Vincent Mesolella, representing Spindle City Pawnbroker owner Aaron Tetrault, asked the Budget Commission to overturn the City Council's denial of a dealer license for his client last night.
Instead, Budget Commission Chairman Bill Sequino suggested Woonsocket Police Chief Thomas Carey should take another look into how the business operated in Danvers, MA, the cause of some concern for Council members during discussion of Spindle City's application Dec. 3.
The issue was not on the Budget Commission's agenda. Although the body has largely followed the spirit of RI's Open Meeting Law, it is not bound by it under the Fiscal Stability Act of 2010.
Mesolella, hired to prepare the 118 Main St. storefront for the pawnbroker shop, is not a lawyer, he told the Commission. Nonetheless, he added to his Dec. 3 statement that the denial wouldn't withstand a court challenge, suggesting Tetrault would sue to fight it. "It will require signifcant expenditure on the city's part to defend a potential litigation," Mesollella said.
After the Dec. 3 decision, Mesolella pointed out the Council provided no legal reason to deny the license. Also, the owner, Mesolella said, "...feels as though he underwent a character assasination, and for those reasons he is adamant about pursuing this matter."
The Commission voted to approve Sequino's suggestion, though Carey had already approved the shop's application. "I would like to refer this back to the Police Chief," Sequino said, following his own research into Spindle City Pawnbrokers/Fall River Pawnbrokers' time in Danvers. Sequino said he'd like a more in-depth investigation on the shop's time in Danvers.
Danvers, MA Police Chief Neil Ouellette backed a move by the town's board of selectmen to suspend the company's license to operate there in 2011, according to the Salem News.
Mesolella, who said the city has not provided an official appeal process for the denial, asked what the next step would be for his client. Sequino said the Commission will revist the question of the license denial during their first meeting in January, with Carey's new report.
Councilman Chris Beauchamp addressed the Commission, asking them to consider the circumstances of the company's loss of license in Danvers. "I think you need to look at all the facts represented," Beauchamp said, and more at the way the business was operated, rather than whether criminal charges were leveled.
A large crowd rose to speak after Beauchamp and Mesolella, who were using the public comment segment of the meeting. They formed a line out the door of Harris Hall at City Hall.
Sheikh Jamil, whose family runs Liberty Market, recently shuttered due to building code violations after a Dec. 3 fire in the section of the Commercial Block they rent, was at the front of the line. "I also oppose the pawn shop," said Jamil. He said Main Street doesn't need another pawn shop, but it does need a market like theirs, which the people living on Main Street can't use now. Jamil asked the crowd behind him for a show of hands for who visits a pawnshop every day. No one moved. Then he asked for a show of hands for who in the crowd visited Liberty Market each day, and they all raised hands.
Sequino allowed Keith Morrison to speak on behalf of the other Liberty patrons. "We have to walk in to places into stores that're not really as nice as that area of Main Street," now, Morrison said, "I don't think it's right that the women have to go to another part of Woonsocket to pick up a gallon of milk." It's not as safe for them now, he said.
Sequino told the crowd the Commission had no control over whether Liberty Market is allowed to open again at its Main Street location in the Commercial Block. "That has nothing to do with us," he said.
Commission member Mayor Leo Fontaine did speak to Liberty Market's plight, unable to open until the owner, Stamatos Property Management of Jamaica Plain, MA., brings the building up to code. "We're not very happy with them (Stamatos Property Management) right now, Fontaine said.
Regarding Liberty Market, "We have a very good business person here we're trying to support," he said. The Liberty Market owners and patrons left shortly after. "Can we go get a sandwich now?" joked one man as they walked out.