We appreciate and value the work of public employees and we understand they help make our communities safer and better places to live. We also believe it is essential to keep an eye on the future. Over the vehement objections of mayors and town administrators across the state, Gov. Gina Raimondo recently signed into law “evergreen contract” legislation, which provides that contracts related to wages and benefits would continue essentially indefinitely, eliminating any incentive or timeframe for unions to come to the bargaining table.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said the bill would have a “damaging and crushing effect” as towns sought to create their budgets. Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena said that the town might as well “shut the lights off, give the unions the keys and give them the checkbooks” if the bill passes.
In response to the recently passed evergreen legislation, Narragansett Councilor Patrick Murray, a Republican, placed on the August 5, Town Council agenda a Motion to Hire and/or Retain the Law Office of Vincent F Ragosta, Jr. to assist the Town of Narragansett in ongoing contract negotiations and labor issues that continue to be not properly addressed. In the motion’s summary, he explained “Due to increasing ongoing Overtime Concerns it is long overdue to hire a Professional Labor and Employment Attorney to assist the Town of Narragansett in these matters.” His motion was met with strong, positive reaction from those in attendance at Town Council meeting Monday evening. However, the motion was continued with claims of needing to meet with Ragosta before hiring.
Vincent Ragosta is widely considered the gold standard of lawyers who has represented numerous municipalities during contract negotiations with police, fire and other labor unions. He is tough, smart and uniquely qualified to negotiate and that is why so many mayors in our state turn to him for help.
With her “no” vote, Republican Councilor Jill Lawler has signaled that she has little concern for the taxpayer of Narragansett. She merely votes as instructed by Council president.
The Rhode Island Republican Party should be aware that Jill Lawler has repeatedly acted in a fiscally irresponsible manner, dismantling the Town’s Economic Development Committee, frivolously authorizing $347,253 to revamp the underutilized community center while continuing with a shortsighted deal to sell the town’s new library building and rejecting significant state reimbursement for that project. She was very active in raising property taxes on businesses in Narragansett.
Her colleagues, Matthew Mannix and Rick Lema, attempted to orchestrate a hostile takeover of the Narragansett Republican Town Committee in March of 2018 in order to weaponize it against the library project. They failed. They continue to fail to honor any tenet of fiscal conservatism. Their actions are in direct conflict with best practices in areas of risk management, controls, and good governance.
Michael G. Riley, Chair, Narragansett Republican Town Committee