What is Next for Providence — Leadership Void in City Hall

Thursday, May 11, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza
City Council Council President Luis Aponte was indicted on Wednesday, the former City Council Majority Leader Kevin Jackson was just recalled and removed from office, and Mayor Jorge Elorza’s Chief Operating Officer was forced to resign after GoLocal exposed her trying to hire an unqualified friend’s daughter to run the beleaguered Board of Licenses.

With both branches of municipal government under scrutiny, questions are emerging how Providence is being managed.

The city of Providence is now faced with a crisis of leadership. Just two hours after Aponte’s court appearance two fellow leaders of the Council issued sobering statements relating to the 

City Council President Pro Tempore Sabina Matos today issued the following statement regarding Council President Aponte’s indictment,

 “I am concerned and saddened by today’s indictment against Council President Aponte. Luis has been a colleague and friend for many years. This is a difficult time for the City and our constituents…While the judicial process unfolds, I will remain focused on our work and committed to moving the City of Providence forward.”

Councilman Principe
Similarly, Majority Leader Bryan Principe said,  “At the end of the day, the judicial process that began today is out of our hands, and we can’t control its outcome. Instead, we will remain focused on fulfilling our commitment to the people of Providence and continue to serve the City to the best of our ability.”

According to those close to Aponte, he plans to continue to serve as Council President. The legal process could take years.


Muksian Pay-off

While Aponte made the headlines, former City Chief Operating Officer Robin Muksian who resigned in controversy has been finally received a payment of more than $34,000 for severance. The payment was not approved by the City’s Board of Contract and Supply.

Council President Luis Aponte
City Treasurer Jim Lombardi repeated tried to block the payment. He wrote in one memo to the Elorza Administration, “I am writing to bring a concerning situation to the members of the Council. As you are aware by an email that you received, the former COO was in the process of receiving a severance package. I immediately emailed the Solicitor on March 29, 2017 to remind him that all severance packages that provide more than the Ordinances allow must be approved by the City Council It was my understanding that a check would be issued and I would send it to Council for approval. This was an agreement that I had with the Controller's office and not unusual. Historically, most severance packages have complied with the Ordinances. Those that did not or were fixed before funds were released.

Ultimately, the City made the payment to the departed Muksian.

Questions remain about who will emerge to manage the city and begin to take on the Providence's tremendous financial issues.

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