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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Deputy Dan Slattery returns to do a drive-by on the Charlestown budget

Former CCA leader decides to try to sway Charlestown voters
By Will Collette

Progressive Charlestown: Did Dan Slattery keep his 2010 campaign ...Before getting into the surprise Letter to the Editor by former town councilor and Charlestown Citizens Alliance leader Dan Slattery, I urge you: VOTE!

You have until the close of the polls on Monday, June 1 to vote on Charlestown’s proposed $16+ million town budget. I hope most of you have put your ballot in the mail so it arrives in Monday's mail at Town Hall. 

If you still have your ballot, you have two added ways to make it count. First, drop it off at the white drop-box outside and next to the main entrance to Town Hall. Second, you can go in person to the one open polling place – Charlestown Elementary School, 8 AM to 8 PM. Be sure to wear your mask.

And, I hope, you will vote NO to a very bad budget (CLICK HERE for my reasons for calling it that).

Now, let’s talk about Deputy Dan’s re-appearance in Charlestown politics.

Deputy Dan used to be a Charlestown Town Council member under the CCA Party’s banner. He served as vice-chair under Tom Gentz and did not run for re-election in 2014. He later moved out of Charlestown and he writes his May 27 Letter to the Westerly Sun Editor from North Kingstown.

Slattery mainly sticks to CCA Party boilerplate arguments for the proposed budget except for his opening paragraph where he asserts:
“As a former Charlestown Town Councilor and eight-year member of the town’s Budget Commission, I always made decisions and voted based on the facts. I believe any vote on financial matters or public policy should reflect what is best for the entire town and not special-interest groups. Don’t be misled by misinformation campaigns that paint this as a bad budget and offer alternatives that would adversely affect the town’s quality of life, such as a 15,000-seat concert venue in Ninigret Park.”
Wow. There’s a lot to unpack in this one paragraph. I think three Slattery claims deserve priority treatment: 

(1) how Slattery's actions were always acted based on the facts; 
(2) how budget decisions should be made without regard for special interest groups and 
(3) his amazing claim that somebody wants to use the budget surplus to build a 15,000 seat concert venue in Ninigret Park - where he got that, I don't know.

In his time in Charlestown, Deputy Dan was a non-stop fountain of Grade A horseshit, coming up with one whopper after another. He ALWAYS could be counted on to back special interest (i.e. CCA) schemes, many of them described in THIS article.

Finally, I think Deputy Dan’s fantastic notion about the 15,000 seat concert venue may be the way he remembers the Battle for Ninigret Park. That brutal and bloody battle started when Slattery confabulated a draft proposal by then Parks & Recreation Director Jay Primiano to get DEM recreation money for lights to allow kids to have a few extra hours of football practice time during the fall.

That idea never came to be but, in Slattery’s mind and by the power of mass hallucination in the minds of CCA followers this proposal somehow became a “football stadium” with tiers of bleachers and who knows what else. (That imaginary stadium may have morphed into Dan's imaginary concert venue.)

But wait, there’s MORE! 

According to Dan, the idea of this imaginary stadium was so abhorrent to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, custodians of the National Wildlife Refuge adjacent to Ninigret Park, that the Interior Department was on the verge of exercising its “right” to take Ninigret Park back from the town. This, because Deputy Dan had DOCUMENTS showing that Charlestown didn’t actually own Ninigret Park. (He was wrong - CLICK HERE.)

We actually had to bring in Elyse LaForest, regional head of the National Parks Service’s Federal Lands to Parks Program to calm people down and assure them that Charlestown DOES own Ninigret Park and the Interior Department had no intention of taking the Park back. And as the time to put up or shut came, Deputy Dan really didn’t have the documents he said he had.

That may have been the worst of Deputy Dan’s wild excursions with the truth, but there are others that are noteworthy.

Slattery, Charlestown’s Top Cop

Slattery frequently touted his federal law enforcement
credentials.
For example, there was the time he accused Frank Glista of dishonesty when Frank built a donation box that was set out at Ninigret Park events by Friends of Ninigret Park to raise small amounts for the benefit of the Park. 

