One Emergency Begets Another: Guess Who’s Representing the Mayor ?
In today’s Providence Journal, Mike Stanton and W. Zachary Malinowski do a thorough follow up investigation into the story, originally broken by the Hummel Report’s Jim Hummel, about outrageous board-up fees which were facilitated by the official action of that city’s mayor. In it, we learn that Mayor Charles D. Moreau has hired counsel.
Moreau’s lawyer, state Representative and former House Speaker William J. Murphy, did not return calls seeking comment.
Hey, when you’re in the soup, ya gotta get the best! Or at least, the guy who, until recently, was the most powerful person in the state …
enraging interesting details emerge from the Projo story. It turns out that, due to the action of Mayor Moreau, the board-up “emergency” in Central Falls went on for an incredible fifteen months. All the while, the mayor’s friend and solely authorized board-up vendor cleaned up, in more ways than one, as the mayor deliberately and unnecessarily exposed property owners in his city to obscene board-up fees by refusing to put the work out to public bid.
By the way, to the gross abuse of mayoral power of an absurdly long “emergency” period, you can add the improper placement of municipal liens. All of the liens that the city placed for the mayor’s friend and his absurdly high board-up fees were illegal. Municipal liens pertain to unpaid municipal bills (water, sewer, real estate taxes, etc.). Intercity Maintenance, which held the highly lucrative board-up monopoly in Central Falls for those fifteen months, is a private contractor and, as such, was well within its right to file a Mechanic’s Lien against a property for any unpaid works. Inexplicably, the mayor chose to once again step in on behalf of his friend and make them all municipal liens. In doing so, he has for a second time exposed the city he purportedly represents to financial liability, this one in the form of potential counter suits by property owners compelled to pay exhorbitant board-up fees to remove what turned out to be an illegal lien on their property.
The Projo article offers a modicum of comfort to these abuses and injustices in the form of a new occupant installed at Central Falls City Hall.
Detectives from the [Rhode Island State Police] financial crimes unit, led by Lt. John D. Lemont, set up shop early this year in a third-floor conference room at City Hall, examining records and questioning city employees.
“We went in on the boarded-up houses, but the investigation has gone beyond that,” said Col. Brendan P. Doherty, state police superintendent. “We’ll be there for quite some time.”
Take your time, boys. Take your time.