The ex-boss at the Central Landfill has taken over as CEO of J.R. Vinagro Corporation, following his resignation last month. And his new employer, Vinagro Corp. has now taken over road and bridge …
The ex-boss at the Central Landfill has taken over as CEO of J.R. Vinagro Corporation, following his resignation last month. And his new employer, Vinagro Corp. has now taken over road and bridge construction contractor Cardi Corporation’s Warwick headquarters.
The trucks outside the 400 Lincoln Ave. facility still say Cardi, but the phone in the lobby rings directly to a voicemail message identifying the new company as “Vinagro Materials.” The dumpster bears the “Vinagro” logo.
At the time of his departure, former Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) Executive Director Joseph Reposa was earning a $253,239.48 annual salary, plus a $25,000 annual performance bonus, according to RIRRC’s responses to public record requests.
According to his Linked In profile, Reposa joined Johnston demolition, recycling and asbestos abatement contractor J.R. Vinagro in December 2023, immediately following his resignation from the quasi-public RIRRC.
The RIRRC Board of Commissioners has since launched a search committee for a new executive director. Attorneys for RIRRC have insisted all inquiries for information follow official public records request procedure.
Seeking clarity regarding the current leadership structure at the Ocean State’s lone operating landfill, Beacon Communications staff (publisher of the Johnston Sun Rise, Cranston Herald and Warwick Beacon) have filed 11 public records requests since Reposa’s resignation. On Friday, RIRRC responded to the last of the outstanding requests.
The first RIRRC public record request sought “all documentation relating to the ‘investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct’ … noted on the Dec. 8 (RIRRC Board of Commissioners meeting) agenda.”
The board discussed the misconduct allegations during executive session that morning, immediately after meeting with Reposa behind closed doors to discuss his job performance and pending resignation.
Jared Rhodes, Director of Policy and Programs at RIRRC, provided the following response:
“Any such records that may exist are not subject to public inspection as they are, (1) records relating to a client/attorney relationship …, (2) investigatory records of public bodies …, (3) personnel and other personal individually identifiable records otherwise deemed confidential by federal or state law or regulation, or the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy …, and (4) Preliminary drafts, notes, impressions, memoranda, working papers and work products …”
During a break from public session on Dec. 8, David Ursillo, outside counsel for RIRRC, said Reposa’s resignation and the misconduct investigation agenda items were separate and unrelated.
Reposa had the option to have his performance review during open session, but declined.
Following a closed meeting with the RIRRC Board of Commissioners Governance Committee, the board announced Reposa had an excellent performance review and would receive his $25,000 annual bonus.
On Dec. 19, Rhodes distributed a press release (“Resource Recovery bids a fond farewell to Executive Director Reposa; Deputy Director serving as interim while Chairman leads public search for next hire") praising Reposa’s performance during his tenure.
In the press release, Reposa reflected on his six years with RIRRC, noting that “he considered himself blessed to have worked with such a considerate, talented and selfless group of professionals.”
Reposa refused comment regarding his next move at the Dec. 8 meeting.
According to the press release, Reposa expressed “how grateful he was for his time with the corporation as it brought out the best in him, but that it was now time for him to begin a new Journey.”
RIRRC’s longtime Chairman Michael Sabitoni, a Johnston resident and labor leader (Sabitoni was named General Secretary-Treasurer for Laborers’ International Union of North America in May 2023) thanked Reposa “profusely not only on behalf of himself but also on behalf of the Board,” according to the press release.
“Joe’s leadership was absolutely instrumental in achieving the financial stability from which the corporation now benefits,” Sabitoni was quoted in the press release. “Not only did Joe find a way to fund the extensive capital improvements that were required for expansion of the landfill, but he did so in a manner that left the corporation debt free and returned an additional 10 years of disposal capacity to the people of the State.”
Beacon Communications requested a copy of Reposa’s “most recent performance review.” The documents were not provided
“Responsive documents are confidential personnel information consisting of … personnel and other personal individually identifiable records otherwise deemed confidential,” according to Rhodes’ response to the public records request.
Since Rhodes handles RIRRC’s only sanctioned communications with the public, Beacon Communications also filed a public records request seeking his salary and job requirements as Director of Policy and Programs at RIRRC.
Beacon Communications received a response on Dec. 29. Rhodes’ wrote that his annual salary is $151,205.60, but he does not have a contract (he’s an “at will employee”).
On Dec. 8, the board also approved the promotion of Luigi “Lou” Vergato to the role of RIRRC Interim Executive Director.
Vergato rose through the ranks “over 30 years” with RIRRC, from Materials Recycling Facility Operations Maintenance Supervisor to Fleet Manager to his latest position, Chief Operating Officer, according to the press release.
“I look forward to applying the operational, logistical, managerial, and budgetary skills that I have honed while here at the corporation to this new challenge and I ensure you I will dedicate myself one hundred percent to the task at hand until such time that the next Executive Director is formally seated,” Vergato said in the press release.
Following the Dec. 8 meeting, Vergato said he had not decided whether to seek the permanent executive director’s post.
Vergato’s salary was not disclosed at the meeting. Following a public records request, however, Rhodes provided the interim director’s annual salary: $180,000.08.
According to Rhodes, Vergato is also an “at will employee and the corporation does not provide contracts to at will employees.”
In response to a public records request, Rhodes provided copies of RIRRC’s employment contract with Reposa, which had been the subject of an “extension agreement” dated a year ago, Jan. 1, 2023.
