PAWTUCKET — City Clerk Richard Goldstein noted that 13 years ago, when Mayor James Doyle first took office, there was panic in City Hall, but it wasn't about terrorism or a recession. Rather, city officials were greatly concerned about averting a “Y2K disaster” in the new millennium. “We lived in a different world,” Goldstein noted.
The longtime city clerk and formal mayoral aide made his remarks Thursday morning as part of a touching going-away speech for the outgoing mayor as well as three departing members of his administration: Harvey Goulet, director of administration, Edward Tetzner, government affairs aide, and Theresa Gorman, office manager. Also noted was the retirement of Jack Carney, the city's director of Public Works, who just wrapped up 13 years with the Doyle administration.
Goldstein spoke about Doyle's honesty and tendency to always look at a person's bright side, but said he considered the mayor's greatest attribute to be that of a good listener.
“He found that listening to people was the best way to move the city forward,” said Goldstein, noting that many ideas that have helped reinvigorate Pawtucket came from people outside of the Doyle administration.
“Today, we celebrate the final four guardians,”Goldstein joked, in presenting proclamations that he had penned himself to Doyle, Goulet, Tetzner and Gorman. He also gave Doyle a gift that had been sent by former City Clerk Jan LaPorte Noelte who has since moved to Florida: a fleece throw featuring the Superman logo.
Doyle noted that it was “prophetic” that the going-away celebration was being held in the City Council chambers where he served on his first City Council meeting 40 years ago. He said that, despite having presided over some 100 or more retirements for others, he still felt somewhat unprepared emotionally for his own.
Of his long political career and 13-year tenure as mayor, Doyle said, “It was never, ever about me. It's about you. It's about us. The greatest city in Rhode Island. The greatest city in the U.S.”
Growing emotional at one point, Doyle credited his family, and particularly his wife, Joan, for helping him in his political efforts, and thanked the key members of his administration, past and present “for all you've done to make me look good.”
He referenced the late entertainer Bob Hope's signature song, “Thanks for the Memories” as capturing the way he felt about so many people who were in that room and those he had worked closely with in the past. He said he considered himself as being “more than lucky—I've been absolutely, totally blessed.”
Doyle said later that he will soon be starting a new job with Bristol County Savings Bank, working as a consultant as the Taunton-based financial institution looks to increase its visibility in the Pawtucket market.
Theresa Gorman said she will be staying on until Jan. 14 and will then be heading over to work at the Pawtucket Housing Authoity, while Ed Tetzner and Harvey Goulet both said they are just taking some time off after stepping down from their respective posts.
Goulet, a former vice president of administration and 40-year employee at American Insulated Wire, said he came on board as Doyle's director of administration seven years ago. “He told me it would be two to three years, but then he kept on running,” noted Goulet. He said he respected the mayor as “a good and honest man” and noted that while the two didn't always agree on issues, “in seven and a half years, we never had a really serious argument. We worked well together.”
Goulet, who is also a former state representative, noted that there have been some challenges and stresses over the years that he has had to deal with in the job, particularly as the economy created budget problems that have affected union contracts. However, he said that Doyle “has always supported me 150 percent. He never left me hanging.”
Goulet added that personally, he felt that the biggest setback the city experienced was the failed hotel project that had been planned for Division Street. He added that another major blow was the deteriorating condition of the Pawtucket River Bridge on I-95 and the city having to respond with frustrating and costly detours. Yet, he noted that out of this will come an attractive new bridge that will draw favorable attention to Pawtucket.
DPW Director Jack Carney, who decided to retire along with longtime Highway Superintendent Ron Leito, also said that he intends to enjoy some leisure time from a job that he, too expected to initially have for just a couple of years. “My wife has wanted me to retire for about five years. I told her that when Jim left, I would leave,” Carney noted.
Carney said that he never found the job to be a chore, even during the blizzards, floods and other challenges that involve the Department of Public Works. With Leito in charge of the snow plowing, Carney noted that he “rode every storm with him since I've been here” and said he actually enjoyed the comraderie that always developed in the “ready room” where the dispatching and decision-making took place.
Carney said that during his tenure, he tried to beautify the city by planting flowers and keeping grass cut at the city's “gateways” and key traffic islands and intersections, added signage and made numerous improvements to the parks and recreation areas. “I feel that we accomplished a lot,” he said. He lamented, however, that the economic downturn of the last few years has forced a reduction in manpower and has lessened some of these beautification efforts.
Carney also said that while the “no bin, no barrel” trash program has improved the city's recycling rate, it is still not as high as he would have liked it to be. He also said it has been a problem to get some of the tenants of the city's multi-family houses to comply.
Carney noted that Leito will be staying on another 90 days in an interim capacity to help the city through the winter months. He said he will miss the job that he has held since 1998. “I had the opportunity to work with a lot of good people. I honestly enjoyed coming to work every day,” he stated. He joked that for his last week on the job, Mother Nature had kindly left him “one last storm” to deal with.