Rhode Island's Central Landfill head resigns

Cranston native named interim RIRRC executive director

Posted 12/12/23

The board of commissioners offered outgoing Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) Executive Director Joseph Reposa a round of applause Friday on his last day on the job.

Reposa held the Ocean State’s lone landfill’s top post in Johnston for more than six years. His annual salary was at least $245,000. He’ll also receive a $25,000 bonus on the way out the door (and stay on as a consultant).

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Rhode Island's Central Landfill head resigns

Cranston native named interim RIRRC executive director


The board of commissioners offered outgoing Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) Executive Director Joseph Reposa a round of applause Friday, his last day on the job.

A Cranston native has been named interim director.

Reposa held the Ocean State’s lone landfill’s top post in Johnston for more than six years. His annual salary was at least $245,000. He’ll also receive a $25,000 bonus on the way out the door (although he’ll stay on as a consultant until a new, official executive director is named).

During his tenure as head of the “quasi-public agency” he refused Johnston Sun Rise requests for interviews. Reposa declined to comment on his next move.

“No comment,” he said while awaiting a quorum at the Dec. 8 RIRRC Board of Commissioners Governance Committee.

“It’s my last day,” he said loudly to those seated in the room, waiting for the morning’s meetings to start. Reposa’s final day on the job started with a pair of public meetings Friday.

The agendas included appointment of an executive director, naming of a search committee and “investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct.” The committee’s lawyers said the investigation into misconduct is a separate item, and not directly related to Reposa’s departure.

First, the governance committee, and then the regular board of commissioners meeting, were held at the RIRRC headquarters on Shun Pike in Johnston. Reposa’s job performance was an agenda item at both meetings.

Tardy Start

The first meeting started a little late.

“We’re waiting for a quorum,” said David Ursillo, outside counsel for RIRRC. “We have a very narrow quorum.”

Prior to the meetings, Ursillo said he wouldn’t be answering any questions on agenda items without the filing of official public records requests.

Chairman Michael F. Sabitoni, of Johnston, a local labor leader and union official, arrived. He was shortly followed by fellow governance committee member Diana Ducharme, of Cranston, meeting the quorum requirement of two.

Ducharme lost her voice and whispered when required to speak.

The morning’s two-member governance committee voted to go into executive session to discuss Reposa’s “annual Job Performance Review.” Reposa had the option to have his review in public session, but chose to have it behind closed-doors.

Public Record Requests Pending

RIRRC spokesman Jared Rhodes has yet to respond to four public records requests — seeking Reposa’s performance review, his letter of resignation, details of Reposa’s departing compensation package, and all documents related to “investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct” — filed by the Johnston Sun Rise on Friday, Dec. 8 (by law, the quasi-public agency has 10 days to respond).

Rhodes has also not replied to multiple other emailed requests for information, including an updated salary for Reposa as he leaves the job.

In August 2022, Rhodes confirmed the executive director’s annual salary was $245,863.28.

After Friday morning’s first executive session, attorney Joe Rodio, the other RIRRC outside counsel, spoke loudly and quickly, summarizing Reposa’s performance review, and announcing his outgoing bonus: “After obviously a thorough review, of the director’s performance over the past year, discussion related to all the highlights, related to landfill and the performance in executive session, we are presenting the following motion.”

Goodbye Bonus

Rodio, Ursillo’s law partner, doubled his reading speed, firing off the motion, almost approaching an auctioneer’s cadence.

“Following a thorough review of the executive director’s performance, and achieving the performance metrics as outlined in his contract, and finding that he excelled therein, the committee recommends that the board authorizes the award for his performance compensation in the amount of $25,000,” Rodio said. “In furthermore that the board authorizes the chairman to negotiate and execute a consulting agreement with the executive director on mutually acceptable terms.”

The motion carried unanimously.

In June 2017, RIRRC announced Reposa’s selection — following “an extensive six-month search” — as their new executive director, succeeding Mike OConnell who retired after holding the post for 10 years.

As Executive Director, Reposa was “responsible for all facets of Resource Recovery’s operations, strategic direction, financial solvency, and long-term planning,” according to RIRRC.

Around 9 a.m., the rest of the RIRRC Board of Commissioners filed into the room. North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi and former Johnston Department of Public Works (and current Johnston Charter Review Commission member) Arnold Vecchione arrived.

They were joined by ex-officio member Meredith Brady, Associate Director of Rhode Island’s Division of Planning (Department of Administration) and vice chairman Geri-Ann DiPaolo of North Providence.

