First African American woman elected to the bench and courtroom renamed after Judge Frank Caprio
Providence, RI – Tonight, the Providence City Council elected, and Council President Rachel Miller swore in three judges to the city’s municipal court, including Chief Judge John Lombardi and Vanessa Crum, the first African American woman to sit on the municipal court bench.
Councilors also elected former Chief Judge Frank Caprio to Chief Judge Emeritus of the Providence Municipal Court, a volunteer position. In honor of Judge Caprio’s retirement and more than four decades of public service to the city, Councilors approved a resolution renaming the municipal courtroom the “Frank Caprio” courtroom.
Chief Judge – John Lombardi
- Has served as an Associate Judge in the municipal court for nearly eight years, current Rhode Island State Representative for Providence’s District 8 for the past 13 years, attorney, former city councilor for more than 26 years, a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, Rhode Island College, and Suffolk University Law
Associate Judge – Daniel McKiernan
- Current Associate Judge in the municipal court for the past eight years, former Rhode Island State Representative for Providence’s District 7, attorney, a graduate of Bishop Hendricken High School, Boston College, and Boston College Law
Associate Judge – Vanessa Crum
- Retired attorney with nearly 40 years of legal experience, former attorney and administrator for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, a former administrator for the City of Providence (responsible for women and business enterprise development), served on the city’s ethics commission, born and raised in Providence, a graduate of the Wheeler School, John Hopkins University, and Columbus School of Law
Chief Judge Emeritus – Frank Caprio
- Retired Chief Judge of the municipal court, served 38 years as a municipal court judge, retired National Guard, former city councilor, former chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education, born and raised in Providence, a graduate of Central High School, Providence College, and Suffolk University Law
“I would like to thank the 2023 Providence City Council for this opportunity to serve on the Providence Municipal Court. This is a council that not only talks about inclusion and diversity but puts it into action,” said Judge Crum. “I was born and raised in Providence during a time of very little inclusion. I recognize the importance of all young people seeing someone that looks like them, whether in private business or government. I am elated and grateful to be able to serve on the Providence Municipal court. I summarize a quote from Vice President Kamala Harris’ mom, ‘it’s nice to be the first…just make sure you’re not the last.’”
Council President Miller added, “I am honored to have Judge Crum join the Providence Municipal Court. I believe her vast legal and life experience will serve her and our city well. She inspires women of all ages, particularly African American women.”
Council Authorizes City Improvement Funds for Schools, Parks, and Local Attractions
Councilors authorized multiple contract awards to be granted through the Parks Department and the Department of Public Property. The contract funding will be used for numerous local projects, including school renovations and public park improvements. The contract awards include the following: (all were passed and referred back to the board of contract and supply)
- Dicenzo, Inc will be awarded $835,750 by the Parks Department for improvements to Paul Grande Jr. Park.
- Artisan Concrete Services, Inc will be awarded $649,500 by the Parks Department for the expansion of the Neutaconkanut Park Skatepark.
- H.S.I. Construction, Inc will be awarded $1,446,325 by the Parks Department for the construction of new fabric shades at the City Center Ice Rink.
- Maron Construction, Inc will be awarded $15,727,000 by the Department of Public Property for the renovation of Pleasant View Elementary School.
(all were passed and referred back to the board of contract and supply)
Council approves independent review of city towing contract
Councilors passed a resolution authorizing the independent audit of payments made to city vendor, State Towing Inc. In the spring of 2022, the City’s Internal Auditor reported on abnormalities in towing contracts, including $226,780 in payments to State Towing, Inc.
An outside attorney who investigated the report agreed with the Internal Auditor’s assessment of significant discrepancies between the State Towing invoices and the contractual billing requirements, resulting in overpayments that need further review. Majority Leader James Taylor (Ward 8) sponsored the bill.
“I believe we owe it to the taxpayers of Providence to find out why this inordinate amount of money was disproportionately paid to a single vendor,” said Taylor. “I commend the diligence of the Internal Auditor and look forward to getting definitive answers through an outside review.”
With the passage of this resolution, the Internal Auditor has been cleared to hire an independent outside auditor to review the State Towing contract from the fiscal year 2018 to the present.
Providence School Board Members Approved
- Toni Akin for a term to expire on January 31, 2026
- Jesus Nunez for a term to expire on January 31, 2023
- George Matouk for a term to expire on January 31, 2026
- Carolina Roberts-Santana for a term to expire on January 31, 2024
- Erlin Rogel for a term to expire on January 31, 2026
Council Honors Providence Residents with Ceremonial Designations
The Providence City Council tonight passed three ceremonial designations honoring Providence residents who have made a great impact in their communities. Senior Deputy Majority Leader John Goncalves (Ward 1) was the lead sponsor on all three resolutions.
Bruce E. Owensby owned Wayland Square Shoe Repair for nearly three decades. He was an active member of the Wayland Square community and ran his business with integrity, compassion, and a welcoming spirit. His unexpected death in September of 2022 left his family, friends, and the Providence community with a great loss. To honor his memory, the City of Providence will establish a ceremonial designation at the intersection of Wayland Avenue and Seekonk Street as “Bruce E. Owensby Way”.
Mary Elizabeth Sharpe lived in Providence for 65 years. An aid patron of the arts, Sharpe served on numerous arts councils and commissions and was responsible for bringing the Community Concert Series to Providence. Sharpe was instrumental in the beautification of Brown University, assisted in the creation of the Japanese Gardens at Roger Williams Park, and spearheaded the renovation of India Point Park. Mary Elizabeth Sharpe continued to work to make Providence beautiful until just before her death in 1985, shortly after celebrating her 100th birthday. In honor of her decades of service to the arts in Providence, the City of Providence will establish the intersection of Hope Street and John Street as “Sharpe Corner”.
Judge Bruce M. Selya was the longest-serving Rhode Islander on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In addition to his impressive judicial career, Judge Selya has been devoted to community service for decades. He served on the boards of the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island, the Anti-Defamation League, the Wheeler School, and Rhode Island Hospital. Judge Selya was the founding Chairman of Lifespan’s board of directors. Judge Selya’s long career has had far reaching effects on both the judicial system and health care in Rhode Island. To honor his many contributions, the City of Providence will establish Fulton Street between Memorial Street and Exchange Street as “Judge Selya Way”.