Bradley files suit as council moves to oust him

Bradley files suit as council moves to oust him

UPDATE
The Town Council, after lengthy deliberations and warnings of a lengthy legal battle by an attorney for Council President Peter Bradley, voted 6-1 Wednesday to remove Bradley from the council presidency. Bradley voted no on the resolution for his removal.

A Superior Court judge had earlier declined to block Bradley's challenge on the agenda items related to his removal, but scheduled a followup post-council meeting court date on the matter for Tuesday, Aug. 27.


CUMBERLAND – A simmering internal investigation quickly escalated into a full-scale political and legal blaze this week after Town Council members signaled their plan to remove Peter Bradley from the council presidency and Bradley responded by filing a Superior Court lawsuit to block the effort.

Bradley’s legal move was set to be heard in court Wednesday afternoon as he sought to prevent the council from voting on resolutions at their meeting later that evening, one establishing procedures for removing the council president and one to remove him from the leadership post.

Bradley maintains that this is all part of a well-orchestrated political “witch hunt” to remove him because he doesn’t fit into any one faction on the council, and is a personal attack for previously voting against a significant pay raise for Town Solicitor Kelley Morris.

“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s a complete waste of taxpayer money,” Bradley said on Tuesday prior to filing the lawsuit. “I’m here for the taxpayer, and when you’re here for the taxpayer, you make enemies politically. All this is is dirty politics.”

Council members still weren’t commenting on their effort to oust Bradley over his involvement in arumor and its aftermath, but a note from Town Clerk Sandra Giovanelli to the council president on Monday indicated that the council intended to seek his removal Wednesday if he hadn’t submitted his resignation as president by Monday at 6 p.m., when Wednesday’s agenda was posted.

The crux of the case against Bradley appears to center around accusations that he spread a rumor about two town employees having sex in the town’s public safety complex prior to it opening, a claim that was allegedly disproven through a lengthy closed-door investigation.

Bradley claims he only ever said that there was an “after-hours tour” of the facility that Chief John Desmarais wasn’t happy about, something he told School Committee member Ray Salvatore and says he still stands by. Salvatore, who married Morris over this past weekend, was the one who later passed on the claim to Morris and said the allegation involved sex, said Bradley. Morris then brought the matter to Mayor Jeff Mutter who initiated an investigation because it involved employee behavior in a town building. Bradley says this is all about his votes against matters pertaining to Morris.

Desmarais couldn’t be reached this week to confirm or deny Bradley’s claim on the after-hours tour.

Salvatore, also a member of the Democratic Town Committee, flatly denied Bradley’s assertion about the after-hours tour involving a high-level town employee.

“No retaliation, he’s a liar,” Salvatore said of Bradley. It was Bradley who told him that two town workers had sex after hours, he said.

“When he got called to the carpet on it, from what I understand, he had a series of different lies,” he said Tuesday. Salvatore said his own story, meanwhile, has been consistent, that Bradley brought the allegation to him and he informed Morris of it and it was properly investigated.

“He’s going to get what he deserves tomorrow,” Salvatore said Tuesday of the council’s plan to vote Bradley out the next day.

Told of Salvatore’s comments, Bradley responded, “He can say what he wants. Big picture in court.”

The Valley Breeze reported last week that there was an ongoing investigation on the matter, citing multiple comments from councilors citing an ongoing investigation, but Mutter later said the town’s investigation into actual allegations was concluded weeks before an Aug. 5 special meeting and found the accusations to be unfounded. He said his guess was that the agenda for that closed meeting listing the investigation as a matter of discussion or vote was to update the council.

Bradley’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday afternoon by his personal attorney, John Mancini, stated that Wednesday’s agenda items constituted as an illegal infringement on rights afforded to him under the town’s charter and state’s constitution.

He claims closed sessions on job performance are reserved for municipal employees, not elected ones, and says the agenda violates state law. The posting of the executive session was an illegal action, he said, to the extent where he incurred damages. He’s seeking costs and reasonable attorney fees.

