Legal consolidation remains on track in East Providence

Legal consolidation remains on track in East Providence


EAST PROVIDENCE — Consolidation of legal services for both the city and school department continues on track as the East Providence Budget Commission concluded its Request For Proposal on the matter at its meeting Thursday afternoon, Dec. 13.

Commission member and City Manager Peter Graczykowski told rest of the state-overseers the RFP concluded on Dec. 7.

He also requested and was granted approval from the Commission to proceed with forming an evaluation committee. The committee will eventually decide what bid to accept.

“We received quite a few responses,” Mr. Graczykowski said of the number of firms that expressed interest.

The evaluation committee is expected to be called into service within a matter of days. It will be comprised of the city manager, Mr. Graczykowski, the Budget Commission chairman Diane Brennan, Mayor/City Council President and commission member James Briden, chairman of the School Committee Joel Monteiro, Interim School Superintendent Dr. John DeGoes and two other commission members, Michael O’Keefe and Stephen Bannon.

All members of the commission agreed the process of implementing consolidated legal services has to be expedited, Mr. O’Keefe saying, “We need to speed up the RFP.”

It is likely the commission will move the matter forward at its next meeting scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 3, as opposed to waiting much longer.

Mrs. Brennan added, “We understand this needs to be fast-tracked because there are a lot of pending items out there.”

Those “pending items” include the recent appointments of counsel by the city council and school committee. Tim Chapman, Bob Craven and Greg Dias were each appointed and sworn in to the positions of city solicitor and assistants, respectively, during inauguration ceremonies on Dec. 3. Likewise, Bob Silva’s status as school department legal representative was reaffirmed that same evening. The appointments were made “subject to the approval of the East Providence Budget Commission.”

As it stands right now, that approval isn’t likely to come.

Rather, it suggested to Mr. Briden that the city council not submit official minutes of the inauguration so as not to put the onus on the commission to reject the appointees and subject them to any public embarrassment. All appointments made by the council or school committee only gain final approval when the budget commission accepts the minutes of the meeting in which they occurred.

To that end, the council did not submit “minutes” from the Dec. 3 inaugural. Instead, a “journal” was given to the commission for approval.

The RFP is the first step towards hiring a single law firm to represent the city and school department on a regular basis.

The previous school committee balked at initial talk of the RFP. The commission, however, attempted to quell any concerns by claiming the school department and the city, for that matter, would still be able seek outside counsel if there were conflict of interest issues present in cases.