Proposals & Accomplishments
During his time as City Councilor, John has pursued policies to make local government more transparent and accessible, advocated for policies that support working families and marginalized members of our community, protect our environment, worked to strengthen our schools, and looked for ways to support our local economy.
Here are some of the proposals John has submitted that were approved by the City Council.
Prohibit Source of Income Discrimination
A veteran using their monetary benefits. A single parent using their government issued voucher. An elderly couple using their social security check. What do all of these have in common? They are all lawful sources of income for prospective tenants.
Unfortunately, individuals who fall under these categories face source of income discrimination each day in our state while the availability of housing gets more difficult for people. Our City has issues with housing availability so it is more important than ever that we safeguard protections to ease the burden for residents.
To that end, John introduced an ordinance, cosponsored by Councilmembers Vargas, Germain, and Stycos, to end source of income discrimination in the City of Cranston. The proposal, passed by the City Council in December 2020, bans housing discrimination faced by prospective tenants who rely upon lawful sources of income such as housing vouchers, veterans benefits, child support, social security, SSI, or other rental assistance programs.
Unfortunately, Mayor Fung vetoed this ordinance, and we failed to achieve the 6 votes required to override the veto; the ordinance is not law at this time. John will reintroduce this ordinance during his second term.
Rodent Control Enforcement
Rodent infestation is a quality of life issue, and effects public health. To combat this problem, John introduced amendments to existing City code to strengthen rodent control enforcement, and prevent the further spread of rodent infestation and harborage.
No Fees or Penalties for Late Payments
No family or business in Cranston suffering from economic hardship caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic should face penalties and fees if they are late on their City taxes or bills. Introduced with Councilman Steve Stycos, and Councilman Paul McAuley, John is proposing an ordinance to waive late fees, penalties, or interest for those suffering from economic hardship and may be unable to pay their 4th Quarter City taxes and bills on time.
Splash Pad for Ward 3
Working with the Cranston Family Center, Cranston Health Equity Zone, and Cranston YMCA, the Council passed a resolution requesting the City secure funding for a Splash Pad in the Gladstone-Arlington area, and including funding for the project in the FY21 Budget. A Splash pad next to Calise Field, on Dyer Ave, will increase recreational spaces, help residents cool off as we facing more hot days due to climate change, and help reduce health disparities. During the FY2021 Budget hearings, John was able to secure funding to move forward with the project. John looks forward to working with our Director of Parks & Recreation, the City Council Grant Writer, and Mayor Hopkins' administration to get this project done.
Cranston Climate Bond
Together, Steve Stycos and John introduced a bond proposal of $5M to finance renewable energy systems and increase energy conservation measures within the City. Projects funded by this bond will address climate change, and lower the City's overall carbon footprint. The bond was passed by Cranston voters on the November 2020 ballot, and the funds will be available for the next administration and City Council to utilize to help build a greener Cranston.
Single-use plastic bags are bad for our environment. They end up in our bodies of water and wooded areas. To protect our local environment, John and Councilman Chris Paplauskas (Ward 5) introduced and passed a bi-partisan proposal to prohibit single-use plastic bags at the point of sale beginning July 2020.
Restaurant Week in Cranston!
A squeaky wheel gets the grease. In 2019, then-Councilman Ed Brady and I proposed a partnership with GoProvidence to help market Cranston restaurants, shops, and events. In 2022, the agreement was finally signed and now Cranston is included in GoProvidence promotions, such as Restaurant Week. This partnership is going to help our local economy!
Cranston Housing Commission
Housing that is affordable to our City’s residents is a critical component to overall well-being, and is connected to positive outcomes for health, education, and employment. Housing is considered affordable when it costs no more than 30% of a resident’s gross income. HousingWorks RI has studied U.S Census data, and has found that more than 35% of City’s households are cost burdened. When a household is cost-burdened it may not have sufficient income to support its housing payment plus other necessities such as health care, food, transportation, and child care. With this in mind, and recognizing that there is a shortage of affordable, accessible, safe, and sanity housing for residents, John introduced an ordinance, cosponsored by Councilmembers Lammis Vargas and Aniece Germain, to revive the defunct Cranston Housing Commission. The goal is to bring City officials and members of the public together to address these issues, and work to make Cranston an affordable place to live for anyone who wishes to call it home. This proposal was passed by the City Council in December, 2020.
