LIVING WAGE JOBS AND UNION RIGHTS
Together we have worked hard to push for living wage jobs for Providence workers. We successfully passed legislation to improve enforcement of the city’s ‘First Source Ordinance,’ requiring developers who receive special tax-treatment from the city also take efforts to hire qualified city residents. We have worked closely with advocates to pass laws prohibiting hotels for summarily firing hospitality workers in efforts to frustrate their right to organize and reduce their pay and benefits. I am also proud of our work advocating for a $15/hour minimum wage for Providence hospitality workers. We also passed protections for pregnant women in the workplace and supported statewide legislation to help stop employment discrimination by prohibiting initial employment applications from inquiring about certain criminal convictions. And we created of the City's Equal Pay Task Force to help close the wage gap between men and women of all backgrounds in our city
SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESS
I’m proud of our work supporting our local businesses. Through targeted investment, we improved streets and sidewalks in our neighborhood commercial corridors. Now many more vibrant independent-owned shops and restaurants are thriving. Working with input from merchants, we preserved historic crosswalks, installed decorative features and bike racks. We worked with preservation advocates to stop demolition of a historic commercial building in Wayland Square, helping hold our neighborhood fabric together. And we supported the creation of on-street events, helping support our local businesses and adding character to our neighborhoods. We also passed legislation - the Providence Neighborhood Revitalization Act - to encourages investment in neighborhood projects and encourage minority and women owned business ownership and local hiring.
CIVIL RIGHTS AND RACIAL JUSTICE
I am also very proud of our efforts to make sure that all Providence residents are treated fairly and with respect no matter their background. Together we have stood with our immigrant neighbors by calling for the City and State to withdraw from participation in the federal "Secure Communities" program, which was subsequently discontinued in 2014 and sadly restarted under the current federal administration. Working with many, we passed legislation strengthening PERA - the civilian review board charged with police oversight. We advocated for improvements to state racial profiling laws. And we passed laws to improve Providence Police policies regarding treatment of youth and LGBTQ individuals and requiring additional data-collection to prevent racial profiling. Working with many, we pressed for Marriage Equality – now the law in Rhode Island. And we have supported community activists in important cultural projects – to document and recognize the victims of slavery by raising awareness of its history in Rhode Island and Providence.
SAFE AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING
I am proud of our work to create safer and more affordable housing. Working with nonprofit agencies, we created a specialized “Lead Court” - part of the city’s Housing Court tasked to address lead poisoning and abatement in the city’s housing stock. We supported the EveryHome initiative – a city program designed to reduce blight and create affordable housing through the rehabilitation of abandoned property for resale to lower and moderate-income families. We obtained federal funds to make Providence Public Housing facilities safer for residents. And as Providence housing costs have continued to rise, we have established a commission to examine and make recommendations on city-wide affordable housing policy. In our neighborhoods, we have worked with community members to press for compliance with the zoning code by landlords who fail to maintain their properties.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES
I am also very proud of our work to support our public schools and libraries. Working with state legislators and other advocates, we successfully advocated for a state public school funding formula, pressing to make it more fair and equitable to children that are 'English Language Learners' and otherwise address the 'achievement gap' between wealthier and less-economically advantaged students and between white and non-white students. And recently we have pressed with many others for funds to repair and refurbish our public-school buildings (a $250M state-wide school construction project will now be on the ballot in November).
In the neighborhood, we obtained funding to restore the historic building adjoining the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School. The Fox Point Bath House - built in 1926 to provide hot water and bathing facilities for area residents without indoor plumbing - has a new life as the elementary school's library and community space. This project won an award from the Providence Preservation Society.
We also worked with many community activists to support a successful transition of the management of the city-wide library system to a new non-profit group, the Providence Community Library. This preserved five Providence libraries, including the Fox Point Library that had been threatened with closure. We also obtained funding to install a new elevator to provide the elderly and mobility-impaired with access to the Fox Point Library and our Boys & Girls Club.
PARKS, PUBLIC SPACE & TRANSIT
Our parks and public spaces are for everyone. The ability to walk and bike is critical for the quality of life of many residents. Working together with our neighborhood associations, we have successfully advocated for funding and completion of the Gano Street Gateway Bike Path and for significant repairs to India Point Park and Cathedral Square. And we have supported the creation of 'City Walk' a citizen-led initiative to better connect South Providence to downtown via better pedestrian and bike access.
