Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 19, 2008

Notes

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 4:35 pm

[UPDATE]

I am going to rewrite this in chronological order

Way back when, when I was thinking about running for the town council, someone came to me with a copy of the Hopkinton Charter and showed me where it said, “Membership on boards or commissions that act as representation of the Town of Hopkinton in regards to the School District shall not disallow that elector from serving on another board, committee or commission in Town government.”

I spoke with a lawyer friend of mine, not paid and on the record, and he explained that unless you have an exact copy of our situation that was tried in court (as an example, it would need to be the same town council using the same town charter on the same school committee) only then could you say, ‘there is case law that is a slam dunk’ and even then, enough money could persuade a lawyer to argue either side.

Point is, until someone makes a case of it, you never know if it means what you think it means.  You take free advice, worth every penny, and make a decision.  So I went about getting free advice.

I contacted the Town’s attorney.  She made it clear that she was not going to give legal advice nor would she want me to use any comments as adding merit to an argument.  But she did suggest that I contact Ethics.  Which I did.

Last Friday I spoke with Ethics.  They have ruled on dual seats, but would not make any official or legal rulings or opinions on my issue.  They did say that I might need to recuse myself if there was a conflict of interest as I could be representing both sides (them suggesting this seems to imply that it has been done before).  I tried to explain that I thought it was more like a congruence of interest, not a conflict, as my constituency is the same for both. but he said it would need to be decided on an individual basis and that I should call them before meetings to get an opinion.  He then suggested I speak with the Board of Elections on the dual seat question.

Saturday I notice that the school committee packet wasn’t on the porch.  I emailed Ricci asking for a copy ‘asap’

On MOnday still no packet.  I emailed Ricci again.

On Monday, I also heard back from the board of elections, he said, like all lawyers, ‘I’m not making an official decision or ruling, but it looks like its ok.  I don’t see anything to restrict holding two seats.”  (note: i totally understand their hesitation to be held to an opinion. They don’t  have time to thoroughly research , so you just take it as an educated thought).  But if I had the Chariho School Budget, I could ask for official legal opinions all day long – especially since Bob Petit made the motion to give Ricci unfettered access to the lawyer (someone played like a cheap flute here?) but I digress…

I also called Ethics back and told them that I didn’t get the packet, thus have no idea if there is a vote that I need an opinion on NOR was I comfortable voting on anything without an opportunity to read the material first.  He said, “why didn’t you get the packet?”  I don’t know, I said – “call and ask why you didn’t get it, ask them for it.  And if they don’t give it to you, and this is NOT official advice from ethics, but what you could do is tell them that you might have to move to table each vote until you have the same time to review the material as everyone else had”

I called Donna and Barry’s office – no answer.  No answer to emails.  I called Bill Day and left message that I would ask to table so I can read the material.

I hear from George Abbott, Ricci tells him that my seat was vacated when I was sworn in, he cited ‘common law of incompatability’

I called Elections back and he said, “he might have a point, but I’m not making an offical ruling. You should speak with a lawyer.”  I asked, who, my town’s lawyer or a personal one.  He said what ever I could get.

I got a call from Ethics and they said, “Did you tell Chariho that we told you to move to table every vote?”  I said, no, I told them the same thing every lawyer has told me for days, “it is not an official opinion or ruling or suggestion” but I did talk to you and you did say, “what you could do is…”

I called a lawyer friend of mine.  First I told him that they were citing Common Law to block me.  “they can’t do that,” he said.  Then I read him our Act and he also agreed that it looks like I can do it.  Then he looked for state law and said it still looks olk. But he, like the others, didn’t do exhaustive research .”  So I went to the meeting. 

This lawyer also told me to emphasize that if they move forward and do not let me vote and review the material, anyone who objects could claim that the votes taken were not valid.  THis is interesting as this is the same argument that Jon Anderson will make in the meeting to keep me off.  Saying they would get sued unless they removed me. 

Which brings us to the notes….

 

Here are the notes I tried to make tonight.   NOTE: I was not given notification that I was going to be asked to leave the Committee. 

All of this is John Anderson speaking until you get to the section using initials.    JA – john anderson, AM – andy mcquade, BD – bill day, DC – deborah carney, you get the idea

Jon Anderson is with Edwards, Angel & Dodds and is the school’s attorney – He addresses the council.  “I was asked to speak – is Felkner qualified to serve?  We have elected a member of the Senate to president – Obama made the decision to resign Senate.  Monday, Felkner’s seat became vacant when he was sworn to the Town Council.

 

The Chariho Act 10-1A says that in the event of vacancy the town council will fill the void.  The vacancy comes from Mr. F’s “incapacity to serve.”

 

The Hopkinton Town Charter – 2130 defines who is elected.  1240 speaks to Multiple Office Holdings – 2 sentences , one says NO, one says if a seat is with the “school district” is does not disallow holding two seats.

 

No elected member of the Town government shall hold more than one (1) elective or position in the Town Government at the same time. No elected member of the Town gov- shall, at the same time, hold any position by virtue of an appointment by the Town Council or the Town Manager. Appointed members of the Town Government may hold more than one (1) appointed position if the Town Council fails to find and appoint any other Town elector to the vacant position. Membership on boards or commissions that act as representation of the Town of Hopkinton in regards to the School District shall not disallow that elector from serving on another board, committee or commission in Town government.

 

“How do we read these?”

Is it possible to satisfy both sentences?  Chariho Act speaks about building committee and holding another seat …

 

RI Doctrine of Incompatibility

 

Are they “inherently incompatible?  YES” Chariho Act Sec 18, how do you withdraw from the Act… The appropriate method to withdraw, 

 

“My recommendation to the chair is that Mr. Felkner’s position is vacant – he could be asked to attend the meeting as a member of the public but he is not to be counted by clerk or vote”

 

BD – “I will accept his recommendation.”

