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Friday, April 6, 2012

Kill Bill, Part 4: the campaign of lies and distortions continues

More CCA comments from one or more commenters who want to see our Town Administrator fired
By Will Collette

Read the earlier articles:

This article picks up from where we left off in answering the comments against Town Administrator Bill DiLibero that are posted on the Charlestown Citizens Alliance website.

These comments generally accuse DiLibero of hiding, for some unstated nefarious reason, letters that were written to him and him alone that they think should have been broadcast throughout the town about a dead municipal wind turbine project that had been planned at one time for Ninigret Park.

Click here for a detailed timeline and analysis of what really happened, and then read how the CCA commenters have decided it’s time to “Kill Bill.”

Here’s an April 1 comment from another anonymous commenter:

The town administrator reports to the elected Town Council and through them, the voters.
Failure to keep the town council informed is the same as thumbing his nose at the voters. The only thing worse would be a decision by the town administrator to select and choose which town council members he wants to keep informed.
I get the sense that the local Democrats (who seem less like Democrats and more like wealthy developers who want to gut the Town Comprehensive Plan) have formed an alliance with the Town Administrator. This is NOT a game of “Survivor.” Witholding critical information from the Council or worse yet, an Administrator playing politics and picking and choosing political sides, is grounds for discipline or even dismissal. Actions such as that will quickly poison the town hall workplace environment.
This is a very sensitive personnel matter that requires professionalism and sensitivity… NOT political demagoguery.
If the local Democrats attempt to politicize this issue for their own political gain, that, in my mind, disqualifies them from any credibility of any claim they make to be a trusted partner in town government.

Answer: None of your faithful Progressive Charlestown writers are wealthy developers, if that’s who this commenter is referring to as “the local Democrats.” There are actually quite a few Democrats in Charlestown – 1611 of us, or just over one out of four registered voters, the largest number for any political party. Some of those 1611 may be developers now or in a former life, or may or may not be or have been wealthy. The vast majority are not.

This is the Veazey proposal that Tom and I - and the Planning Commission
- liked. We have also supported the Shannock Village non-profit affordable
housing project - as did the Planning Commission. This makes us "like
wealthy developers," according to the commenter. Us and Ruth Platner.
Just because Tom and I thought Ted Veazey’s proposed conservation development was a better use of the crapped-out YMCA campground than extending the backyards of the non-resident vacation home owners in Sonquipaug – at taxpayer expense –that hardly makes us pro-developer. In fact, Planning Commissar Ruth Platner made a point of highlighting the fact that the Planning Commission, miracle of miracles, actually voted to support Veazey’s project on January 19, 2011.

Sandwiching the remark that the CCA effort to purge Town Administrator DiLibero is a “very sensitive personnel matter that requires professionalism and sensitivity…NOT political demagoguery” in between two layers of unprofessional, insensitive political demagoguery is some pretty awesome mental and verbal gymnastics.

Then, two hours after that remark, another anonymous e-mailer writes:

The Charlestown Democratic Committee is so transparent. They want the Town Administrator to stay as Town Administrator no matter what he does. He has a close relationship with them as was evident when he sent them an email to ask them to protest the lighting ordinance. Town Hall employees morale is at their lowest. Why? Because the Town Administrator is playing politics and they all know it. He’s getting away with it and it’s sickening.

Answer: This is the same untrue, downright goofy crap that the Democratic Town Committee is somehow behind this. Asked and answered.

DiLibero did not send the often-referenced e-mail regarding sports lighting, but, to his credit, he did stand up for the staff person who did. That e-mail list included both Tom Ferrio and me – not because we’re Dems, which we are, but because Progressive Charlestown is the only news source dedicated to covering Charlestown events in depth. This commenter is, in my opinion, deliberating misstating the facts to jack up the volume to “Kill Bill.”

And I really want the CCA or one of its minions to explain – what in the name of all the gods does Bill DiLibero have to gain from wind turbines, sports lighting or any of the many other issues and projects he has been tasked – by the Town Council – to manage? If you look carefully at the documents and the timeline regarding the infamous wind turbine letter, it simply shows DiLibero doing his duty as he saw it, to carry out his November 2010 instructions from the Town Council. What secret agenda does he have? What is his motive for putting his job on the line? Is hindsight always so clear?

