Official seal of Newport, Rhode Island
Official seal of Newport, Rhode Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




When: WEDNESDAY, March 5, 2014 – 6:00PM – 7:30PM


Where: Assembly Room of the Newport Police Station – 120 Broadway, Newport RI 02840




Public Forum


Citizens may address the Commission on all matters pertaining to the Charter Review. The Charter Review Commission requests the time of comments for each person be limited to five minutes. Questions and discussion may extend the time limit at the discretion of the Commission.


Of particular interest to the Charter Review Commission are the following issues:


  • The way we elect our mayor
  • Whether or not to eliminate the wards and have all City Councilors elected at large
  • Term limits and staggered terms for the School Committee and City Council
  • Election vs. appointment of the School Committee
  • The roles and responsibilities of the Mayor and City Manager
  • How Boards and Commission function, among other operating functions of City government.


If time allows, the Commission will proceed with items to do with a regularly scheduled business meeting.


  • Roll call
  • Determination of quorum
  • Approval of the minutes from the January 29, February 5 and February 19 meetings


NEW Business


  • Format for presentation of Charter changes to the Newport City Council
  • Assignment of Charter section changes to Commission members for presentation to City Council


A copy of the current City Charter is available for review in the City Clerk’s Office, or may be viewed at Click on Codified Ordinances.


For more information on the public hearing, contact:


Newport Charter Review Commission – Isabel Griffith, Chair








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Newport Charter Review Raises Interesting Questions!

Newport Daily News – Op Ed Page January 11, 2014 page A6

In keeping with the old adage that all politics  is local, residents of Newport have the opportunity to take a stand on several national issues during its charter review process. Such issues include term limits for city councilors, restricting campaign contributions to only those who can vote in municipal elections, reducing the size of local government and increasing or decreasing the powers of the city manager or the city council.   READ MORE HERE about Charter Review

  • Is it time to limit the terms of both elected and senior appointed officials?
  • Would such a change infuse new thinking and help revitalize the city?
  • What if city council members serve for four years instead of two — would this benefit  the community?

  •  If there were six councilors from wards, would this be more democratic and representative?

  • Would the democratic election process improve by restricting campaign donations to those who can vote in municipal elections?

  • Is the manager-city council form of government  the best for Newport?
  • What if we elected a mayor to run the city? Would this bring the citizens closer to those in charge of daily activities?
  • What powers should the city manager and city council exercise on our behalf?
  • Should the city council appoint the school committee, confirm  all senior municipal appointments and contracts and take a more active role in the oversight of financial and city affairs?
  • What role should the neighborhood associations  play in local government?
  • Should the city petition to re-establish the county government to provide school, police, fire and other services on a Newport Countywide  basis?
  • Would a county administration benefit all citizens and communities?

These are but a few of the many questions that could be addressed during the charter review process. I urge my fellow citizens to read the charter (available on the city website) and contact the Charter Review Commission ( with ideas and suggestions.

Perhaps it is time for the various active neighborhood associations  to become more involved in this process — after all, this is our opportunity to determine how we wish to be governed and what powers we give to those selected to act on our behalf.

John Drotos,
  Newport  Is it time to limit the terms of both elected and senior appointed  officials? Would such a change  infuse new thinking and help  revitalize the city?

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2 Important new websites – Engage Newport + Mind Mixer are live! What does this mean for Newport?

Engage Newport Logo

Engage Newport is an evolving forum for opinions and ideas about our city’s major initiatives. Alongside elected representatives, local media and community organizations, Engage Newport is another channel of communication between city government and the people of Newport.

Opinion Newport is home to an ongoing series of surveys about major city issues and initiatives affecting Newport’s future. Starting with community resilience in the face of rising sea levels, you are invited to join the conversation about what matters to you.

This section shares select information and opinion from a City government perspective. Be sure to visit the city’s home page at to navigate the full spectrum of city services, city calendars and more.

This series of articles will highlight and explain opportunities for public engagement in shaping the future of our community. Learn more about your elected representatives , boards and commissions , & community organizations

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Survey Question #1 Responses – School Committee save $500k per year?

ADD your responses below! Or post them on our Facebook page! Share this with your Newport neighbors, tell us what you think! Your voice, your community, your opinion matters!

