A Hummel Report Investigation
Jim Hummel interviews former Police Chief Joe Moran.
More than a week after state and national elections ended Joe Moran is walking the streets of Central Falls, telling prospective voters they have one more race to decide: An election to find out who will lead this city of 20,000 after its former mayor Charles Moreau resigned in September, the same day he was indicted on federal corruption charges.
Moran played in these streets as a kid, patrolled them as a career police officer, campaigned on them as a state rep; and now is back in a mayor's race - after he and City Councilman James Diossa emerged as the top finishers in a primary to replace Moreau last month.
But Central Falls is a much different city than Moran grew up in, the oldest of eight kids. It's the community where he was a police officer and later the department's chief, over 28 years on the force. He also served for seven years as a state representative, so he's used to looking for votes.
Hummel: ``People who may have lived here three weeks, or three months or three years - you're an new entity to them. Is that a little different for you?''
Moran: ``It is because we're used to people growing up with people and playing sports with numerous guys that we grew up with. But it's a transient population. It's not like it was years and years ago.''
That's why Moran, voter lists in hand, is going to door this mild Saturday before Thanksgiving.
The Spanish he learned while he was a police officer comes in handy, but the reality is many of the people he'll see today either aren't registered, don't vote, or are unaware there is a special election on December, 11th.
Like his opponent, Moran is a lifelong resident of the city, and went to the Central Falls High, where he wrestled, boxed and was captain of the baseball team. He has four daughters, including one in the city's middle school.
Moran joined the police department at age 21 and when he is campaigning tells people the city needs an experienced leader, a dig at Diossa, who is 28 and has one term on the city council. Diossa received 60 percent of the vote in the primary and has raised 10 times the amount of money Moran has, some of it from out of town and out of state.
Hummel: ``He won pretty handily during the primary. So you have no illusions about the challenge you're facing going into this general election.''
Moran: ``I've been an underdog before. I think as being an underdog in this case, hopefully it works out. But as far as my opponent, he's a nice kid. I just think there's a lack of experience. And the experience goes two-way. One is through the budgetary process, the experience with budgets. And the secondary thing with personnel. I've overseen, in the Police Department, I've overseen numerous people where you've had to discipline people and you can't make everybody happy.''
On this night his campaign is serving a spaghetti and meatball dinner to a roomful of residents at Forand Manor, always fertile territory as the elderly can usually be counted on to vote. As he works the room Moran knows many of the faces - and he's heard the concerns they have about a city that was the first in the state to go bankrupt - now turning the financial corner.
Hummel: ``As you were going around, what did you hear from people?''
Moran: ``A lot of people are disgusted because of the city not being clean. And a lot of that has to do with the reduction of services, so when you reduce personnel in any city or town you're not going to receive the same services that you've received in the past.''
Hummel: ``Not being clean literally?
Moran: ``Well, not being clean because of litter and different things like that there, and there's different issues in the city and one of the biggest things is in order for someone to invest in Central Falls it has to be a clean city and it has to be safe.''
Hummel: ``Why would somebody want to invest in Central Falls right now?''
Moran: ``I think they could make change; they could help an area, city of Central Falls with real good people that are up against it, that are struggling on a daily basis to try to make ends meet in their own home..''
Then there's the issue of former Mayor Moreau himself and that Moran served as police chief for seven years for a man who will be going to federal prison early next year.
Hummel: ``The big gorilla in the room has been you were Mayor Moreau's police chief.''
Hummel: ``Your relationship with him and the past administration. Is that an issue for you as you go out campaigning?''
Hummel: ``How would you describe your relationship with him during your tenure when you were police chief and he was mayor.''
Moran: ``He was my boss; he did what he had do for the city and I did what I had to do for the police department.''
Hummel: ``You also supported him politically, right?''
Moran: ``I did, absolutely.''
Hummel: ``And did you feel that that was appropriate to be campaigning with him?''
Moran: ``I supported him. I went to his fundraisers, sure. Just like anybody else would do.''
Hummel: ``Has there been backsplash on you from what has happened to him and what will be happening to him in the next couple of months?''
Moran: ``I would hope not. I would hope people look at me as an individual, as a hard worker as I had done for the 28 years on the police department.''
Moran has heard talk about merging this one-square-mile city with one or more communities.
And while he's not necessarily opposed to the concept, he says the reality is a lot more difficult than it appears. Even if it does happen that would be years down the line. Moran is looking at the here and now.
Hummel: ``What do you think this city's biggest challenge is right now?''
Moran: ``Economic development, and jobs for people in the city of Central Falls. It's very difficult for somebody in Central Falls to go to another area, another city or town to obtain a job, especially in the government. I think one of the first things we need to do is take care of our own people.''
In Central Falls, Jim Hummel for The Hummel Report.