Community Garden at Arlington Elementary
We need better access to healthy foods in our City, especially in lower-income areas. Partnering with the School Department, Steve Stycos and John established a community garden at Arlington Elementary where residents can grow flowers and vegetables. Plots are still available, please let us know if you would like one!
COVID-19 Resolution to the Governor and General Assembly
In contrast to what we have seen from the President, Governor Raimondo has provided clear and effective leadership, steering our State clear of earlier, more devastating projections. The necessary measures taken to prevent widespread disease has caused ongoing economic hardship. While we’ve thankfully been successful in keeping the virus from taking an even greater human toll, we now must step up to help those suffering from the economic fall out as a result. Many families will find themselves unable to pay next month’s mortgage, rent, or utilities. Many young adults will be unable to pay their student loans. We need our State leaders to suspend mortgage, rent, and student loan payments, as well as suspend the accrual of any interest; prohibit evictions; stay all utility shut offs; and, mandate that all testing and treatment for COVID-19 be available free of charge to everyone regardless of residency or citizenship status. To that end, John has introduced a resolution requesting the state to do just that.
Protecting After School Programs
We must confront the disastrous policies pushed by President Trump that will negatively impact our communities; such as the President’s proposal to eliminate funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers in his FY20 Budget proposal. These cuts would end programs in Cranston such as Bain+2 or KidVenture Camp at Gladstone Elementary, or Camp XL at Bain; all of which are located in our Ward. These programs offer a safe, engaging, and educational environment for our City’s youth after school, and during the summer. They also support working parents and guardians, who might otherwise might not be able to keep working in the afternoon if these affordable programs did not exist. John introduced a resolution that called upon President Trump and the United States Congress to fund 21st Century Community Learning Centers; the measure passed unanimously.
Minimum Wage for City Employees
In February, 2020, the City Council passed an ordinance introduced by Councilman Steve Stycos (Citywide) and John to set the minimum wage to $12.75 per hour for City employees. This ordinance will largely impact part-time employees in departments such as Senior Services, the Police Dept, the Ice Rink, and others. These employees are not covered under collective bargaining agreements, and do not receive other benefits that full-time employees do. This increase is a step in the right direction towards paying everyone a living wage.
A budget is just as much a moral document as it a financial statement; it provides a window into priorities. The Council Democratic Caucus was able to find additional money in the budget to give the School Department an additional $35,000, and create a new line item for the Rental Assistance Program - administered by CCAP - which helps families with a sudden loss of income stay in their home; both feats accomplished without any additional tax increase.
New Resident Portal
Cranston should be a welcoming City, and part of that is engaging new residents as they move to our community. John proposed that a "Welcome Packet" - including in formation on emergency services, registering to vote, schools, elected officials, recreation programs, libraries, city services, etc - be sent to new residents when they move to Cranston. Although the proposal was amended from a physical packet of information to a digital portal hosted on the City website, this will help provide important information to new residents so that they can take advantage of all our wonderful City has to offer.
No Herbicides on the Bike Path
Synthetic herbicides, like Round-Up, are harmful to our environment. When residents brought up the issue that the City was spraying herbicides on the bike path, John worked with Ward 5 Councilman Chris Paplauskas, and Citywide Councilman Steve Stycos to introduce and pass an ordinance to stop this practice by prohibiting the spraying of synthetic herbicides along the bike path.
Declaring Racism a Public Health Issue
Systemic racism is real and it corrupts our institutions in the ways we see all around us. The data shows stark racial inequities in everything from income to homeownership, educational attainment to health insurance coverage.
These inequities run deep into the foundations of this country, and prevent, for too many, the realization of the promises which our nation was founded upon. It is incumbent upon elected officials at every level of government to pursue anti-racist policies and eradicate systems of racism within our communities. Passing this resolution - declaring racism a public health issue and resolving to eradicate racial inequities - is a very small step in the process of working towards undoing systemic racism.