Bradley’s lawsuit further states, in count two, that the council does not have the authority to enact such resolutions as the one for his removal as board president, as it’s a violation of the town charter and state constitution and is illegal. The suit states that he has a constitutionally protected property right as a member and president of the council.

According to Bradley, the last time there was a case like this in Rhode Island was the late 1970s.

“Once again, I’ve brought two groups that hate each other together,” he said, laughing.

The resolution that was up for a vote Wednesday stated that the council has lost confidence in the leadership of Bradley as president.

Bradley says he first made the comment to Salvatore about the after-hours tour back in March. On June 4, a day after Bradley voted with Councilor Mike Kinch against the pay raise for Morris in the budget, he said he received a call from Salvatore looking to rehash what he’d said about the incident previously and criticizing him for another vote against Morris. He said he apologized to Salvatore for voting against the raise.

“When he called, I knew what he was calling for,” Bradley said.

Bradley produced phone records for The Breeze, which he said he also submitted as evidence, showing two calls from Salvatore and a return call from Bradley lasting 12 minutes on June 4.

Salvatore denied that he called Bradley. “I never called him,” he said.

Shortly after the call from Salvatore, the town’s investigation into the allegations about the town employees began, Bradley said. He was told Morris brought it to Linda Teel, of Mutter’s office, who then brought it to Human Resources Director Tina Fogell.

Salvatore claims Bradley told him about the rumor when Bradley stopped by his sandwich shop well before its opening in early July. He said Bradley was back there helping him in the shop the day before it opened.

Bradley narrowly won re-election as council president last fall in a 4-3 vote. Councilor Lisa Beaulieu, an ally of Salvatore, Morris and Mutter, came up short in her bid to take the seat.

Comments

This shows how nasty it can be for those than want power. A sitting mayor (Bill Murray) does not get the democratic endorsement.

Lisa Beaulieu and Craig Dwyer both sought the town council presidency and both lost.

Now something that Bradley says happened in March comes to light after voting against a $40,000 pay raise for Ms. Morris who now marries Raymond Salvatore.

Regular Peyton Place here in sleepy Cumberland. You cannot keep up with all the players.

This was dirty politics that will cost the taxpayers money in attorney fees.

The first attorney the town hired Joe Rodeo Jr. steps aside after the first executive session. Why?

The second attorney hired Mr. Alfonso was a former business partner of Ms. Morris. Interesting?

Investigated by Tina Fogell, another one that Mr. Bradley had issues with. Mayor Mutter appointed Ms.Fogell for 30-days without town council approval after being questioned about it by Mr. Bradley. Its August and she is still being employed.

Mayor Mutter denies Mr. Bradley access to the accusations and written statements, nobody sworn it when giving testimony.

Can anyone see where this was going to go?

Peter Bradley was chosen by his peers to be Council President, that is how it happened. It wasn't by some divine or inherent right to the position. His peers have now had several meetings and I would imagine, have been given detailed information from the Town's investigation. Based on that information (all of his) peers no longer have confidence in him, why shouldn't they be allowed to remove him from the role of President? How is being President a right? If the purpose of these roles are to serve the public it seems ridiculous for a politician to claim ownership over a role. If I were to serve on the board of a nonprofit and were the chair, they could certainly have a vote of no confidence in me.

Putting aside right to ownership over the role, I don't understand the open meetings claim either. “[a] public body may hold a meeting closed to the public pursuant to § 42-46-4 for one or more of the following purposes . . . Any discussions of the job performance, character, or physical or mental health of a person or persons provided that such person or persons affected shall have been notified in advance in writing and advised that they may require that the discussion be held at an open meeting.” So in my mind, as long as he was notified of the meeting - which he clearly was, this doesn't violate any meetings rules.

