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Cranston City Council spars across party lines, refuses to accept RI ACLU’s concerns

The Cranston City Council has been embroiled in an issue before it regarding the resignation of one of its members, Aniece Germain. Germain felt pressured by some Council members and some in the local Democratic party to resign or be held to a public investigation regarding the nonprofit organization she founded, Hope and Change for Haiti. The nonprofit had lost its 501 C 3 IRS tax exemption and Germain was in the process of finding this out and restoring it. Somehow the issue came to the attention of the few who contacted her. Germain, who at the time had both her husband and son in the hospital when the resignation was asked of her to avoid a “public hearing”, decided to resign.

Second appointment to vacant seat for Haroian

At the very next meeting, the Council appointed Kristen Haroian, who was challenging her in the upcoming Democratic primary for her seat. Haroian was present at that meeting, sworn in, and took the former councilwoman’s seat at the Council desk. In 2019 Haroian had been appointed to fill the term of Stephanie Culhane, who resigned from the School Committee. Four others had shown interest in the position – Suzanne Arena, Aniece Germain, Dennis Mullen and Tim Lehnert. At that appointment meeting member Vincent Turchetta nominated Haroian and member Paul Archetto nominated Germain. Haroian won the vote with 2 votes for Germain and 1 absent member. Haroian, since 2022, has worked as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff at the RI State House, having served for 13 years as an Administrative Assistant to the General Manager of RI Capitol TV, according to her LinkedIn page.

RI ACLU steps in

Following stories written by several media outlets including RINewsToday, the Providence Journal, and the Cranston Herald, and media interviews with WPRO on two shows, and both NBC10 and WPRI12, the RI ACLU submitted a letter of concern. Their concerns followed the councilwoman’s feeling of being pressured to resign by the Council president, Jessica Marino and other Democrat leaders in the city.

Status update: The Cranston City Council considered admitting the letter from the RI ACLU into the record, and voted it down along party lines. Heather Burbach, from the RI ACLU attended the Council meeting and addressed the importance of this issue being considered by the Council.

At that meeting the Council president, Jessica Marino, spoke at length about the ACLU letter being “hearsay” and noted that “facts matter”, and it was referred to as “moot” by city counselor Angell. Counselor Chris Milea disagreed with that characterization.

At the end of the meeting a direct address to the Council was made by the President as to why the letter should not be allowed in the record and then went on to speak about Councilwoman Germain having sent out a solicitation for donations and products for her Haiti charity when the 501 C 3 designation was in question. When asked about this Germain provided RINewsToday with a screen shot of the memo that had gone out:

Aniece Germain has said she will hold a press conference when all is said and done with investigations, etc. She acknowledges suggestions have been made to her to run for her office again, as an Independent, but says she will not at this time, but is not done with community service.


The RI ACLU letter to the Cranston City Council:

At the next Cranston City Council meeting – May 29th – Councilwoman Nicole Renzulli asked for the letter to be submitted into the record. After a tense discussion, the Council voted along partisan lines not to put the letter into the record. Marino called the letter “hearsay” and not about facts.

Link to full council meeting – – discussion on the resignation issue begins at the 2:08 mark.


Cranston Council Resignation Saga: Collective Action Network RI’s Melissa Jenkins Mangili talks with WPRO’s Dan Yorke:


RI State Police investigation

At the request of the Cranston City Council counsel, the RI State Police were asked to investigate. In response to our request to them today, LTC Robert Creamer responded, “The investigation is ongoing at this time”.


Response from the RI ACLU to the non-actions of the Cranston City Council:

When asked for a statement regarding the in-actions of the Council, Steven Brown, Executive Director of the RI ACLU wrote, “It was very disappointing to see the City Council essentially pretend that this troubling event didn’t even happen by refusing to place the ACLU’s letter in the record. The fact that nobody at the meeting was able to satisfactorily answer the question at the heart of Ms. Germain’s resignation and complaint – what constitutes “official conduct” that can prompt a Council investigation – makes this action particularly troubling. Whatever one thinks about the series of events involving Ms. Germain, the Council’s refusal to come to terms with it in any meaningful way sets an unfortunate precedent that will allow for political mischief down the road. It is not a step forward for government transparency.” Brown indicated there were no further plans at this time.


Past stories on this issue can be found, here:

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  1. Lesley M on June 6, 2024 at 3:21 pm

    How is Ms. Germain’s ‘request’ for warm coats and socks crossing any lines? Why would such a request have to be a non-profit to start with? Others do the same thing and are local neighbors with no certificate. They do this out of the goodness of their hearts. They truly care about others, whether it’s locally or overseas. Ms. Germain didn’t ask for money nor did she ask anyone to go to the store and buy a brand new coat or a new pair of socks.
    We do this every year with the coat drive at the State House. Whether those who operate it have a non-profit certificate, I don’t know nor is it moot to the issue. Plenty of do-gooders do these daily without any recognition or compensation.
    The hours listed have nothing to do with her work as councilwoman. They don’t interfere.
    I wonder how many council members are doing anything outside of their realm as a sitting council. Putting up a stop sign doesn’t count.

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