Council at standstill with Rogers appointment as Public Works director

Council at standstill with Rogers appointment as Public Works director

FOSTER – Two meetings and two split decisions later, Foster is no closer to hiring a new director of the Department of Public Works as the appointment of Sen. Gordon Rogers continues to be blocked by “politics, politics, politics,” as he put it.

Rogers, a Republican, is the District 21 state senator, representing Foster, Scituate, Coventry and West Greenwich. He also served three terms on the Foster Town Council from 2010 to 2012 and 2014 to 2018.

Rogers said applying for the role of DPW director is ethical according to the Rhode Island Ethics Commission. He said he is outside the Ethics Commission’s revolving door policy preventing an elected official from being employed by the town within a year of holding office.

Rogers said he applied to the role in December, more than a year after he left the council. The previous director had left after a year and a half for another position.

A DPW foreman is currently holding the role for 90 days.

In the help wanted advertisement for the position, Foster sought qualified candidates with five years of experience in public works or a related field to supervise six union employees, 112.5 miles of road, and 52 square miles of land.

The position requires a CDL license and equipment operator license as well as a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, business administration, or a similar discipline.

Each time the appointment of Rogers has gone for a vote, it has failed in a 2-2 party split, with Republican Denise DiFranco and Chris Stone approving and Democrats Cheryl Hawes and Joe Cardillo against. The Town Council had the appointment on the agenda starting in January.

Cardillo also previously held the role of DPW director in Foster.

At the January meeting, attendees questioned why the council had not put an end date to the application period, as several more applications for the position were submitted after the agenda stating that Rogers had been recommended for the position was posted.

The council agreed to go over remaining applications and to accept no more after a 2-2 split to appoint Rogers.

At the next meeting, there was another 2-2 split when Hawes requested to interview Rogers personally before appointing him as director.

Hawes said this matter is too contentious of an issue to comment on it. Cardillo could not be reached for comment.

Resident Lynne Rider said the appointment has divided the town. She said Rogers’ name has been forward four times and each vote has been 2-2, “with no end in sight.”

Rogers said some believe he may not have the right temperament for the job. He said he is qualified for the position, and was recommended for it after participating in interviews.

“I’ve worked every job from major construction to residential,” he said. “Most people I talk to cannot believe I’m being looked over for this job.”

As a 45-year veteran EMS volunteer, Rogers said he could also help close the gap in the town’s rescue needs. He said with his additional EMS certification, he is “the best person for the job.”

Rogers added he was council liaison to the DPW while he served on the council, and is familiar with DPW workers, the town, and most importantly, the budget.

“Honestly, I think of this as giving back to my town, too,” he said.

Rogers explained that without his work at the Statehouse, he would not be able to afford to live solely on the $60,000-per-year DPW job.

His wife, Heidi Rogers, was elected to the council in 2018, and has recused herself from voting on her husband’s appointment.

Comments

Gordon may be intimidating at first but if you want somebody who is all in through thick and thin ,its Gordon. If Gordon is anything in the DPW director position as he was on EMS lifesaving be comfortable.