Tiverton town administrator retires suddenly

Tiverton Town Administrator James Goncalo will leave his office Nov.15. Tiverton Town Administrator James Goncalo will leave his office Nov.15.

Tiverton Town Administrator James Goncalo will leave his office Nov.15.

Tiverton Town Administrator James Goncalo will leave his office Nov.15.

TIVERTON — Tiverton Town Administrator James Goncalo announced his retirement “effective immediately” following a two-hour-and-forty-minute executive session meeting with the full town council Monday night.

The announcement was made in the form of a letter from Mr. Goncalo that Council President Ed Roderick read aloud in its entirety in public session after the closed door meeting concluded.

Mr. Roderick said the letter had been “presented” to the town councilors Nov. 4.

Also at the public session, Mr. Roderick announced that the council had acted to suspend Town Maintenance Foreman Bob Martin for 30 days without pay for a period beginning Nov. 1.

The suspension follows the airing of a two-part series last Thursday and Friday by Providence television station WJAR (Channel 10) that concerned Mr. Martin’s alleged “use of town  resources on town time.”

Those allegations are under investigation by Rhode Island State Police, an investigation that the Tiverton Council had requested a week ago Monday night after the council had learned about them.

Mr. Roderick said last night, after announcing Mr. Martin’s suspension, that as soon as the town gets the State Police report about its investigation, it will call a special council meeting (with 48 hours notice, he said) to address the report’s findings.

The agenda for last night’s special executive session meeting carried only two items: one dealing with the investigation into the allegations concerning Mr. Martin, and the second dealing with the personnel performance of Mr. Goncalo, for which notice had been given to Mr. Goncalo.

Bob Martin being questioned by Channel 10 reporter. Photo courtesy of Ch. 10.

Bob Martin being questioned by Channel 10 reporter. Photo courtesy of Ch. 10.

The first part (aired Thursday) of the WJAR investigative report included on-the-air allegations that Mr. Goncalo had been informed and shown photographs by a town employee working with Mr. Martin that purported to show Mr. Martin had been using town resources and time to work on his own private property.

The second part (aired Friday) of the WJAR report aired an allegation that Mr. Goncalo had terminated the worker’s employment with the town upon learning of the employee’s claims.

These are included among the matters currently under investigation by the State Police, and no council member has commented about them nor were they discussed by the council in public session last night when the disciplinary action against Mr. Martin and Mr. Goncalo’s retirement were announced.

Monday night’s special executive session was called late last Friday afternoon around 4 p.m. after the first, but before the second, part of WJAR’s investigative series was aired on the evening’s six o’clock news.

Mr. Goncalo said nothing Monday night at the public council session when his retirement was announced and his letter was read aloud.

Signed by Mr. Goncalo, and on town administrator letterhead, the letter Mr. Roderick read began, “As the years pass much too quickly, we often place our professional life in the forefront. I have come to the realization that at this point, I must now concentrate on my family and personal life.”

“Therefore,” the letter said, “I am announcing my retirement in order to refocus on my family and future. My retirement will be  effective immediately.”

“I am thankful for being able to serve the Citizens of Tiverton for many years as a member of the Budget Committee, Treasurer, and as Town Administrator,” the letter concluded.

“We thank Jim for his service,” Mr. Roderick said after he finished reading.

Mr. Roderick then said the council had asked Mr. Goncalo — who had “graciously accepted,” he said —to stay on as administrator until the close of business Friday, November 15.

Beginning at that time, Town Clerk Nancy Mello will serve as Acting Town Administrator, Mr. Roderick announced.

Slightly over 20 spectators had gathered and remained in Town Hall as the executive session was taking place in Mr. Goncalo’s office at the rear of the building.

A uniformed Tiverton police officer was also in the council chambers the entire time — an unusual occurrence— whose presence Council President Roderick said he’d requested.

Tiverton Police Chief Thomas Blakey was also present with the audience in council chambers for most of the meeting, until he was called back into the executive session to meet with council members for half an hour or so. He exited Town Hall shortly after, and the council continued with its closed-door deliberations.

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