Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 17, 2007

The email calling for the meeting

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 11:22 pm


In the previous post, we discussed the rumor that Mr. Ricci had asked for a meeting with town council members to discuss a possible reintroduction of the bond.  As you can see by that post, Mr. Ricci responded that the meeting was standard operating procedure.  Here is the letter sent.


Click on the image to enlarge – click on it again to zoom in

I did ask to attend and was told by Mr. Ricci that it was up to the others.  I emailed Mr. Day and did not get a response.

[UPDATE]First of all, it has been confirmed that Stephanie Brown, Doreen Dolan and Mr. and Mrs. Anderson (from the political action committee) were included in the meeting.   Mr. Ricci has said the meeting was just an “effort to improve communications between District and the towns” so if this is true, I have to wonder why he would notify those three about the meeting but not notify Mr. Petit or me (possibly more were excluded).

When I responded that it was disturbing that SB would be invited to the meeting and I was not, Mr. Ricci responded with the following:

“”This is what you were told:

“Yes, I initiated this meeting just as I do other meetings that I convene
with TC presidents. Yes, it’s at the administration building. Unless
participants feel otherwise, others will be allowed to observe.”

This message was sent in response to you telling me that others wanted to attend…”There are a few citizens that would like to get involved. When will that meeting be?”

No invitations were extended.

So Mr. Ricci said he did not invite anyone – but if someone does not know about the meeting they are be definition not invited. 

This game of words is the exact reason several teachers have told me that they would prefer to have Superintendent Pini than Mr. Ricci.  They say that even though Pini was a dictator, at least you knew what he was thinking. 



  1. This is a disgrace. The superintendent feels empowered to reach out to town leaders and bypass our elected representives on the School Committee. This is not the role of a superintendent. He is supposed to manage the schools as they exist, make recommendations to the School Committee, make sure teachers do their job, etc. Why is the School Committee allowing their subordinate take over their role?

    If anyone should be meeting with our elected town leaders it should be our elected school leaders, not our employee. Mr. Ricci should keep his nose out of the politics. He is not in a political position. He should move to one of the Chariho towns and run for School Committee if he wants to be political. Every member of the School Committee, whether pro-bond or not, should be embarrassed by Mr. Ricci’s behavior and actions.

    I simply can’t believe that Mr. Ricci is leading the charge to overturn a democratic vote. The fact he feels no limitiations as to what he can get away with tells us what we already knew. The employees are running the show and telling the School Committee what to do. Unbelievable.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 12:22 am | Reply

  2. CR dont be so quick to judge us. I didn’t know anything about this letter but will look into it. Bill how did you get this? I am surprised anyone would send it to you. I will agree with CR on this, this is digusting. I will be raising hell about this. There is no doubt that school committee members should have been able to go to this meeting.

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 18, 2007 @ 7:07 am | Reply

  3. I can’t believe an employee would do this to his employers! This just goes to prove what a sneak this guy is! WHO ELSE was at this meeting?

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 18, 2007 @ 8:13 am | Reply

  4. I received it in the mail – no return address. Believe it or not, this happens more than you would think.

    I’m very upset that I was not allowed to go but Stephanie Brown was. Anyone in Hopkinton is very familiar with all the cocktail parties the Brown’s had with Chariho administration – wining (whining) and dinning. Apparently, this insider-trading continues.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  5. What? Mrs. Brown was at the meeting with the Town Council leaders or a separate cocktail party?

    I’m happy to hear Mr. Petit is “disgusted”. What took so long?

    Mrs. Brown is in Mr. Ricci’s loop, but not Mr. Petit, Mr. Felkner, Mr. Abbott? Does anyone know if Mr. Pruehs was involved in any of this?

    I hope it is becoming clearer what these people are capable of doing and why so many of us in Hopkinton don’t trust them with even more of our money. Mrs. Brown is the last person in Hopkinton who should be invited to a meeting plotting to come up with a new strategy for getting their hands on other people’s money. Her track record is pretty suspect.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  6. HA! And when I asked for the town council to rquest a routine audit of CHARIHO to be sure that Ms Browns husband did not attempt to garner any illegal deals, I was treated like mean spirited person, and the idea was dismissed. This is NOT GOOD! Ms Brown had no more right to be there then anyone else. So who else are they in bed with.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 18, 2007 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  7. So Mr. Brown defrauds schools throughout Connecticut; his wife is the School Committee chairperson at Chariho; and when you ask to see if Mr. Brown made any attempts to do business with Chariho you are called “mean spirited”?

    How is this possible? We’re talking about a felon and his wife, who was listed as the corporation’s agent. You have to be completed stupid or corrupt not to check into what may have been going on with Chariho and the Brown family’s company.

    Do we know if the FBI or any other government policing body ever investigated Chariho? If not, can we invite them in to take a look?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  8. Georgia,

    I too asked for an audit but was told by Mr. Ricci that his administration had already investigated and assured me that Chariho had no connection with any of the Browns’ dealings.

    I’m not saying this is proof or not, but at least if it turns out to be false (that we did in fact deal with the Browns associated companies), we can show that the current administration intentionally covered it up.

    When the board consistently votes with the Superintendent’s recommendations, sometimes, getting them on record is all we can do

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

  9. The CT AG info and contact is here –

    I have found them to be very accessible – they can tell you status but may only have CT info

    PS. Honestly, I would be surprised if Chariho was involved. You usually don’t defecate where you masticate.