Ultimately, at the end of the day integrity matters. Creating and spreading a rumor of vulgar nature about Town Employees is unconscionable. To say nothing of the fact that the people Peter Bradley is spreading rumors about could very well be people he has the authority to vote on their appointments. That is such an abuse of power. I have the ability to vote on whether or not you have a job but I'm going to spread a vulgar/damaging rumor about you? How is that in any way appropriate? That would be like in the private sector your hiring supervisor spreading gossip about you. Do you think that hiring supervisor would keep their job? Imagine how damaging that would be - not only to you personally but to morale at your workplace? At the end of the day if the rumor was about you or your partner and had the potential to damage your career or reputation, would you just stand by?

In my mind, the Town Council has every right to weigh the information they've been given and make a judgement call. We trusted their judgement to appoint him president, we should trust their judgement to remove him.

This is the saddest excuse by elected officials and bureaucrats to remove someone because they are outspoken in defense of the taxpayers. Do they realize that people see through the rhetoric? This quote from the article shows pretty clearly who’s not telling the truth:
“Bradley produced phone records for The Breeze, which he said he also submitted as evidence, showing two calls from Salvatore and a return call from Bradley lasting 12 minutes on June 4.

Salvatore denied that he called Bradley. “I never called him,” he said.”

Everyone has their day in court until then NOTHING should change. Who did this investigation ? Town Police? . State Police? What are the official charges and by who were the brought? If the court finds that this was a witch hunt and the town gets sued ( pure cut and dry case ) should the taxpayers be on the hook? best be very careful what is said and done. Let get town business done and never mind the school house gossip .

This is just another perfect example of Cumberland's nasty politics from this new group - all from school department and their buddies. They have been out to get Bradley since they took office and are using this to do it. You readers have no idea of what is taking place behind the scenes. I hope Mr. Bradley wins in court. Mr. Afonso should be at every Town Council meeting, but instead they weaseled him out. You are right Mr. Cumberland _ resident, integrity matters. But you forgot, this group doesn't have it. They need to be voted out. Maybe we should remove them from office. Convenient that our town solicitor and her husband chose not to be there last night. A little over a year and a half to go and maybe we can get rid of them. Maybe now the Mayor sees why he was told not to hire certain people who love the drama and spotlight. Also, I don't see the Valley Breeze commenting on the members of the executive staff who have already left the employ of the Town under this administration. I'm sure there will be more!

This whole situation is an embarrassment to the town. It seems obvious something happened that justifies Bradley’s ouster and he should just step aside and drop the lawsuit. That would be the best thing for taxpayers. You also need to read this closely and when Salvatore says “from what I understand” does that mean he was provided details about the investigation or Executive Session discussion? Finally, can someone clarify this pay raise issue? Is it true that the Mayor gave the Town Solicitor a raise from $84,782 to $120,000 or 41.5%? It is not clear if this was for that position or for the Assistant Solicitor who appears to be employed but not listed on the town website.

Kelley Morris is a part time solicitor. She’s also employed by the town of North Providence. One hell of a pay raise for a part time job.

The raise you speak about $35,218 to be exact not to shabby. Dont forget now hubby health insurance gets picked up by the town . Gee wonder if they will find the money for a town hall holiday ( not sure if Christmas is politically correct) party .

With the new budget the Town Solicitor went from part time to full time, of course there is going to be an increase in money. Would you go from part time work to full time work without your pay changing?

Mr Bradley,
If the council votes that they no longer have confidence in your leadership, then you should step down, no if, no but, no or. It is the will of the council that you serve or not serve in this position. If you do not leave, be prepared to loose your seat in the next election as it reflects poorly on your judgement. You appear to be a sore loser now, next time use better judgement about spreading rumors.

I think the commenters are missing the point: all 6 town council people voted out the chair person.

Town government is really simple if you don’t make it overly dramatic.
When you get sucked into wanting to gain power instead of wanting to help people, you create sideways energy that keeps you from working on the basics. Let’s keep it simple. Fix the roads, educate the kids, make sure the trash gets picked up. Cumberland lives on.

Mutter, you’re fixing the budget problem, now get your inside circle to focus on the job, not the power.

Let’s see if she has given up her position in North Providence. If she’s full time in Cumberland she should not be seen in North Providence town hall during the day.