 

JA – Im hear to speak to the SC as a whole. If Mr. F is left on the committee someone could sue the school because the votes would be invalidates (NOTE this is the same warning I was told to give the committee).

 

BD – MR. F will you please leave.

 

BF – I do not think you have the authority to make this decision and I do not recognize the decision.

 

AM – (asking JA) what actions do we need to take? 

 

JA – ‘don’t believe there is any. Chariho made a ruling that Mr. Felkner is not a member of this committee.  I have told Mr. F that he can use the court system if he disagrees.”

 

AP – ‘my past experience, if you get on the council you leave the school committee.  I read the law”

 

DC – pointed out that she reads the law differently and the Chariho Act Sec he is citing doesn’t even have anything to do with dual seats.  “This doesn’t have anything to do with Mr. F”  She feels that if they move forward the committee they could be disenfranchising Hopkinton (DC is from Charlestown).

 

JA – what I see in the Chariho Act, coupled with HTC charter, coupled with common law, says Felkner can’t do it.  The issue is that Felkner is not qualified for the seat. – if votes are taken and Felkner is on the committee, someone might sue the school.

 

AM – better to be sued by Felkner than a bunch of lawsuits

 

JA – “AM eloquently put it, better for one suit than several”

 

DC – moved to table vote. 

 

** – School Committee did not count my vote.

 

AP – Move to question –

 

Question “Disallow Felkner from SC from this day forward until a court tells them otherwise – AP corrected to say, “board of elections or a court”

 

*** — SC did not count my vote.  SO – if I was still on the board until this vote was taken (assuming they have the authority to do that) why didn’t they count my vote?  Bill Day already decided.  Good thing we have this on tape ( thank you Sylvia)

 

JA – said the ethics commission has not given advice nor an opinion on this issue (true but I did speak with them all and got non-official suggestions).

 

Bill Day called the police

 

Move to recess. 

** – ignored my vote.

 

Back in Session –

 

Move to go into executive session.   (didn’t count my vote)

 

In session (lawyer said it was NOT an executive session because I, a member of the public, was there). 

 

AM slipped and said that Holly Eaves had been elected chair of the committee (didn’t I tell you!)

 

AM – how long do we let this go on? What course of action do we have?

 

JA – there is a forum to dispute this for Mr. F, it is the court, not here. 

As soon as we started talking about me (not on the agenda, again) Deb Carney got up and said we can’t do this and walked to the door.  JA said, “this isn’t executive session (he began pacing about this time, good to see him getting upset – he should be concerned).

 

AM – we could ask for intervention – we have a Richmond Police officer – what does it take to get a member of the public removed?

 

BF –  they don’t have the authority to make those decision but if the police officer comes to me and tells me to leave, I will not resist.

 

Bill Day said he was only going to be president for a few more moments so he asked for a roll call vote to have me removed.  AP – yes, GA – no, DC – no, RV – no, BD – yes, HE – yes, MC – yes, AM – yes, TS – abstain (just got there), BP – no (shocking true, maybe he figured out he got snookered on that motion to give Ricci free legal muscle), BF – no (did not count my vote).  5 – 4 vote (not counting mine)

 

As I walked out under escort, I asked if I could come back in.  Officer Dan Kelly (badge 22) said no.  I could sit in the car and wait, but I couldn’t go back in the building ( I actually felt sorry for this guy, bad duty to pull).

 

That’s all the notes I took.  I missed a lot I know, but Sylvia taped it.  I will try to get it posted for us here.  But if others can help me fill in the blanks, I would appreciate it.

 

It is important to know that this was NOT on the agenda.  Not sure how you can take a vote on something that no one was given an opportunity to read about – but that’s the Chariho way, no?

 

All of this could have been hidden if it weren’t for Sylvia and Dorothy showing up early to tape it.  THX

 

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122 Comments »

  1. Like I’ve said in previous posts, the Richmond Police department has no problem violating the civil rights of the taxpayers and citizens of this state. If you were indeed a citizen, then your right to attend the SC meeting was violated by the police department. If you were not a citizen, but a SC member, then ditto.

    Comment by RS — November 19, 2008 @ 12:31 am | Reply

  2. Naw, the officer was clearly in a tough spot. There was no way he could win.

    The key issue here is that BF running for TC was widely known a long time ago, his election was known two weeks ago, but somehow the solution to this was to wait until the first meeting and play hard ball, it smells of dirty rotten games. Clearly, the level of preparation didn’t happen 15 min before the meeting.

    Moreover, the legal concept of having to deal with only one legal suit is based on false premises. If the SC choose to not have the executive session, then NONE of the items up for discussion or vote would have had any potential for litigation, there just wasn’t any vote that would rise to that level. Of course, BF will challenge this decision of the board … what a good suggestion from Mr. McQuaide.

    Anderson’s suggestion that this scenario is anything like Obama’s Pres/Senate situation is completely without basis. Moreover, the SC is a completely separate entity from the Town, that’s pretty clear based on how they treated Mr. Buck, essentially we can’t give you that budget data, sorry, you want too much.

    Tonight, I saw first hand how the SC deals with delicate issues … bull in a china shop

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 19, 2008 @ 1:20 am | Reply

  3. But don’t forget Gene according to CP it is Mr. Felkner who is “antagonistic and volatile”.

    Any chance we will get to see the video here?

    Glad to hear Mr. Petit voted the right way…although who knows what he would have done if he had been the deciding vote.

