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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Slattery lives in a different world

Slattery recreates facts concerning Ninigret Park motions
By Deborah Carney

Dan Slattery seems to live in a world different from the rest of us.  In his world he gets to spin reality to recreate the facts.

I am responding to Charlestown Town Council member Dan Slattery’s April 25th letter to the editor in the Westerly Sun which singles me out for not getting my facts straight. Yes, it’s definitely time for some fact checking and setting reality straight.

Mr. Slattery’s recreated reality states, “The second (Ninigret Park) MOU would apply to allowing stakeholders such as the citizens who are abutters to Ninigret Park and the Frosty Drew Observatory to be invited to participate in the planning process.”  That sounds really nice.  However, that is not what his original MOU says.  Mr. Slattery’s original “MOU,” which means “memorandum of understanding” and is a legally binding agreement is posted on Charlestown’s Clerkbase website for the world to see. 

The real second agreement (“MOU”), the one that Mr. Slattery has spun to sound very pleasant and lovely really says, “The MOU will require all town staff or commissions to coordinate any proposed changes to Ninigret Park with these stakeholders (Frosty Drew Observatory and all abutters to Ninigret Park) before the Town Council makes any votes on any Park related matter.”

Deputy Dan's REAL motion, not the one he made up
Inviting someone to participate in a planning process is completely different than requiring through an MOU “all town staff or commissions to coordinate any proposed changes” no matter how Mr. Slattery tries to spin it.  One could be accomplished with a Hallmark card; the other involves lawyers and a legally binding document.

If you take a closer look at the exact language of Mr. Slattery’s “non-spun”motion, he would tie the hands of our town staff and all our commissions by requiring them to “coordinate” any proposed changes with these stakeholders.  No changes could be made to the Park without their approval.  The trees that were recently planted at the entry way to the Park could not have been planted without first “coordinating” with abutters and Frosty Drew.  

Does it make any sense that the town would be required to get permission from the abutters before beautifying an entry way? Or from a non-profit organization that has been allowed by the town to occupy town property rent-free?

Bottom line, the version Mr. Slattery recreated for his letter, does not match the version that has been posted on Charlestown’s official website.

Mr. Slattery’s recreated reality regarding his motion to rewrite the Ninigret Park Master Plan is even more distorted.  In his Letter to the Editor he states, “My proposed plan for accomplishing the goal of updated financial data has two parts.  The first part would require the Parks and Recreation Commission to revisit the 2008 plan and consider the improvement priorities that they consider the most important …The budget contains $15,000…to assist with this effort.  The second part of my proposal would be to have the parks and recreation recommendations be reviewed by a stakeholders group before the final plan is forwarded to the town council for a public hearing and vote.” 

Again, this all sounds very pleasant and lovely, but let’s review what his original motion really says. This motion, along with Mr. Slattery’s original commentary is available on Charlestown’s Clerkbase.  The “non-spun” motion says, “I recommend that the Town Council consider appointing a Stakeholder Commission to work with a vendor to redesign the Ninigret Park Master Plan.  I recommend that one volunteer from each of the following committees and organizations be added to this Stakeholder Commission.”

Mr. Slattery then goes on to list 12 different volunteers to serve on this Stakeholder Commission.  Only one, yes, one of these individuals is a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, which is the group actually designated with authority over Ninigret Park.

[Here is the complete Slattery motion as he submitted it for the Town Council record]:

In Mr. Slattery’s Letter to the Editor he recreates the real words of the motion.  “redesigning the Master Plan” and “revisiting the plan” are two different things.  The “Parks and Recreation Commission” is a completely different entity from Mr. Slattery’s “Stakeholder Commission”. 

Ninigret Park belongs to all the people of Charlestown.  The Parks and Recreation Commission is the body responsible for making recommendations regarding the development of the Park, not this new group created by Mr. Slattery.

Mr.Slattery’s letter to the Sun tells a story that simply does not match the original, official version available on Clerkbase.  The story he told in his letter to the Sun sounds very nice, but it’s not anything like what he actually proposed.

Mr.Slattery further states in his letter that he has “met with and spoken to representatives from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US National Park Service.  They have voiced on several occasions their disappointment on how they were treated by Charlestown over the past two years.  I have shared this information for the record at Town Council meetings.” 

Mr. Slattery fails to mention that his colleague, Town Council member Marge Frank, has also stated publically that what she was told by National Parks differs from Mr. Slattery’s version.

