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Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Why the exodus of CCA leadership?

“I love you Charlestown but buh-bye”

By Will Collette

For people who profess an unremitting love for and undying commitment to Charlestown, it surprises me to see so many leaders of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) beat feet out of town.

Just recently, one CCA founder, long-time Town Council Boss Tom Gentz, sold his Quonnie home to a couple from New Canaan, CT for $1.25 million and left without saying goodbye.

We’re all going to miss Gentz’s happy alter ego, Uncle Fluffy, who would show up whenever Tom was in a frisky mood.

I don’t know where Uncle Fluffy went but I can tell you he is no longer listed as a property owner in Charlestown. Maybe he took himself lock, stock and fleet of antique Porsches to wherever his long-time Deputy Dan Slattery went. Slattery left the Town Council in 2014 after coming up with some of the most bizarre schemes but occasionally returns for a drive-by.

Then there’s CCA Councilor Bonnita Van Slyke who is listing her Arnolda waterfront compound for a second time, at the slightly reduced price of $2,395,000. As she did in the first listing, Van Slyke is advertising the 14 acre property as ripe for development.

Here’s the key passage in the ad: “This is an unsurpassed opportunity to renovate or build your own palatial coastal retreat.” This is toned down from her listing last fall where she noted the land was zoned R3A and was “buildable.” In the new ad, there is no mention of the property's zoning, but you can be sure it's in the sales pitch.

Interestingly, Van Slyke’s offer to sell her acreage for development did not trigger a recusal in the debate and voting over Ruth Platner’s controversial “Conservation Development” proposal.

Van Slyke also refused to respond to a call to recuse herself when she was challenged over her close proximity to the proposed Summer Winds development.

Next, ex-Eagle Scout Cody Clarkin either has, or is about to, become a resident of Westerly and thus ineligible to serve out his term as a CCA Town Council member. An August 24 Westerly Sun article quoted Clarkin saying that as he and his roommate were moving in to the new house in Westerly on August 19 when he suddenly realized the ramifications.”

According to the article, Clarkin says he then contacted the Board of Elections and the RI Ethics Commission and then Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz and the town solicitor. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall to hear how Clarkin described his situation.

The result, says young Cody: “There is a lot of legal ambiguity that would come with living outside town.” Yeah well, no kidding.

He told the Council that he intended to complete his term by staying with his parents.

That’s quite a tale, but it’s a load of b.s. For example, Cody’s lease for the Westerly house on Bowling Lane took effect on July 1.

Cody told the CCA last November of his planned departure – and Ruth Platner told him to keep it a secret. Except Cody blabbed. Jim Mageau – who publicly chastised Cody – spoke openly and loudly about it at the Memorial Day Parade in May.

The story quoted in the Sun’s Jason Vallee August 24 article was a lie. Clarkin's claim that he only realized the "ramifications" on August 19 when he actually knew in November...and was outed by Jim Mageau in May is a lie.

Just goes to show you how corrosive the CCA has been to the moral fabric of Charlestown that they can get an Eagle Scout to dishonor his oath. 

“Scout’s Honor?” Phooey.

Clarkin also participated in the debate and voting over Platner’s controversial “Conservation Development” plan even though he was clearly ineligible to vote.

Also part of Cody's new life is the job he took with the town of Jamestown's Parks and Recreation. He was hired by Ray DeFalco who used to work for Charlestown Parks and Recreation and, according to the Jamestown Press, had employed Cody. 

Platner’s exclusionary zoning plan passed on a 3-2 vote with the CCA-3 winning the day again even though two of the three CCA council members (Van Slyke and Clarkin) may have cast unethical, if not illegal, votes. 

If Van Slyke and Clarkin had acted ethically and recused themselves, the vote would have been a 2-1 defeat for Ruthie.

You can bet that in future litigation over this issue, the illegality of the vote will be a central question.