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Providence police union plans no-confidence vote in top city leaders

Kennedy Plaza, the 1871 Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, and Providence City Hall in Providence, RI.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

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Happy Monday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I’m sad to say that the “Perry Mason” reboot was very meh. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

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The Providence police union has scheduled a no-confidence vote for Mayor Jorge Elorza, City Council President Sabina Matos, and Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare on Wednesday, as tensions continue to rise following an incident between two officers and a firefighter earlier this month.

The vote will be held between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3′s headquarters on Sheridan Street, according to an e-mail sent by the union’s executive board.

”We need strength in numbers and to all stick together,” the union’s leadership team wrote in the e-mail. Michael Imondi, the union president, declined to comment.

The vote will come eight days after Pare said two police officers did not engage in racial profiling when they pulled their guns on a Black firefighter who was sitting in a car outside a city fire station on June 3. One officer was disciplined for not turning on his body camera, and Pare called a decision to search the vehicle insensitive.

The firefighter gave a live television interview recounting the incident two days later, which led the firefighters’ union and several city officials to issue statements of support for the firefighter.


The union repeatedly denied the accusations, noting that the officers were investigating reports of a robbery in the area. They demanded an apology after the officers were cleared. Beyond showing support for the officers who were accused of racial profiling, it’s unclear how much of an impact a no-confidence vote will have on any city leader.

Public employee unions have seen their political influence in the city diminished because most of their members do not live in Providence, and Elorza’s term-limited tenure is up. Pare has been public safety commissioner since 2011, and is popular among residents. Matos is planning to run for mayor in 2022, so the union’s vote may actually boost her name recognition.

Still, a no-confidence vote is a significant statement in a department where the union has largely handled disagreements with city leaders behind closed doors over the last decade. While the union regularly clashed with former chief Dean Esserman, Colonel Hugh Clements has masterfully balanced his relationships with the union, politicians, and community leaders since taking the helm in 2011.


Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you’ve got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ My latest: We’ve heard a lot of positive stories about distance learning in Rhode Island, but Providence’s student absenteeism problem remained stubbornly high during the final months of the school year.


⚓ This week’s Ocean State Innovators is a Q&A with Josh Short, founder and artistic director of The Wilbury Theatre Group. Have someone Ed Fitzpatrick should talk to for his weekly interview? E-mail him at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com.

Amanda Milkovits reports that Phase 3 of Rhode Island’s reopening could begin as soon as next week. That means entertainment venues may open and much larger public gatherings may be allowed.

⚓ Speaking at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s virtual meeting last week, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Eric Rosengren said he sees a “substantial risk in reopening too fast and relaxing social distancing too much.”

⚓ In an op-ed for the Globe, legendary investigative reporter Mike Stanton writes that it’s time for Rhode Island to drop “plantations” from its official name.

⚓ Congratulations: To the team at RDW Group of Providence on winning its third straight New England Emmy for its advertising campaign for the state Department of Transportation on the effects of impaired driving. Channel 10′s Meaghan Mooney picked up an Emmy for top program host/moderator. The Globe took home six Emmys for its reporting on climate change, presidential battleground states, and the opioid crisis.


Racism: If you missed our editorial page editor Bina Venkataraman’s excellent interview last week with Ibram X. Kendi on how to build an anti-racist movement, you can read the transcript here.

Politics: How US Senator Kamala Harris has emerged as the frontrunner to be Joe Biden’s running mate.


Cocktails: It’s Monday morning, and you definitely look like you can use a drink. To celebrate Pride, here’s a fun class on how to make the best rainbow cocktails.

TV: The Globe’s Matthew Gilbert breaks down the best shows to watch or stream this week.

Movies: All it took was a global pandemic for the movie theater business to reinvent itself.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ Governor Gina Raimondo’s coronavirus update is scheduled for 1 p.m.

⚓ If you’re planning to run for office in Rhode Island this year, the declaration period runs from today until Wednesday. (Note: If you want tens of thousands of people to know that you’re running, e-mail me the scoop.)

⚓ After a previous meeting was derailed by Zoom trolls, the Providence City Council Finance Committee is holding an in-person public hearing on the city budget at 5 p.m. There are all kinds of rules to follow, so you should read them before you show up at City Hall.

⚓ The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation meets at 4:30 p.m. to discuss a package of incentives for several economic development projects, including a downtown hotel and a mixed-use project on the former I-195 land.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.