Ward 3 Councilman Botelho Calls for Former Manager Kirby's Return.
Wants Council Members to Make Good on Campaign Pledges
Ward 3 councilman Joe Botelho is asking the City Council to consider reinstating former City Manager Richard Kirby at its next meeting. The former city council voted to suspend and then fire City Manager Richard Kirby from his duties on August 11, 2016. Former City Solicitor Tim Chapman was named acting City Manager at that time. Former Mayor Tom Rose, who was replaced by Botelho in Ward 3, negotiated terms of Chapman's hire as Acting Manager.
A carousel of complaints hit City Hall in the past couple of years as charges and counter-charges ricocheted through city government. Human Resource Director, Kathleen Waterbury was fired and had complained that she was a victim of sexual harassment by former interim Manager Paul Lemont, Richard Kirby and fire chief Oscar Elmasian.
Waterbury complained that Kirby ignored her report of the incidents that she brought to his attention. "When I told the Mayor I had some concerns with the performance of our HR Director (Waterbury), I found myself being intimidated," said Kirby at the time. In the meantime documents and verbal reports were flying out of City Hall by sources eager to release news to the public.
On Friday, March 4th, 2016, City Manager Richard Kirby fired HR Director Kathleen Waterbury. Former Mayor Tom Rose had aligned himself with Waterbury and clashed with Kirby. Eventually Waterbury won reinstatement to the HR position in court and before that, Kirby was fired outright by the former council.
Today's Statement from Botelho:
"After reading journals of all council meetings spanning the last eight months along with what have come to be known as the Leaver and Ragosta reports as it relates to the last summers fir- ing of Richard Kirby, it is my opinion, based on my research that he was more a victim of backroom political chicaneries by certain members of the past council and their extended political relationships," said Councilman Botelho in his Valentine's Day press release. "As a result, he was rode out of the seat on a 3 to 2 vote based on inflated and exagerated charges by those who ousted him. Also, Mr. Kirby’s contentious relationship with the city solicitor’s office certainly didn’t help him regarding this, and in fact, the solicitor at the time (Chapman), was picked by the three members who ousted Kirby, to replace him," continued Botelho. Botelho went on to say that, "It’s also my opinion, due to issues that Mr. Kirby obviated relative to certain council members, he was fired in retaliation."
Kirby Felt Intimidated:
Kirby fought back a year ago when he was asked to appear before the Rose led council to discuss his job performance. Kirby seated out on the floor before the council addressed Mayor Rose last year. "You called for this review of my performance," said Kirby. "For what reason," asked Kirby.
"Well to review this matter," replied Rose. "Let me say something," said Ward 4 councilman Tim Conley. "No action on your job will be taken tonight," Conley said to audience applause. "Mr. Mayor, I've been very professional to everyone I've dealt with in this city. I told you before, Mr. Mayor, that it was inappropriate for you to get involved with personnel at the level you have," said Kirby in a stern voice. "I've said you shouldn't constantly come to City Hall and get involved with directing staff, it's against the charter," continued Manager Kirby. "I didn't direct, I asked questions according to section 2:1 of the charter," replied Rose.
"I think the reason we're here is to intimidate me," Kirby told the former council. "Time and time again I received phone calls from you (Rose) about getting involved with staff," said Kirby. Rose would respond that he was only asking questions, not giving orders. "I had a good working relationship with people and with this counsel," said Kirby. "When I told the Mayor I had some concerns with the performance of our HR Director (Waterbury), I found myself being intimidated."
Current Fire Dept Hiring Snafu a Factor - Botelho:
Joe Botelho said that recent fire department recruiting problems and all of this has left city management with "a bit of a hangover from the prior administration, as this recent controversy regarding the new hires for the fire academy indicate."
"To make a long story short, after my research and review of this matter, along with recent events such as the mysterious canning of the fire academy list, this city council should entertain the reinstatement of Mr. Kirby, as he has showed no ill toward the city regarding his ouster, and in fact, up to this point has not initiated legal action against the city. For this reason, I am placing an item on the next available council docket, for the re- in-statement of Richard Kirby as City Manager. I expect his reappointment to be confirmed, based on those current council members who rode the message of “Kirby’s Reinstatement” during their campaigns, and I am confident they will honor their campaign promises.
This will emphatically indicate to the citizens of East Providence that it’s no longer “Business as Usual.” With all this, I am optimistic about the city’s future and am dedicated, as so many of you are, to ensuring we move forward in a positive direction. Never forget, we’re all in this together," said Botelho.