I-Team: City manager firing follows state police letter
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. —
East Providence City Manager Peter Graczykowski was fired this week by the City Council.
Councilwoman Chrissy Rossi was the lone vote to keep him on the job.
"I think somebody should at least have the courtesy of knowing why they're being terminated. I call it the coward clause," she said.
A letter from Col. Steven O'Donnell of the Rhode Island State Police and obtained by the NBC 10 I-Team gives several possible reasons.
O'Donnell wrote to the council president on Aug. 27 that, "I feel strongly that you need to know about the unprofessional behavior of Mr. Graczykowski."
That behavior included an email sent to O'Donnell five days earlier.
According to O'Donnell, Graczykowski was angry about troopers patrolling and conducting investigations in East Providence, writing that, "These matters are clearly under our jurisdiction. I would expect that no further action would take place without my prior knowledge."
"There was almost a state police vehicle on every major street in the city, and even the side streets. Were you looking for something? Was there a reason to be here in such force?" Rossi said.
But O'Donnell fired back in his letter, saying troopers have statewide jurisdiction and writing that, "In my opinion his entire email is inappropriate. On its face, it appears that Mr. Graczykowski is attempting to interfere with a Rhode Island State Police investigation."
The I-Team reports the bad blood in the city goes back further. In April, Chief Joseph Tavares of the East Providence Police Department was put on leave.
It was Graczykowski who first placed Tavares on leave.
When asked if Graczykowski went after the chief's job earlier this year, attorney Tom McAndrew, who represents the chief, said, "I don't think there's any doubt about that."
Rossi said the former manager was responding to concerns from residents and from within the police department.
"I was brought complaints. I brought those to the city manager and it's been murder ever since," she said.
"The budget commission ultimately determined that the city manager did not have just cause, or any cause, to take the action that he did against the chief," McAndrew said.