    The attorney is a joke as he recommended Mr. Felkner’s ouster while at the same time participating in illegal votes and closed meeting conversations which didn’t belong there. What the heck does Obama have to do with any of this? What a moron.

    I consider the evening a smashing success as anybody with a shred of integrity must now acknowledge our school system is being run by a bunch of tyrannical boobs.

    Oh, and did Mr. Ricci’s lying to a parent get discussed?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 2:41 am | Reply

  4. It wasn’t clear to me, but did the vote to have you removed occur in public? If not, then wouldn’t it be illegal to have a quorum discussing issues outside the view of the public? In either case, removing you was not on the agenda, right?

    I understand your empathy for the police officer, but by what authority were you removed from the meeting? Did he cite any law? Can the police arbitrarily remove elected representatives at the behest of other elected representatives. While this is tangential to the events, it does present a scary scenario if police are able to take sides and create laws as they go along.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 2:51 am | Reply

  5. In case you missed it in the flurry of posts. It was standard practice prior to the Elementary School being placed under the Chariho umbrella to have committee members serve on both the town School Committee as well as the Chariho School committee. Unless the Chariho Act was modified to forbid similar dual roles, then this sure seems like precedence to me. Both Billy-Bob Day and Big Andy Polouski were around back then so they must be aware of this precedence.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 3:00 am | Reply

  6. This just in…the Richmond Town Council will be issuing a vote of confidence the first chance they get 😉

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 3:03 am | Reply

  7. I hope we can get to see the video on here. My one question is why did cox cable stop taping the meetings a while back is this a cost saving measure. doesn’t the public have the right to view the meetings like we used too..

    Comment by Family Guy — November 19, 2008 @ 3:08 am | Reply

  8. I happened to walk into the meeting in the middle of all this. I have to say I enjoyed the theater.

    My view is that both Mr. Felkner and the school committee relished the confrontation, that either could have, if they chose, taken action in advance to have avoided such a scene.

    Comment by david — November 19, 2008 @ 7:34 am | Reply

  9. “The Cable Guy” will have the video posted on COX for viewing at 10 pm tonight and 12 noon on Friday (the prior schedule). Sadly, since the “meeting” began at 6:30 or so, he was not set up to tape until later, and missed the begining. I had thought that a meeting to discuss this (Mr. Felkner) would be on the agenda, and included in the meeting begining at 7:00 pm.

    The discussion of Mr. Felkner began around 6:30pm…what was THAT all about? An attempt to hide this from the press and public? Isn’t that an open meeting violation? (Not publishing the agenda, starting this meeting prior to the announced time) CLEARLY, they (many of the members of the SC)were prepared for this, having an attorney well prepared (usually the attorney is NOT present at the meetings), and most of the SC ready to discuss Mr Felkners position on the board.

    I believe that MY rights have been violated:

    1. This meeting began before the published time.
    2. This discussion was NOT on the agends
    3. I voted for Mr. Felkner, and until proven not able to serve due to legal, published documentation he is my elected offical.
    4. Meetings prior to this meeting had to have taken place, and provided the parties involved in the SC (Mr. Ricci, Mr. Day, etc.) sufficent time to list this as an agenda item)

    Thank you Mr. Felkner for refusing to relinquish your seat, and maintaining your calm and dignified manner.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 19, 2008 @ 8:02 am | Reply

  10. AND…GOOD FOR YOU GEORGE ABBOTT! George stood up for what he felt was right, against many of the members of the SC. I am sure he felt lonely up there, but he spook up and supported Mr. Felkner, and deserves support himself.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 19, 2008 @ 8:25 am | Reply

  11. Mr. Felkner, while we may disagree often on your tactics and motive, I have yet to see any shred of evidence that denies you the right to serve on both the school committee and the town council. To me, it certainly looks like an attempt by BR, AM, BD and AP to silence you which is wrong on their part. I’m not surprised by DC actions, she is a woman of honor and will not subvert a person’s rights as some on the school committee have.

    CR, just so you know, the Richmond Town Council and I’ve heard, the Charlestown Town Council, want to resurrect the Tri-Town Council sub-committee. Charlestown has said that this has to do with more than just Chariho but that Chariho is one of the main focuses. The Richmond Town Council said last night that they would like to begin discussions on equalization. Let’s see now if the Hopkinton Town Council will join in and have open discussions that might actually help to bring about much needed change.

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 19, 2008 @ 8:59 am | Reply

  12. More discussions…how nice. They’ve worked so well in the past. I’m sure Charlestown will be ready to agree to equalization now, LOL. Brilliant move. Richmond and Charlestown leaders and voters have had years to act in good faith…they can’t do it. Now is the time for Hopkinton to come up with unilateral solutions.

    Wow, the School Committee broke just about every meeting law in the state in their rush to get Mr. Felkner. Staring the meeting early. Voting on a non-agenda item. Disenfranchising a town.

    Not sure what action Mr. Felkner should have taken before the meeting? He made his intentions public and even sent emails to Mr. Ricci requesting information. He simply showed up at the meeting to represent Hopkinton. No surprises.

    On the other hand Chaiho School Committee was preparing right along. Unlike Mr. Felkner, they hid their intentions and did not give anyone, the town, taxpayers, or Mr. Felkner, an opportunity to settle any differences of opinion. Not sure why David would equate Mr. Felkner’s actions with that of the School Committee. Per usual Mr. Felkner was open and honest. Per usual Chariho was secretive and dishonest.

    I still haven’t heard if Mr. Ricci incident where he lied to a parent and has incurred more legal fighting against the parent and Rhode Island’s Department of Education was discussed? I suspect a large part of last night’s antics were designed to keep Mr. Ricci’s deceit in the background.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 11:13 am | Reply

  13. CR, how else do you suppose to get the town councils talking then? How else can anything get changed if we don’t start at the town level and work on issues that face all 3 towns, not just Chariho issues.

