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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Town Council members: Refrain from degrading behavior

Comments presented to the Charlestown Town Council, August 20, 2012
By Frank Glista

Recently, our citizens have been subjected to observing two members of this respected body attempting to persecute one of our citizens during the Council Comments section of their agenda.  It was bad enough to watch the President of our Town Council allow people to gang up on one of our local business owners without using his authority to control those attacks, as we witnessed back in July, but now he and Councilor DiBello have engaged in that activity themselves.

I have worked with all of you individually and have the utmost respect for anyone who occupies a council seat.  Each person elected should hold themselves to the highest standard of honor, civility and fairness.  The citizens of Charlestown have entrusted you with the responsibility of guiding our town through a maze of difficult and complex decisions.  Once sworn in, it no longer becomes a matter of personal or party agenda.  You should be willing to lead all of our townspeople, not just a select few.  



Whether we agree with you or not, whether we voted for you or not is no longer the issue.  You took the oath of office to protect and defend our state constitution and the constitution of the United States.  Each month we rise and pledge allegiance to this great nation and the freedoms we have been blessed with, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of speech and of course the freedom of the press.

On Saturday August 4, Tim Ryan, the president and publisher of the Westerly Sun wrote an editorial that dealt with the issue of a Westerly Town Council Member objecting to being misquoted by his newspaper.  He stated, "I don't think using a council meeting as a forum for one councilor to take up a personal complaint against one reporter is appropriate.  He continued, "The council's responsibility is to conduct town business.  The issue at hand was deemed not worthy of public discussion by the council."

For Town Council Members, Gentz and DiBello to use their council seat to discredit any citizen, is an abuse of power that undermines the honor and the integrity of the office that they have sworn to uphold.  Even your own Council Rules and Procedure 9.1 states:

He or she shall confine his or her remarks to the question under debate and shall avoid personalities.

If one still wishes to engage in this type of activity, remove yourself from your council seat and speak from the podium as a citizen just as many other Town Council Members have done in the past.
The citizens of our town do not need to be dictated to as to what we should read or write by this or any other council, as Council President Gentz had suggested last month........I resent that implication.

Lately, there has been much discussion about the Progressive Charlestown Blog.  Some make reference to this being the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee's web site...it is not.  Our town committee has absolutely no input or control of that or any other blog.

 Some of our citizens may not be able to identify the word "blog" so I will do my best to define that term;
A blog is a discussion or information site.....published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first.  Until 2009 blogs were usually the work of a single individual or occasionally of a small group.  

More recently "multi-author blogs" have developed.  Author's from newspapers, other media outlets, universities, think tanks, interest groups and similar institutions account for an increasing proportion of blog traffic.  Although not a must, most good quality blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other.

On August 5th, Town Council President, Gentz wrote a "Letter to the Editor" regarding the lost opportunity for Charlestown regarding the "Y" property.  He stated, "The local Charlestown Democrats called foul and lamented the Town Council's refusal to re-zone the property to R-2A."  

This is a total falsehood.  

The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee never stated an opinion on the re-zoning of this property.  

Our citizens will hear much political posturing from the CCA about Progressive Charlestown and Democrats being one in the same, but as I stated earlier, we are not.  

His comment prompted my review of Progressive Charlestown for its article content regarding the subject matter in his "Letter to the Editor".  This is what I found;

SUNDAY, AUGUST 5, 2012
Ø  DEAD ZONE DOWN (THANKING THE DROUGHT FOR SOMETHING)
BY: TIM WALL / DISCOVERY NEWS
Ø  LIFE SAVING LAW (IMPORTANCE OF ONE OF THE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE ACTS KEY PROVISIONS)                                                                                                                                             
BY: DAVID ELLIOT
Ø  NO HUNTING LICENCE NEEDED (VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO HELP TREE SURVEY AT BURLINGAME STATE PARK)
BY: RIDEM NEWS RELEASE
Ø  ANOTHER TROLL BITES THE DUST (SO LONG RIGHT TO WORK)
BY: BOB PLAIN

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, 2012
Ø  STAR-GAZING AND LOVE (HUMOR)
FROM: FAKE SCIENCE
Ø  REAL NOWHERE MEN (AND WOMEN) (NOWHERE ISLAND IS ABOUT LIVING KINDLY, GOVERNING GENTLY AND NOT TAKING ONESELF TOO SERIOUSLY)
BY: PETER CERTO
Ø  UPDATE: ELECTRIC CAR SALES (SLOWER THAN EXPECTED IN 2012)
BY: TOM FERRIO
Ø  SUMMER'S ALMOST OVER, HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE HITCHING POST YET?  (RESTAURANT REVIEW)
BY: LINDA FELACO
Ø  OLYMPIC EMPHASIS HAS SHIFTED (IN THE SUMMER OF 1968 PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS KEPT A STAR HOME.)
BY: KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR /ESPN.COM
Ø  ONE NATION, UNDER THE GUN (WHY DO SO MANY AMERICANS BELIEVE THAT TO PROPERLY PROTECT OURSELVES, WE NEED GUNS)
BY WILLIAM A. COLLINS

