The email attached below was sent to the Newport City Council by Ron Becker and Isabel Griffith concerning the City’s efforts to appoint a replacement for resigning Councilor John Florez.

TO:  Newport City Council

FROM:  Ron Becker and Isabel Griffith

RE:  Appointment of a Replacement for Resigning City Councilor John Florez

The following represents our personal opinions and is not reflective of any organizations to which we belong.

We applaud the Newport City Council for its initial efforts to replace resigning City Councilor John Florez.  Your use of local media to seek applicants is most commendable.  Our hope is that the procedures you follow going forward will continue the open public process that your public solicitation of applicants exemplified.  Accordingly, we urge you to adopt the following procedures:

  1. Publish the names and the applications of all the applicants who have submitted applications by the December 15, 2017 deadline (minus home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses).  This will inform the public about the applicants’ qualifications and why they are seeking appointment to the Council.
  2. Conduct interviews of the applicants in an open meeting or meetings posted in City Hall and advertised in local media.  It would be understood that the public could be present, but not participate.  This will contribute to the public’s understanding of what the Council is considering in arriving at their decision.
  3. Hold all Council selection discussions and votes to select a replacement from among the applicants at an open meeting or meetings posted in City Hall and advertised in local media.  Again, the public could be present, but not participate.  This will allow the public to witness the Council’s decision making process.

In selecting an individual to represent Newport’s residents, property owners and businesses, who will serve for the greater part of a year (until December 1, 2018) until an elected candidate fills the position following the regular City elections next November, the public deserves to be fully informed about who the selected person is, what his/her qualifications are and how the Council arrived at its decision.  We believe that conducting any of the process in closed executive sessions would not be appropriate for this very important matter.  We ask whether conducting any of the process in non-advertised and/or closed meetings would be in violation of Rhode Island “Open Meetings” regulations.

Respectfully,

Ron Becker

Isabel Griffith

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