    “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser – in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” – Abraham Lincoln

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 19, 2008 @ 11:41 am | Reply

  14. I noticed how the SC clung to the first sentence of the town charter…like some on this blog. Too bad we can’t prove this was all preplanned and discussed ahead of time amongst the SC members and some of the public in other towns, of course when the case gets rolling the only way those involved can cover this is through perjury and false statements. I’m sure the people involved in denying a whole town their right to representation would have no problem lying. When these type people look up all they see is the undrside of a snake, lower than low.

    Comment by RS — November 19, 2008 @ 11:55 am | Reply

  15. Hi!
    My mother pointed this out to me this morning. It was in The Providence Journal http://www.projo.com .
    My thoughts:
    1. To my knowledge while it is unorthodox to hold both school committee and town council seats, it is not necessarily illegal. I would like legal citations of where a resignation or vacancy occurs when one is sworn into another office. The only possible problem is when one can’t run for two offices at the same time. But since Bill was elected to the school committee in 2006 and 2008 to the town council there appears to be no conflict are far as running for two offices at the same time. This ruling on the state level was changed in recent years as I understand it. However it apparently does not impact federal office and running for state office which Kenneth Capalbo did this year.
    2. What is NOT remarked about is the “election” of Holly Eaves on the Chariho Regional School Committee in 2006. My concern is the action of the Charlestown Board of Canvassers to issue a certificate of election in 2006 to Ms. Eaves. In 2006 Charlestown had three openings on the Chariho School Committee. Only Andrew Polouski was on the ballot and was highest votegetter. Andrew McQuaide, Jr., as a write-in was second highest votegetter. Then it gets interesting. Bernard Bishop, came in third but declined.
    Holly Eaves and the late Joseph Ungaro tied for fourth place.Ungaro was alive on election day. The Board of Canvassers certified Eaves the winner even though she was NOT in the top three of those receiving school committee votes. I know of no law in Rhode Island that authorizes a Board of Canvassers to declare elected a person with less votes than those that can be elected and also one that allows one who ties with another, when both were alive on election day. It is very probable the Charlestown Town Council should have filled that vacancy.
    In closing, we are a nation of laws what legal laws and procedures and I mean Chapters and Sections allow these things above? I am not interested in general statements. I am interested that the school committee attorney apparently did not state specific sections of laws to meet his arguments.
    I wanted to get my “two cents” in need to look at posted comments above. Have not looked at them. Only saw a small part of this part of this discussion.
    Regards,
    Scott
    Member, Hopkinton Town Council,1996-2004
    Member of the first and only Hopkinton Charter Revision Commission
    Chariho’71

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 19, 2008 @ 11:59 am | Reply

  16. RS:

    They did not have a sign with “Bill Felkner” at his place. It had been removed BEFORE the meeting even started. The attorney did not just fly in at a moments notice, he had “researched” for other case law, and was able to note that he had found only TWO states where this had happened. Sure sounds like advance prep. to me.

    How an attorney could allow this discussion to take place without being an agenda item is beyond me! Especially since Mr. Felkner had requested information prior to the meeting, had notifed the SC of his intent to attend, and requested a “packet” of the information to be discussed at the meeting.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 19, 2008 @ 12:03 pm | Reply

  17. Hi!
    A correction: Mr. Capalbo ran for U.S. House in the First District even though he lived in South Kingstown in the Second District. This is legally permissible. However he ran for South Kingstown Town Council at the same time which is NOT a state office. Another candidate may have done the same thing, but I need to check on that.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 19, 2008 @ 12:04 pm | Reply

  18. Mr. Scott Hirst, do you recall the days when Chariho School Committee members also sat on town School Committees? This seems to be clear precedence for holding two seats at the same time right here in our community?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

  19. The ProJo blurb refers to the vote to remove Mr. Felkner as a “poll”. Now why would they call it a poll? Is ProJo trying to hide the fact the School Committee engaged in an illegal “vote”? Perhaps they used the language they were given?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  20. Hi!
    I recall in Stonington, Connecticut; years ago Frank Turek was on that town’s Board of Education, equivalent to School Committee; and State Representative at the same time. I don’t recall him resigning his Board of Education seat at the time. Then you have current nearby Connecticut State Senator who when he was elected was Warden, equivalent to Mayor, in the Borough not Town of Stonington, he finished his term but did not run again. Then you had Robert Congdon who was First Selectman (i.e. CEO or Mayor) of Preston, Conn., who at one point was State Representative and First Selectman at the same time. of course these are Connecticut examples not Rhode Island ones.These examples involved ELECTIVE OFFICES!
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 19, 2008 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  21. Hi!
    The Connecticut State Senator I refer to is Andrew Maynard. Sorry I omitted his name!
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 19, 2008 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

  22. SBH, I don’t think that’s a fair comparison since CT would have it’s own set of laws.

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 19, 2008 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

  23. Chariho Parent:

    The ONLY case law cited by the attorney were states OTHER then RI. All the rest of the stuff was paid “legal think”.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 19, 2008 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

  24. And it’s all BS from the attorney, too! .. no doubt about that

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 19, 2008 @ 12:50 pm | Reply

  25. intersting comments here. I would assume Mr. Felkners next step would be to take the School Committee to court? By the looks of this blog he doesn’t need to look far for an attorney. Seems like Hopkinton is busting at the seems with them.

    I am all for FACTS. What I see here is a lot of people making statements about things that they too really have no clue on. I am not trying to be argumentative here, but Mr. Felkenr himself said no one would give him a cut and dry answer and it seems he spoke to attorney, ethics commision and board of canvassers. (I think he said).

    Not saying Chariho didn’t do wrong but not sure how so many know that this was all planned and setup before hand.

    Not sure what the 4th of November has to do with it except for the fact that was election day. Bill said he contacted Barry Ricci on Saturday the 15th about his packet, that would seem to me the earliest time that anyone knew of his intentions?

    It will be interesting to see how this all comes out.

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

  26. I’ll say it again. Prior to K – 12 being put under the Chariho umbrella, each town had a School Commitee and Chariho had a School Committee. At least in Hopkinton, some (if not all) of the Chariho School Committee members were also on the Hopkinton School Committee. Thus, they served two constituencies at the same time. Now this may have been illegal, but it happened, so there is precedence right here in our own community.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  27. SBH if Chariho budget issues come up on the Hokinton Town Council wouldn’t Mr. Felkner have to recuse himself from all of this? And visa versa, if a Hopkinton problem came up on the school committee wouldn’t he have to recuse himself from that? I think it was CR that I mentioned it to yesterday, take the 1904 building for an example?

    Just seems to me that if this is the case, would it not be better for the Town of Hopkinton to have Mr. Felkenr step down and let someone be appointed to the seat that has a vote? Hopkinton might end up losing a vote on some critical issues becasue he has to recuse; if he does?

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 1:00 pm | Reply

  28. Personally, I think Mr. Felkner should show up at every meeting. I think the town of Hopkinton should be the ones to initiate legal action because it is our community which is being disenfranchised. Nice to see you back by the way Mr. Petit. I’ve seen conflicting reports on your vote for Mr. Felkner’s removal. Mr. Felkner indicated you voted against tyranny. If so, glad you get it right once and awhile. I’d like to see your fellow committee members get sued.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  29. By the way Mr. Petit. When this goes to court are you going to risk your freedom and perjure yourself or will you admit to conversations which occurred prior to the meeting?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

  30. CR do you know of any names of people that served on both committees? And I wouldn’t think ( I may be wrong) that this wouldn’t be the same anyway. You are now serving the school district as a whole where as in your post you were serving two different entities, District school committee and town school committee, but you weren’t on the town council deciding issues for any schools. Actually your post to me would make me to believe that it is more of a violation to serve on both.

    At this time you were talking about, did anyone ever serve on the town council and Chariho School committee? That would be more of a comparison or precedence. Just a thought.

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  31. Still waiting to hear details from Mr. Petit about specifically what would require a recusal? As Gene pointed out, a good number of School Committee members recuse themselves due to conflicts. Doesn’t seem to bother them or Mr. Petit one little bit. For some reason, Mr. Felkner having to recuse himself is a big concern? Or is the big concern having Mr. Felkner remain on the committee asking tough questions and refusing to rollover to the admininstration and unions?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 1:08 pm | Reply

  32. The question on the past Hopkinton School Committee can be answered in records at the Town Hall. As I recall the Hopkinton School Committee was elected and then those elected voted as to who would go to Chariho. They also seved on Hopkinton so yes, they served on both School Committees and I believe Richmond and Charlestown also elected to the local SC and then those elected decided who would go to Chariho.

    On at least one occasion a decision was made to elect an 11 member School Committee in Hopkinton and then the people who went to Chariho would not be the same individuals. That didn’t work due to a legal opinion to the newly elected members that since they were elected to the Hopkinton School Committee if the went to Chariho and did not attend Hopkinton SC meetings they would still be responsible for decisions made in Hopkinton.

    Just a thought – if it is the elected official that is in question maybe the Hopkinton TC should appoint him and then he is not serving two elected positions???

    Comment by Interested — November 19, 2008 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  33. Mr. Petit you need to get help with your questions. I can’t understand most of what you are asking.

    My recollection is vague on the School Committee. I was young and not paying much attention. That’s why I’ve asked for confirmation from the old timers.

    I can’t say if someone served both the Town Council and the School Committee. I doubt precedence requires an exact match but is used to guide the law. If Chariho School Committee previously had members serving in other elected positions, then that sure sounds like solid precedence to me.

    Mr. Anderson allowed a laundry list of violations to occur last night…if he had done his homework he should have been the ones telling you about this past practice, not me.

    Also very typical of Mr. Petit to ask us our “thoughts” and then imply we think we are lawyers. Did he want to know our “thoughts” or not? And for all the name-calling that goes on here…calling us lawyers is a new low.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

  34. There were four school committees back then. Richmond, Charlestown and Hopkinton had their own School Systems for grades K-6 and the Regional School District was 7-12. Each town had its own Supt. etc and Chariho, had its own. So those School Committee Members seved two different school districts at the same time.

    Comment by Interested — November 19, 2008 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  35. Good information Interested. Your idea about the Town Council appointing Mr. Felkner is good, except the School Committee doesn’t really care about the legal aspects…if it were Mrs. Kenney they’d be bending over backwards to accomodate her. This issue is about removing a School Committee member who has caused them grief and challenged the administration. In fact, this may not have happened the way it did if Mr. Ricci’s deceit hadn’t been on the agenda and the only way to minimize the impact of debate was to go after Mr. Felkner.

    The School Committee trampled all over the law last night. We tend to think rationally here (CP excluded of course) while they run roughshod over our rights as citizens. We shouldn’t expect them to respond ethically or with any legal contraints. As they proved with the re-vote, anything goes in their efforts to have it their way. So far they’ve gotten away with it pretty regularly.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 1:24 pm | Reply

  36. Thank you js for being so concerned about the Hopkinton citizens and losing a “vote on critical issues”

    NOT!!!

    Comment by RS — November 19, 2008 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

  37. Since Mr. Petit’s cousin is the architect of much of the budgeting, then perhaps he should recuse himself from every budget vote? Funny how these people limit their ethical concerns to Mr. Felkner but nobody else. What about Mr. Ricci blatantly lying to a parent? Any ethical concerns there Mr. Petit?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  38. Let’s not forget Ms. Eaves aspirations to enter the teaching profession. Now she could end up out of state, but until it is clear she won’t be joining one of Rhode Island’s teacher’s unions, wouldn’t it be ethical for her to recuse herself from any issue having to do with the union?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

  39. CR not sure why you think I am Mr. Petit i am putting something out there to get an answer. Thank you Interested for you answer that helped

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 1:56 pm | Reply

  40. Did I say that Mr. Petit?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  41. There has been talk about conflict of interst. Sometimes past history is not meaningful and sometimes it is. For what it is worth when we had the different district with all School Committee Members seving two at the same time there were very often conflicts which is why Hopkinton wanted to try having different individuals on the two School Committees when it elected 11 members. Four school districts each with its own teachers union to negotiate with, its own support staff, special ed depts etc. I am not sure you can even imagine what it was like back then.

    Chariho just seems to never work for any length of time and it has always been the funding. Same problems different times and players.

    Comment by Interested — November 19, 2008 @ 2:03 pm | Reply

  42. Mr. Petit you need to get help with your questions

    YES CR you did since I was the one asking the questions I would assume you were talking about me, if not sorry.

    Interested you seem to know how things were back then do you feel this could pose a problem. I am not by any means saying Mr. Felkner is wrong.

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  43. You have to experience Mr. Petit to really know what I’m saying. Be glad you don’t.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  44. js I am not sure if there is legal problelm or not but if there is a problem it was handled very poorly by the Chariho SC and Administration and its legal advisor. I personally don’t think there should be a problem but then that would be too simple. If it seems simple wait until the lawyers get it. If its not complicated they will make it so.(thats how they make their big dollars) Hopkinton voters elected Mr. F. to two posiions and until someone comes up with a real legal opinion that says he can’t hold those two offices for some valid reason then he is in fact the duly elected official of the Town of Hopkinton At this time I have read nothing that allows me to think he can’t hold both positions.

    Comment by Interested — November 19, 2008 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

  45. I agree with you Interested someone needs to find something that says he can’t period. or he should be able to.

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

  46. This is what I found about the Incompatible Offices

    Doctrine of Incompatible Offices
    What is the Doctrine of Incompatible Offices?
    The Doctrine of Incompatible Offices concerns a potential clash of two incompatible public offices held by a single official. In other words, the doctrine concerns a conflict between an individual’s performance of potentially overlapping public duties.

    This type of conflict is distinguishable from the concept of conflicts of interest that involves a potential clash between an official’s private interests, on the one hand, and the official’s public duties, on the other.

    This legal doctrine will be important to you if you are ever being considered for appointment or election to a board, council, commission, or other office during your tenure as a state officer or employee.

    To fall within the Doctrine of Incompatible Offices, two elements must be present.

    Hold two public offices simultaneously, and

    A potential conflict or overlap in the functions or responsibilities of the two offices must exist.
    The doctrine of incompatible offices is contained in Government Code section 1099.

    However, the Legislature may choose to expressly authorize the dual holding of offices under particular circumstances even though the dual holding would otherwise be prohibited by the doctrine. For example, the Legislature passed a measure that specifically provides that the rule does not apply to representational membership on a joint powers agency or its governing board.

    Because of this legislation, a member of a state commission may serve as a member of a joint powers agency even though the joint powers agency may sometimes act inconsistently with the best interests of the state commission.

    Potential, Not Actual, Conflict Between Offices is Sufficient
    With respect to a conflict between the duties or functions of two offices, the clash between the two offices in the context of a particular decision need not be proved in order to activate the Doctrine of Incompatible Offices. It is enough that there is a potential for a significant clash between the two offices at some point in the future.

    Let’s look at the specific language the California Supreme Court uses to discuss the conflict between offices.

    *Two offices are said to be incompatible when the holder cannot, in every instance, discharge the duties of each.

    *Incompatibility arises, therefore, from the nature of the duties of the offices when there is an inconsistency in the functions of the two, where the functions of the two are inherently inconsistent or repugnant, as where antagonism would result in the attempt by one person to discharge the duties of both offices, or;

    *where the nature and duties of the two offices are such as to render it improper from considerations of public policy for one person to retain both.

    Frequently, offices are incompatible when one office has power over the other. For example, the offices of water district director and school board member would be incompatible when the school district is located partially or wholly within the boundaries of the water district if the water district has power over the school district concerning new or expanded access to water.

    Similarly, the office of city planning commissioner and state highway commissioner were found to be incompatible because the best decision for the state with respect to the highway location could conflict with the city’s wishes.

    Penalties and Enforcement
    Where a public official is found to have accepted two public offices, the doctrine provides for an automatic vacating of the first office.

    http://ag.ca.gov/ethics/accessible/doctrine.php
    this is where I found it, this is an ethics doctrine though not a state law.

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 2:40 pm | Reply

  47. The incompatibility doctrine may have relevance, but since it is an “ethic doctrine” and not a law, then the School Committee and/or the lawyer should have discussed it with Rhode Ethics Board and not unilaterally make the determination on their own.

    Mr. Felkner is the only one who claims to have checked in with the Ethics Board and he tells us they didn’t tell him the two position were incompatible. I’m still at a loss to understand conflict between the two bodies. Assuming Mr. Felkner continues to be logical and consistent, his positions on issues should be the same regardless of where he is sitting.

    What we know for sure is that the School Committee disregarding meeting laws by discussing and voting on this issue when it was not on the agenda. As Mrs. Gardiner suggested, they had the option of adjourning the meeting until they had definitive confirmation one way or the other.

    Were their actions driven by a desire to keep Mr. Felkner from participating in discussions about Mr. Ricci lying to a parent and general deceit in the matter? I suspect this is what compelled the committee to ignore the law and wing it as they went along. Shameful behavior especially considering responsible options were available.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

  48. The past practice of having the same people serve both the town School Committee and the Chariho School Committee seems to lay asunder any charge of incompatibility. If two School committees vying for dollars from the same public revenue stream isn’t deemed incompatible, then it is a stretch to think a Town Council seat is incompatible with a regional School Committee seat.

    Where’s the overlap where Mr. Felkner might have to take opposite sides on an issue? Someone (I think Mr. Petit) brought up the 1904 building, but didn’t provide any basis for incompatibility. If I were on the School Committee, I would have voted to maintain the building and keep it operational. If I were on the Town Council, I would have voted the same. Not sure what the poster was implying?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

  49. I agree CR not sure that this can mean anything since it is not law but ethics by the way it is spelled out. Not sure what happened with the meeting though, from the article it says the SC was to start the Executive session or meeting at 6:30. I guess if Mr. Felkner was sitting there at that time then they had to deal with the situation in order to go in to exe. session. If that is the case would they be in violation of anything? All I know is this sounds like one big mess to me…..

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

  50. Regarding the posts about the “early” meeting start time:

    The school district website does say the school committee was meeting at 6:30 for the purpose of executive session. I didn’t show up until 7:15 or so, but perhaps Mr. Felkner’s presence messed up the committee’s ability to go into executive session?

    I don’t know what you do under the open meeting law when a big agenda disruption like this occurs. Perhaps they shoudl have just adjourned?

    Comment by david — November 19, 2008 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  51. I would think a law in California would not have any precedence in a court in RI….could be wrong, but does RI apply other state laws in interpreting the constitution and laws of the State of Rhode island..think not.

    Comment by RS — November 19, 2008 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  52. after looking at different sites most of what I have found says it is up to the courts to decide because Federal,State and Municipality laws are so different.

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  53. RS I agree with #51 but it was really all I could find about it. still trying to find something in RI state law…..have you found anything?

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

  54. Sure, but the courts didn’t decide. Mr. Day apparently decided since no one admits to a vote…a poll they call it.

    I think it is a pretty clear violation to have a vote which is not on the agenda. They were obviously prepared for Mr. Felkner’s presence and should have either put it on the agenda or allowed him to represent Hopkinton as he was elected to do.

    Out of all the options available, the School Committee chose the one which necessitated them breaking numerous rules (or laws?). To remove Mr. Felkner and then go on with business as usual is beyond the pale. There should be hefty fines, and hopefully some significant redistribution of Mr. Day’s wealth.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  55. I’m not looking for any laws. I take Mr. Felkner at his word when he says the Ethics Board couldn’t find anything stopping him from holding two seats..and they’ve actually ruled on dual seats before. Followed up by the Board of Elections offering similar perspective and tepidly saying they think it’s okay.

    So on one side we have the Ethics Board and the Board of Elections saying that unofficially it could be doable while on the other side we have the School Committee lawyer citing no law but referring to our President-elect as if that is some kind of precedent (fool).

    In any case, I live and vote in Hopkinton and I was not fully represented at last night’s meeting due to the actions of a, superintendent, a laywer, representatives from other towns, and another town’s police department. This isn’t only about Mr. Felkner. This is about us oo. Where do we go to get our rights back? Who will pay a price for denying us our representation?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  56. I received a call from Scott Cross from the RI ethics commission, and he eluded to the fact they have already been involved in what transpired at our SC meeting. He essentially stated the open meeting concerns and the 2 seat issue are not ethics commission issues. It appeared from talking to him there really isn’t any ethics issues with meeting, “yet”. His recommendation is to fo to the AG’s office. Done actually before contacting his office.

    Comment by RS — November 19, 2008 @ 3:46 pm | Reply

  57. Hi!
    I need to look over recent comments here. It is clearly true you can’t compare this situation to Connecticut but I noted it was another state.
    As far as recusal that is an interesting question. Usually recusal represents a conflict of interest where there is a financial interest for the person voting, a business partner or close relative. It may not exist as far as holding an office. Remember the town councils in Chariho have NO legal authority to control the Chariho budget like the Westerly Town Council votes on the bottom line of their school budget as they are a single community school district. Perhaps in some areas there may be a conflict but that would be best addressed by the Ethics Commission.
    What is forgotten:
    1.We have had and possibly still may have school committee members in Chariho on town boards or commissions not elected. George Abbott at one point was on the Hopkinton Finance Board and Chariho School Committee at the same time.
    2.Both Forrester Safford and Greg Avedesian formally resigned, I believe, from the school committee when they were elected to the Charlestown Town Council a couple of years back. So the fact their resignations were formally made and accepted established a precedent there and earlier cases to be sure.
    3.The oath of office of an official which says such things as “until someone is engaged in your room”,. No one has “been engaged in his room”,. Qualifications for office notes among other things you “hold office until you are discharged from the office”,. Does the school committee have the power to “discharge a member from office”, for accepting another office. Was the motion made legally correct and worded and was it correctly made and seconded?
    I am not an attorney but suspect there are multiple uncharted questions her with Mr. Felkner’s case and likely Ms. Eaves and how she was declared elected two years ago to the school committee.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 19, 2008 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

