we’re not going to put GPS in, because then we’ll really know and we’ll be able to quantify how the taxpayer’s getting screwed.”
Councilors did not respond during Cote’s statements, keeping to the Council’s informal rule against replying or discussing issues during people’s speaking time.
RIAC MOU ratification challenged
A memorandum of understanding with the RIAC under review by Mayor Frank Picozzi was the subject of scrutiny from Richard Langseth of Budlong Farm Road.
According to a statement from the RIAC about the MOU, the agreement, “reinforces prior commitments to build a sound barrier adjacent to the new cargo terminal and implement a semi-tractor trailer traffic mitigation plan that ensures truck traffic to and from the facility will use the Airport Connector and not local and city roads.”
Langseth informed the Council that he had attended the RIAC meeting to ratify the MOU between RIAC and The City of Warwick on Thursday, Jan. 11. Langseth said he has protested the ratification in a complaint to the RI Attorney General.
Langseth said that during that meeting, Bill Fisher, a former spokesman for the RIAC and a current lobbyist for Amazon, entered RIAC’s executive session on the MOU and potential litigation.
“I was quite appalled by this and I filed a complaint with the Attorney General. So the result is, I do believe that an MOU that you folks might get from the Mayor really should consider the fact that it was passed by RIAC in an executive session which is under a challenge. So I would encourage you to delay until the Attorney General resolves this issue.”
Langseth also asked for the Council’s support demanding a public hearing on the bond the RIAC will need to fund their cargo facility project. He also noted that he has filed another complaint with the RI Attorney General after Mayor Frank Picozzi denied his request for a copy of the first MOU with the RIAC. The reason given, he said, was that it was a “working document.”
Councilors did not respond to Langseth’s statements.
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