Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 04-09-2020

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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NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | APRIL 9-15, 2020 WOONSOCKET 3 WOONSOCKET – One city coun- cilor is raising questions about what constitutes an "essential purpose" after the council passed several measures related to the coronavirus this week. On Monday, the Woonsocket City Council returned to its regular meet- ing schedule after a one-month hiatus, meeting over Zoom from the privacy of individual members' homes. Under an executive order issued by Gov. Gina Raimondo on March 16, public bodies may meet remotely due to the coronavirus emergency provided they allow the public to access the meeting through alternate means. The measure also stipulates the meeting must be for an "essential pur- pose" necessary for continued govern- ment operations. On Tuesday, Councilor Alex Kithes told The Valley Breeze he was disap- pointed to see that several policy measures he'd submitted the previous week were not included on the meet- ing agenda. Among the measures were a series of proposals related to the city's response to the coronavirus, including ceasing disruption of home- less tent encampments, requiring city employees to practice social distanc- ing at work and expanding curbside liquor sales to include hard liquor and spirits. According to Council President Daniel Gendron, Kithes was not the only councilor to submit propos- als that were not included on the council agenda. Under the current restrictions, he said, City Solicitor John DeSimone is determining which agenda items constitute an "essential purpose" that can be discussed at meetings. The decisions, he said, were not political, but an attempt to take the governor's directive seriously. "It's unfortunate if he doesn't under- stand what that order means, but I do, and the solicitor certainly does, and we're going to adhere to what that order tells us to do even if it upsets Councilman Kithes," said Gendron. The explanation was not satisfac- tory for Kithes, who questioned why some other measures, including one waiving fees at the city's compost- ing facility until June 1 due to the COVID-19 measures, were included on the agenda. "I'm not sure in what world taking steps to reduce the toll on the home- less population is considered non- essential when changing composting fees like we did yesterday is consid- ered essential," he said. On Monday, Kithes attempted to pass one of his proposals by offer- ing an amendment to an emergency declaration postponing late fees for failure to pay property taxes. Under Kithes' proposal, the postponement would only apply if a property owner had not attempted to evict any ten- ants on the property since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. The amendment failed on a 6-1 vote, with several of those present, including DeSimone and Councilor Jon Brien, arguing the measure was unnecessary since the state courts that process evictions are currently closed. Kithes told The Breeze he plans to look into the city's interpretation of the governor's order and call for another meeting. Council's return to meetings sparks debate over 'essential purpose' By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com 4 WHEEL ALIGNMENT Starting at $ 89.95 WIpEr bLAdE sET Most Cars $ 20.20 RI State Inspection $55 WE'RE OPEN FOR ALL YOUR SERVICE NEEDS 36 BLACKSTONE STREET WOONSOCKET 401-766-3270 WWW.TERRYAUTOLTD.COM Gil & Meika 2008 ToyoTA rAv 4 AWD ....................... $ 3,897 WE BUY CARS NOW CARRYING… Falken Tires! FREE 2 Year Road Hazard Warranty. Pass/LT 2013 F150 CrEW CAb, XTr Loaded, 72K miles $ 21,999

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