Council formally approves renaming East Providence senior center in Rock’s honor

Changes are proposed to personnel oversight, planning changes go forward

By Mike Rego
Posted 8/21/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence Senior Center will soon officially be renamed in the honor of outgoing and long-time department director Robert Rock after the City Council, at its August …

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Council formally approves renaming East Providence senior center in Rock’s honor

Changes are proposed to personnel oversight, planning changes go forward


EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence Senior Center will soon officially be renamed in the honor of outgoing and long-time department director Robert Rock after the City Council, at its August 20 meeting, approved a previously announced recommendation of Mayor Bob DaSilva to bestow the accolade.
The council unanimously approved the resolution to designate the elderly centric building located on Waterman Avenue as the “Robert E. Rock Senior Center.” Mr. Rock, a city native, alum of East Providence High School and former East Providence Police officer, recently stated his intention to retire from his post as Senior Center director after 21 years.
Speaking on behalf of the body, Council President and Ward 1 member Bobby Britto said to Mr. Rock, “We’d like to thank you for your service and the hard work you did going into the senior center. You did a wonderful job. I’m sure you’re going to be missed, but I’m also sure you’ll be around as well.”
During Mr. Rock’s tenure the senior center, among other achievements, received national accreditation and expanded its space to 25,000 square feet to include a fitness center, library, common area, computer lab, a large multi-purpose room and a seminar room.
“Thank you very much. I am humbled by this honor,” Mr. Rock said. “But, as anyone knows, in 21 years, only one person’s name is going to go on that, but it’s been a team for 21 years. I had a lot of people behind me, and it’s not just me. It’s a lot of people. And it’s a lot of people who live in this city that volunteer to make things work. And that’s why we are what we are. The city has been very good to the seniors, and we just hope that keeps going forward.”
Audit update
State-appointed Municipal Finance Advisor Paul Luba, in the stead of an ill City Finance Director Malcolm Moore, led the council through a review of a letter provided by the city’s new independent auditor, Blum-Shapiro of Cranston.
Blum-Shapiro is conducting its initial review of the city’s financials. It was the firm’s first general fiscal year audit in a three-year cycle after it was hired in late 2017, replacing Parmelee Poirier & Associates.
Mr. Luba told the council the letter stated Blum-Shapiro, to date, has found “no material weakness” in the city’s financials, nor did it find any “misstatements.” The correspondence, however, did include the caveat the firm has not check every aspect of the finances.
Mr. Luba said the audit is “a sample” of the city’s debits and credits. He further explained, Blum-Shapiro and other auditors use a statistical program, which picks items or transactions throughout the budget to review.
The firm is expected to present its findings to the council sometime in the fall.
Kids community service
The council approved a resolution, “Establish Partnership With The East Providence School Committee For Community Service Hours For Students,” proposed by Ward 2 Councilor Anna Sousa and Ward 4 Councilor Ricardo Mourato.
The measure allows students to meet the community requirement to graduate high school through volunteering through city vessels such as assisting with programs geared towards the elderly and disabled among others. The coordinated effort is required to be in place by September 30.
Personnel oversight
The council, upon the administration represented at last week’s meeting by Human Resources Director Victor Santos and Library Director Michael Carlozzi, gave first approval to a revised Personnel Department ordinance submitted by At-Large member Bob Rodericks.
Mr. Carlozzi called the process of hiring as “egregiously inefficient” while recommending the changes be implemented.
Some minor changes in Section I. Sec. 11-4 entitled "Duties of personnel director,” include replacing the words “city manager” to mayor to reflect the city’s new form of government.
The most amendment is the addition of the following oversight authority of the executive, “(7) To certify to the appointing authority employment and promotional lists. In the absence of the personnel director, due to vacancy of position, leave of absence, or extended leave, the Mayor or his or her designee may certify the employment and promotional lists.”
Proposed changes to the duties of the personnel board were put forth, including its authority to certify “employment and promotional lists.”
The updated personnel board oversight, “Sec. 11-31. Duties,” would read as follows going forward:
“(1) Hear appeals of employees in the classified service who appeal from a decision of the  mayor in event of removal, suspension, demotion or transfer; (2) Advise the personnel director, the  mayor and the city council on matters of personnel policy and problems of personnel administration; (3) Represent the public interest in the improvement of personnel administration in the city service; (4) Make annual reports and such special reports as are necessary to the mayor and city council.”

Planning updates
The council, after discussion the matter initially during its July forum, gave its second and final approvals to a pair of revised ordinances, sponsored by Ward 3 member Nate Cahoon, both in Chapter 2 of the City Charter and entitled “Administration.”
Most important is the creation of a new title for oversight of the department, which going forward will be known as “Director of Planning and Economic Development.” The latter part of the title is new, the administrator previously assigned the title only of department director.
Once more, of most significance, the size of the Planning Board is increased from five to seven members. The revised board will have an appointee representing each of the city’s four wards and three at-large representatives.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.