At a town council meeting, Slattery waved a folder that supposedly held evidence to back up his claim of Frank's malfeasance.

So I filed an open records law request to SEE those documents. After a lengthy give-and-take with the Attorney General’s Office, Slattery admitted he was running a personal investigation without town authority

He never disclosed what was in that folder claiming it was his private property. I declined to appeal, even though the AG's office encouraged me to do so because at this point, Slattery's half-baked, unauthorized witch hunt had been exposed.

Slattery versus Alien Invaders

Slattery set off another wild goose chase because he had heard people were somehow encroaching on town properties. Allegedly, some gardeners had plots that spilled over into town-owned space. 

So Slattery got the Council to commission a broad search and inventory of all town properties – including some tiny parcels such as the spots along the road where we have storm water cisterns.

These were dubbed Charlestown’s Phantom Properties.

No evidence was found of Deputy Dan’s alleged encroachment. 

Nonetheless, Slattery wanted to fence or rope off these newly unveiled phantom properties and have them signposted against alien incursions. 

That idea died when other Council members did a little arithmetic and realized this would cost many thousands of dollars to deal with a largely imaginary problem.

Slattery versus the Water Board

Slattery launched another one of his crusades when he found out that his perennial enemy Frank Glista was negotiating with the Rhode Island Water Resources Board to sell undeveloped property he owned to be set aside by the Water Board to meet future water needs.

Slattery again confabulated the facts to claim this was a scheme to pump out Charlestown’s water and send it elsewhere. Plus, he claimed, the state Water Resources Board had no right to conduct any business in Charlestown without the Town’s expressed approval. This new "Slattery Doctrine" was supposed to apply to ALL state and federal agencies whose "agents" set foot in Charlestown.

He gave the state Water Resource Board director a 2-hour grilling, accusing him of every short of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. His behavior was so awful that even Tom Gentz was moved to publicly apologize.

In fact, Frank Glista had every right as a private land owner to sell his land to whomever he wished. The state Water Board, as well as dozens of other state and federal agencies can and do conduct activities consistent with their mission within Charlestown’s boarders without the Council’s permission. 

And finally, if anyone but Frank Glista had decided to convert a nice big parcel of land into open space to protect water resources, the CCA Party would be jumping for joy.

RHOTAP

Truth be told, I miss Deputy Dan
I could go on with lots more Deputy Dan stories – we wrote 401 articles referencing Slattery. The earlier ones go into lots of juicy detail. But I will stop with one of my favorite Deputy Dan schemes. 

Dishonorable mention goes to Deputy Dan's "Australian Ballot" scheme - read about it HERE.

In 2012, when many families were still hurting from the Great Recession, Charlestown Democrats proposed a Homestead Tax Credit to give tax relief to full-time residents. 

The CCA Party stomped the idea to death because this would have caused modest tax hikes for rich absentee land owners who provide most of the CCA Party’s campaign revenue.

But the CCA Party knew it needed to do something to show it cared for cash-strapped Charlestown families, so they gave the job to Deputy Dan, their go-to guy.

He came up with the “Resident Home Owner Tax Assistance Program,” RHOTAP for short.

Under Slattery’s RHOTAP, a "truly needy" resident could petition a new 5-member citizen tribunal for tax relief by writing an essay about why you were truly needy, not at fault for your reduced circumstances and how tax relief would allow you to keep your home. 

If you oversold your need, leading the tribunal to believe you were too far in debt to be saved, you were S.O.L.

You had to give the tribunal all your financial records AND a signed authorization permitting the tribunal to rummage around in any records they wanted to examine.

Finally, you could be required to come before the tribunal to tell your story in person – presumably in public, given the state Open Meetings Law. I guess the model Slattery used was the old quiz show “Queen for a Day.”

This insane idea was referred to Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero for "review" and was never heard from again. Until now.