Flanders, ACLU attorney Jennifer Azevedo said, “is stepping in for the mayor and city council. If he is going to do that he should have to do what mayor and council do. He has no authority to pass off his duties to a third party.”
Corrigan presides over Central Falls public meetings and makes recommendations that Flanders later signs off on. Azevodo said Flanders has no more a right to pass off this responsibility to a third party than would a mayor and council. Her suit contends that by doing so, Flanders is violating the Financial Stability Act, the law that put a receiver in place in Central Falls.
“The citizens of Central Falls have had their mayor and council taken away from them they have no self government,” Azevedo said. “If receiver can’t turn up for meeting himself then the people essentially have no one listening to them at all.”
She said the Rhode Island Supreme Court case Moreau v. Flanders spoke to her case when a justice wrote, according to her press release, “the receiver may exercise the powers of an authority or office to the limits of that authority or office, and no further.” Flanders is a former member of the state Supreme Court.
Flanders told me “there is nothing that requires there to be meetings,” let alone that he attend them. He said the Financial Stability Act empowers the receiver to make decisions through orders and because it expressly says that it is to, as he said, “take precedence over any contrary laws” he can make orders without holding public meetings as a mayor and council would have to do.
In a letter to the ACLU dated January 30, he wrote:
“There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding on your part that “third parties” are exercising the “extraordinary powers” ofthe receiver. Nothing could be further from the truth. With regarding to the parking ordinance, neither myself nor any member of my staff enacted any such ordinance at any public meeting. Whenever I exercise the powers ofthe Central Falls City Council, I do so by order, as R.I. Gen. Laws 45-9-20 requires me to do. I personally execute all orders of the receiver, and I assure you that I have never delegated that authority to anyone. In the case ofthe parking ordinance specifically, a copy of the order that I executed on January 6, 2012, is enclosed.”
The suit is expected to heard on March 30 in Superior Court. It could go before Judge Taft-Carter, who has seen many high-profile cases as of late, though it could also be moved to the business calendar and be heard by Judge Silverstein who has heard other cases relating to Central Falls.