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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Charlestown Tapas

A dozen tasty tidbits of local news
By Will Collette

Upcoming meetings

There will be a closed meeting of the Charlestown Town Council on April 23. The Council will meet in Executive Session to discuss the disastrous roll-out of Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero’s second draft of a town ordinance to regulate quarries and sand pits in Charlestown. 

Ruggiero took quite a beating for writing a sloppy bill when it premiered at the April 14 Town Council meeting.

They also plan to talk about Councilor Lisa DiBello’s two-year old lawsuit against the town (do I smell settlement?) I’d love to be a fly on the wall for this session.

On May 5, the once-a-year Special Town Meeting on the Charlestown budget will take place at Town Hall. This is an open meeting and is required before the Council can move the budget to a vote by Charlestown permanent residents who are registered to vote. More detail on the town budget will be coming soon.

Close call on Frank J. Russo concert proposal

Swami Areglado engaged in smiley contemplation
Concert promoter Frank J. Russo had approached Charlestown several months back request Town Council approval to host a new concert at Ninigret Park that would feature some big-name star that Russo hoped to recruit.

This sent the right honorable Ron Areglado and his cult of followers into a tizzy because Russo proposed holding the event in a new venue in the northern end of Ninigret Park. Areglado argued that concerts are bad if they are close to where he lives because, as we all know, Charlestown is for contemplation, not music. I'm not making this up.

The Council gave Russo the tentative go-ahead provided he could meet all of a long list of conditions (click here for more detail), which Russo did. However, it looked like the deal died when Russo was unable to line up the performers he wanted.

But that wasn't the end of the story.

For a brief period - just over two days - it looked like Russo's plan was back on track when he lined up a performer who was available in late August. On April 4, Russo asked that his project be given final approval by the town. Town Administrator duly notified Council members (click here for the e-mail string) and it looked likely that Areglado's Partridge cult would have to go to DefCon 1. But by April 6, for unknown reasons, the project was dead and Stankiewicz had to send out another e-mail to the Council saying "never mind."

In case you're wondering what kind of event Russo had in mind, click here. He was trying to work out a deal with another promoter to bring this type of event to Charlestown.

Charlestown quarry owner named by Governor to Economic Development Corporation.

77.27 scenic acres right on Scenic Route One
Roland Fiore, owner of South County Sand & Gravel, a major operator in Charlestown, has been named by Governor Lincoln Chafee to sit on the board of the beleaguered Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC).

Fiore owns Charlestown’s second largest quarry on the south side of Route One near Ninigret Park. He also owns the inactive quarry on Klondike Road long rumored as the next site to be acquired by the notorious Connecticut-based Copar Quarries.

Fiore’s company was one of the several that spoke against Charlestown’s proposed ordinance to regulate quarries which are presently largely unregulated.

Flu admissions up at local hospitals

Round Two of Rhode Island’s flu season is in full swing, and both Westerly and South County Hospitals are seeing more people coming in with flu-like symptoms. Young people with flu are generally being treated and discharged without admission, but some of the more severely afflicted elderly are being hospitalized. It’s not too late to get a flu shot – click here to find out where to go.

Donna Walsh: still hot

Donna visiting RI-CAN to deliver a legislative grant
(related, see next story)
For three out of the last four weeks, Rep. Donna Walsh (D-Charlestown) made the coveted GoLocalProv “Who’s Hot?” list. She shared the spotlight this week with Rep. Larry Valencia and others who supported her bill to try to take politics out of the selection of judge magistrates. It’s getting so that it’s a surprise when Donna doesn’t make the “Hot” list.

Unfortunately, I think she has as much chance of getting this legislation passed this year as the chances that the CCA Party will stop taking out-of-state money to maintain its grip on power over Charlestown.

RI-CAN hiring part-time fund-raiser

Charlestown’s Rhode Island Center Assisting Those in Need (RI-CAN) wants to hire a part-time “development associate” as soon as possible. This person will handle all aspects of fund-raising including setting up a recording system, researching potential donors and sources of funding, preparing appeals, and working with the volunteer fund-raising committee. The salary for the job was not included in the posting.

If you’re interested, send a cover letter and resume to Director Deborah Nigrelli, RI-CAN, PO Box 204, Charlestown, RI 02813 or email: For more information about RI CAN, visit:

Charlestown Democrats the first to endorse Mollis for Lieutenant Governor

There was a lively question-and-answer session with current Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, with most of the controversy focused on his initiative that made Rhode Island the only Democratically-controlled state to enact a voter ID law. 

Mollis was challenged about his reasoning for pushing the crown jewel of Republican voter suppression efforts. Mollis said he did so because (a) he wanted to make sure the issue was taken off the table and (b) he wanted to do it right, i.e. protecting people’s right to vote.

Despite lack of enthusiasm for his response on that subject, the CDTC nonetheless endorsed Mollis for Lieutenant Governor (he is term-limited as SOS) on his assurance that he plans no such surprises if he succeeds in winning that office. The endorsement was based on Mollis’s otherwise exemplary job as Secretary of State.

So far, the Charlestown Dems have endorsed Mollis, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin for re-election, Guillaume deRamel to replace Mollis as Secretary of State and Rep. Jim Langevin for re-election. The CDTC plans to decide on their picks for the offices of Governor and General Treasurer soon.

Town Councilors behaving badly

O'Neill on the attack
No, for once I am not talking about Charlestown Town Council members Boss Tom Gentz or Dan Slattery. It’s small consolation to know that some of our neighboring towns have also put into office persons who just don’t know how to behave and who bring shame on their communities.

