EAST PROVIDENCE — In what is likely a not-so coincidental development, State Director of Revenue Rosemary Booth Gallogly Thursday, April 18, reinstated the Budget Commission’s authority over personnel matters in the City of East Providence.
Mrs. Gallogly did so in response to a request from Budget Commission member and City Council President James Briden.
“I spoke with the Director and requested the Budget Commission be returned to power so as to be able to review and make decisions on personnel matters,” Councilman Briden said Thursday night by phone.
“I did this because I think it is in the best interest of the City of East Providence,” he added.
Director Gallogly penned a letter to East Providence dated Thursday, April 18, acknowledging the Budget Commission, at its March 28 meeting, had returned all authority bestowed by City Charter back to the City Council, School Committee, City Manager and Superintendent of Schools.
However, she wrote “effective immediately” oversight of “all personnel matters” would be returned to the Commission until further notice.
Despite the Director’s dictate, there are no imminent plans for the Commission to hold a meeting, according to Councilman Briden.
The Council President’s request came just three days after City Manager Peter Graczykowski put East Providence Police Department Chief Joseph Tavares on administrative leave.
Director Gallogly’s decree, most pointedly, strips both Mr. Graczykowski and the recently hired Superintendent of Schools Kim Mercer of their ability to make hires in their respective departments.
Many saw Mr. Graczykowski’s move as a way of appeasing some of the city’s politicians and members of the EPPD, who’ve soured on the chief of late. The act was also seen by some as a token gesture by Mr. Graczykowski, who remains without a long-term contract and is currently in negotiations with the city trying to iron out an extended pact.
(Corrected, 10 a.m., April 19) On the flip side, Chief Tavares is known to have deep connections with past and present state and local politicians, including Governor Lincoln Chafee, the former mayor of Warwick where Mr. Tavares was previously a high-ranking officer, a major on its police force.
When asked if either Mr. Graczykowski’s contractual status or Chief Tavares’ employment status played a role in his request of the state, Councilman Briden offered a definitive “no comment.”
Instead, Councilman Briden reiterated his belief his actions were what was right and proper for the city at the moment.
“I want to be very clear on this. I requested the director to step in,” Councilman Briden added. “I have given this a lot of thought and came to the conclusion that this was in the best interest of the City of East Providence at this time.”
(Updated, 10 a.m., April 19) Already speculation has it that Chief Tavares will be reinstated back to the top spot on the East Providence Police force as soon as Friday morning, April 19. Asked if that were the case, Councilman Briden again gave a stern “no comment.” As of Friday, EPPD Major Christopher Parella remained in the role of acting Chief per Mr. Graczykowski’s initial action earlier in the week.
“We (the City Council) have no involvement in personnel matters,” Councilman Briden said. “It’s a separation (of powers) in the Charter, which I take very seriously.”