Let’s see... Salvatore starts a rumor... calls Bradley about it who has the proof with phone records... Salvatore denied it... Bradley votes no to a raise for Salvatore’s then fiancé (now wife)... now there is no confidence in Bradley???

Before we remove someone can anyone tell me what the kangaroo court had charged this man with? So if these drummed up charges are not true then what? Talk about getting railroaded.

The comments section here has turned into a total conspiracy theory zone. It's irresponsible.

Again I say, if you have no problem with the Town Council being able to choose their own President without having to solicit input or disclose their rationale, I don’t understand how you can’t give them the autonomy to change their minds.

I don’t recall anyone caring all that much or asking any questions when the council chose him to be president. None of you needed justification for that action. You simply trusted their judgement (or didn’t pay attention). Now that it’s been sensationalized you care & don’t trust the judgment of the council. Everyone loves tabloid fodder but don’t care very much for the day to day operations.

Seems to be an awful lot of seemingly private information gracing the comment section of this story. One has to wonder where the commenters are getting all of their information about this situation. The council voted 6-0 to remove Mr. Bradley from his position as Council President, the same margin by which they voted him in I believe. They presumably know more about this situation than we do (at least most of us), and made their decisions accordingly.

When people with as diverse political views as Craig Dwyer, Lisa Beaulieu, and Scott Schmitt all agree on something and join the rest of the council in deciding something so politically charged, maybe there’s something to it. Or maybe it truly is a giant conspiracy in which Salvatore and Morris have been able to bamboozle the entire council in a well-orchestrated political coup to get back at political rival.

What’s lost in this battle of the lawyers and Broad Street intrigue is the work they were elected to do, which wasn't fight amongst each other over the council presidency. I get the principle thing but it’s perplexing that Mr. Bradley would fight to keep a peer-elected position when his peers don’t want him to have it. He’s still on the council and he still has a vote regardless of what happens now. And if he wins in court (costing the taxpayers thousands in litigation) he’ll get to continue to be leader and spokesperson for a council comprised entirely of people who apparently so lost confidence in his leadership that they took the historically unprecedented action to remove him from the position. Mr. Bradley may win in court, he may not. But the public seems to destined to lose either way.

Did Ms. Morris get her raise or not? The article was not clear on that issue. If she did and Mr. Bradley voted against it, who cares? If she didn't and Mr. Bradley voted against it, he was not the only one. Are those other dissenters being "punished"? If Mr. Bradley was unhappy with the quality of Ms. Morris's work, he had every right to vote the way he did. If I am understanding the article correctly, he acted on the Chief's complaint, hardly a rumor. I really don't understand Mr. Salvatore's position in all this. He is a school committeeman. Period. If anything, he should step aside as his relationship in all this business with Ms. Morris presents a conflict. For any of these "politicians" to think they have any "power", they need to get a grip. Deal with the real problems facing the community, not this soap opera crap. Just smoke and mirrors. Fix the roads. Lower taxes. Control school spending. That's what you are hired to do. DO IT.

Disappointing but not surprising to read Bradley is portraying himself as the victim. Spreads a rumor, gets caught, blames someone else. Glad to read the administration took it seriously as the workplace should never brush those issues aside, particularly given the two costly employment lawsuits from actions of prior administrations recently settled. His public demotion by his council peers affirms he is not credible.

Bradley should stick to digging holes but should be careful he doesn't trip and fall into another one that he intended for his long list of personal vendettas.

Is kind of a mess...cars being battered on 114 and 295 overpass, sustained complaints about the quality of our water, a tax increase to the maximum allowed, and now all this noise. Enough time has passed and now the Mayor should have clarity on how his team should be structured to make the town better. Bradley should drop this and move on and because the spouse of a member of the administration claims to have some level of insight around a confidential investigation they should investigate this apparent leak.

While we are tearing everything apart wrong with Cumberland whatever happened with the investigation of the Fire chief that all of a sudden retired ? Should i look under the rug?

what happened at the hearing?