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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Town Council Preview – come early if you want to get a seat

Council members expect a large and rowdy crowd
By Will Collette

Background documents for the long, long agenda for the Town Council February 13 meeting were posted on Clerkbase on Friday afternoon.

Council member Lisa DiBello will be back in her seat, despite her recent lawsuit against the town (DiBello v.. Town of Charlestown). Conflicts of interest be damned – nothing will stop her from nominating another Hometown Hero or trying to take credit for Economic Improvement Commission ideas for the old Cross Mills Fire Station, or launching her new initiative to ban smoking at the Town beaches.

The Regular Council meeting will be preceded by a private Executive Session which will probably be very testy – Council member Deputy Dan Slattery is very angry at Town Administrator William DiLibero, though he would not say what it was about at the agenda-planning meeting. Slattery suggested the Executive Session be extended by 50% to 90 minutes. 

Unknown: whether Council member Lisa DiBello will commit a really egregious violation of ethics law by participating in the discussion about DiLibero, who is one of the lead defendants in DiBello’s lawsuit.

The Council will also discuss Mageau v. Charlestown in their Executive Session. If that’s not guaranteed to make them all come out of that session in a really bad mood, I don’t know what will.

As I wrote earlier, the agenda for the Monday meeting is really loaded. Just the volume of topics is too much. Even though the Council intends to postpone discussion of the Dark Sky ordinance to March, there are more than enough hot topics to fuel another Charlestown bon-fire.

Beyond a doubt, the most contentious item on the Monday agenda is the attempted larceny of Charlestown tax payer money to buy the YMCA’s old campground on Watchaug Pond and then give it to the Charlestown Land Trust for the benefit of the non-resident vacation home owners of the Sonquipaug Association. Rather than go into that topic yet again, please read articles on why this deal is a rip-off by clicking here, here, here and here.

There are several affordable housing topics on the agenda. Though just the idea of affordable housing usually sends the CCA, Council President Tom Gentz and Planning Commissar Ruth Platner into a total hissy fit, I don’t see a lot of controversy arising from the proposals for local research panels, a state study, a letter about non-existent legislation, or bond applications for a non-profit housing development on Edwards Lane.

Watch to see whether Council President Tom Gentz decides to beat up on the Breachway Grill, as he famously did last summer, when their application for a full liquor license comes up.

There will be a long and probably not scintillating presentation of the 2010-2011 audit of the town books. I sat through one of these before and it was an hour I’ll never get back again. Bring a book.

I will leave it to minds more attuned to the subtleties of financial discourse to address this topic (you guessed it – my colleague and Progressive Charlestown numbers guy Tom Ferrio, is on vacation).