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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Westerly Sun reports DiBello can vote to “Kill Bill”

Ethics Commission issues ruling allowing DiBello to vote on personnel action against her former boss
By Will Collette

Cassidy Swanson at the Westerly Sun has just reported that the RI Ethics Commission has issued a ruling that clears the way for all five Charlestown Town Council members to vote on the fate of embattled Town Administrator William DiLibero by allowing Councilor Lisa DiBello to vote despite her litigation that names DiLibero as a defendant. My sources confirm Ms. Cassidy’s report.

The Town Council will meet in a special Executive Session at 5:30 PM tomorrow, Thursday, April 19.

April 19, 2012 at 5:30 p.m.
Charlestown Town Hall, 4540 South County Trail, Charlestown

The Town Council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. on April 19, 2012 at the Town Hall, 4540 South County Trail, Charlestown.  The agenda is as follows:

1.   Call to Order and Roll Call
2.   The Town Council may vote to move into Executive Session pursuant to RIGL §42-46-4&5(a) (1) Personnel (Town Administrator-Performance Evaluation)
3.   Potential action, announcement and/or vote(s) from Executive Session concerning Town Administrator’s performance evaluation which may involve discipline, resignation and/or termination
4.   Adjournment

DiLibero under fire
DiLibero has been the target of an intensive smear campaign by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) which controls the Town Council through two directly elected members, Council President Boss Tom Gentz and Deputy Dan Slattery. They hold a majority of the Council votes through an alliance with Councilor Lisa DiBello.

Slattery has been leading the attack on DiLibero for several months, with some support from Gentz. DiBello had been somewhat inhibited from piling on because she is suing the Town of Charlestown (DiBello v. Charlestown) over an alleged conspiracy she claims is centered on DiLibero and had led to DiLibero firing her as town Parks and Recreation Director in May 2010.

I have not yet seen the actual Commission ruling, which sources tell me was issued today, so I have not examined the Commission’s reasoning for ruling there is no ethical barrier to DiBello taking part in disciplinary action against her former boss who fired her and is currently a lead defendant in her lawsuit for reinstatement and restitution.

Slattery, who actually competed against DiLibero for the Town Administrator’s job, is certainly eager to fire DiLibero. For DiBello, voting to fire DiLibero would be sweet vengeance.

Councilors Marge Frank and Gregg Avedisian have fought against the “Kill Bill” campaign from the start and can be expected to vote against firing DiLibero.

That leaves Council President Tom Gentz as the deciding vote. Until recently, Gentz has played the role of Uncle Fluffy on the Town Council, the jolly guy who tries to be everyone’s friend. He has been uncomfortable with confrontation in the past. However, he was brought into the “Kill Bill” campaign through the CCA’s selective revelation and biased interpretation of information that we have shown to be false and misleading.

Gentz unwittingly played a major role in the centerpiece of the “Kill Bill” campaign – the 56 day effort to try to figure out an acceptable site for a municipal wind turbine project in Ninigret Park.

The CCA’s “smoking gun” against DiLibero is a January letter from Elyse LaForest of the National Park Service regional office in Boston rejecting a request from DiLibero to consider siting the turbines in the 172.4 acres of Ninigret that are under Interior jurisdiction.

From the date of LaForest’s letter (January 18, 2011) until the Council indirectly killed the municipal wind project on March 14, 2011, DiLibero was attempting to resolve the siting problem that stemmed from resistance from the Arnolda neighborhood to siting the turbines on the town’s 55 acre parcel in Ninigret that is not subject to Interior jurisdiction. All during this period, he was also being pressured by Gentz to work something out because, until he later turned against the project, Gentz was an enthusiastic supporter of the municipal wind project.

Of course, now Gentz seems to be suffering from some memory loss about those weeks and may end up throwing DiLibero under the bus for a project that he, Gentz, had been relentlessly pushing DiLibero to get done.

Tomorrow night’s vote will be a test of character for the three Council members who will decide whether to fire our Town Administrator.