Solicitor Chapman’s opinion backs Councilman Briden to choose AFO in East Providence

James Briden James Briden

EAST PROVIDENCE — East Providence City Council President and Mayor James Briden can be the sole person to choose a candidate to fill the Administrative and Finance Officer position required under legislation creating state oversight which led to the seating of the Budget Commission, so wrote City Solicitor Timothy Chapman in a legal opinion on the matter.

In a letter sent to Mr. Briden, Solicitor Chapman noted, “It is important to analyze R.I.G.L. § 45-9-15 as it clearly states that in the presence of a conflict with any other laws, charter or ordinances that the provisions of the following section of the statute will govern, and in essence, trump the authority of the Charter.”

In layman’s terms, Mr. Briden would not be broaching City Charter by making the selection. Legal counsel for State Director of Finance Rosemary Booth previously was under the same opinion.

“I thought it was a very thorough, well thought out opinion. I know he put a lot of time and work into it,” Mr. Briden, himself a past City Solicitor, said of Mr. Chapman’s effort.

“This is going to be my M.O. going forward,” Mr. Briden added of the process of seeking the thoughts of the solicitor. “I’m going to rely on Tim to guide me through these types of matters.”

Solicitor Chapman was responding to a request by Mr. Briden to offer some clarity on the subject, which has raised the ire of some in the city. Some observers believe the AFO should be approved by the entire City Council. Others see no need at all to hire an AFO, a position that shares several similarities with the City Manager’s job.

The solicitor’s reading of the legislation concurred with that of his counterparts at State Finance, which grants the “Chief Executive Officer,” whether elected by the general population or their colleagues on Council, the authority to chose the AFO.

Solicitor Chapman wrote, “The elected CEO, under R.I.G.L. § 45-9-2(5), means in cities and towns having a popularly elected CEO, the popularly elected CEO, and in cities and towns where there is no popularly elected CEO, the president of the city or town council.  The City of East Providence falls into the latter category.”

The opinion of local counsel could accelerate the process of appointing an AFO. Director Gallogly, at the May 2 meeting of the reseated Budget Commission, said she would like to see an AFO in place in short order. The job has been posted and some interviews of prospective candidates have already taken place.

To read Solicitor Chapman’s opinion in its entirety click here...

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3 Comments

  1. baddogri@cox.net said:

    thank god for the budget commission mr briden is a good man and will help our city get back on track with out all the games. WE WILL WE MUST WE CAN TAKE ARE CITY BACK. now bring in the feds! and clean up the rest of the mess.

  2. Jake said:

    Could not agree with you more Baddog.
    The city desperately needs that AFO in place for the full five years, I do believe this will help keep the city on the right track.
    Time to clean up the entire city in all departments.
    Thank you Budget commission, thank you Mr. Briden, thank you solicitor Chapman.

  3. Townie55 said:

    I must disagree with the previous posts and the ever-partial coverage of the Post. What happened to the straightforward news reporting, without the extra commentary and the need to create a controversy? Then again, it is easy to do it when one doesn’t have to actually sell their newspaper to subscribers. The incessant theorizing and conjecture about what is strictly a personnel issue internal to East Providence provides disservice to the newas readers. What should be troubling to taxpayers of EP is that the unelected Mayor is trying to play a real one, and meddling with matters specifically barred in the City Charter. He values the State’s involvement over the local control, and is enabling the State, who (at least on the surface) handed the control back to the City, to bestow a $750,000 worth of unneeded AFO services on EP. Is this really the best plan? Let the real elected officials and professionals hired to do the job run things again in EP.

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