 “The city could save half a million dollars.” We heard this first from Harry Winthrop at an ALN forum in April. Now we have Naomi Neville’s comments in the Newport Daily News’ Guest View column of 5/28/13 making a clear case for combining School Committee and city resources in managing finances and other administrative services for the schools. Do you think this would this be a good idea?
06/03/2013 7581023 [Yes]
It is an administrative savings that is long overdue.
06/05/2013 7607639 [Yes]
Great idea, but it might not result in actual tax savings. The savings would end up on the school side and might not count toward maintenance of effort. Regardless, it is money which could be put toward early education programs.
06/05/2013 7607877 [Maybe]
It is worthy of examination. With the proper controls, checks and balances in place, the schools Administrator should not have to worry that educational funds would be siphoned off elsewhere. There is also the concern that the schools would be nickel and dimed to death by city government and handicap professional educators from being truly innovative.
06/05/2013 7607915 [Yes]
Sadly too many vested local interests benefit from our legendary municipal inefficiencies.
06/06/2013 7610554 [Maybe]
sounds good, although I am not sure what the downside would be
06/06/2013 7610727 [No]
If the school committee where appointed maybe. This only transfers money from one side to the other and does not save money. Better to share with Middletown. That would be a real savings. City and Schools are very different operations. I know because I did this for a living.
06/06/2013 7610787 [Maybe]
need to read more
06/06/2013 7610759 [Maybe]
Not that familiar with the government of Newport, but, if there is duplication within the two groups, let’s get rid of duplication or similar duties.
06/06/2013 7610922 [Maybe]
More study and discussion needed.
06/06/2013 7610965 [Yes]
The School Committee is dysfunctional. The city should take over essential non-educational operations.
06/06/2013 7611755 [Yes]
Reduce duplicate Admin
06/06/2013 7611821 [Yes]
The school committee has not used good financial procedures. The city has offered — and should — take over managing school finances. The added benefit would be to improve trust between the council and school committee.
06/06/2013 7612591 [Yes]
a good idea, yes. however with the proviso that, if this combination is less successful than the current separate policy, then a return to a new and improved version of the then former method.
06/06/2013 7612981 [Yes]
The $500,000 savings alluded to would be realized by the School Department and will free up money for education. The cost of delivering those services would be transferred to the city; that cost has not been determined. The eventual savings are likely to be in the $200,000 range.
06/06/2013 7613933 [Maybe]
I am not sure I understand how this works currently, so I would like to see a side by side comparison of the two operating models. It is important to use our resources wisely, and avoid duplicating efforts — but we also need to make sure decisions about Education aren’t overly influenced by external and/or irrelevant factors.
06/06/2013 7616744 [Maybe]
Depending on how it’s implemented, this one could go either way…
06/06/2013 7623705 [Maybe]
Not sure – I can’t believe we can’t get a better handle on this.
06/06/2013 7623827 [Yes]
They are about 15 years late
06/06/2013 7631741 [Yes]
All Aquidneck Island schools should be administered together
06/07/2013 7636748 [Yes]
In a shrinking school district, it would make sense for the school department and city to share some services.
06/07/2013 7640047 [Yes]
We should also combine districts on the island. Having 3 school administrations on this size island is so wasteful and ridiculous.
06/07/2013 7640100 [Yes]
I generally agree, but have some concerns about the City being able to deal effectively with school personnel matters. I fear the City’s HR staff may not have the background and experience needed to address personnel matters concerning educators.
06/07/2013 7648198 [Maybe]
i don’t believe there would be any savings.
06/08/2013 7650665 [Maybe]
Devil in the details. Sometimes one gets less with less.
06/08/2013 7652394 [Maybe]
This is the biggest no-brainer I’ve seen in a long time — unless there is something we don’t know.
06/09/2013 7656513 [No]
Two different missions. Don’t compromise both.
06/09/2013 7657348 [Yes]
Should have been done a long time ago.
06/09/2013 7657424 [Maybe]
Not enough facts to give a yes or no.
06/09/2013 7657856 [Maybe]
There are pros and cons to the centralization of any process. In the case of the schools, relieving educators of non-education-related tasks would (presumably) free them to elevate the educational services to be delivered. On the other hand, what resources are available from the School Committee? None, as far as day-to-day administration is concerned. And city government does not seem as administratively gifted as one would hope at the moment, so transferring tasks to the city is of questionable value.
06/09/2013 7659436 [No]
In the 40+ years I’ve followed Newport administration and politics, the one constant has been the antipathy of the City administration toward the school department and, more generally, toward education. Administrative functions for the schools are quite specialized and quite different from the city’s functions. It would make far more sense to pursue regional initiatives and consolidation with other school districts for these functions.
06/10/2013 7662560 [Yes]
I agree that some combining would be a good thing, but have reservations about the hiring of teaching staff and who would be doing that
06/10/2013 7663104 [Maybe]
not if it means more job losses for the school department. They’re already short-handed.
06/10/2013 7664980 [Maybe]
I have not read Naomi Neville’s piece in the NDN. I would need more data to make an informed decision. Intuitively, it seems that savings could be realized.
06/10/2013 7667750 [Yes]
Every successful business combines resources and trims budgets for fiscal health, why should three very small towns be separate?


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