Mayor lists administrative team, but is one choice a problem?

Mayor lists administrative team, but is one choice a problem?

WOONSOCKET - Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt's new administrative staff comes with a list of impressive credentials on both the state and local levels, including for many, past stints at Woonsocket City Hall.

But there may be a problem with one of her selections.

Over the next several weeks, the new mayor's staff will replace former Mayor Leo Fontaine's directors in some of the city's top jobs.

Baldelli-Hunt has assembled a team that mixes old and new faces, and her plan for restructuring has already been given approval from the state-appointed board in charge of overseeing Woonsocket finances - the Budget Commission.

"I introduced my plans for my administration and what their salaries would be, and explained how the spending was justified, and it was approved," Baldelli-Hunt told The Breeze.

For the job of public safety director, however, her choice could conflict with a state regulation.

Unlike Fontaine, the new mayor has said she will not be serving in the role, which entails duties such as swearing in new police officers. Instead, Baldelli-Hunt has nominated Marc A. Dubois, who is scheduled to be paid a stipend of $5,000 a year.

Dubois, who attended his final meeting as a member of City Council on Monday, served as a member of the School Committee from 2003 to 2011, and worked for the Woonsocket Police Department from 1981 to 2003, serving as a patrol officer, a member of the vice squad and a juvenile detective. He has served as a member of the council since 2011, but lost his reelection bid in November, coming in ninth for the seven- member board.

According to some, Dubois' appointment may violate an ethics regulation known as the Municipal Official Revolving Door law, which states that no elected official shall seek or accept employment with any municipal agency in the same city or town for a period of one year after leaving office.

Asked about the regulation last week, Baldelli-Hunt said she did not believe the appointment presented an issue.

"I'm not sure about the Revolving Door law, but I read everything in the City Charter about the appointment and there was no conflict," she said.

John Marion, executive director of Common Cause RI, said he does see a problem.

"My reading of that regulation is that it would prohibit someone from going from the City Council to the public safety position for one year," Marion said.

The administration could seek an exemption to the rule, but Marion says it would be a difficult case to make.

"You have to prove that you're the only person that can take that job," said Marion. "They'd have a tough time arguing that."

Marion said he reached out to another of Baldelli-Hunt's new appointments, attorney Michael Marcello of Scituate, to see if the administration was aware of the problem. Marcello, who will replace Attorney Joseph Carroll as city solicitor, told Marion he was, and that he planned to communicate the issue to the mayor.

At the inauguration Tuesday, Baldelli-Hunt did not name Dubois among her list of appointments. She was not available Wednesday morning for comment.

Marcello is a current member of the state House of Representatives, where he serves as chairman of the Oversight Committee. He has represented District 41 in Scituate and Cranston since 2008, and is currently employed as a lawyer with the firm Morrison Mahoney.

Meanwhile, Richard P. Kearns, an attorney and former state representative from Woonsocket, will be taking an unpaid position as director of administration. Kearns was a key adviser in Baldelli-Hunt's mayoral campaign and had previously served as a political aide under House Speakers John Harwood and William Murphy, before his retirement in 2010.

The mayor also confirmed the appointment of Thomas Bruce, a Cumberland resident, to continue in the role as finance director.

As planned, Baldelli-Hunt will be assuming the duties of economic development director, a position previously held by Matt Wojcik, but said she will not technically carry the title. Wojcik held a dual role, also serving as the city's director of Human Services, a job that will be taken over by Linda Plays, who served as Mayor Leo Fontaine's administrative assistant over the past year.

"I think she's well suited for the position," Baldelli-Hunt said.

That move has created some savings for the city, eliminating a position costing around $80,000 a year, while adding one that pays close to $64,000.

The mayor has tapped former planning director Joel D. Mathews, now a resident of Sutton, Mass., to resume the job at the head of that department. Mathews retired from the position in 2011 after more than 35 years of service to the city, and was later replaced by Paulette Miller.

All of the mayor's new appointments carry the "acting" title, including Bruce, who is now technically the city's "acting finance director." The qualification, Baldelli-Hunt said, is a temporary means to make sure her choices are a good fit for the job before the titles become concrete.

"I want to make certain that this entire team I bring in is conducive to my vision for the city," she said.

In the Public Works Department, Alan R. Brodd of North Smithfield will replace Sheila McGauvran in the director's position, which also caries the duties of city engineer. Brodd is no stranger to the role. He served as Woonsocket's public works director from 2006 to 2008, before leaving Woonsocket for the same position in Cumberland. Baldelli-Hunt said Brodd will be finishing his work in Cumberland over the next several weeks, and will be working in Woonsocket full time by Christmas.

McGauvran had held the position since 2011, when she replaced the former public works director, Michael Annarummo.

Other appointments include the addition of Susan E. Gaulin, a city resident and staff member at Harris Public Library, to serve as administrative aide. The probate judgeship was passed from Thomas Dickinson to Howard S. Portney, while Municipal Court Judge Lloyd Gariepy was reappointed.