Take South Kingstown’s Jim O’Neill who made lots of headlines in 2012 for abusing citizens who spoke in opposition to his positions. After managing to pretty much stay out of trouble during 2013, O’Neill is back in the news for muttered comments during the SK Council’s April meeting.

When local resident Rachel Clough argued before the Council that other town events should not be scheduled that distract from veterans-related activities on Memorial Day, Channel 10 recorded O’Neill saying, “She’s lucky I didn’t hit her.” Always keeping it classy, Jim.

And in Richmond, four of the five members of the Richmond Town Council wanted to have a little discussion with Council member Paul Michaud over a mailing he sent out prior to the vote on the Chariho School District budget. After voting to support the budget as part of a unanimous vote, Michaud then sent out a mass mailing urging voters to reject the budget.

Michaud had told the media that he sent out the negative mailing in his capacity as chair of the Richmond Republican Town Committee, not as a Council member where he voted the opposite.

Michaud boycotted the meeting where his colleagues had planned to challenge him on this bit of mental and moral gymnastics. Michaud told the Westerly Sun that he does not want this dispute to be discussed publicly. He threatened that “If they plan on continuing it to another meeting, I’m going to take this to the board of ethics, because I think this was a very unethical thing.”

Speaking of behaving badly…

Donegan's mug shot (what do
you figure she's thinking 

right then?)
Textron corporate lawyer and former East Greenwich School Committee member Jayne Donegan reached a deal to get charges dismissed against her for violating the state’s “social host” law. 

Donegan was busted on January 25 when police responded to a complaint about a disturbance at her North Kingstown home and found more than 100 teenagers, many of them intoxicated. Two teenage girls were so drunk they had to be taken to the hospital for treatment.

Several teens also admitted to police that they were smoking dope and also illegally taking prescription drugs.

Donegan was also charged at the time with simple assault on a police officer and obstruction for trying to slam the door on the police. Donegan claimed she had no knowledge about the teenage drinking or misconduct and that it was just simply her daughter’s 16th birthday party. She also claimed that officers assaulted her.

Very different from her 
LinkedIn snap
Right. Anyway, a deal was struck before District Court Judge Frank Cenerini that required Donegan to make a $5,000 donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). MADD wanted no part of this deal and rejected the donation.

MADD director Gabrielle Abbate said in a MADD news release that the state’s laws should be enforced, even on rich people. “We’ll never change the culture around how parents view providing alcohol to teens if we support these kinds of sentences…We don’t want to take money in exchange for charges being reduced and people not being held accountable for their actions. The law needs to be enforced to the full extent.”

Donegan will need to find another organization willing to take her money. Maybe she can donate it to the CCA Party.

Speaking of the privileges of wealth…

In my last Charlestown Tapas, I reported on East Greenwich’s tax dispute with former Governor Donald Carcieri and his wife Sue. The town is seeking payment of back taxes and may pursue a tax sale to collect. The story was first reported in the Independent.

In this week’s Independent, the Donald wrote a huffy Letter to the Editor demanding a retraction and apology. Carcieri claims that the property, Olney House, is not owned by him and his wife, but rather by a “not-for-profit” they control called the Academy Science Center which they just happen to control. He claims that he and Sue have put money into re-habbing the building so that it can be used.

They did not get the requested retraction. The Carcieris acquired the property from the town in 1999 and Carcieri then promised the educational programs would be up and running by 2000. Didn’t happen. Instead, in 2010, the IRS stripped the Academy Science Center of its tax-exempt status, at which time the town started efforts to collect property tax.

Now, almost 15 years later, the Carcieri’s claim they are going full-bore to clean up all their past screw-ups, including getting their IRS non-profit status restored and the building up to code. As for actual classes and programs, well, the Carcieri letter doesn’t say if or when they will actually happen. Instead, Carcieri complains that the town isn’t being very nice on insisting that Carcieri should do what he promised 15 years ago or pay up on the taxes owed on the property.

Try to blame the Democrats for this one, Don. Yeah, it’s all the General Assembly’s fault. They made you do it. What a putz!

Wish we had this when Carcieri was Governor

pinocchio animated GIFHuffington Post just ran a nifty little piece that offers additional tips on how to spot a liar. Sure, we all know about the evasive gestures (e.g. looking up and to the left), difficulty in making eye contact and the classic answering a question with a question (Question – Did you eat those Peeps®? Answer - What are you talking about?).

The suggestions on how to boost your chances of spotting a lie are too extensive for this news tidbit, so go read the article and test out some of their techniques.

Might also work at Town Council meetings, although I believe Councilor Dan Slattery probably received advanced training in how to evade detection when he was a federal agent counting pencils and paperclips in a federal warehouse.


Despite a string of positive developments, NIMBY opponents to the Deepwater off-shore wind energy pilot project vow they will keep on fighting. Deepwater Resistance says it will continue to try to win over enough local support to overcome the approvals from a myriad of agencies and the endorsements of almost every environmental organization in the area.

They did get support from Charlestown’s anti-wind NIMBYs when Ill Wind leader Maureen Areglado testified against the project arguing that there could be terrible health effects even though the project is miles out to sea and a lack of medical evidence for these alleged ill effects.

But Deepwater Resistance is seeing its support erode. They consider the Narragansett Town Council as the key to their effort, hoping that somehow the town will block the power cable from coming ashore on state land. However, they have lost one-time supporter, Narragansett Council member Doug McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said “I think the Deepwater Resistance and the council really did a disservice to Narragansett…They have never been on target with any issue. They took a whole lot of stuff and threw it against the wall and what stuck, stuck, and what didn’t, didn’t."