Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 08-08-2019

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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6 WOONSOCKET AUGUST 8-14, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION WOONSOCKET – A former councilor's effort to have the City Council declare Woonsocket a "Second Amendment Sanctuary City" ended in confusion on Monday after members of the council and administration told him his proposal did not comply with the terms of the state Open Meetings Act. Richard Fagnant, a former coun- cilor until December 2018, requested to address the council this week regarding a proposed resolution to declare Woonsocket a sanctuary city for gun-owners. On Monday, close to a dozen individuals sporting yel- low T-shirts joined him at City Hall to support a measure they said would affirm the U.S. Constitution and pro- tect gun-owners' rights. According to Fagnant, he was contacted by a group of gun rights' proponents about a month ago to propose a resolution similar to those seen in other cities and towns in Rhode Island. Fagnant told council- ors he's also spoken with city resi- dents who support the effort. "I've spoken to many of them, and they're in agreement that this resolu- tion, which by the way is non-binding, is very important," he said. "And I'm going to explain that right now, why it's important." Before he could explain the terms of the resolution, Councilor James Cournoyer inter- rupted to raise concerns that the former councilor's topic of discussion, listed in the agenda as "2A Sanctuary City resolution and downside of being a politician," was not specific enough to cover a resolution aimed at protecting second amendment rights. Citing a recent warning by the Attorney General's Office that the council had twice violated the state Open Meetings Act, Cournoyer said he was concerned the agenda item was too vague for residents to know the topic of discussion in advance. "If we're talking about the second amendment, that's not what this says, and I don't want to open us up to a third strike if you will," he said. After receiving confirmation from City Solicitor John DeSimone that Fagnant should proceed with "an abundance of caution," Council President Daniel Gendron asked Fagnant to return with a more spe- cific agenda item and said he would not allow the discussion to continue. The conversation ended in confu- sion, with Fagnant accusing council- ors of playing games before leaving the podium. The Open Meetings Act is a state law that requires public bodies to post detailed agendas at least 48 hours in advance of meetings to ensure their activities remain trans- parent to the public. In July, the Attorney General's Office determined the council violated the OMA when Councilor Jon Brien leveled criticism at state Sen. Melissa Murray with- out naming her in his agenda item, instead listing his comments under "legislative report." In 2015, the office found the coun- cil in violation of the OMA for a similar situation, this one involving Fagnant, who at the time served as a member of the city Zoning Board. During a meeting, several councilors raised concerns about comments Fagnant had posted on his Facebook page that they deemed inappropri- ate without declaring the topic on an agenda in advance. On Monday, councilors spent the remainder of the meeting choosing their words carefully so as not to vio- late the OMA in light of the earlier conversation. During the good and welfare portion of the meeting, sev- eral councilors asked DeSimone to clarify the law for future discussions. Monday's debate followed in the footsteps of decisions by several other cities and towns in the state, including Burrillville and Foster, to declare themselves "Second Amendment Sanctuary Cities" in the face of what they see as a threat to gun-owners' rights. The movement took off in the spring in response to calls by Gov. Gina Raimondo for tighter state gun control measures. This week, Raimondo renewed calls for tighter gun control after the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. Though Monday's discussion included little detail on the actual proposed resolution, an email sent by Fagnant to members of the press included a sample resolution that encouraged members of the police department to "exercise sound dis- cretion when enforcing laws impact- ing the right of citizens under the Second Amendment." The sample resolution also barred the city from using public funds to store weapons seized during the enforcement of gun control legislation. According to Gendron, support- ers of the measure can return to the 'Sanctuary City' proposal draws debate and confusion By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com FAGNANT See SANCTUARY, Page 24 FREE GRANITE REMNANTS* *SELECT REMNANTS AS IS FABRICATION & INSTALLATION EXTRA Minimum sq. ft. applies Saturday, August 10 th & Saturday, September 14 th 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. 9 Enterprise Lane, Smithfield, RI 02917 $29.99/sq. ft. Granite & Quartz Installed** SILESTONE • CAESARSTONE AND OTHERS **Limited slabs and remnants Price includes material, fabrication and installation. Minimum sq. ft. applies. For more information call: 401-233-0666 MOVING SALE! HURRY – TWO DAYS ONLY! Stainless Sinks / Stone Sinks / Faucets

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