Democrats say Republicans shut them out of council debates
The selection of Ed Brady to complete the term of Ward 4 Councilman Trent Colford has widened a growing gap between the Democrats and Republicans on the Cranston City Council.
Ward 1 Democrat councilman Steve Stycos and council minority leader Paul Archetto voluntarily chose not to attend Monday’s appointment of Brady, while Councilman John Lanni, according to the city clerk, was unable to be present for medical reasons. Councilman Paul McAuley, a Democrat, did attend though he “respectfully abstained” from voting for Brady, his presence allowed for the appointment to officially proceed because five council members are needed for an appointment to happen. All the Republican members were present as well.
“I’ve been a Democrat all my life,” McAuley said. “I hope to be buried a Democrat. But I just thought it was the right thing to do. I’ve always taken work seriously and I consider being a councilman a full-time job, and part of my responsibilities is to attend meetings. I didn’t stick around for long, but I didn’t think it was advantageous for anybody to hold up that process. I want us to work together and get ready for the next set of problems.”
McAuley agreed with Stycos and Archetto that city committees are set up in a way that is unfair to the Democrats.
Stycos said that because there is only one Democrat on the Ordinance and Finance committees Democrats rarely get their motions seconded by the Republicans, and they end up not being able to even discuss their proposals. He wants to see the rules changed so that one-third of each committee is made up of the minority party, whether Democrats of Republicans. He said that this was proposed in April of 2017 as well, but was “shot down” by Council President Michael Farina, and he doesn’t think it can get done under the current regime.
Much of his discontent lies with Farina, who he said has changed rules in the past during council meetings, such as limiting public speaker’s times to 2 minutes instead of four.
Farina said that the attempt by Archetto and Stycos to hold up the appointment process of Ed Brady was “disrespectful.”
“I’m sure the Democrats will play politics with this appointment, as they’ve done with everything the council has done,” Farina said Monday morning. “Anything they try to do to hold that up would be disrespectful to the citizens of Cranston and to the citizens of Ward 4.”
He added that the city charter “clearly states” that the resigning Trent Colford should be replaced by a Republican, and felt that Ed Brady was the right “community-minded” person for the job.
Archetto said that he had a meeting with Farina to discuss the Democrats’ issues with the way the city committees are set up, and when he asked him to help get the rules changed so that two Democrats would be on every committee, the Council President didn’t give him a yes or no answer.
So, he continued, he and Stycos decided to hold out of Monday’s meeting despite McAuley’s presence allowing for the appointment to go through.
“There are always issues that are going to be divisive,” Archetto said. “We decided to make a stand and alert the people of Cranston that the Democrats aren’t getting their initiatives put forward.”
Going forward, Archetto said they’d continue to be the “loyal minority.”
“You can’t just shut off debate,” Stycos added. “We understand that they’re the majority, but that doesn’t mean they’re the sole members of the council.”