Mayor, Congressional candidate, hires judicial nominee, Jack ‘lead paint’ McConnell, to sue libraries

Library belittles mayor in deriding lawsuit

Phillip Marcelo
The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE — Calling Mayor David N. Cicilline a “petulant child,” the Providence Public Library on Monday said a recently filed city lawsuit attempting to resolve needed repair work at the city’s library buildings was “baseless” and “harassing.”

The library, which operated the city’s nine branch libraries until last year, accuses the city and the new operator of its branch system, the Providence Community Library, of mounting a campaign to damage the PPL and “plunder its assets.”

The statements were in response to a city lawsuit filed last week in Superior Court in Providence.

The suit argues that the Providence Public Library is in breach of contract for failing to make required repairs to the library buildings, seven of which it still owns and leases to the city for a $1 a year.

The Providence Community Library has said that the repairs have not been made at the libraries because the PPL has not transferred ownership of the buildings to the city, as the two sides had agreed last year.

The city, in its lawsuit, says that many of the library buildings have asbestos, lead paint, and fire-system, electrical-system and air-quality issues that do not meet building-code standards. It cites a section of the lease agreements that require the PPL to comply with all laws and regulations applicable to the buildings.

Tonia Mason, spokeswoman for the PPL, said that when the city signed leases for the branch buildings, it accepted each building “as is.”

Mason says that during negotiations, the library offered a phased-in transfer of the buildings, with an amount of compensation for the library equal to “the fair value of the buildings over a reasonable time.” The city, she says, demanded the buildings outright.

“When the library refused [the city’s request], Providence Mayor David Cicilline, like a petulant child who doesn’t get his way, retained Democratic contributor Jack McConnell to file a baseless harassing lawsuit against the Library,” the library said in a statement.

City Director of Administration Alix Ogden called the PPL’s portrayal of the negotiations “gross inaccuracies” and “false statements” but declined to elaborate.

“The city’s number-one goal has always been to protect and preserve the neighborhood libraries for our residents,” she said, declining to comment on the pending suit.

CAJ note: Hold on to your hats, Rhode Island! McConnell has cost your state millions in lawsuits before…

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