Letter: Warren council president responds to former judge's comments

Posted 2/4/20

To the editor:

I am writing to address the recent vote to change the Judge for the Warren Housing Court. As members of the Warren Town Council, we are obligated to ensure the best policies are …

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Letter: Warren council president responds to former judge's comments

Posted

To the editor:

I am writing to address the recent vote to change the Judge for the Warren Housing Court. As members of the Warren Town Council, we are obligated to ensure the best policies are developed and enforced and the best and most qualified people are appointed. There were statements made by the departing Judge that need to be publicly corrected.

The first statement was that the Council does not understand how the court works. That is surprising, since the council created the Housing Court in 2017 first by requesting the General Assembly to enact the necessary legislation authorizing the court, and then passing the ordinance to get the court up and running. A lot of time and energy was spent on this important issue, to give our town officials the tools used successfully in other communities to address — and correct — neglected and deteriorated houses and buildings in our town. The council fully understands how the court is supposed to work, which helps to explain the decision to go in a different direction from the initial appointment.

The second statement has to do with the claim of an attempt to influence decisions on individual cases. That statement is false, and curious given the fact that Mr. Sypole communicated to me his disappointment that no one from the council reached out to him personally to warn him about our preferences in his judgements and/or dissatisfaction with his performance. That would have been entirely inappropriate. That does not mean the council did not review the performance of the court over the last two years, including but not limited to a review of the court records. All of the tools given to the town through the enabling legislation and ordinance were not utilized, which leads to the third statement that needs to be corrected. The review of court records shows that there were instances when the town’s requests for enforcement were not granted, despite the Judge’s comments to the Warren Times Gazette. That certainly sends the wrong signal to those owners who neglect to properly maintain their property.

The appearance and condition of our town has a direct impact on our ability to attract new business and investment, encourage new home purchases, maintain and increase home values, and stabilize the tax rate.

It is frankly frustrating to go to all the trouble to create the Housing Court, and then see the results over the last two years. It is time to move forward and fully utilize this court to address a serious concern in Warren.

Keri Cronin
Union Street

Ms. Cronin is the president of the Warren Town Council. The council voted unanimously last month to appoint John Rego as the Warren Housing Court's new judge.

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