The Cranston Democratic City Committee is crying foul over the display of signs at Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung's campaign headquarters listing School Committee candidates.
Michael J. Sepe, chair of the Democratic City Committee, said the signs "violate the intent of the law under the City Charter" because they suggest a Republican-backed school committee slate even though the School Committee race is supposed to be nonpartisan.
"I'd like to know who advised Mayor Fung to hang these political signs," Sepe said. "It would have been a wise investment in time to first read the City Charter before making such a rash decision."
In response, Gary Vierra, Fung's spokesman, said Sepe's allegations are "ridiculous" and the signs are not in violation of the City Charter.
"We looked at the charter and we are not violating [it]," Vierra said. "The City Charter talks about the School Committee race in context of being nonpartisian in how you place candidates on the ballot and how there's no party affiliation."
The charter makes no mention of political signs and it is common practice for city committees to endorse specific candidates for School Committee, Vierra said.
Vierra said the accusations were "vintage Mike Sepe."
Sepe said that Fung is trying to take control of the School Committee and City Council, and warned that with a "Fung-controlled School Committee, there will be no checks and balances."
"He will answer to no one," Sepe said. "No doubt Mayor Fung will attempt to ram charter schools down our throats."
The complete release:
Noting the proliferation of political signs at the Fung-for Mayor election headquarters in Garden City urging the election of Mayor Fung’s “Republican School Committee Team”, Mike Sepe, Cranston Democratic Committee Chair urged Fung to remove the signs immediately because“they violate the intent of the law under Cranston’s City Charter”.
Sepe cited the Cranston City Charter section which specifically does NOT allow political partisan elections for school Committee. Sepe said, “In 1962 the voters of our great city expressed their will in no uncertain terms and specifically chose to keep politics out of our public school system.
This has been the law in Cranston for 50-years. I’d like to know who advised Mayor Fung to hang these political signs. It would have been a wise investment in time to first read the City Charter before making such a rash decision”, he said.
Sepe further stated that Fung’s attempt to control the School Committee follows close on the heels of his recent remarks urging the election of a “veto-proof Republican City Council”. With a Fung-controlled School Committee, Sepe said, there will be no checks and balances on Allan Fung, he will have to answer to no one. It will be the Fung Way or the Highway, virtual totalitarian control”.
Sepe added that with all of this power and authority “no doubt Mayor Fung will attempt to ram charter schools down our throats, a concept which Fung suffered an embarrassing defeat “when the School administration, School Committee and City Council overwhelmingly opposed Fung’s charter school proposal after it was thoroughly vetted in the court of public opinion last year”.
Also, Sepe said, with the total control which Fung is openly seeking over the City Council, he will control all major land use and zoning decision in our City, denying the voices of our tradition-rich neighborhoods. Sepe characterized Fung as engaged in a crusade to usurp all authority into his mayor’s office, “a power grab which would even make Prince Macchiavelli blush”. “The voters really need to do their homework this year. Our great country was built at its core on a system of checks and balances. We must do everything we can to preserve this system in our city government, A vote for Allan Fung and his Republican City Council and School Committee candidates will serve to muzzle dissent in our City’s lawful decision –making process”, Sepe concluded.