April 25, 2010

One Emergency Begets Another: Guess Who's Representing the Mayor ?

Monique Chartier

In today's Providence Journal, Mike Stanton and W. Zachary Malinowski do a thorough follow up investigation into the story, originally broken by the Hummel Report's Jim Hummel, about outrageous board-up fees which were facilitated by the official action of that city's mayor. In it, we learn that Mayor Charles D. Moreau has hired counsel.

Moreau’s lawyer, state Representative and former House Speaker William J. Murphy, did not return calls seeking comment.

Hey, when you're in the soup, ya gotta get the best! Or at least, the guy who, until recently, was the most powerful person in the state ...

Other enraging interesting details emerge from the Projo story. It turns out that, due to the action of Mayor Moreau, the board-up "emergency" in Central Falls went on for an incredible fifteen months. All the while, the mayor's friend and solely authorized board-up vendor cleaned up, in more ways than one, as the mayor deliberately and unnecessarily exposed property owners in his city to obscene board-up fees by refusing to put the work out to public bid.

By the way, to the gross abuse of mayoral power of an absurdly long "emergency" period, you can add the improper placement of municipal liens. All of the liens that the city placed for the mayor's friend and his absurdly high board-up fees were illegal. Municipal liens pertain to unpaid municipal bills (water, sewer, real estate taxes, etc.). Intercity Maintenance, which held the highly lucrative board-up monopoly in Central Falls for those fifteen months, is a private contractor and, as such, was well within its right to file a Mechanic's Lien against a property for any unpaid works. Inexplicably, the mayor chose to once again step in on behalf of his friend and make them all municipal liens. In doing so, he has for a second time exposed the city he purportedly represents to financial liability, this one in the form of potential counter suits by property owners compelled to pay exhorbitant board-up fees to remove what turned out to be an illegal lien on their property.

The Projo article offers a modicum of comfort to these abuses and injustices in the form of a new occupant installed at Central Falls City Hall.

Detectives from the [Rhode Island State Police] financial crimes unit, led by Lt. John D. Lemont, set up shop early this year in a third-floor conference room at City Hall, examining records and questioning city employees.

“We went in on the boarded-up houses, but the investigation has gone beyond that,” said Col. Brendan P. Doherty, state police superintendent. “We’ll be there for quite some time.”

Take your time, boys. Take your time.

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Not to nit pick here, but is your headline correct as far as grammar?

Is it WHOSE.
WHO'S (who is)?

My guess is the second, but I'm not a college boy. Help me out.

Posted by: Stuart at April 25, 2010 8:38 PM

Wow, any coincidence that two guys from possibly the two worst run RI cities are working together? West Warwick first can't even touch a fire inspector who didn't do his job that led to 100 deaths and then they totally mess up their own pension system. I think I remember other stuff down there as well, but I can't remember it to cite it.

Now we have their head honcho coming up to CF to defend "The Don of Central Falls" himself. Moreau is quickly taking Ralph Mollis' place for elite scumbaggery in running a town.

Then again, the people of CF really deserve all they're getting, as they had another choice for mayor and they chose this yahoo. So it's not like I can really shed any tears for them. Absorb the square mile into Pawtucket/Lincoln/Cumberland and be done with it. Same down south, Warwick take over the West, and let's just go with 37 municipalities.

Posted by: Patrick at April 25, 2010 9:05 PM

West Warwick left Warwick about 1913 because Warwick was the poor farm town.

Warwick would be insane to take them back now without cold hard $ (not promises from the GA).

Posted by: Phil at April 25, 2010 9:26 PM

And Central Falls left Lincoln. I doubt Lincoln wants it back.

Posted by: John at April 25, 2010 9:53 PM

Sounds like the 15 year old who leaves home in a tiff with the parents only to get carried back home to live in the basement after passing out in a gutter, homeless at 26.

(Not that I have any direct experience with this sort of thing...)

Posted by: Patrick at April 25, 2010 10:25 PM

Missing from the post is the cost difference between what the average board-up in Providence cost vs. the average cost in CF:

Providence: $600-$700 each, board-ups only done where the property couldn't be secured by lockign the door, etc.

CF: $10,600 each, board-ups done on -every property-.

I'm wondering how Mayor Moreau hasn't resigned yet. If this isn't outright criminal, it's certainly behavior not becoming of a public figure.

BTW, this just makes it -that much harder- for Central Falls to dig out of the foreclosure mess. This adds thousands of dollars to the 'hidden cost' of closing on a home.

Posted by: mangeek at April 26, 2010 12:25 PM

"Providence: $600-$700 each, board-ups only done where the property couldn't be secured by lockign the door, etc.

CF: $10,600 each, board-ups done on -every property-."

Mangeek, absolutely. That's the entire impetus for my rant. I was sort of assuming everyone knew this detail

The main person responsible for this rip-off is Mayor Moreau. That doesn't change the fact that the contractor who benefited from the mayor's abuse of power is predatory scum who knowingly charged people 16 times higher for these board ups ... just because he could. As Matt Allen said very well yesterday, "how to rob a bank by boarding up houses".

Posted by: Monique at April 28, 2010 1:43 PM