Today, Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa signed 3 initiatives into law designed to increase transparency, equality and opportunity for the people of Central Falls.
"When I became Mayor, there was a lot to clean up in the City," said Mayor Diossa. "And we’ve been hard at work. And one piece that still needs to be addressed is equity of opportunity."
"That’s why today we are signing 3 important initiatives to ensure that no matter the color of your skin, your gender or your country of origin, you have equal access to opportunity in Central Falls," continued Diossa.
The 3 initiatives are as follows.
1. Diversity in Police and Fire Hiring - Sponsored by City Council President Pro Temp, Stephanie Gonzalez, this ordinance requires a comprehensive marketing campaign in the community in English, Spanish and Portuguese any time that the City is going to be hiring for police and fire. It also gives additional points to those applicants who live in the City and who are Veterans and who speak an additional language that is spoken in Central Falls' neighborhoods. Finally, it professionalizes the City's hiring process so that it is transparent and fair. The details of the ordinance were worked out with the collaboration of the City's police and fire leadership - especially Col. Mendonca, Major Barzykowski, Captain Rave, Chief Bradley, Deputy Chief Sullivan and Fire Union President Andrews.
2. Criminal Justice Reform - Sponsored by At-Large Councilwoman Carlene Fonseca, this ordinance completely rewrites and modernizes the city’s criminal code. In this ordinance, many outdated laws have been removed and current laws have been updated. This ordinance importantly extends the constitutional right to a lawyer to everyone in Central Falls. In the past, the police could charge you with a city misdemeanor and you could be charged in municipal court, with no lawyer and go to jail for up to 30 days. No longer. Now, if you are charged, you will be charged in 6th District Court and there you will have a right to a Public Defender. The city's efforts were aided by Professor Andy Horwitz from Roger Williams Law School who is part of a municipal court working group and who worked on drafting the ordinance with our City Solicitor.
3. MBE and WBE Equity in Central Falls - Mayor Diossa expressed outrage to learn that there were no MBE or WBE requirements in city purchasing laws. He signed into law an executive order which provided four action steps: (1) all city requests and/or bids shall be delivered through email to the state’s MBE and WBE vendor list on the same day as the request or bid is posted on the city’s website; (2) the city purchasing agent shall lead a workshop with the state’s MBE and WBE vendors on the city’s purchasing and contracting process before December 31, 2015; (3) each city request and/or bid shall have a 25% MBE and WBE participation requirement as outlined on a MBE and WBE participation form to be filed with each request and/or bid; and (4) the city purchasing agent shall submit a quarterly report to the Mayor and published on the website on MBE and WBE participation in city purchasing.
"Today is a new day in Central Falls - a new day in which the dreams of equality and opportunity for all come one step closer to reality," concluded Mayor Diossa.