Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 02-13-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | FEBRUARY 13-19, 2019 PAWTUCKET 7 VITA offers free tax preparation PAWTUCKET – With this year's tax deadline two months away, United Way Rhode Island wants to remind residents that they may be eligible to have their federal and state income tax returns prepared and filed for free at sites in North Providence and Pawtucket. The effort is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance pro- gram, which UWRI has led locally since 2005. The pro- gram uses IRS-trained and certified volunteers. In North Providence and Pawtucket, two VITA pro- gram sites are available to help area residents: • North Providence: Tri- County Community Action Agency: 11 Emanuel St. • Pawtucket: Blackstone Valley CAP/Woodlawn Community Center: 210 West Ave. Each VITA program site is staffed by IRS-trained and certified volunteers who offer services in both English and Spanish, with returns filed electronically. Sites currently offer ser- vices with many to continue through early April. Site hours vary and appoint- ments are needed at some locations. Information on this, along with general questions, can be answered by calling 2-1-1. Program eligibility and a list of documents to bring to an appointment may be found on UWRI's website: uwri. org . VITA ensures that work- ing Rhode Islanders who earn $55,000 or less annual- ly and meet eligibility have access to free tax services in order to receive the money they're due in tax refunds and tax credits. out the Pawtucket Fire Department," he added. Dylan Zelazo, director of administration for Grebien, said the city approaches all personnel matters "in a measured manner and did not dismiss Sean Gannon lightly. With a heavy heart and having afforded every reasonable accommodation for the employee, the city ultimately took the neces- sary action to protect the residents we serve and all Pawtucket employees." Gannon, "represented by his father Judge Gannon's law firm (likely free of charge) chose to file a number of frivolous law- suits against the city and Fire Department person- nel, costing the city tens of thousands of dollars in needless legal fees," he added in his written state- ment. "The conflicts of interest here should not be lost." The ruling "hopefully finally allows the city's tax- payers to no longer be subject to the unneces- sary costs of frivolous litigation caused by the City Council- appointed judge and his law firm that the council also employs," he said. "The city looks forward to collecting the legal fees due to it, as awarded by both the Superior and the Supreme Courts," Zelazo added. "The administration will continue to protect Pawtucket taxpayers in everything we do." Votolato said the former probationary firefighter's "complaints of bullying and harassment "fell squarely on deaf ears" of city offi- cials. Sean Gannon was fired "to silence his voice and to set an example to others who might have spoken out," he added. This case was not about Sean Gannon's job as fire- fighter, "but to expose the department's and the city's acceptance and compla- cency with the hostile work environment that exists." The facts show that Sean successfully completed the Pawtucket Municipal Fire Academy and earned his ProBoard Certification for Firefighter Level I/II, said Votolato, who was hired in the spring of 2017 as the City Council's advisory attorney even as cases involving Sean Gannon were ongoing. "He never injured him- self, any member of the public, or another firefight- er. No cause existed to ter- minate Sean Gannon. The city fired him to shut him up and to set an example to others." He added, "We take comfort in the fact that Sean will no longer have to endure such treatment and saddened that any cur- rent members of the Fire Department have effective- ly been silenced by Sean Gannon's termination." Grebien has accused Jack Gannon of carrying out a long-term vendetta against him over the firing of Sean Gannon, with the elder Gannon filing many complaints against the city and submitting dozens of records requests. Written testimony from superiors claimed Sean struggled with the basic skills needed to be a fire- fighter, and that keeping him as a firefighter put both fellow firefighters and members of the public at risk. According to the Feb. 6 decision by the state's high- est court, Sean Gannon alleged in November of 2013 that he'd been fired without cause in the spring of that year. The union filed a grievance, and an arbitrator ruling for the city in March of 2016. Gannon personally challenged that ruling in Superior Court in May of 2016. The city said Gannon lacked standing because he wasn't a party to the ruling. Gannon filed a motion that August to involun- tarily join the union as a party. The union objected, saying Gannon couldn't compel it to represent him "in an action the union had deemed to be futile" and risk exposure, states the court decision. Gannon's motion was denied. On Sept. 22, 2016, the day the city's motion to dismiss was set to be heard, Gannon announced he'd reached an agree- ment with the union to voluntarily join the case. In February 2017, he tried to substitute the union as a party, but the city objected and renewed its motion to dismiss. A judge granted for the city, and the city filed a motion for costs and legal fees. Gannon took the case to the R.I. Supreme Court. The high court determined that Gannon had no indi- vidual standing to make a motion to vacate the arbi- trator's award. Recognizing that he was in a "precari- ous position" on his own, as the court put it, he twice tried to add the union as a plaintiff. "Unfortunately for Gannon, these efforts cannot bear fruit," the decision states. A motion to vacate the award was timely, "but it was fatally flawed because he lacked standing." The court found that Gannon could not amend his motion to vacate and substitute the union as a party. "Nothing in the record before us remotely suggests that the union's initial deci- sion to forego bringing an action to vacate the arbi- tration award was a 'mis- take,'" it reads. "Moreover, there is nothing in the record that would dem- onstrate that the city was aware, or should have been aware, that the failure to include the union was born of mistake." It adds, "Indeed, the union declined twice to press Gannon's cause – first when it decided not to challenge the award in Superior Court, prompting Gannon to do so himself, and later when it express- ly, and forcefully, objected to Gannon's efforts to bring it into the case." A change of heart on the part of the union, eight months beyond the allow- able time frame, was insuf- ficient to meet require- ments, it adds. RULING From Page One VOTOLATO IN BRIEF Children invited to Stillwater Books to write stories PAWTUCKET – Stillwater Books, at 175 Main St., will host a chil- dren's book reading by local author illustrator Kerry Bober on Feb. 23, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Bober will read her book "POOFAS Popping In To Lend A Hand." Children will get a free coloring page and be given the chance to write their own POOFA story. There will also be t-shirt giveaways. "Come join me in meeting the POOFAS, as they share their POOFA-POWERS and take us into their world of helping kids," said Bober in a release. POOFAS are positive- thinking thought bubble creatures that help kids handle stress and develop healthy coping skills, she said. "By POOFAS sharing their POOFA-POWERS with us, they help us to understand that these pow- ers are already in each and every one of us," she added. POOFAS can act as valu- able teaching aides, thera- peutic aides and/or parent- ing tools. The Valley Breeze is 'invited' into tens of thousands of homes within a few miles of your business. Visit valleybreeze.com Click on 'Advertising'

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