As for town morale, we’ve talked to enough town employees to know that they don’t expect the CCA to stop with their “Kill Bill” campaign. Town staff know there are others on the CCA target list. They just don’t know the whole list.

On April 2, another anonymous e-mailer writes:

If the town administrator is an employee of the Town Council and he is not doing his job, then let him go. It seems that if he has his own agenda, and it goes against the best interests of the town, set him free, as they do where any employee elsewhere not doing their job. There are plenty of well qualified applicants I’m sure that would love to have his job. Losing Ninigret would be a huge detriment to our town and community and going behind the Council’s back for his or any other special groups benefit should be grounds for termination. If I understand the information available, he did this twice. Once each for the lighting ordinance and wind turbines. As a frequent user of the park, both these uses of the park would be horrible. We have a great relationship with USFW and we benefit from the wildlife here and the salt ponds and I believe that both of these programs would harm the wildlife and the beauty of the park. Frosty Drew benefits from the Dark Sky as do the residents who live here. The extra costs incurred by our residents here should also be addressed. The Town Council has a responsibility to our residents, not to the special interest groups. It’s not just about what’s right for election time, it’s about what’s right for the future of this town. And if he is willing to do this type of work for a major project, I wonder what he is wiling to do about the little stuff he may sweep under the rug.

Answer: There are lots of “ifs” in this comment and “IF” they were true, then sure, Kill Bill. The losing Ninigret thing has already been addressed in “Kill Bill, Part 3”. This story that the feds are going to come in and take away Ninigret Park because DiLibero disrepected them is nothing more than CCA hyperbole. 

Again, I am baffled at this buzz that DiLibero was in collusion with somebody. It wasn’t Progressive Charlestown – the most I expect to get from him is a timely response to my open records requests. Who are his co-conspirators? What does he or they have to gain?

As for easily finding a replacement for DiLibero, bear in mind that Charlestown has been playing musical chairs with the Town Administrator for years – usually when a new Council gets elected, the first thing they do is fire the Town Administrator. DiLibero was a rare exception when the Council elected in November 2010 kept him on.

"Kill Bill" so Deputy Dan can take his place
And it’s no wonder. It took months of searching and interviewing many candidates to come to the conclusion that he was the most qualified. Incidentally, one of his competitors was none other than Deputy Dan Slattery, the instigator of the current “Kill Bill” campaign. How much of Slattery’s enthusiasm for throwing DiLibero under the bus is driven by Slattery’s lingering resentment at being passed over?.

In “Kill Bill, Part 3, I addressed the fake issue that somehow we are in jeopardy of having some sort of falling out with the Interior Department that will jeopardize the town’s ownership of the Park. That is total garbage.

This puffed-up “Kill Bill” campaign causes more harm to that relationship than anything DiLibero did when he tried to carry out town projects. The most unfortunate consequence of the CCA’s “Kill Bill” campaign is that it has dragged Charlie Vandemoer into this mess and politicized the Interior Department’s role in town affairs.

As I noted, my research found that Lands to Parks reversions just don’t happen. The CCA needs to stop the fear-mongering.

Consider this: why should we worry about how an exchange of letters with Interior will affect our relationship when the State of Rhode Island and the Town of Charlestown sued the Interior Department (Carcieri v. Salazar) and took the case all the way to the US Supreme Court?

It is shameful that so-called town leaders like Council Boss Tom Gentz and Deputy Dan Slattery think that the only appropriate response to a “no” letter from a lower-level regional Interior Department bureaucrat is to bow and scrape.

So, to wrap up “Kill Bill, Part 4,” being a Town Administrator is, to put it bluntly, a shitty job. Look at DiLibero’s face when you’re in Town Hall or at a meeting. Or ask Grady Miller in Narragansett how much fun it is to be a town manager. Maybe Narragansett and Charlestown will work a swap.

Stay tuned. We’re expecting more CCA e-bleats as their anonymous commenters, all two or three of them, keep cranking them out.