The City of Providence Law Department is combing through city charter and parliamentary rules looking for ways the City Council can conduct its business without the leadership of President Luis Aponte, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said Wednesday. This is the latest step in an escalating battle between Aponte, his fellow councilors and the Mayor’s office.
Last week Aponte was indicted on felony charges for misuse of campaign funds and embezzlement. This prompted calls by city councilors and the mayor to resign his leadership position. Aponte has refused to step down.
Now the body has reached an impasse, as it hurtles into the busy process of hammering out a city budget. There appears to be no way of forcing Aponte to step down. Now the city solicitor’s office is feverishly searching for rules that could allow the councilors to circumvent the sitting leader.
“What procedural steps, perhaps even what changes to city council rules themselves have to be made,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza “that’s what we’re working through right now.”
Elorza rejected the suggestion that councilors boycott meetings as unnecessary, an idea that’s been floated in recent days. He candidly expressed his frustration with the Aponte during a meeting with reporters Wednesday.
“I think the right thing to do, I think the honorable thing to do and I think, frankly, what any other person on the city council or the mayor’s office would have done, is simply step down and save us all the agony,” said Elorza.
Aponte says stepping down would amount to an admission of guilt. He has denied allegations that he misused campaign funds and embezzlement. He was elected president by his fellow city councilors in 2015.