With Aponte out, City Council withdraws rule change

Acting Council President Sabina Matos. (Photo by Corey Welch/WPRI 12)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence City Council voted Monday to withdraw a proposed change the council rules that would have allowed for the removal of the president.

Acting President Sabina Matos initially indicated the proposal to give the council the power to remove its president as long as the change has the support of 10 members would be referred to the Rules Committee, but she said councilors decided to withdraw it completely instead.

Matos said the Rules Committee will instead meet to discuss the entire 14-page rule book. The committee has not met since the beginning of the term in 2015 and the council hasn’t amended its rules since 2007.

The proposal was introduced Friday morning as a way to oust former Council President Luis Aponte from his leadership post. Aponte resigned as president Friday afternoon, though he remains a member of the council.

Aponte, a 53-year-old Democrat who has represented Ward 10 since 1999, was indicted on May 10 on one count of unlawful appropriation, one count of embezzlement – both felonies – and two misdemeanor counts of misuse of campaign funds, all stemming from a state police investigation that started last year. He has pleaded not guilty.

Last week 12 members of the City Council boycotted a scheduled meeting because Aponte refused to step down as president. They announced plans to change the rules of the council a day later and then Aponte resigned.

Matos, the council president pro tempore, became the acting president after Aponte stepped down. It’s unclear if or when a vote for the permanent presidency will be held. Matos said she didn’t expect any vote to occur this week.

In other business Monday, the City Council declared the Ward 3 seat formerly held by Councilman Kevin Jackson vacant. Jackson, who is facing embezzlement charges, was recalled from office earlier this month.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan