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Committee Votes to Strike References to Personnel Director from Charter, adding Twist to Lawsuit

The matter now goes to the full City Council for a vote. The changes would ultimately have to be approved by voters in a ballot referendum.

The Ordinance Committee last night voted 3-1 to cross out references to the personnel director in the City Charter, sending the matter to the full City Council for a vote and adding a new twist , whose job was de-funded by the City Council in next year's budget to save an estimated $100,000 in consolidation of services with the school department.

Any changes to the charter would ultimately have to be approved by voters in a ballot referendum. 

But the charter changes would help bolster the city's case in court, said Councilman Steve Stycos before he was cut off by City Council Lawyer Patrick Quinlan, who said the nuances of the lawsuit shouldn't be discussed at the Ordinance Committee meeting.

Quinlan said the charter changes entailed looking for references to the personnel director and removing them or changing them to "personnel administration."

, is arguing in the Superior Court suit that the council's decision to zero-out the personnel director line item was a violation of the City Charter. The position is a mayoral appointment and by de-funding her position, she said, the council is usurping the mayor's executive authority.

The charter changes would undermine Bello's argument. As Quinlan explained, the changes would give the administration more flexibility in determining how to assign personnel duties to city staff, or to the school department.

"There would still be a division or department of personnel," Quinlan said. "The only thing we've done is take one position out of there."

Stycos urged his fellow committee members to approve the ordinance.

"It keeps the duties of the personnel department but it really leaves it up to the mayor as to how those duties will be performed and who will do those duties in personnel administration," Stycos said. "So it eliminates the requirement that there be a personnel director, but it keeps the function."

Councilman Paul Archetto raised concerns about the changes, noting he never supported de-funding Bello's position in the first place and disagreed with a characterization by Stycos that during the budget process the council moved to eliminate the personnel director job. 

"The seven members of the council chose to de-fund the position, not to abolish it, we're opening a can of worms," Archetto said, raising concerns about the execution of personnel duties in the interim, such as administering tests, monitoring compliance with labor regulations and making sure all the red tape is managed properly.

Councilman Jim Donahue said the charter changes are simply to "give the mayor flexibility how he chooses to fulfill the personnel administration functions. . .and the school district would likely be the partner in that."

And "hopefully it will save the city $100,000 or so in the meantime," Donahue said. 

It was noted that the school department handles personnel functions for many more employees than the city.

The job of personnel director is a mayoral appointment and has a salary of $61,562. Bello states that the position is classified and mandated in the City Charter, which should grant her the right for a termination hearing.

Specifically, according to the suit, the actions of the council are in violation of the section of the charter that states: “No member of the council shall direct or request the appointment of any person to or any person’s removal from any office or employment by the mayor or any of the mayor’s subordinates or in any way take part in the appointment or removal of officers and employees of the city expect as specifically provided in the charter,” instructing the council to “deal with the administrative services of the city solely through the mayor.”

Joe Richer July 13, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Sounds like this would allow the mayor to choose what to cut in order to meet the new budget, rather than force Susan Bello out by mandate of the council. I've no positive or negative comment on this...just pointing out what this might mean. Seems the mayor could choose to make other cuts so long as the budget is met?
Joe Jones July 14, 2012 at 01:00 PM
The job of personnel director is a mayoral appointment and has a salary of $61,562. Bello states that the position is classified and mandated in the City Charter, which should grant her the right for a termination hearing. Sounds like he may have another person to put there.
Joe Richer July 14, 2012 at 02:44 PM
If the "he" you're talking about is the mayor...the doesn't need the council and a lawsuit in order to do that... It seems to me that the council is trying to micromanage the budget. They could choose to just fund the city and let the executive (mayor) execute his office. Am I missing something?
John July 14, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Laffey, pushed out the previous personnel director and put this Bello lady in. She was kept around because she was former Councilman Livingston lady friend. Now she is pissed that her cushy job is being defunded. She still has a job, just no compensation. She's been living off the public trough for long time.
Joe The Plumber July 15, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Sounds like this woman wouldn't hire a councilman's crony friend ...... Just sayin...
Ross Glengarry September 13, 2012 at 09:25 PM
The last thing anyone needs in Cranston is more of Ray Votto. Fung , Stycos and the rest of the politicians in Cranston will always try to pander to the residents of Cranston who don't want to pay for Public Education.... its all about defaulting on labor agreements with policeman, firefighters, teachers... all in the name of no tax increases. There is no significant business tax base in Cranston to generate acceptable revenues... so lets default on every contract with municipal employees to keep our taxes low.

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