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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Maureen Areglado: CCA mystery writer

Blows her cover at April 9 Town Council meeting
By Will Collette

When people write attacks on others, whether it’s in “comments” or longer articles, I expect them to put their names on them. Unless that person is willing to sign their work, I am always suspicious of their motives and the validity of their charges.

The only exception is the whistleblower town worker who has legitimate reason to fear some sort of savage retaliation, a fear legitimized by the CCA’s current war on Charlestown’s town staff.

But one of those anonymous snipers broke cover by using anonymous comments on the CCA’s "Regressive" Charlestown Comment section as her script for a speech she gave before the Town Council on April 9. And that’s Maureen Areglado (see her speech by clicking here). 

Those remarks pretty much line up with and expand on a batch of anonymous April 3, 2012, comments on “Regressive Charlestown (starting here). Whether Areglado wrote those original anonymous remarks on “Regressive” Charlestown, we can’t know for sure. 

But to borrow a phrase she used in her speech, she now “owns” them.

Before she spoke at the April 9 Town Council meeting, I didn’t know those comments were Areglado’s but dissected and responded to her anonymous bill of particulars against DiLibero.These include the case of the Interior Department letters already debunked in extensive detail.

She also rehashed the e-mail that was sent out by one of DiLibero’s subordinates about sports lighting that everyone, including DiLibero, considers to have been a mistake – a mistake for which DiLibero took the bullet for his team. He received a reprimand from the Council on February 13, supposedly closing that case.

Then, apparently dissatisfied with the matter having been aired thoroughly and presumably put to rest at the March 12 Town Council meeting—in her august presence, no less—she also rehashed the peculiar ruckus over a badge issued to DiLibero. 

This "issue" was raised by Deputy Dan Slattery. Slattery said he had been contacted by a citizen (and it now looks like that may have been Areglado) who was concerned about police morale, the chain of command and potential violation of the law because DiLibero had been issued a badge that read “Director of Public Safety.”

The “badge” issue referred to in this comment is this: according to DiLibero, in all of his past municipal jobs, he was issued a badge to identify him as a town official during times of emergency – e.g., hurricanes – when police or National Guard limit access. During such times, he can’t phone it in.

He got a badge that said “Director of Public Safety” from the police chief. We don’t know whose idea it was to use that title instead of his actual title of “Town Administrator.” He turned in the badge as soon as Deputy Dan Slattery raised a stink, rather than fuel the argument. But on its face, asking for a badge was far from unreasonable.

Our Town Solicitor, Peter Ruggiero, said at the March 12 Town Council meeting that he believed the whole flap over this badge was a “misunderstanding.” That pretty much sums it up – unless, of course, Maureen Areglado and Deputy Dan think Ruggiero is conspiring with DiLibero.

In her comments before the Town Council, Areglado also made a big deal about an economic development project for which DiLibero explored funding. She described it as a biofuels manufacturing operation that would have been sited in Shannock. Apparently, she thinks DiLibero did something wrong by writing a grant application to HUD to see if there was funding for the idea.

Blame these Westerly High School kids for leading
DiLibero astray
I noted in Kill Bill, Part Six that turning waste cooking oil into biofuels is a hot new green energy business. In our area, the idea caught hold thanks to a science project by a group of Westerly High School students. Just about every state legislator in our area, including Sen. Dennis Algiere and Rep. Donna Walsh, were sponsors of H-5203 and its Senate companion that require commercial establishments to recycle their waste cooking oil. That bill was passed by the legislature, signed by the Governor and is law.

In Kill Bill, Part Six,  I asked what was wrong with our Town Administrator looking for opportunities to boost the town economy, especially with green business? Isn’t that part of his job, as it says in the Town Charter, C-43.M?

And applying for a grant is only one very early step in the process. In Charlestown, nothing happens without exhaustive analysis and debate, including the Spanish Inquisition we otherwise know as the Planning Commission.

Of course, we can't expect Maureen Areglado to know what's in the Town Charter, can we? After all, she's only the Secretary of the Town's Charter Revision Advisory Committee that is in the process of rewriting the Charter.

Just as in the bogus controversies over the municipal wind project and the sports lighting project, writing a grant proposal and actually having a project constructed are two very different things. As Marge Frank pointed out in April, getting a grant proposal approved doesn’t commit the town to actually do the project. But funding is usually a necessary first step.

Areglado wrapped up her 15 minutes of fame with a series of questions for the Town Council that raised issue with DiLibero’s performance, ethics, attitude and value to the town. Everything but his shoe size. With that, as the CCA’s appointed water carrier, she ended her presentation of the CCA’s Kill Bill of Particulars, summing up the spew published by the CCA mostly as anonymous attacks on DiLibero.

Before I judge a person’s character, I want to make sure I’ve got my facts straight. I’ve looked at all the “smoking guns” the CCA has used in its Kill Bill campaign, and I don’t agree with their interpretations.

Before I judge a person’s value to the town, I want to make sure I weigh that person’s list of achievements. DiLibero has had the kind of record that has won him, first, continued employment by the Council when the normal practice is to change administrators after an election. Then, this Council has heaped accolades on him, and awarded him with pay raises. Until recently, the Council let DiLibero do his job of managing the day-to-day operations of Charlestown.

For all the things Areglado and the CCA would condemn him for – the sports lighting e-mail, the peculiar letters from a midlevel Interior Department staffer, the badge, the biofuels project – there are credible explanations, plus this question I would throw back at Areglado. For all these high crimes and misdemeanors you allege against DiLibero, what actual harm was done?

And don’t tell me it’s the Interior Department’s hurt feelings. We already crossed that bridge in the Carcieri v. Salazar Supreme Court case.

And don’t tell me it’s damage to staff morale, because this assault on DiLibero, and the attempt to micromanage town hall staff, is what has damaged staff morale.

I don’t understand why Areglado and the CCA are squawking about the municipal wind power project, or the sports lighting or the biofuels idea. None of them happened. The NIMBYs and the CCA used their current majority status in town government to squelch them all. Those projects never went beyond the drawing board.

We power our town buildings with electricity generated by burning oil, coal, and natural gas and splitting atoms, not wind power. We heat town buildings with petroleum products, not biofuel. The Chariho Cowboys will play football in some other town. If cooking oil is going to be recycled, it’s not going to be in Charlestown. What possible purpose does it serve the town to flay and filet the guy we count on to keep town government running smoothly?

Nobody likes a sore loser, but even worse is a sore winner.