Statement from J. Pichardo

 Statement from J. Pichardo

Senator Juan Pichardo of RI


Juan M. Pichardo

I will address the politically motivated statements that were made
by the Mayor and a member of the City Council asking for my
resignation as Chair.

First I would like to address the context under which we are discussing
this. We are only months away from an election in which the Mayor and City
Council members are up for re-election.

The Board of Licenses is protected by the City Charter, establishing it’s
independence from the undue influence of the Mayor and City Council members
who’s actions may be driven more by political motivations than due process.

Here are the facts to a case that statements made yesterday by both the
Mayor and Councilman Yurdin are based on. The following facts are all part
of public record:

On April 17th of this year, following a hearing on a shooting outside of
Loft / Penthouse Lounge, our board voted to close the business permanently.
The business appealed to the Department of Business Regulations, and DBR
overturned our decision to close the business permanently. Based on DBR’s
ruling, although we were not able to close the business permanently, we
closed them for the maximum time allowable under DBR’s ruling; we imposed
stiff penalties; and we mandated that upon reopening they would have to
adhere to strict measures to protect the safety of the public. The
preliminary hearing last Thursday, was to address new alleged violations
which were alleged to have occurred after the reopening of the business
about a month ago. We granted the reasonable request of legal counsel for
the business to move the hearing date from Thursday to the following
Tuesday, in order to have time to prepare for the hearing. In the interim,
the business was to maintain the strict measures that we had previously
imposed on them as a condition of their reopening, which included having a
police detail at all times for which they have to pay for. Over the
weekend, there was a shooting that took place outside in the vicinity of
the business, which the police are currently investigating. The full
hearing, as originally planned, took place today as scheduled.

As a Board, we are entrusted to ensure that businesses operate within the
law, that the safety of the public is protected, to judge the cases that
come before us fairly, with objectivity and without political influence.
During my tenure as Chair, working in concert with the members of the
board, and our administrative staff, we have brought a high level of
transparency, fairness, and due process, devoid of political influence,
that objectively takes into account the testimony presented by both sides,
in addition to commentary from the community surrounding the businesses. I
am proud of the members of this board that I sit with, in the transparent
way in which we have conducted our hearings, and stand by the decisions we
have made. All transcripts and recordings of our hearings are a part public

Since I became acting-Chair at the end of May this year, I, along with
members of the board and our staff, began putting into place measures that
would ensure greater fairness, transparency, and a more open and
deliberative process. The Pine Report which was commissioned by the City
Council spoke about some of the systemic issues that had been plaguing the
board, which at the time of it’s release we had already begun working to

This is one of the reasons why I found yesterday’s statements by the Mayor
to be very unfortunate and disappointing, because the very progress that he
pointed to in his statement, was the very progress that I as leader of this
independent Board, working with our Board members, and our staff had worked
hard to bring about. At no time during our numerous prior conversations had
the Mayor ever expressed any dissatisfaction in the work that I, or our
team had been doing. I first found out about his statement calling for my
resignation when the Mayor called me after he had already released the
statement and it had been picked up by the news media.

In leadership, you must expect that everyone will not agree with your
decisions. I believe that in true leadership, you must be guided by
principles. For me, the principles of a fair, transparent, and open process
are an important underpinning of the manner in which government must serve
the community it represents. Businesses deserve fair hearings, and when
they willfully violate the laws as established, they must face the
appropriate consequences. The public deserves that businesses shall abide
by measures that have been established to reasonably ensure the safety of
the public. There are however those who may say they agree with this
publicly, but whose actions speak otherwise.

There are individuals in our City who have their own agenda of shaping the
City in the way that suits their own self-interests, and they are vocal.
They blog, they make phone calls, they cast aspersions, and they
aggressively attempt to push a one-sided agenda all in the name of
promoting openness, and fairness, and a community of one, while in
actuality promoting their own self-serving brand of NIMBY – Not In My Back
Yard – politics.

I understand that the Mayor may be feeling pressure from this lobbying
circle, but I am disappointed that in making yesterday’s statement and the
manner in which he made it, he has chosen to bend to their pressure for
political reasons. That is why, in it’s infinite wisdom the Charter for the
City of Providence established the independence of this Board to insulate
it from the undue influence of the Office of the Mayor and those City
Council members that would seek to politically influence decisions that
should be made deliberatively in an unbiased manner.

I believe that the other members of the City Council share my belief that
decisions of this Board should not be determined by political influence.

By vote of the members of the Board, I was chosen to lead this body and I
will continue to serve in the capacity of Chairman for as long as the
members of this Board feel that I can continue to effectively lead the good
work we have been doing together.

Juan M. Pichardo
Providence Board of License

Originally nominated by Angel Taveras, January, 2013
Renominated By Mayor Jorge Elorza on January 15, 2015
I became Acting Chair on 5/26/17
Chairperson: 8/15/16
January 31, 2019 Term ends.