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Monday, July 11, 2011

Quiet Council meeting, but not without big news

Tonight's Town Council meeting was one of the shortest and most pleasant in recent history. It was kinda nice. Boring,  but nice.

As I noted in the preview of this meeting, it all depended on who showed up - or who didn't.

Council Member Lisa DiBello was one of the no-shows, which meant the complaint filed against her by Parks and Recreation Director Jay Primiano was not heard.

And DiBello's political ally, Jim Mageau, was the other no-show. He did not show up to press his demand that the town pay him $20,000 for the cost of his defense against criminal assault charges.

But even without the usual sturm und drang, there was some big news coming out of this meeting.

When the Council reached the agenda item for Mageau's $20,000 demand, Town Solicitor Peter  Ruggiero told the Council that Mageau's lawyer had informed him that Mageau has filed suit against the Town for the money.

Ruggiero noted that now it will be a matter for the court. The town's defense will be pretty much what was outlined in the letter the town sent rejecting Mageau's claim - that he needs to show that his criminal case was part of his official duties and must explain why he feels he can bring a civil action when he signed a waiver pledging not to bring a civil action against the town when he settled the criminal case.

The charges that Councilor Lisa DiBello interfered with Parks and Recreation staff and may be working for a town contractor (a potential conflict of interest) were pushed back to the next meeting, at the absent DiBello's request. Council President Tom Gentz noted that new memos both from DiBello and from Parks & Rec Director Primiano will be available on Clerkbase.

Councilors also discussed an unfair labor practice charge against the Town in private Executive Session. I'll have more on that when the records become available.

Rep. Donna Walsh started off the meeting with a report on funding she help to secure to FINALLY repair and repave Route 1A. That work will start this week and the contract calls for the project to be completed by November. Council members later discussed their interest in trying to get a special bike path done - which would require more space that is currently available on Route 1A and will try to initiate that process with a request letter to RIDOT.

Donna also reported on success in securing the state's funding for much needed dredging work at the Charlestown Breachway at $729,100, and on several pieces of legislation of special interest to Charlestown.

I'll run Donna's more detailed news release as a separate posting.

Larry LeBlanc has responded to the town's letter to him expressing an interest in negotiating for the purchase of his controversial 81 acrea site for a wind turbine, housing development or whatever. LeBlanc requested a open, public meeting to discuss the idea, even though such discussions are usually conducted in executive session. State law provides for the confidentiality of such discussion, but doesn't require it. So the Council decided to put the matter on the open agenda for the next Council meeting (August 10).

As more records become available, we'll have more to say about these and the other issues discussed tonight.

Author: Will Collette