    But Stephanie contends she didn’t know what her husband was doing and we really don’t have anything to tell us otherwise. She is the registered agent of the company that was used to commit the crime, which, at minimum probably just tells us that she knows how the game of RFP’s works (requests for proposals). If it is a minority business, they often get preferential treatment.

    But that tells us she plays the game – and/or it also tells us that she could be married to someone and not know what that person was doing. She may be a perfectly honest person, but that would mean she is also not perceptive and/or easily fooled. I suppose their relationship was such that she did not interact with him much – but many in Hopkinton are familiar with the cocktail parties she used to throw for the Chariho admin (maybe some of those with more knowledge could expand on this). And if she was not close to her husband, why would she be the registered agent of the company? But maybe she signed it when they were close, but grew apart. I don’t really know. I don’t even know her, only said hello once – but what I recall of her on the board (through TV) she seemed to be a very intelligent and strong person.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

  10. And we are still left with the question of why Mrs. Brown, of all Hopkinton citizens, would be welcome at the secretive meeting with select politicians?

    What does Mrs. Brown have to offer Mr. Ricci and those looking to overturn the vote?

    Why would Mr. Ricci allow this controversial person to attend the meeting once the meeting had come to the public’s attention?

    Does Mrs. Brown have something on Mr. Ricci which she could leverage to get invited to the the meeting?

    Think about it…no, Mr. Felkner…no, Mr. Petit…no, Mr. Abbott….but yes, Mrs. Brown. Why?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  11. I should correct myself and note that OTHERS considered me “mean spirited”, and the Town Council did not accuse me of that, they just ignored my request, and seemed uncomfortable with it. Understand, I have no reason to consider that there was any wrong doing on the part of Ms Brown, or even Mr Brown, but as a taxpayer I wished to have my town practice due diligence. Anyone in a position where money is spent, money changes hands for contracts, etc. would have requested an audit THEMSELVES in order to assure both the wife of the felon and the taxpayers that nothing was amiss. This type of behavior is done on a routine basis, as is usually seen as a mere “houskeeping” type of audit, and is not meant to impune, discredit or otherwise harm any person.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 18, 2007 @ 1:30 pm | Reply

  12. OH, I forgot! One MORE reason to audit would have been the NAME of the false company…”Chariho Associates”. Cute, huh?

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 18, 2007 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  13. Having a bogus company called Chariho kind of make sense these days as the original Chariho seems to no longer have educating our children as its main focus. In many ways, the original Chariho is now a bogus school.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  14. Mr. Abbott – yes
    Mrs. Capalbo – yes
    they were able to get an invite – maybe they have something on Mr. Ricci too??

    Comment by smartiepants — November 18, 2007 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  15. Mrs. Brown and her husband previously lived on Arcadia Rd./ Hope Valley. The Westerly Sun had a legal ad that the house was in foreclosure and was to be auctioned. It may have been subsequently sold. This was also during the time FBI was investigating the defrauding scheme of Mr. Richard Brown and other phony companies set up by him and his accomplices in addition to “Chariho Associates” which lists his wife, Stephanie Brown, as the agent.

    All I know is, if my spouse were to bring home hundreds of thousands of dollars of what is normally made, I certainly would want to know the source!! Can you really be that naive?!! If so, she was the Chairwoman of Chariho!!!

    But since we are to believe that the Browns are “model citizens”, I’m sure they declared all the embezzeled $ stolen from the poorest school districts (but it’s for the kids)in CT and properly paid their CT state, RI state & federal income taxes.
    Oh, remember Leona Helmsley, to refresh everyone’s memory here is Wikepedia’s (encyclopedia) description:

    “She was a flamboyant personality and had a reputation for tyrannical behavior that earned her the nickname “Queen of Mean.” The image of Helmsley was sealed when a former housekeeper testified that she heard Helmsley say: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”
    She was convicted of federal income tax evasion and other crimes in 1989 and served 19 months in prison (and two more months in house arrest), after receiving an initial sentence of 16 years.”

    Just something to contemplate.

    Comment by Chariho Hypocrisy — November 18, 2007 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  16. If Mr. Abbott and Mrs. Capalbo were able to attend the meeting, then I attribute that success to the publicizing of the meeting. I’m betting neither were invited until the meeting came out of the shadows and was exposed to sunlight.

    Mr. Felkner never received an invite. Mr. Petit indicates he wasn’t notified either.

    Mrs. Brown is now a private citizen. I didn’t vote for her to represent me. She doesn’t hold any elected position to my knowledge. Allowing her to attend should have opened the doors to any private citizen attending. Where was Mrs. Gardiner invitation?

    I eagerly await to hear a report of the meeting from Mrs. Capalbo and/or Mr. Abbott. I would think that Mrs. Capalbo’s attendance put a damper on any secret strategies. I hope she kept her ears open.

    Don’t feel badly smartiepants, there is always the internet and the telephone for Mr. Ricci and his lackeys to subvert the vote and secretively plan further damage. I would be careful though, it’s not easy to get rid of email…it lives forever. I’d recommend the phone for future anti-democratic discussions.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

  17. Before this gets out of hand, we should confirm that SB was even there. I heard it from someone who was not there – would love to hear from someone who was.

    But the problem to me isn’t being invited or not – its that there was a meeting requested by the Superintendent that appears to be for the purpose of issuing the bond again. However, the Super said the meeting was standard operating procedure, not specific to reintroducing the bond and has recently sent me an email saying,

    “”This is what you were told:

    “Yes, I initiated this meeting just as I do other meetings that I convene
    with TC presidents. Yes, it’s at the administration building. Unless
    participants feel otherwise, others will be allowed to observe.”

    This message was sent in response to you telling me that others wanted to attend…”There are
    a few citizens that would like to get involved. When will that meeting be?”

    No invitations were extended.

    But we now see the email and it certainly appears to be focused on the bond. And I have ‘heard’ (and still waiting for confirmation) that a reporter was told they were not allowed to attend.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

  18. I just got confirmation that SB was at the meeting, as was Doreen Dolan and Mr. & Mrs. Anderson – all from the political action committee (CURE).

    But of course, according to Mr. Ricci – this was just a normal meeting.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  19. In Comment #8 – it appears that Mr. Felkner has let the cat out of the bag – We now know who ‘Curious Resident’ is!
    welcome to the group, Georgia

    Comment by smartiepants — November 18, 2007 @ 3:39 pm | Reply

  20. So our superintendant has aligned himself with a political action committee and has personal meetings with some citizens while excluding others?

    This may be normal for him, but I hope Hopkinton is paying attention to how this guy operates. When the bond comes up once again, and once again after that, Hopkinton needs to reject it overwhelmingly to send the message that we don’t tolerate insider trading.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  21. I keep telling you people that I’m a nobody. I don’t know why you don’t believe me? Ms. Ure is certainly a somebody so I couldn’t possibly be her. But I do thank you for the compliment 🙂

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

  22. smartie,
    guessing CR’s identity is a popular hobby – but look at comment #6 and you will see what I was responding too.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  23. smartie, my bad. I see what you are talking about. I said Georgia but I meant to say Dorothy. Both were on the Ed Options Committee. But that is a good guess. Although I don’t think Georgia is tech-savvy

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 4:35 pm | Reply

  24. Aaah, but you wrote “Georgia” in post #8, not “Dorothy”. I must be Ms. Ure if you wrote Georgia. If you had written George, that would have made me President of the United States. Just think, I was only a couple of letters away from being the leader of the free world! How disappointing.

    Please don’t discourage their guessing game. While they are distracted with me, they aren’t using their energies to further screw up our school system. I consider my anonymity to be a public service.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 4:39 pm | Reply

  25. smartiepants is very fitting. You obviously aren’t as smart as you may think since you couldn’t figure out that Mr. Felkner was responding to “Dorothy” Gardiner’s comment and, inadvertently, typed “Georgia” instead. He probably did so since both were on the ad hoc committee. But he’s the only one that knows why … smartiepants. Shall we welcome you to the group, Mrs. Brown?

    Comment by Chariho Hypocrisy — November 18, 2007 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

  26. Shhhhh…you’ll scare them away.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 4:48 pm | Reply

  27. Well, Bill, I consider it a compliment to be called “Georgia”. Thank you. But really, we are not joined at the hip, and my writing is my own!

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 18, 2007 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

  28. So, just to get my small mind wrapped around this:
    Mr Ricci stated he wanted to have a small routine meeting with town council presidents. He stated he considered this a usual and customary meeting. THEN he invited the town council presidents to discuss the bond, but told at least one school committee member the meeting was NOT to discuss the bond. Mr Ricci did not extend any invitations to others (or at least to me, the rest of the public, and other members of the school committee) Meanwhile, Mr Ricci researched methods of overturning the vote and assembled people who supported his idea. Mr Ricci also invited other people from the CURE group to the meeting, but no one else was invited. At the meeting, Mr. Ricci spoke of having the legal process of voting overturned, and disussed his research on the matter. Mr. Ricci also had the other group members discuss and attempt to influence our town council president to plan to overturn the vote of the town of Hopkinton. Of course our town council president supposedly represents the town of Hopkinton.

    If all of this is true, Why the HELL is that guy still there???
    Following the meeting, I understand that members of the Richmond community wish to assemble to go door to door in Hopkinton to tell those residents how to vote. Mr Ricci is an employee of CHARIHO, is required to divulge his actions and receive approval from the school committee, and is not a resident of any of the CHARIHO towns. Since he answers to a higher expectation of professional conduct it is assumed that he would not lie, conive, sneak, spread lies and rumors and disrespect a town that pays his salary. His behavior should be such that any parent or student could use him as an example.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 18, 2007 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  29. It seems you have it about right Mrs. Gardiner. There is the part about the media not being able to attend, and then, according to Mr. Abbott, they might be able to attend. I’m not sure how that turned out?

    Oh, and also the first email excluded the entire School Committee, except Mr. Day, and Mr. Reddish asked to bring a buddy (I’m assuming another Richmond Town Council member), and Mr. Ricci offered the same opportunity to other Town Council presidents too.

    I’m not sure when select private citizens were notified they were welcome to attend?

    There’s no doubt that Mr. Ricci has acted far beyond the role of a normal superintendant. I’ve never heard of a superintendant being so immersed in political battles. He not only is involved, he’s taken a leadership role.

    I’ve never voted for Mr. Ricci. I suggest he be immediately fired; move to one of the three towns; and run for the office of his choice in the next election cycle.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

  30. GOODNESS YES, Dorothy! I know you and Mrs. Ure are both truly independent. My apologies.

    After all, everyone knows you are the crazy roof-crane acrobat who stole a roof crane and poked holes in the Ashawy roof – then took photographs for the press – days before Mr. Ricci said it was not an emergency – day more to when it collapsed. Luckily we have Mr. McQuaide to protect us from the likes of you.

    And Mrs. Ure is the greedy real estate mogul (whom I have heard is the largest property owner in America next to Ted Turner) who abused chairperson Brown at a school board meeting about some “phantom furniture” from the 1904 school. Everyone knows we didn’t use furniture in the 1904 building.

    For those without a sense of humor – I’m kidding. The RE mogul line comes from something one of the other board members continues to say about Mrs. Ure – inside joke.

    God bless both you and Mrs. Ure for your work.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

  31. FYI – The media WERE there! Guess it wasn’t such a secret! Why hasn’t Barbara informed you of how it went?

    Comment by smartiepants — November 18, 2007 @ 5:42 pm | Reply

  32. Not sure. But haven’t had the opportunity to ask.

    You seem knowlegeable of the event. Were you there?

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

  33. Who was there? Geraldo? Did he find Mr. Brown’s vault?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

  34. Yes, the infamous caper of the ladies on the roof. Don’t forget Mr. Petit partnered with Mr. McQuaide. This was my first inkling that Mr. Petit might not be on the side of accountability.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  35. Superintendents are becoming more and more politcal and corrupt. Just check out history of Supt. “DR. James Halley” from North Kingstown. The citizens rose up and demanded accountability. They wanted the super gone. The embattled/political super decided to resign after a buy out, soon after being awarded the “School Superintendent of the Year.” This is an “award” given (I guess to deceptive superintendents)annually to Rhode Island Superintendents by the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association. And who is the executive director of the group who names “Superintendent of the year” – why our old friend Superintendent Pini- also a previous “Superintendent of the year” award recipient.

    Comment by Chariho Hypocrisy — November 18, 2007 @ 6:05 pm | Reply

  36. Well, if being political and deceptive is a criteria for Superintendant of the Year, Mr. Ricci has positioned himself extremely well.

    Here’s a website with a description Dr. Halley’s operation. Sounds very similar to the behavior of Mr. Ricci. I wonder if these guys talk to each other about how to operate? Sounds like Chariho is heading down the same road as North Kingstown. I wonder how much it will cost us?

    “He is a public official that answers only to himself, and his public allies answer only to him. He thinks he lives in a special bubble outside of public opinion…to a head over the report concerning $245,000 of misappropriated funds.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  37. Iteresting info. The intereconnectedness in RI always amazes me. Like our newly retired treasurer, Mr. Difabio. Worked at Charhio for 33 years but lately only got paid with health care ($14k). His wife works at Chariho and got the health care waiver ($5000ish). Mr. D also is the business manager at narragansett schools. I wonder if he got the waiver there too.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 6:56 pm | Reply

  38. To smartiepants: Would you please use your political clout or let anyone you know who may attend the next Superintendent’s breakfast/lunch/dinner meeting to PLEASE straighten out the DEPLORABLE conditions at the Chariho Middle School as reported by Channel 12 eyewitness news (Target 12-Child watch?)

    1st few paragraphs of story:

    Target 12 Child Watch: Cafeteria Inspections Results

    Updated: Aug 28, 2007 12:38 AM EDT

    “Providence (WPRI) — Moldy ice, mice droppings, roaches… That’s what inspectors find in local school cafeterias. A new federal law mandates that all schools must have two health inspections a year. We got a hold of the latest reports and Target 12 Child Watch Investigator Susan Hogan is showing you the results.

    Inside these health inspection reports, details so disturbing, you’ll want to hear it before handing out the milk money.

    Thousands of school children bite into food that’s supposed to be safe, but recent Rhode Island health inspection reports reveal that’s not always the case.

    At the Chariho Middle School in May, a health inspector discovered the presence of mice, even droppings and nests.”

    The story continues.

    But I guess we can fault the parents and taxpayers or, perhaps, this is due to the bond failure for allowing these conditions!! “It’s for the kids.”


    Comment by Chariho Hypocrisy — November 18, 2007 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

  39. Bill how do I post e-mails or http on here? I have tried in the past and haven’t had any lcuk. I did receive an email back from Barry and Rep. Kennedy on the refund and would like to post them just to keep everyone in the loop as I promised.

    As for the meeting, Bill Flekner can confirm this, I e-mailed Mr. Ricci and cc: the school committee in on it asking why it was a closed meeting. Come to find out it wasn’t an invitation meeting like everyone seems to think as it started as a closed meeting and was open to the public after so many requested to be there. AS for Bill not getting a response, I can only guess why and I am sure you all will guess the same. THe Westerly Sun had an article today about the meeting and the next one will be or is scheduled for Dec. 4TH, I am sure there will be more on this. I would like to see all of you attend and lets see what we can come up with as a resolution to this problem.

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 18, 2007 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

  40. […] Filed under: Maintenance — Bill Felkner @ 7:30 pm Chariho Hypocrisy write; To smartiepants: Would you please use your political clout or let anyone you know who may […]

    Pingback by Richmond Rodents « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — November 18, 2007 @ 7:30 pm | Reply

  41. Can you cut and paste onto this? It might get caught as spam but I can check the bin for it. And you are correct on your email to the Super

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 18, 2007 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  42. Were you at the meeting today Mr. Petit? Can you give us a summary? How was the CURE group able to find out the meeting was open to the public, but no one else in the public seemed to know this but them? Was it publically broadcast or is the special interest group, CURE, so connected to the administration that they are able to get preferential notification? Even before School Committee members…how does this happen?

    Whether this meeting was open or closed, Mr. Ricci’s original intent was to advise Town Council presidents about steps that can be taken to overturn the bond vote. Does Mr. Ricci have your blessing to strategize with town politicians without oversight and permission from the School Committee?

    Perhaps public pressure brought this meeting into the sunlight, but from the secretive nature of the meeting to the “new” 2010 date, this administration has not only withheld information from the public, but also from the School Committee.

    Personally, I can’t trust a word Mr. Ricci tell us. He lies, distorts, and misrepresents. When all else fails, he manipulates the School Committee. I remain disgusted and I hope you reassess the trust and faith you’ve given to this administration.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

  43. What fun!! I’m gone for 40+ hours and the blog is humming! I love smartiepants’ comments. And her typing is perfect, clean, very balanced in speech. Easy to read and respond!

    George Abbott told me about this ‘meeting’ – I didn’t receive an invitation either – but if it’s on, I’m game! Told George I’d meet him there. We would either be told to leave or sit quietly in the back. Mr. Ricci ran the ‘Superintendant’s Meeting’ (which he has been known to call occasionally, I learned from Mr. Ricci) joined by the ‘invitees’ – Mr. Cordone, Mrs. Kenney, Mr. Reddish, Mr. Oppenheimer, Mr. Craig, Mr. Poulouski and Mr. Day. The other eight of us sat quiet as mice (almost) in the back – that would be Maria Armental from Projo, Emily Dupuis from the Westerly Sun, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, Mrs. Brown (I actually don’t know her, so I could be wrong), myself, Mr. Abbott and Mrs. Dolan.

    No one was allowed to comment or talk at all except ‘invitees’. This was OK with me. I realize most of you won’t believe this but Mr. Cordone spoke up for Hopkinton. He informed the group that he spoke for himself not the council since the majority of the council were against the bond and he could not/would not speak for councillors not present. He also stated that we (everyone) has the right of individual vote and he would not speak against Hopkinton’s vote or anyone else’s.

    Vin continued his discussion thinking this ‘meeting’ was about the reasons for the bond failure and how we should move forward. He had numbers concerning the tax revision issue and presented it so that the three councils could begin the discussion to solve the problem – money, taxes, equalization. Charlestown’s Mr. Craig was not going to discuss this issue. Richmond’s Mr. Oppenheimer said this was an on-going issue for decades and he had been on both sides of the question.

    Then they got to brass tacks – how the bond failed because of ‘lies’, misinformation, ‘certain’ people – this took Mr. Craig, Mr. Day, Mr. Poulouski, Mr. Oppenheimer and Mr. Reddish some time to vent (there were no specifics). All present spoke to the cost of the bond versus the cost within the operating budget and the town 5% budget cap. Hopkinton raised taxes 1.8% this year and we only have two small bonds which were included in the 1.8% – we weren’t even close to the 5 and 1/4% allowed this year.

    Then the creme de la creme of the meeting was Mr. Reddish informing Mr. Cordone that he should ‘control his council better’ – I almost gagged – I thought this was illegal controlling elected officials points of view to keep a pleasant council (also probably an open meeting violation), but then Mr. Craig actually had the audacity to concur. It was a Kodak moment.

    Mr. Ricci retrieved the conversation by changing the direction to bring up the bond again – Mr. Oppenheimer wanted the ‘re-do’ as did all others present (in fairness to Mr. Cordone, I’m not sure he agreed). They do not want to change the bond, split the bond, review the bond. They want to ‘meet’ to annihilate the misinformation, lies, and ‘certain people’ to find the truth so that they can re-vote the bond and it can be endorsed 100% by all members of the councils. Because this is the best bond to fix all the problems at the main campus and they need to get the reimbursement monies (probably good for 3 years) and otherwise it will all have to go into the operating capital budget (the elementary schools were called ‘landscaping’, the high school was more crucial, therefore the elementaries won’t get any money at all).

    Mr. Ricci and the group proposed an immediate meeting (Dec 4th) of all three town councils (15 people), the entire school board (12 people + administration) and finance committees, the public is invited and encouraged to attend, persons can ask to write in and put themselves on the agenda to speak their minds – to or at – all present to correct all the misinformation presented before the bond vote.

    Can you say ‘auto-de-fe’?

    The Omnibus meeting is in January when, hopefully, people are calmer and blessed with the holiday season. Perhaps the Chariho Act Revision committee will have met and begun the process of equalizing taxes; and perhaps the school board will have received a letter from a council or two asking to keep the next 5th graders ’08-’09 in their own elementary schools.

    Or not.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — November 18, 2007 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  44. Hey, if they “annihilate the misinformation, lies, and ‘certain people’” that means the bond will be gone, right?

    Did anyone ask how this particular group came to be? For instance, why Mrs. Kenney and not Mrs. Capalbo, Mrs. Thompson or Mr. Buck? Why Mr. Day and Mr. Polouski but not other School Committee members? Why were some towns more heavily represented than others? Why only known pro-bond supporters? Do they consider it useful to have a discussion among only those that agree?

    This is very strange. I can understand why Mr. Day and Mr. Polouski would support this nonsense…they’re among the selected, by why would other School Committee members be accepting of this meeting?

    Glad to hear Mr. Cordone didn’t serve up Hopkinton on a silver platter. That fact he went along with this “Star Chamber” event (thanks Mr. Abbott for the reference) is discouraging and worthy of monitoring.

    Remember, what you saw today is the public face of this group. You can be certain their communications are not limited to a meeting that they were forced to bring quasi-public. Keep in mind that this would have occurred behind closed doors if not for Mr. Felkner.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 8:22 pm | Reply

  45. Well, I sure as heck will have some questions! (Don’t I usually) I am NOT voting for the bond, I do NOT want to see it up for vote again (been there, done it already), and I do NOT want another almost 20% tax increase. That is ALL CHARIHO has given Hopkinton. Oh, I forgot,they also gave us no bid contracts, rotten upkeep, “Where is the Well”, Where is the Oil, the list goes on and on. In order to give some one money, you should first trust them. NEVER should you have to pay for something you can’t afford for yourself! That includes air conditioning, a new running track, a “wrap around” program that gives away all the social services that are already funded by the state, but that we now pay for. Where else would I get a chance to pay TWICE for the same thing? AND I want to see the 5th and 6th graders home again!

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 18, 2007 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  46. Hello CR,

    The meeting seems to have been for the Pres and Vice Pres of the councils and the Chair and Vice Chair of the school committee. Vinnie went there with the best intentions -‘brainstorming for ideas’ was the email – to determine the problems before another bond. I don’t think he realized that Mr. Ricci meant this bond – not another, and certainly the group was not interested in the Chariho Act revision either.

    I would have reacted exactly like he did. This is one time you cannot hold him accountable. He really went there armed with financial facts (Mr. Oppenheimer even said he was almost dead on) and the desire to move the district forward by addressing tax revision. Everyone else was there only to promote a new vote for the same bond. No one had any ideas to move forward in any other vein.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — November 18, 2007 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

  47. Charlestown and Richmond should be embarrassed that their politicians are criticizing Hopkinton’s Town Council for holding tax growth to under 2%.

    The hubris of these politicians is incredible. They complain because Hopkinton had more room to raise taxes and didn’t gouge taxpayers…this time.

    Most of us in Hopkinton are still reeling from the 19% tax increase of a few years ago. Chariho owes us another 7 or 8 years of 2% increases.

    Most of all, Chariho needs to start educating our children at a level commensurate that the large annual budget warrants. Maybe if Mr. Ricci spent his time being an educator instead of being a political manipulator, he’d have something to show for all the money we give him?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 8:48 pm | Reply

  48. While I don’t always agree with your grand visions Mrs. Capalbo, you have my trust. If you say Mr. Cordone represented Hopkinton honorably, I take you at your word and commend Mr. Cordone.

    I still advise that we keep a close eye on Mr. Cordone. I would hope he would have been the same person without the media and public present, but he still hasn’t proven himself to me. Behind closed doors (or private emails or telephone calls) he might be somebody else all together.

    By the way, according to Mr. Ricci’s email, council presidents had the choice of councilors to bring with them. Unless Mr. Ricci orders changed, Mr. Cordone had Mr. Ricci’s permission to bring you or Mr. Buck or Mrs. Thompson. He chose Mrs. Kenney. I believe Mr. Erick Davis is Richmond’s vice president. Mr. Magoo is vice president in Charlestown.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

  49. Good points CR – I wasn’t aware that Mr. Davis was a VP.

    It is truly amazing to me that the school administration cannot accept new thoughts, inventive or imaginative solutions. It really has to be all or nothing every time. Grand visions are always good starting points, then compromise creates useful and often even more imaginative options. It’s the old ‘aim for the stars and reach the moon’ theory.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — November 18, 2007 @ 10:15 pm | Reply

  50. I came across your letter in ProJo Mrs. Capalbo. Quite a good read…it can be read here:

    There is something about power that truly does corrupt individuals. There also seems to be a tendency among the “intellegensia” for them to think that only they know what is best for the masses. In local school systems this often results in elites making decisions which should remain in the hands of parents. Sadly, large segments of our population have allowed the elites to take over…sometimes its easier than being responsible yourself.

    As you point out in your letter, Hopkinton is unique. I get the feeling that many of those who opposed the bond have Hopkinton running through their bloodstream while many of those trying to fool us into 20 more years of Hopkinton as the stepsister are outsiders…if not in reality, then at least in spirit.

    Your quote, “Never to be silent and always on our guard” is remarkably on target as it relates to the efforts to hold Chariho accountable for its failures. Until recently I was silent and sleeping…I’ve woken up to my Hopkinton roots. Remain proud Hopkinton.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 18, 2007 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  51. As for the lack of “new thoughts” and “imaginative solutions”, this is easy. They surround themselves with each other…nodding heads all. When everyone agrees, there isn’t much room left for brainstorming.

    The meeting this afternoon was the perfect example. The closest they came to a rebel was Mr. Cordone. What does that tell you? Not much free exchange of ideas because they only have one idea between them.

    Mr. Ricci has had a School Committee of yes men and women for some time. When someone like Mr. Felkner comes along, the yes men and women collaborate to shut him down.

    I have a sense that Mr. Abbott may be an individual thinker too…he impresses me quite a bit sometimes, but his nature seems less aggressive than Mr. Felkner and the group overwhelms him most of the time. Sitting next to Mr. Polouski is worthy of praise in and of itself.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 12:09 am | Reply

  52. Here are 2 e-mails I received one from Barry (1st) and one from Brian Kennedy (2nd). I still am not sure how this would end up, I beleive we have the bond available for the next three years but the reimbursement or funding could change on the bond if not approved before the next legislative session. So CR, I owe an apology to you and everyone as I thought that the bond would be dissolved when they decide the next state budget, but from what I am gathering so far this is not true. On the other hand, the 56% and 60% funding formula if decreased by the state would not be there for us on this bond if the bond is not approved before the funding is changed. I hope this helps. I am still waiting on a response from our senators and the AG office.

    Hi Bob…My understanding is the the Board of Regents Necessity of Construction approval is good for three years. Recall that we were approved under the old construction regulations. We would not have to go through this process again. We would need to return to the legislature with memorializing resolutions from each of the towns to have a new bond act approved…which would authorize another vote. I believe that the 56/60 rates would be determined at the legislative level. I think a good example would be the Woonsocket story…when the legislature reduced their state construction aid during the legislative approval process. B.

    Hi Bob,
    Because of the present state deficit, and the fact that new state funds would have to be committed to any new building improvements (which ultimately increases the overall debt of the State of Rhode Island), there is no clear answer as to what the reimbursement would be for new school building projects that are brought forth in the future. There has been widespread discussion about changing the percentages, however, as of today, that has not been done. We are basically in a wait and see mode. If a new proposal is introduced next year, it may be the same percentage reimbursement, or it may be a greatly decreased percentage amount. Without the benefit of a crystal ball, there are no guarantees going forward.

    Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy
    District 38

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 19, 2007 @ 8:39 am | Reply

  53. Now that we know we have at least three years, there is NO NEED to hurry. Lets take our time, plan, and determine what we need, what we want, and what we can afford!

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 19, 2007 @ 10:19 am | Reply

  54. Mrs. Gardiner, dont go on just what I am saying and posting here as it seems to me there is a lot of confusion, or should I say speculation on peoples parts as to how long the bond will be in affect and what the reimbursement rate will be, doesn’t seem like anyone knows for sure. After reading e-mails that is my understanding of it ( 3 years)but I dont want someone to come back later and say “well Bob Petit said we have 3 years”: again this is only my interpurtation to what I have read. I just want to make that clear to everyone.

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 19, 2007 @ 10:36 am | Reply

  55. Thank you for the clarification, Mr Petit. However, no matter what, we need to take our time and determine what is wanted, what is needed, and what we can afford before any new or old bond is proposed. With a fair an equitable bond, I am sure that the voters of Hopkinton would vote to “approve” expenditures that make sense, are appropritate, and come with an administration that is dedicated to review, supervise, save, and be aware that we must be frugal and open in ALL aspects of school management.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 19, 2007 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  56. To see how “open” and honest this administration operates, read my newest comments under Mrs. Capalbo’s meeting report. How anyone could trust anything Mr. Ricci tells them is beyond me. One lie after another and they continue to follow him like lemmings to the sea.

    From Wikipedia: “On occasion, and particularly in the case of the Norway lemmings in Scandinavia, large migrating groups will reach a cliff overlooking the ocean. They will stop until the urge to press on causes them to jump off the cliff and start swimming, sometimes to exhaustion and death. Lemmings are also often pushed into the sea as more and more lemmings arrive at the shore.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  57. I read and read and read, and still no mention of fiscal restraint and responsibility.

    Comment by R S — November 19, 2007 @ 1:40 pm | Reply

  58. Bob and CR,

    Thank you for your work and your research. Maybe a thorough audit (but not forensic – they are terribly expensive – unless we really do need this) needs to come with a management study.

    Dot is right – take some time, review all the needs, keep it frugal but with foresight, follow all federal mandates – not state (others are fighting this battle), use computers and computer classes to challenge and tighten curriculum, and follow states who already do it right.

    Comment by BarbaraC — November 19, 2007 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

  59. I’m not familiar with forensic audits other than hearing the term. But Mr. Ricci has involved himself heavily in political issues, and every day there seems to be a bit of new information that contradicts the message that was delivered to voters prior to the bond. Even Mr. Petit, if he is being honest with us, seems to be in the dark about the truth versus the fiction that was spun to the voters.

    From the cost of RYSE to the date of state reimbursement eligibility to the state funding formula…voters were consistently fed lies and distortions.

    I don’t know if it is illegal for a school administration and/or Building Committee to lie and mislead voters using the voters’ own money, but it should be, and it is definitely unethical. We exposed much of the propaganda prior to the vote (thanks to Mr. Felkner), but now, even more nonsense is coming to light.

    Mr. Ricci has taken the lead in the efforts to overturn the legal vote. He has put the School Committee in a subordinate role in the solving the problems of our schools. I’d be very interested in finding out how long he’s been playing these games and if his game playing is limited to this bond, or as Mr. Abbott has indicated, could there be games being played with surpluses and taxpayer money?

    Whatever is needed to get control of Chariho’s administration and to get the school focused on educating our children should be done. If this requires a forensic audit, it should be considered.

    Personally, I would like to see Mr. Ricci gone…resignation or firing. No audit needed. And then I’d like the School Committee to search for an administrator with a proven track record of both fiscal restraint and educational success.

    As you point out Mrs. Capalbo, there are school districts all over the place where spending is controlled and education is superior. This should be our goal too.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

  60. Yes fire Barry and bring back Pini, oh wait a minute you didn’t like him either. I didn’t say that I was being lied to about the bond. I said I would look into the reimbursement rate and how long it would available, I did that and have posted the e-mails out for everyone to read. I strongly believe that no-one knows this answer for sure. Atleast this is what I am getting out of the answers. Rep. Kennedy has said there is no way of knowing what would happen or how long we would have the 56% and 60% reimbursement rate, it depends on the legislators and this comming session. I was confused with the 3 years as I thought the rates would go away since the bond was defeated but the Necessity of Construction approval will be in effect for the 3 years, the rates will not or I should say might not!

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 19, 2007 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  61. Buying what we do not need, do not want, and have no use for is NO bargain no matter WHAT the reimbursement rate is! Trapping us in a 20 year conflict is not a good idea, either. I would also like to hear what the surplus is, and an audit is needed right now. December 4th is going to be one heck of a meeting!

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 19, 2007 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  62. I don’t recall Mr. Pini, but I hear he trained Mr. Ricci, so I wouldn’t want him back. I think we need someone who has led a school that has had superior academic results while also controlling spending.

    As for the reimbursement rate, I’ve posted a link to an official Rhode Island document which clearly states that reimbursement rates for fiscal year 2008 will remain the same – 56% for new construction and 60% for renovations. This state document is dated August 2008…two months prior to the vote.

    I simply don’t believe that Mr. Ricci and other politicians were unaware of this. If they were, they should be fired for that alone.

    You can keep your head buried deep underground Mr. Petit. As many others have seen the light, you refuse to come out of the dark despite the volumes of information which contradict all the propaganda fed to you. I think this effort to subvert a legal vote has changed some minds in Hopkinton among those who supported the bond. I don’t know what it is that keeps you chugging along the wrong track, but I hope you wake up soon. Hopkinton could use you on our side…fighting for the children instead of fighting for the adults.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  63. I’m with you Mrs. Gardiner. If we don’t need it and can’t afford it, it is not a bargain at any price.

    That said, the pro-bond side did convince a sizable number of voters to support the bond because it is “now or never”. The reimbursement rate timetable was one more in a series of lies. I think that Hopkinton bond supporters need to be made aware of which side of the issue the lies, distortions, and misrepresenations are rooted.

    Over and over Mr. Ricci and the Building Committee are caught in a new lie. They play with words and redirect the debate, but at the end of the day, they can’t be trusted.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

  64. Because of work Tuesday is pretty tough for me to be at a meeting. I noticed in the Campus 2010 FAQ where the bond says they will delay the middle school project “if cost effective”. I’m worried what this means? What is cost effective? There seems to be lots of word play with the bond. I voted against the bond because I want fifth and sixth graders at elementary schools. When I look at the wording in the FAQ I am concerned that the bond really won’t delay the middle school. This would be a big blow to the ad hoc work to find options for the kids. If I can’t make the meeting can somebody ask what they mean by cost effective? Do they say this to get more votes or can they explain what they mean by cost effective? Thank you.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — November 19, 2007 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

  65. Correction, CR.

    You say: “As for the reimbursement rate, I’ve posted a link to an official Rhode Island document which clearly states that reimbursement rates for fiscal year 2008 will remain the same – 56% for new construction and 60% for renovations. This state document is dated August 2008…two months prior to the vote.”

    What you mean is that they are unchanged for the current fiscal year (we’re almost halfway through FY08 right now). The suggestion that reimbursement will remain at 56% for the long term is at best unsubstantiated.

    Comment by david — November 19, 2007 @ 10:29 pm | Reply

  66. The implication by the Building Committee to the voters was this was the last chance to get the 56% reimbursement. This was clearly a lie. Considering the bond was finalized this summer, there was still around a year left of guaranteed reimbursement.

    I’ve never said the reimbursement rate would remain at 56% for the long term, but I did identify how long the current rate applies…the Building Committee could have done the same thing, but didn’t…they tried to scare voters. Hopkinton was not afraid.

    Mrs. Capalbo thinks reimbursement might go up. Mr. Petit thinks it may go down. Nobody knows for sure, but trying to scare voters into supporting a frivolous bond which locks us into 20 years of an inequitable tax scheme is certainly more to be afraid of than possible changes in state funding rates.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

  67. […] particular interest was the discussion over the email from Superintendent Ricci to the Town Council presidents.  Watch how debate is stifled by a motion made by Andrew McQuaide.  […]

    Pingback by School Committee meeting - Nov 27 « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — November 27, 2007 @ 11:35 pm | Reply

  68. […] heard about Tuesday’s meeting by now.  Specifically, how the board killed discussion of the email Superintendent Ricci sent out after the bond failed.   Simply put, Bill Day told me to make a motion and then we would […]

    Pingback by “There’s no reason tri-town taxpayers shouldn’t get to see deal they’re about to pay for” « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — November 30, 2007 @ 11:21 pm | Reply

  69. […] Then Superintendent Ricci sent out an email to the town council presidents asking for a meeting  […]

    Pingback by So many issues - too little time « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — December 2, 2007 @ 1:32 am | Reply

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