By Will Collette
Charlestown Council Member Lisa DiBello has been granted to right to skip the administrative complaint process and take her complaint of retaliatory firing by the town directly to Superior Court. On October 25, DiBello was granted this right. On October 26, she notified the town.
She now has 90 days to bring that suit against the Town and against the array of past and present town officials who she alleges engaged in a five-year long conspiracy against her.
If DiBello follows through on this, it will be the first time in memory that a sitting Town Council member has brought suit against the town.
QUICK RECAP: DiBello worked as Charlestown's Parks and Recreation Director for 19.5 years (though she has repeatedly said it was 22) until she was fired in 2010 by Town Administrator William DiLibero. DiBello claims that her firing was retaliation for a risque conversation she overheard and reported by then Town Administrator Richard Sartor and Tax Assessor Ken Swain. She claims that this incident triggered a conspiracy involving several former Town Council members, present members Gregg Avedisian and Marge Frank, the chief of police, other town staff and Sartor and DiLibero. DiBello claims Sartor offered the higher-paying Charlestown administrator job to then Hopkinton Town Administrator Bill DiLibero in return for DiLibero's promise to get rid of DiBello. It's a very complicated conspiracy theory - read it here and an analysis here.
So DiBello was fired and then ran a campaign for Town Council on the slogan "Because I Care" and with the promise that getting revenge was the last thing on her mind.
Until March of this year when she filed her complaint against the town and all those she alleges conspired against her.
Since then, the Council has been routinely disrupted by conflict of interest problems related to DiBello's legal action. Last May, the issue escalated when her lawyer told the Westerly Sun DiBello planned to bypass the Human Rights Commission and go to court. Now, based on this latest action, DiBello is on the verge of doing just that.
Lisa DiBello is turning out to be a very different Town Councilor than she was a candidate. Since then, Charlestown voters have learned a lot more about what DiBello actually cares about, and it's not just pay-back. The ethics issues involving her roommate's long time monopoly of town beach concessions, the irregularities in her management of the non-profit charity, A Ray of Hope, her sloppy handling of ethics reporting and undisclosed potential conflicts, (read the series here), using spies on other Council members, interfering with town staff, and the on-going gridlock she has caused on several important Town Council matters.
As the 90-day clock ticks toward DiBello becoming the first Council member to sue the town while seated, it's time to ask the question once again - does Lisa DiBello want to serve Charlestown or sue Charlestown?
She should make that choice. If not, the citizens of Charlestown should consider making it for her.