All EP Fire Dept Applicants Tossed Aside - "Process Errors Cited"
City to Start Process Over. Waterbury: "No Comment".
In a major surprise to many, newly reinstated city Human Resources Director, Kathleen Waterbury has sent all applicants for vacant fire department positions a letter de-certifying all candidates. In a letter obtained by The Reporter and dated January 19, 2017, Waterbury writes, "I am writing to inform you that at the January 17, 2017 East Providence Hearing Board meeting, the Board did not certify the lists for Firefighters. The Board, under their full and irrevocable authority made the determination that due to several process errors that it was in the best interest of the applicants and the City to redo the fire recruitment process."
The letter from Waterbury continued on ... "The Human Resources Department and the Fire Department will be meeting next week to determine when we will begin the new recruitment process...Due to the large number of applicants...do not call the HR Department but wait for the email as it will answer all of your questions. The City of East Providence sincerely apologizes..." - Kathleen Waterbury, HR Director.
Waterbury would only respond with a "no comment" when asked about this matter.
Mayor James Briden couldn't be reached for comment but the setting aside of this recruitment class of firefighters did not sit well with some in the city. Ward 3 councilman Joe Botelho said that he first heard of this snafu when a constituent called him to complain. "I asked Mr. Chapman (Acting City Manager) who didn't say much other than there was a bunch of mistakes. After thinking about this I wasn't very happy. It's not right," said Botelho. "I've talked to Mr. Britto (Ward 1 councilman) and I believe he is putting this matter on the next council docket.
Ward 4 Councilman Brian Faria was reached and said that he, too, received some questions from residents. "I asked the Acting City Manager about it and he said that it is strictly a personnel matter. This process started before I was elected and I'm concerned here but I know that we (council members) can't get too involved with personnel decisions," added Faria.
Botelho said that he is starting an investigation into what happened. "I've sent a letter to the personnel hearing board asking each member for their reason in re-advertising. There better be a damn good reason. This could cost the city a ton of money in overtime. It will be quite a while before we re-advertise, interview and hire the new class," offered Botelho.
City Personnel Hearing Board member Wendy Caputo was reached for comment. "Because of issues relative to not following the City Charter properly, the board did not certify the list as presented and the call for recruitment will be re-posted properly," said Caputo. "I was not comfortable by the way things were done initially. I do not believe the errors were intentional, but there were errors and inconsistencies. It would have been wrong to continue and I was not willing to do anything that could leave the city open to another lawsuit."
Asked why HR Director Waterbury didn't recommend this action upon her return from leave some two months ago, Caputo would only say that "I do not know who was responsible, so I cannot place blame. But we wanted to do things the right way according to Charter. The (Personnel) committee was unanimous in this decision," added Caputo.
"This action is extraordinary," said Botelho. "I don't ever remember a similar circumstance." he added.