FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Warwick Resident Rob Cote Calls For the Termination of Warwick Fire Chief James McLaughlin
On November 20th at Warwick City Council chambers, Warwick Resident Rob Cote has called for the termination of Warwick Fire Chief James Mclaughlin for knowingly and willfully violating state law and local ordinances. Cote presented evidence after researching city documents for the past year, that the WFD has been destroying / discarding public records related to "requests for leave", that are specifically required to be retained for 4 years in accordance with the Rhode Island Secretary of State Records Retention Laws.
Cote itemized 1391 separate documents that have been destroyed / discarded. Cote has obtained the budget hearing recordings of Chief Mclaughlin stating on several occasions "that the documents are discarded".
These "CHANGE OF SHIFT" form 109 documents have been the source of contentious debate as Cote and others allege that the policy is being utilized to allow fire department personnel to engage in activities ranging in leaving work to work on prevailing wage state jobs, and granting time off to play softball.
Cote contends that these "LEAVE DAYS" should be consumed by the individuals vacation days. "The practice preserves vacation days to be monetized at a later date", said Cote.
Cote indicates that the penalty for the destruction of these documents can incur fines between $47,000 upwards of $ 695,000 in accordance with the applicable laws. (see attached pdf)
Cote also pointed to the fact that department is in violation of City Ordinance PCO-17-17 which requires the department to break out sick time vs salary in separate line items. The ordinance was unanimously past on April 10th, 2017. The department has failed to comply as of this date.