Tapes surface of Briden demeaning East Providence teachers, fellow Councilor Britto

Recordings were posted to YouTube

EastBayRI.com ·

EAST PROVIDENCE — A pair of blistering audio recordings emerged Thursday, Aug. 24, on YouTube of Council President and Mayor Jim Briden apparently denigrating both the city’s teachers and his counterpart on the body, Ward 1 Councilman and Assistant Mayor Bobby Britto.

The recordings, which appear as though they were made during a phone call, were posted separately. His tenor runs counter to Mr. Briden’s more temperate, measured public persona. On them, he appears to be talking freely, very comfortably and more pointed and, seemingly obvious, without the knowledge he is being taped.

(Updated, 10:45 a.m. Friday, Aug. 25) In a text response received by The Post Friday morning, Mr. Briden denied the authenticity of the recordings, saying, "The audio was manufactured and is not valid."

In the one about the teachers, Mr. Briden boasts of his efforts in negotiating a contract with the bargaining group while he served as the Council’s representative on the former state-appointed Budget Commission back in 2013.

“We did a really good job. I did a really good job,” Mr. Briden is heard allegedly saying about the negotiations.

He then can be heard questioning the tactics and motives of the teachers, saying the discussions “always come down to the 11th hour and the world is going to end if they don't get their money.”

He continues, “It happens every year. You can almost set your watch by it…The walls are coming down...There’s always drama...That's the way poor people think.”

Mr. Briden, who was elected to the Council in November of 2016 as its At-Large member after serving previously from 2012-14 as the Ward 1 rep, was just as terse and condescending with his remarks about Mr. Britto, who was elected to replace the former when he opted not run in 2014.

Mr. Briden said if the current Council had joined Mr. Britto’s effort to rehire former City Manager Richard Kirby earlier this session, after the latter was fired on a 3-2 vote in August of 2016, “It would have been a disaster.”

In criticizing the 2014-16 Council, Mr. Briden said the difference in that version and the 2012-14 version of the body of which he was also president, was his guidance.

“You look at the last two Councils…My two years were far more successful. And there are several reasons for that, but it was also because of the leadership I bring.”

Mr. Briden continued, saying the main reason why the Budget Commission was disbanded in the fall of 2013, returning oversight of the city back to the Council was “because I was there.”

Returning to Mr. Britto’s competency, Mr. Briden said, “He (Mr. Britto) does not have the in-depth knowledge of municipal law, municipal government or municipal budgets.”

He added, “Forgive me for saying this, but he is not one-tenth as qualified as I am, and I believe that’s accurate.”

An attempt to reach Mr. Britto for comment early Friday was not returned prior to this story being posted.