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2012
Ø  WHEN DO YOU HELP A DROWNING PERSON?  (WHEN THEY GIVE YOU THE RIGHT ANSWER)  (CARTOON / HUMOR)
BY WILEY MILLER
Ø  ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY (THE MILKY WAY OVER MONUMENT VALLEY)
FROM: NASA
Ø  TOMATO TAMPERING
BY JIM HIGHTOWER
Ø  GLIMMER OF HOPE IN THE LOCAL RHODE ISLAND ECONOMIES
BY WILL COLLETTE

THURSDAY, AUGUST 2, 2012
Ø  HOW TO KEEP INVESTORS AND TOP EXECS HAPPY (CARTOON / HUMOR)
BY JAN SORENSON
Ø  THE FARM STANDS OF CHARLESTOWN: 2012 EDITION
BY LINDA FELACO
Ø  OMG PD
BY SAMANTHA TURNER / NARRAGANSETT SOUTH KINGSTOWN PATCH
Ø  GREEN SCISSORS FOR CONGRESS
BY RYAN ALEXANDER
Ø  ABEL COLLINS FOR CONGRESS...2ND DISTRICT?  (QUESTION MARK)
BY WILL COLLETTE

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1, 2012
Ø  PERFECTLY LOGICAL (CARTOON / HUMOR)
BY TOM TOMORROW
Ø  FIVE RHODE ISLAND BEACHES RATE AMONG YANKEE MAGAZINE'S 25 BEST
BY BOB PLAIN / R.I. FUTURE.ORG
Ø  CHARLESTOWN GARDEN FEEDS COMMUNITY
BY FRANK CARINI / ECO R.I. NEWS
Ø  RHODE ISLAND LABOR HISTORY SOCIETY CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY
BY WILL COLLETTE
Ø  UNANSWERED "Y" GATE QUESTIONS
BY WILL COLLETTE

22 posts over five days and the first article regarding town business became available as post #23.  This is typical of any 5 day period.  But according to Council President Gentz in reference to Mr. Collette and his blog..... and I quote "There is no journalistic value as you have portrayed".  

Really?  I suggest you go back and review the list that I have just mentioned.  In contrast with Progressive Charlestown, the CCA blog....which by the way is directly affiliated with Charlestown Citizens Alliance Political Action Committees web site, contains a series of rambling posts with one single purpose.... take down the "insidious Democrats".

Progressive Charlestown was started in February 2011.  They have published over 2,372 articles and have had over 321,000 article reads during the last 19 months.

One major difference between the two blog's is that Progressive Charlestown's articles are based on research and public documents.  You may not like their interpretation of that information but you can't argue with the facts.

 Over the years we have witnessed the CCA attacks on Town Council Members, Town Employees, Department Heads and the Town Administrator.  To use the words of Council President Gentz during Council Comments last month, "Name calling, vile comments, distortion of facts and defamation of character," can all be applied to CCA emails and blog activity over the past five years. 

Many have stated that the Progressive Charlestown blog pales in comparison to the long documented ruthless history of the CCA's writings.  They drew first blood a long time ago.

Our Council President and the Charlestown Citizens Alliance appear to have no problem criticizing individuals that don't agree with them but offer nothing when their members gang up on a lone commission member and verbally attack her for her views.......have no problem when a member of your steering committee stalks Mr. Collette in a grocery store trying to instigate a confrontation......have no problem with that same member videotaping former members of the Town Council attempting to intimidate those individuals.....we see where that got him.  Are these your ideas of civility?

In June, Councilor Dibello used her time during Council Comments to announce her candidacy for re-election. In over 20 years of attending Town Council Meetings, I have never witnessed such behavior.  To have used this forum to kick off her campaign was totally inappropriate and self serving.

 As she was attacking Mr. Collette, she referenced her love for this town and its people....I don't doubt this. But instead of portraying herself as the wounded fawn, why not answer the questions that have many voters concerned about her candidacy.  If not by the staff of Progressive Charlestown, then she should pick someone to help clear the air..........if not, then her silence will speak for itself.

In closing, I wish to commend the other Town Council members who have shown great respect for the office they hold by not entering into the fray of personal attacks toward any of our citizens.  I especially want to thank Council Member Dan Slattery for his professionalism and restraint regarding this matter.

As Town Council Members, please refrain from using this degrading behavior.  Our townspeople deserve better.  Show us the strength of your conviction and the promise of open, honest, transparent and fair government for all of the citizens of Charlestown.  As Americans, we should all be willing to defend the rights and freedoms we each possess regardless of whether we agree or disagree with the subject matter.

Thank you