Besides his more than $250,000 annual salary, and yearly $25,000 performance bonuses, Reposa enjoyed a hefty benefits package with RIRRC.
According to his contract, which was revised in 2019, Reposa’s salary grew annually (from $225,000) with a promised “3 percent annual cost of living adjustment.”
The contract also includes non-disclosure and anti-competition clauses.
“Employee, pursuant to his employment, will acquire information and knowledge respecting the intimate and confidential affairs of (RIRRC) in the various phases of its business,” according to section 4, “Covenants and Conditions.” “Accordingly, (Reposa) agrees that at all times, both during his employment and after termination thereof, he shall not divulge to any other person, firm or corporation or in any way use for his own benefit … any trade secrets or confidential information obtained during the course of his employment with (RIRRC).”
Reposa also agreed not to, following the termination of his contract, “disturb, hire, entice, or in any other manner persuade or attempt to persuade any employee, dealer, supplier or customer of (RIRRC) to discontinue his or its relationship with the Employer.”
Reposa received 160 hours (four weeks) of vacation/personal time, annually, as well as paid sick leave, while working for RIRRC. He received “regularly scheduled pension plan contributions on a regular basis” from RIRRC’s 401A Profit Sharing Plan.
He also received a $700 monthly car allowance.
The RIRRC board agreed to keep Reposa on as a consultant during the search for a new executive director.
Beacon Communications submitted a public records request for Reposa’s consultancy contract.
“There is nothing further to share on this front as such details have yet to be finalized and formalized in an executed contract,” according to Rhodes. “As a result, Mr. Reposa is not currently doing any consultancy work for the corporation and therefore is not getting paid for any such work by the corporation.”
While he led RIRRC, Reposa refused interview requests from Beacon Communications.
His RIRRC resignation letter was sent via email to all employees on Dec. 6 with the subject line “The Road Ahead.”
“Starting Monday, Dec. 11 (2023), I will begin a new journey with a Rhode Island based private company,” according to Reposa’s “resignation letter,” which was provided by Rhodes following a public records request. “My decision to leave this wonderful place was certainly not without deep consideration but one that I felt was the right opportunity at the right time for me and my family.”
Following his Dec. 8 resignation, Reposa’s Linked In profile was updated, announcing his hiring as Chief Executive Officer of J.R. Vinagro Corp.
A call for comment and confirmation from J.R. Vinagro had yet to be returned by press-time. Vinagro has been named as a possible successor to Cardi Corporation, the Ocean State road and bridge contractor that announced late last year it was going out of business.
Cardi Corp.’s closure announcement followed the grinding halt of taxpayer-funded road projects along Routes 24 and 140 in Massachusetts, the ongoing Route 37 project in Cranston, Post Road improvements in Warwick and the revocation of a bid to repair the Washington Bridge in Providence (and several subsequent lawsuits by other bidding contractors and Cardi).
Since Cardi Corp. went out of business, J.R. Vinagro has taken over its Warwick headquarters. Calls to the former Cardi Corp. headquarters were answered by a recording that confirmed the business name has now changed from Cardi to Vinagro Materials: “Thank you for calling Vinagro Materials, formerly Cardi Corporation.”
Ocean State Powerhouse
J.R. Vinagro Corp., founded by Joseph R. Vinagro, opened for business in 1998 as Patriot Hauling Co., Inc., and now calls itself one of “the Northeast's leading contractors for demolition, recycling, asbestos abatement, and site development services.”
“The name was changed to J.R. Vinagro Corporation to distinguish the company from the competition and further celebrate the family name,” according to the company website. “Years of experience, dedication and hard work have combined to create excellence in all facets of the business from Asbestos Abatement and Demolition to Land Clearing, Rock Crushing, Site Development, Heavy Hauling and Material Sales.”
Over the past few years, Vinagro has donated man-hours and materials to several projects in Johnston, including the War Memorial Park walking path bridge, which was wiped out by a fallen tree. At the time, former Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena told the Johnston Sun Rise Vinagro saved the town’s taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars by volunteering to replace the footbridge. In July 2021, the bridge was dedicated to Nina Vinagro, the company founder’s mother.
According to the company website, J.R. Vinagro has become “one of the largest, independently owned and operated demolition, waste hauling, and recycling companies in the Northeast.”
J.R. Vinagro Corporation likely did business with RIRRC during Reposa’s time as executive director.
On Tuesday, Jan. 2, Beacon Communications sent a twelfth public records request to RIRRC seeking “documentation linked to any payments, receipts, accounts payable, accounts receivable, contracts, projects or any other interaction between J.R. Vinagro Corporation and RIRRC during (Reposa’s) tenure.”
According to the FY 22 Audited Financial Statements, RIRRC should be working on a revised Host Community Agreement (HCA) with the town of Johnston: "Due to the fact the current agreement is over 20 years old, the Town of Johnston and RIRRC are reviewing the Host Community Agreement with the intention of updating the current agreement in both parties’ best interest.”
Asked where the revision process stood, and whether he anticipates any significant changes in the relationship between the town and the landfill, the current mayor offered a brief statement via email.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with the head of Rhode Island Resource Recovery,” Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena Jr. wrote Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to meeting with Lou after he gets a chance to settle in and when we meet I’m sure we will discuss the future of both parties to the agreement.”
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