September 23, 2014
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Why Warwick public service law is fair

To the Editor:

Concerning the story in the Aug. 21 Beacon relative to the Naylor case, there are inaccuracies that I am sure are not intended, but nevertheless are bound to create misconceptions among the general public about this matter.
Basically, Ms. Jennings, whom I do not know, condemns the six council members who voted down the proposed changes to the Honorable Service, Revocation and Reduction Ordinances in Chapters 7 and 15 of Warwick's Code of Ordinances, put forward by Councilman Joe Solomon as being insensitive to the protection of the public purse.
I can well understand her zeal in her run for public office, but accuracy and truth is the ultimate judge of any political argument. On Oct. 18, 1995, Mayor Lincoln Chafee signed and enacted into law three ordinances that I sponsored regarding Honorable Service Laws for Police, Fire, and Municipal Employees. I take little pride in authorship, because God knows, I had a tremendous amount of help from many quarters, but I believe that Warwick now has the best and fairest laws with regard to public service in the state. After a cursory reading and understanding of the Naylor matter, it appears to me that this issue has come about because the law was not followed to the letter. The law requires that "Should any city employee be convicted or plead nolo contendere to any crime related to his or her public employment, the Retirement Board (or the Board of Public Safety for Police and Fire personnel) shall conduct a meeting, with the employee having the opportunity to be heard, to determine if a recommendation of revocation or reduction of any retirement allowance or annuity or other benefit or payment to which the employee is otherwise entitled to under this chapter."
Following is the most important part of the law: "If the Retirement Board determines that revocation or reduction of any retirement allowance or annuity entitled to under this Chapter is warranted the Retirement Board 'SHALL INITIATE A CIVIL ACTION IN THE SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE REVOCATION OR REDUCTION OF ANY RETIREMENT ALLOWANCE OR ANNUITY OR OTHER BENEFIT OR PAYMENT TO WHICH THE EMPLOYEE IS OTHERWISE ENTITLED TO UNDER THIS CHAPTER." (Emphasis mine.) In other words, once the employee has a chance to be heard and the Retirement Board recommends that he or she should have a reduced or no pension, the issue is out of local hands and will be ultimately determined by our third branch of government, the Judiciary. This completely eliminates any local bias and places the matter into skilled and neutral hands, the due process system bequeathed to us by the founders of our great nation. Mayor Avedisian is a bright and capable guy. He should have been told about this matter immediately.

Al Gemma
Warwick


Gemma is an independent candidate for Ward 7 City Council.


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