Mr. Slattery also fails to mention the flaw in his package of proposals is the fact that the 55 acres the Town uses for events and active recreation, is owned by the Town of Charlestown.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service have acknowledged they have no jurisdiction over those 55 acres.  Yet, Mr. Slattery’s original resolutions, not his imagined ones, would grant the federal agencies authority they have no right to have over the use of our town property.

 The Town and these federal agencies have enjoyed an amicable relationship in the past.  If Mr. Slattery believes there is now a problem, then wouldn’t it be better handled through open communication with the entire Council at a public meeting? 

I understand Mr. Slattery’s need to recreate reality, now that more facts and history have come to light that do not match his original narrative. I can understand why he wants to portray his motions to make radical changes in who decides what happens at Ninigret Park as simple, feel-good gestures at reconciliation. While he can rewrite reality in his own mind and try to convince others to believe it, the documented facts remain just that, documented facts.


  1. Might need a Jack-Hammer to set the nails in this coffin to ensure this does not happen again!

  2. Call Ellen DeGeneres, and Dick Cheney to interpret him....where is the Beach Babe in all of this? She claims to be THE expert.....

  3. Deborah Carney my all time favorite council person, stand your ground !

  4. Deb for Prez!

  5. Go Deb Go!
    Run Deb Run - for Town Council!

  6. The Town Council has been a mess since the end of Deb's last term (2006). Three consecutive disasters.

    I agree - it's time for Deb Carney to run for Council. She will win and will probably be Council President. If we elect other good people to the Council, maybe Charlestown will stop being such a loony bin.

  7. The People's Choice- Initiate a write-in campaign to draft Ms. Carney for town council president come November election. Let us extricate from our political swampy morass to higher elevated political reasoned ground. Now this is open space at no cost which benefits all.
    [you do not need a photo ID of Ms. Carney to write her name on ballot]

  8. If this is the makings of a "Draft Deb" movement, count me in.

  9. I made need to come home for this if there is a Draft Deb movement. I would dearly love to work for her in some capacity again, maybe campaign worker?

    1. Jodi- with your internet connection and/or town experience do reach out by word of mouth or opt/ed to fertilize grass root write-in,your effort and connections are greatly appreciated.

  10. Beth Richardson comments
    These are all lovely comments, but would count for much more in the way of support if people signed their names to their comments. What are we afraid of? People are willing to stand up and speak at town meetings without bags over their heads, so why the reticence to sign your name to your comment?

    1. Richardson- anonymity is no hole in the ground to hide in fear,it is a warrior shield to protect and engage the power beast.Those with name suffer least reprisal and courage form the power beast.Charlestown is no Eden,no hero or heroes abound.Anonymity shield is no different than secret ballot;the right to free expression as well as the named.

  11. The freest form of citizen expression in any election is the Write-In Vote;be it protest or support. Most write-in protest vote,Mickey Mouse,Donald Duck, Aunt Mae,etc...if not content with one or all on ballot, support the grass root write-in campaign to elect Ms. Carny and those on the ballot that would support her council election.Give freedom to your right to exercise a grass root write-in, break the chains that bind the black box ballot choice.Liberate Charlestown governance form its house of horrors. Each word of mouth and opt/ed write-in effort leads to the people's will,not a organized minority's strangle hold on civic power and public treasurer.
    Give yourself the freest choice! Free Charlestown!

  12. As the editor who posted Deb's letter, I am closing off anonymous comments on this subject - if you want to comment, sign your name.

    To the last anonymous poster, write-in ballots sometimes work. Not usually, but sometimes. Ironically, Deb was elected to her current post on the Chariho School Committee as a write-in, but ONLY because no one ran for the job on the ballot. Sure, a write-in is free expression. So is howling at the moon.

    I am one of the many who think Deb should be on the ballot and that, if she is, she will be the highest vote-getter.

    As for the anonymous commenter on Beth Richardson's remark - just because we vote by secret ballot doesn't mean that all other public affairs and politics should be conducted anonymously. Flaw of logic - one example does not create a universal rule. If you want to respond, use your name. Otherwise, your comment goes in the spam folder.

    1. Mr. Collette- Thanks for posting Deb Carney's letter.And thank you for putting an end to anonymous posts, which you know I have always been opposed to.

      A reader has no way of knowing whether the 12 anonymous posts are a groundswell of support for Deb Carney, or the product of the mind and keyboard of one person.I hope that you will not allow any anonymous posts in the future


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