Aponte says PVD City Council will schedule recall vote today

Kevin Jackson

Providence City Council President Luis Aponte plans on attending a special meeting tonight to schedule a recall election against Councilor Kevin Jackson, and he expects there will be a quorum.

“There will be at least eight, probably more” he said, referring to the number of councilors who need to attend to hold the meeting.

WPRI ace reporter Dan McGowan wrote this weekend that “City Council leadership [has been] unwilling to call a special council meeting to schedule the recall election.” Five city councilors called today’s meeting and it was unclear if the other ten planned to attend.

If the city council didn’t meet, there is also a Board of Elections meeting today, at the behest of Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, to schedule the recall vote.

“I believe that the Board of Elections has the authority to do this in the event that the Providence City Council fails to to take timely action,” she wrote in a letter to the Board of Elections. “If the Providence City Council were to schedule a special meeting … then the Board of Election’s special meeting would no longer be necessary.”

Aponte said there was no reason for what he called “the harried state involvement.”

He said he scheduled a meeting for Thursday to set the recall election. This timeline complied with the city charter, he said, if not state law.

He changed his mind, and decided to attend Monday meeting, after a slew of stories from WPRI, and a rare Saturday night statement from Mayor Jorge Elorza.

“Providence residents, specifically those in Ward 3, deserve an open, transparent and timely election process,” Elorza said in a statement sent out to the press over the weekend. “I applaud the members of the Providence City Council who took action to ensure compliance with Rhode Island State Law. I urge the other members of the council respect this special meeting and show up on Monday to make sure the election date is set without delay.”

Aponte will vote to schedule the recall election today, saying, “I will vote to uphold the requirements of the charter.” He declined to say if he thinks Jackson deserves to be recalled. “My opinion doesn’t matter to the folks that live in that area and signed the petition to have him recalled, so I’m not particularly inclined to share it.” He did confess that he isn’t looking forward to doing so. “He’s a friend of mine. Of course it will be a tough vote.”

Jackson represents Ward 3 on the East Side of Providence. Last year he was charged by State Police with embezzling $127,153 from a local youth track and field team. 2,300 Ward 3 residents signed a petition to hold a recall election.

State law requires that election happen by May 3.

If Jackson is recalled, Mark Santow, a progressive Providence school board member told WPRI he would run for the vacated council seat.

“I believe we need to be represented by a transparent, accessible, honest and progressive City Council person, focused on improving our public schools (the buildings, and what happens inside them), on criminal justice reform, on affordable housing, and on making Providence a more just and sustainable place,” Santow told WPRI.

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve followed this saga on Dan McGowan’s page. This is so sad and the self righteous there seem to be easily stirred by those who have had designs on his seat in the City Council for some time now.

    It may be naive of me to defend him but to see him vilified as someone corrupt in the same way Cianci or the R I Future endorsed Fox was seems to be very off point. He has been accused. He hasn’t been tried yet. What he has been accused of doesn’t strike me as being on the level of accepting bribes to open up bars or hand out city contracts. What kind of mitigating facts might turn up in a cross examination? Will he be pressured so to cop a plea that we may never find out? Why worry? He has been tried in the press. What do we need a judiciary for, anyway? Due process is for wimps, I guess.

    He is accused of taking what seems to be a large sum of money, somewhere in the range of 127,000 over the period of 10 years plus his unaccounted for campaign expenses. That amounts to 12,700 per year on the embezzlement charge.

    I haven’t read in any news account as to whether he was compensated, legally, for the work that he’s done with the Providence Cobras. How bad is his record keeping? Were there legitimate claims to be made out of the money he is said to have been embezzled that cannot be substantiated as a result of negligent record keeping? Does negligence have less legal gravity than a charge of embezzlement?

    There are so many start up activist groups funded by people who seem little more than venture capitalists making careful investments in astroturf groups while the Cobras would seem to embody what is truly a “grass roots” organization. I wonder what has happened to the Cobras and who will carry on in his place, or if anyone will.

    Will we now have more acquiescence toward proposals for tax giveaways to the wealthy? Jackson appears to be a thorn in the side of the hegemonic Seth Yurdin. Will we now have less support for a Community Safety Act that really has teeth?

    It appears to me that Jackson has been watched carefully over the years in order to make it possible for the neoliberals to swoop in at the most opportune moment – for the purge, and then the takeover.

    How much worse will the devil be who we don’t know? Everyone knows Rhode Island natives cannot govern themselves and have no idea of what the neoliberal cause is and that only paternalistic out of staters with ties to media hegemons like ‘JAR and neo Puritans in the employ of Goldman Sachs have true values and the competence to lead us down the primrose path.

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