Susan Menard: ProJo Omits the No Bid Vroom-Vrooms
Woonsocket Mayor Susan Menard will be retiring on June 15.
The Providence Journal got that much right. And they kindly mentioned her accomplishments. What they left out was that an ethics complaint had been filed against her this week. Yes, the same newspaper that repeatedly and breathlessly speculated about some not-so-nefarious reasons for Bev Najarian to have stepped down as the Governor’s Director of Administration left this fairly significant development – some might even term a “factor” – out of their article reporting the retirement of Mayor Menard.
From the Valley Breeze:
In his two-page complaint, backed by various “proof” documents, [former police detective sergeant and City Council candidate Edward] Roy alleges that Menard violated state ethics law by her involvement in the process of leasing four Harley-Davidson motorcycles through her son-in-law’s dealership, Paramount Harley Davidson, in Framingham, Mass.
Roy said in the complaint that Paramount, with Menard’s son-in-law James Pilavin as a principal owner, is not the dealership contracted to the city by the Greater Boston Police Council, and leasing through the company “is an egregious violation of the Rhode Island General Laws”.
We should point out here that this was by no means a one-way transaction: James Pilavin made two contributions totalling $1,750 to Mayor Menard’s re-election campaign.
The motorcycles were for the use of the Woonsocket Police Department. The funding for the lease did not come from city coffers but from the Justice Department’s Local Law Enforcement Block Grants (“LLEBGs”). Nevertheless, the lease had to be offered as an RFP. It appears that this did not happen.
Speaking at Monday’s City Council meeting, council President Leo Fontaine said the timeline for the lease of the motorcycles last month is especially disturbing to him.
* At the Feb. 18 City Council meeting, Fontaine said the council asked why the city didn’t go out to bid, as the City Charter stipulates for such leases.
* On Feb. 19, he said, a quote came in from Boston Harley-Davidson.
* Now it has been discovered, according to Fontaine, that a $10,000 two-year lease payment was sent to Paramount on Feb. 18.
“Why would we go out for bid a day after a payment was made?” he asked.
The Providence Journal got itself updated and ran a more complete article yesterday on Mayor Menard’s retirement and questions that are arising out of her administration. These are not limited to the no-bid motorcycles.
Also, the City Council has started an internal investigation to determine, among other things, if city employees were being made to do work they should not be doing, although they would not get more specific. On Thursday, the council had planned to meet with two city employees it had subpoenaed to ask questions, but Menard hired an independent lawyer and was able to obtain a temporary restraining order in Superior Court to stop the meeting.
Here’s a question. Why would it be necessary to take steps to legally prevent the City Council from asking questions of city employees?
And another: who was doing what work they shouldn’t have, for whom were they doing it and who requested that they do it?