At last night’s Providence City Council Ordinance Committee meeting Chair Terrence Hassett seemed in good cheer as an amended version of the Community Safety Act (CSA) was introduced. The 50 people representing groups from the STEP-UP Coalition, an alliance of community groups supporting the CSA, crowded into the small meeting room were assured that the language of the amended version of the CSA was simply “cleaned up” and formatted in compliance with other city ordinances. The section of the Act that talks about the establishment of a Community Safety Review Board was changed to bring that idea into accordance with a previous ordinance establishing the Providence External Review Authority (PERA), currently inactive.
The Ordinance Committee voted to accept the amended version of the CSA and fast tracked the legislation so that it might be passed before the end of the year.
However, Mayor Jorge Elorza, who has made repeated promises to pass the CSA before January 20, the inauguration of Donald Trump, is not on board with this version of the CSA. Elorza is at work tweaking the legal language in the Act, saying, “We’ve been working on the Community Safety Act for about a year now, and we’ve been coming closer and closer together on the language for it.”
There is a lot of distrust between the STEP-UP Coalition and Elorza. Exactly one year ago the mayor seemed to intentionally misunderstand a question from STEP-UP Coalition campaign coordinator Vanessa Flores-Maldonado at an East Side forum. Though committing to the CSA as a candidate for mayor, Elorza almost immediately backed off his promise, and dragged his feet in addressing the issue. Members of the STEP-UP Coalition are worried that Elorza’s version will be heavily watered down, but as of yet the mayor has not released his version of the CSA.
Councillor Kevin Jackson, who called the legislation “historic,” said at the Ordinance Committee meeting that their have been no recent negotiations with the mayor about the CSA, and the mayor’s office confirmed that the last meeting with STEP-UP Coalition members was on October 27.
The next two meetings of the Ordinance Committee are tentatively scheduled for Monday, November 28 at 5:15pm and Thursday, December 1st, at the rise of the City Council.
Below is video of the Ordinance Committee meeting. Not in attendance were committee members Bryan Principe and Jo-Ann Ryan. Committee members Carmen Castillo and Mary Kay Harris were in attendance.