Following a public comment period, of which there was none, the RIRRC Board of Commissioners voted to go into executive session to discuss two items: Reposa’s “Annual Job Performance Review” and “Investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct.”

“Chairman, the director, as we discussed, has been notified of his right to have that meeting in open session and has not so elected,” Rodio said before the vote.

“Duly noted,” Sabitoni replied.

Public Session

Following the executive session, the RIRRC Board of Commissioners quickly moved through a list of nine action items, discussed spending more than $4.2 million. The list of approvals included a new contract for “2024 Employee Insurance Benefits” ($2,558,859.70) and a new “General Legal Services” contract ($315,000).

Then the commission as a whole turned to Reposa’s departure package (the “Executive Director Performance Compensation and Resignation and Consulting Agreement”).

“So, the Governance Committee met this morning, they conducted a review in accordance with the director’s contract. And discussed the upcoming transition related to that,” Rodio informed the board members who don’t sit on the governance committee. “Feelings were very strong that given the performance of the organization … that the chair would be authorized to negotiate an interim to a consulting agreement to ensure that this upcoming transition period goes smoothly, and maintains the high performance of the organization under the director.”

The commissioners then gave their approval to Reposa’s $25,000 “performance compensation” payment and ongoing work as a consultant. The affirmative vote was unanimous.

The board then turned to a $1,488,880.10 rebid for “Household Hazardous Waste Collection & Disposal” and an $8,739,605.56 RFP for “North Slope Closure Turf.”

RIRRC operates the state’s Materials Recycling Facility, Leaf and Yard Compost, Eco-Depot, and the state’s Central Landfill.

To conclude the meeting, the RIRRC Board of Commissioners started the appointment process of a “Search Committee” for the next executive director. They also named Luigi “Lou” Vergato as interim executive director.

Bosses, New & Old

Vergato, a Cranston native and current Connecticut resident who had worked as Reposa’s second-in-command, said he hadn’t decided whether to apply for his former boss’s job.

“It should come as no surprise, given he’s suited up today, my recommendation for an interim executive director and an acting deputy director … is Lou Vergato,” Reposa told the board. “Lou has been here a very long time, a lot longer certainly than me. Lou is currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO). He spans largely all of our operations, the vast majority of the employees report under Lou.”

Reposa heaped praise on his temporary replacement.

“He’s remarkable at what he does,” Reposa told the board. “He has a strong presence. Great business relationships … He’s a good relationship manager. I could go on, but I won’t. He has everything you’d want in this acting role. I promoted him to the deputy director. And I’m recommending to the board that he is the acting director until further notice.”

RIRRC is governed by their Board of Commissioners, which, at full complement, consists of nine members — eight from the general public (three must reside in Johnston) and the director of the RI Department of Administration (or their designee). According to RIRRC, the “commissioners serve until they are nominated for another term or are replaced.”

Reposa reported to and was directly accountable to the board.

“On behalf of the board, and I want to say this in open session, what a pleasure it’s been to work with you,” Sabitoni told Reposa. “Where you brought this organization … I can see the support of the staff, the morale of the staff … It wasn’t this way when I got here. And I think that’s a testament, not only to you, but to Lou, and all of you on what you do day-in, day-out, wanting to come to work and working together. And look what we’ve been able to accomplish … under your leadership.”

Sabitoni put on his union hat for a moment.

“One thing Joe has always prided himself on, which I like as a labor guy, is his investment in each and every one of you, and his trust and his confidence in each every one of you to do your jobs every single day and help each other to make things better around here,” he told the audience, Reposa and fellow board members. “And that’s the true essence of a leader, and you’ve been a hell of a leader in this organization. So, on behalf of the board, I just wanted to say thank you. We wish you the best.”

“Thank you,” Reposa replied.

“I’m really pleased that we’ll be able to still have you around, because of your institutional knowledge, your knowledge of the business, in a different arrangement,” Sabitoni added. “And I know Lou … is pleased as well to have you there as a consultant as we make this transition to the next chapter of the organization.”

The room, which was packed with RIRRC employees, offered Reposa a solid round of applause.

Vergato thanked the board for their confidence and assured them he’d give the post “100 percent … every day … (working) hard making sure the corporation stays on its track.

“And it wouldn’t be possible without everybody in this room and everybody who works for the corporation,” Vergato said. “This team that we’ve assembled is the best — absolutely the best. And they really do the work here.”

The room full of RIRRC board and employees offered another booming round of applause for their new (interim) executive director.


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