Police union blasts ‘underhanded, despicable’ Taveras, Council

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence police union is threatening all-out war on Mayor Angel Taveras and the City Council for freezing retired officers’ pensions, labeling the elected officials “underhanded, despicable and heartless” for holding a crucial vote the night of a fallen officer’s wake.

“Their actions that night and the following Monday showed what we mean to them …………ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, JUST A NUMBER!!!!” the executive board of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 wrote members last week in an email obtained by WPRI.com. “The old saying ‘action speaks louder than words’ is so true, and their actions came through loud and clear and it sounded a lot like SCREW YOU!!!”

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the sweeping pension overhaul on April 26, the night before Sgt. Maxwell Dorley’s funeral. ”The audacity of the Mayor and City Council to do such a thing on the night that we waked one of our own, who died in the line of duty for this City is underhanded, despicable and heartless, and a slap in the face to all of us,” the police email said.

In a statement on Friday, Taveras told WPRI.com it had been “a very significant and emotional week for all who work in the city of Providence. Those who serve our city know better than most the history that led Providence into this crisis.”

But the mayor argued the pension changes are necessary. “Actions do speak louder than words, and I believe history will reflect on this week as the moment when Providence acted before it was too late to save the city from bankruptcy and put the retirements of our active employees at the mercy of unilateral action by a fiscal overseer,” he said.

The police union’s board noted the pension changes were signed into law hours before Brown University and Lifespan agreed to pay more to the city, suggesting the two actions were linked and “the Mayor and City Council are merely puppets with no desire to fight them for what is right.”

The union leaders went on to say they are working on “a viable legal and political attack against the City, the Mayor, the City Council and that City [pension] Ordinance.” Police officers, firefighters and retirees “will picket the Mayor’s and City Council Member’s [sic] fundraiser events and other events whenever and wherever they may be and we will fight the legal battles with unwavering determination,” they said.

“Be prepared to participate and stand your ground as this is going to be the biggest fight ever,” they added. “Please be ready when the call to fight comes.” Local 1033, the city’s biggest union, has said it will not join the police and fire unions in fighting the pension ordinance. The police union also opposes Governor Chafee’s municipal relief bills.

Tim White contributed to this report.

• Related: Iannazzi criticizes intransigent Providence police, fire retirees (May 2)

(photo: Bruce Morin/WPRI)

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Gov. Lincoln Chafee, the first independent in his position, has his work cut out for him: fix the state's finances and help 66,000 unemployed Rhode Islanders get back to work.
 
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