Film All Meetings
Good government should be accessible and transparent. As residents of Cranston, you have a right to know what we – your City Council – are doing, debating, and how we vote. John's first proposal to the City Council was an ordinance to require the filming of all meetings, so that members of the public who are unable to attend meetings can still view the proceedings of public meetings. While that proposal failed in 2019, it was passed in 2021.
Current Projects & Proposals
Safe Occupancy Ordinance
Every resident of Cranston deserves a safe place to live. However, with an aging housing stock - especially on the east side of the City - residents, particularly rental tenants, are subject to potentially unsafe and hazardous conditions. For example, 2.8% of children in Cranston entering kindergarten this year tested positive for elevated lead levels. Additionally, in the past year alone, we have seen dozens of tenants in Cranston displaced because of unsafe conditions and structural issues. While Landlords in Rhode Island must abide by housing codes, tenants are often deterred from calling minimum housing out of fear of potential retaliation from their landlord.
We can change all of this. That is why I have introduced a Safe Occupancy Ordinance to ensure that all rental units in the City are up to code and proactively inspected. Under this proposal, landlords will need to apply every three years for a Certificate of Safe Occupancy. To obtain this, a landlord will need to: have the unit(s) inspected; maintain the unit(s) in compliance with state and local housing codes; proof of Lead Safe Certificate; pay a $100 fee per unit.
The fees collected will be used to create a permanent source of funding to support the development, repair, and rehabilitation of low or moderate income housing as well as the administration of issuing and reissuing certificates.
Past Projects & Proposals
Common Sense Gun Reform
It is time for our legislators at the State and Federal level to pass common sense gun legislation. John sponsored a resolution calling upon the Rhode Island General Assembly to pass legislation prohibiting assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and guns on school grounds. This resolution failed in committee along party lines.
STATUS: Denied. The motion was denied on a vote down party lines in committee.
Paid Sick Leave
No one should fear missing a paycheck if they are sick or need to take care of a loved one. Currently, not all City of Cranston employees are afforded that benefit, such as part-time employees at the Ice Rink or Senior Center. As such, Councilman Steve Stycos and John are introducing an ordinance to provide City employees with a week of paid sick leave. Our proposal further guarantees that, in the future, should we experience another public health emergency like that of the present, City employees who are ordered to quarantine will be paid for the duration of that order.
Status: Failed in Committee.
Prohibit Flavored Tobacco Product Sales
Along with Councilman Steve Stycos, John introduced an ordinance to raise the age for Tobacco sales to 21, as well as restrict the sale of flavored Tobacco products. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids approximately 1,800 adults die each year, and 16,000 children currently alive today and teens die prematurely from smoking, making tobacco use the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Rhode Island. Nearly 9 out of 10 current adult cigarette smokers first started smoking and using other tobacco products by age 18. An FDA-commissioned, National Academy of Medicine study in 2015 concluded that raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 would result in a 15-25 percent reduction in initial use by teens aged 15 to 20. To date 18 states and over 500 localities have already raised the tobacco purchase age to 21. As members of the City Council, we are vested with the power to preserve public health and welfare. Tobacco-related diseases pose a public health crisis; one which we must tack head on. There is no more time for inaction.
STATUS: withdrawn after debate to avoid a motion to deny.
Contracts & Purchasing
To support our economy and small businesses John introduced an ordinance that would alter the way the City decides how to grant contracts and purchases by prioritizing bids from businesses owned by Black, indigenious, other people of color, women, and businesses based in Cranston. This proposal will help keep more of the money we spend as a City here in Cranston, as well as investing in marginalized communities. We cannot ensure social and racial justice without also addressing economic injustices, and investing in these communities is one small way we can begin undoing the impacts of systemic racism. #BlackLivesMatter
Third-Party Food Delivery Systems
Take-out and delivery is one of the only avenues keeping our local restaurants afloat throughout the pandemic. While third-party food delivery service apps - yes, the one’s on your phone - help connect you with local restaurants, many list restaurants without their consent. To protect small businesses, John has introduced an ordinance to require all third-party delivery systems to register with the City and obtain consent from all food establishments they wish to use on their platform. This proposal will protect our local restaurants from the exploitative practices used by some third party deliver services. Eventually, state legislation was signed into law creating these protections statewide.