Politics

‘Back Up’: Mayor Confronts Rhode Island Governor, Calls Him A ‘Coward’

[Screenshot/YouTube/WPRI]

Nicole Silverio Contributor
Font Size:

Mayor of Providence called Democratic Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee a “coward” Wednesday for refusing to release information regarding a contract with the city’s teachers union.

Democratic Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza demanded that undisclosed information in the contract between the governor and the Providence Teachers Union must be released to the public before its ratification Friday, which promises a $3,000 stipend and pay raises for the 1,900 teachers in the city, as well as giving principals more power to hire more employees, NBC 10 reported.

Elorza called McKee a “coward” while pointing his finger in his face during a ceremonial lighting to celebrate the return of the city’s WaterFire basins, according to the outlet.

“Governor, this is too important for you to play the coward role on this,” Elorza said. “You gotta face the community on this, this is too important.” (RELATED: Rhode Island Introduces Legislation To Ban Critical Race Theory, Other ‘Divisive Concepts’)

“Mayor, back up,” a security guard said as security immediately intervened to physically separate the two Rhode Island politicians. The governor appeared to say nothing in response.

McKee announced July 20 that an agreement on the contract had been made but details regarding the contract would not be released until after it had been ratified, NBC 10 reported. The governor criticized the mayor’s disagreements to the decision, calling it “disruptive.

“The mayor making an issue of this, it could be very disruptive,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to really take the high road on this one. I’ll be as polite as I can be.”

Elorza later told WPRI reporters that he urged the governor to release the collective bargaining agreement he formerly established with the teacher’s union. The mayor said McKee cannot finalize the agreement in “secret” and must “confront the community” about the contract.

“You can’t be afraid to confront the community,” Elorza said. “Sell it to the community. If you believe it’s a transformational contract, stand before the community and tell them why you believe it’s transformational. But simply hiding and doing it in secret and wanting to wrap up before facing the community, that’s not the way this is supposed to be done.”

The Providence Teachers Union President Meribeth Calabro defended their decision to not share information with the community, according to NBC 10.

“There are nuances and ways in which we negotiate that are not necessary for the public to know,” Calabro said. “At the end of the day, we’ve negotiated the contract that puts us in a forward motion.”

If ratified, the contract’s information will be released to the public, the outlet reported. The governor told reporters he will address the agreement further at a Tuesday press conference.