Paul Campbell, Providence’s veteran city archivist, has been fired just days after being suspended with pay.
On Wednesday Campbell confirmed reports that he has been terminated. He said in an interview that he was given a two-sentence letter by the city clerk that said he would not be reappointed when his term expires in January.
There is disagreement on Campbell’s union status. Campbell said he is a member of Local 1033 of the Laborers International Union of North America and that the union has agreed to file a grievance on his behalf.
The archivist job is controlled by the city council. And Council President Luis Aponte said "I respectfully disagree with the union’s interpretation of Campbell’s status." Aponte says he believes Campbell is a member of the Local 1033 bargaining unit for pension purposes only. Aponte contends Campbell is appointed by the city clerk, who is appointed by the City Council, and that he is "not subject to the 1033 bargaining unit.’’
No interim archivist has been appointed, Aponte said. He said the council is considering outsourcing the $60,000-a-year position. Aponte said any new direction would include preserving and properly displaying the city’s "rich heritage.’’
Campbell is uniquely qualified for the post. He holds masters degrees in both history and library science and has done research and written voluminously on Providence and Rhode Island history.
Campbell has been instrumental in raising the profile of the city’s archives through such initiatives as prominent displays of the 150th anniversary of the Providence Department and the celebration of the city’s baseball history. He is also known for being very helpful to researchers and journalists seeking information on the city’s past. Since Campbell took over in 2010, the city’s archives have been more active and have attracted more publicity than the state archives, which are run by the office of Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.
Campbell was initially put on suspension with pay after he was allegedly rude to a temporary employee, Richard Izzi of West Warwick. But after a hearing, Campbell said there was nothing to the charges. The letter terminating him did not include any mention of the rudeness charge.