September 23, 2014
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Continued harassment at City Hall, an expensive example of boys will be boys

To the Editor:

Last month during the City Council meeting, the main subject matter on the agenda pertained to a resolution relative to pension reform, and discussion of the challenge of the RIAC decision on the airport expansion.

Since I have been attending these meetings, I have never seen a population of members of the DPW attend, mind you, pose any question of any content at all. Although no questions were posed by the city employees, they did jeer and harass myself, Mr. Cushman and others who have been outspoken pertaining to the car tax and unfunded pension issues.

I was targeted by several members and at one point had a camera put directly in my face, my picture taken and then was told to “watch my step as soon enough I would get what was coming to me.” This conversation was overheard by several members of the audience and, in fact, a ranking member of the police department had to intervene to inform the individual that he and other members had crossed the line and that charges could be filed against them if, in fact, I wanted to pursue the issue. I chalked it up to boys being boys and went on with business.

Interestingly enough, everywhere that I moved that evening at least two DPW workers followed behind me, made comments and subtle threats and sat staring at me with cameras pointed at me. Well-dressed paparazzi they weren’t; however, the matter wasn’t given a second thought.

Later in the evening, while in conversation outside of the Council chambers with Dave Picozzi, one of the same members came face to face with me and directly threatened me in front of his boss and invited me to “come outside.” Having never met this man before, I asked Mr. Picozzi the individual’s name; his comment was that he wasn’t going to get involved. I interpreted this as that he condoned the behavior and had no intention of instructing his employee on the proper conduct while in a formal meeting atmosphere. No problem, some things you just have to consider the source and let slide.

The following day I had a conversation with appropriate people in the Warwick Police Department and I was assured that all parties would be spoken to.

It appears now that after this past Monday evening’s Council meeting, that the residents of Warwick will soon be on the hook for not only hearing aids, but quite possibly the cost of litigation due to the actions of these select few DPW individuals. While I have no problem with any group storming the Council chambers to make their point, addressing the Council members and reacting to the numerous pieces of bogus legislation that seem to be the product of these meetings lately, I do however have no flexibility or tolerance for people being personally targeted, harassed and threatened with bodily harm while exercising their First Amendment rights. I suspect that in the near future these types of activities will certainly end up in litigation, with the city being on the wrong side of the scale of justice. The administration would be wise to convey that point to their potential liabilities (employees) and limit their exposure.

Rob Cote
Warwick


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