We have joined with neighborhood groups and other city leaders in opposition to the Fane Tower on land designated as a park on the I-195 district. An attempt to override zoning - building a 600’ tower where only 100’ feet is currently permitted - is an insult to residents and businesses that count on fair and predictable rules for all and fails to provide benefits to our residents.
We have opposed anti-bike policies proposed before the City Council and supported the establishment of a city bike-share program. Working with parents and neighbors, we secured funding to install wheelchair-accessible play equipment at Cabral Park/Vartan Gregorian Elementary School and new children's play equipment at the Preston/Ives and Brassil Parks.
At India Point Park, we obtained significant funding for repairs of the seawall, reconstruction of the fishing dock, and worked with neighborhood groups to advocate for the burial of overhead power lines and reuse of the adjoining 'Shooters' site as a community-based development. At East Transit Street, we obtained funding to assist in the completion of a new boat ramp to improve public access to the Seekonk River. At Gano Park, we expanded the Fox Point Community Garden with twenty-four new plots at supporting cleanup and restoration of the Gano Street Park & Seekonk Shoreline.
FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Working with neighbors and others from around the state, we have repeatedly opposed any sale, transfer or other ‘monetization’ of the Scituate Reservoir, the water supply for Providence and much of Rhode Island. We also opposed use of Providence water in any operation of the proposed fossil-fuel facility in Northwest Rhode Island and opposed the building of the facility. Our water is a critical resource and we must protect our water quality and affordability.
I was proud to stand with local and national advocates in support of Native Americans opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) because of its local and global environmental impact by pressing the City to sever ties with financial institutions that provide finance to the project.
As neighbors, environmental advocates and social justice activists continue their efforts to oppose the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility proposed at Field Point, I am proud to join them in our continued opposition to the project. Just steps from residences in South Providence, further investment in LNG infrastructure can't be supported in the face of public safety, public health, environmental justice and climate change.
We have also pressed for divestment of city funds from fossil fuels companies - another important strategy to address climate change. It is encouraging to see the Board of Investment Commissioners move to divest from the top 15 carbon emitting coal companies following the Council's resolution calling for full fossil fuel divestment.
We also created the Energy and Sustainability Task Force and position of City Sustainability Director to support a wide range of environmental initiatives in the areas of energy conservation, recycling, reduction of the City's carbon footprint, zero waste strategies, energy efficiency, food security and land development. And created the city’s Harbor Commission, tasked with improving the public’s access to our waterfront.
PREVENTING GUN VIOLENCE & IMPROVING PUBLIC HEALTH
We have called for common-sense solutions to address gun violence by supporting state legislation to prohibit assault-weapons, improve background checks and mental health screens, ‘red-flag’ laws, removing guns from the hands of those convicted of domestic violence, and prohibiting guns on school property.
Working with activists and others, we have prevented youth tobacco use through passage of an ordinance prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products. The law went into effect this after surviving a legal challenge in Federal Court and is now a nationwide model.
Working with environmental groups, we passed legislation to reduce diesel exhaust pollution from a major source of air pollution: outdated diesel construction equipment. This victory, the first of its kind in Rhode Island, encouraged other cities and towns to take similar efforts and successfully helped pressure the State to pass a statewide ban.
TRANSPARENCY AND GOOD GOVERNMENT
We believe in the mission and effectiveness of government. When elected officials abuse the trust of the public, it makes it even harder for us to implement the progressive policies we need. As most people know, Providence City Hall has a serious history of corruption.
In the face of the city’s tainted legacy, we have stood on the side of residents by increasing transparency and taking strong public stands against corruption.
We worked with good-government advocates and created the Open Providence Commission. This commission - chaired by local director of Common Cause - brought together city employees, outside experts, and everyday residents to make recommendations on how residents can better engage city government through technology. As a result, the public now has unprecedented access to the city's financial information, operations and the legislative process.
We passed laws that require lobbyists to register and disclose their compensation and activities and supported limits on the ability of city contractors to make political contributions to city elected officials.
MOVING PROVIDENCE FORWARD FOR ALL OUR RESIDENTS
I am proud of our many accomplishments that have benefited our residents, neighborhood and city. While we have made real progress, there is still much so work to be done to make Providence a more equitable and better place for all of our residents.
We have an amazing community in Providence. In these challenging times, I continue to be inspired by our work with residents, neighborhood groups, activists and other stakeholders to build a more just and sustainable community for all of Providence residents.