  58. Hi!
    To respond to the issue of the school committee years ago it was indeed split. The local school committees which changed with full regionalization had some on local school committees and among them chose who would serve on the Chariho Regional School Committee.
    As you may know full regionalization came about in the late 1980’s. I do not believe that can really be equated with dual office holding as only school committee members could select among themselves who would represent their town on the regional school committee.
    My imediate concern:
    1. What part of General Laws of Rhode Island, or other laws or court,ethics board or election board decisions prohibit the practice Mr. Felkner wishes to do holding both positions?
    Does he plan to challenge it? If finances are his concern, will he approach the ACLU or other group to help with challengeing it? Does the Hopkinton Town Council as a body plan to challenge the decision of the Chariho School Committee on this matter. Was the Chariho School Committee legally correct to disallow Mr. Felkner’s votes last night even the one that chose to deny him the right to vote or whether he could vote? One solution:It may appear best to let him vote perhaps not counting them but making note of them, until his eligibility to serve is finally rectified. The legal issue or denying a town full representation on a school committee if his membership is legally sound.
    I suspect Bill will challenge this. While Bill is a conservative fellow, I hope he checks out with the ACLU and other avenues his options. Any decision will be precedent setting.
    Just my thoughts at this time. It needs to be remembered that this issue is more than Bill Felkner serving on two panels but whether or not the Town of Hopkinton has the voting strenghth of four members on the Chariho School Committee.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 19, 2008 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  59. Oh boy… Just found this in RIGL Chapter 42-46-6

    TITLE 42
    State Affairs and Government
    CHAPTER 42-46
    Open Meetings
    SECTION 42-46-6

    (b) Public bodies shall give supplemental written public notice of any meeting within a minimum of forty-eight (48) hours before the date. This notice shall include the date the notice was posted, the date, time and place of the meeting, and a statement specifying the nature of the business to be discussed. Copies of the notice shall be maintained by the public body for a minimum of one year. Nothing contained herein shall prevent a public body, other than a school committee, from adding additional items to the agenda by majority vote of the members. School committees may, however, add items for informational purposes only, pursuant to a request, submitted in writing, by a member of the public during the public comment session of the school committee’s meetings. Said informational items may not be voted upon unless they have been posted in accordance with the provisions of this section. Such additional items shall be for informational purposes only and may not be voted on except where necessary to address an unexpected occurrence that requires immediate action to protect the public or to refer the matter to an appropriate committee or to another body or official.

    Talk about clear violation of state law, one of the key phrases here is “Nothing contained herein shall prevent a public body, other than a school committee, from adding additional items to the agenda by majority vote of the members.” OTHER THAN A SCHOOL COMMITTEE and what did our wonderful (said mockingly) school committee do?

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 19, 2008 @ 4:19 pm | Reply

  60. More from the same section of RIGL:

    (e) A school committee may add agenda items not appearing in the published notice required by this section under the following conditions:

    (1) The revised agenda is electronically filed with the secretary of state pursuant to subsection (f), and is posted on the school district’s website and the two (2) public locations required by this section at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the meeting;

    (2) The new agenda items were unexpected and could not have been added in time for newspaper publication;

    (3) Upon meeting, the public body states for the record and minutes why the agenda items could not have been added in time for newspaper publication and need to be addressed at the meeting;

    (4) A formal process is available to provide timely notice of the revised agenda to any person who has requested that notice, and the school district has taken reasonable steps to make the public aware of this process; and

    (5) The published notice shall include a statement that any changes in the agenda will be posted on the school district’s web site and the two (2) public locations required by this section and will be electronically filed with the secretary of state at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the meeting.

    (f) All notices required by this section to be filed with the secretary of state shall be electronically transmitted to the secretary of state in accordance with rules and regulations which shall be promulgated by the secretary of state. This requirement of the electronic transmission and filing of notices with the secretary of state shall take effect one year after this subsection takes effect.

    (g) If a public body fails to transmit notices in accordance with this section, then any aggrieved person may file a complaint with the attorney general in accordance with § 42-46-8.

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 19, 2008 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  61. Scott Bill I dont think this is a matter of taking away Hopkintons seat but more the person who fills the seat. I would at least hope they are not trying to pull something like that nor could they because of the Chariho Act.

    Maybe because it has always been that the member steps down from the school committee if elected to the town coucil this is why the SC felt they were right. I didn’t know we ever had this happen. You would know more about this so I take your word that this is what these other 2 have done.

    Comment by js — November 19, 2008 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

  62. Hi!
    It is clear that Mr. Felkner’s situation should have been on the agenda. It is my understanding and I will stand corrected unlike a town council meeting nothing can be added to the agenda of a school committee meeting. So legally there is a legitimate question how the Felkner situation was handled.
    It appears Mr. Felkner’s intent was known to enough people to hold both positions that could have easily been put on the agenda. As I understand the law further any person who is discussed in executive session can have it done openly and is is THEIR CHOICE not the body that wants to discuss them. There are certain restrictions for private sessions.
    For our mutual information what executive session number(s) was the executive session called last night?
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 19, 2008 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

  63. I disagree with Mr. Scott Hirst about the dual roles formerly held by School Committee members. Regardless of the process which put them on the Chariho School Committee, the members clearly held positions on two distinct School Committees. The local schools may have been linked in our minds, but they were separate governing entities and thus the member served on two different School Committees at the same time. If someone has informationg demonstrating that Chariho School Committee was only an extension of the town School Committees I’d like to see it?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 4:40 pm | Reply

  64. Hi!
    There still exists state legislators as I recall, in fact multiple state legislators, being on the legal staffs of municipalities in Rhode Island both well paying positions and don’t recieve just token compensation. The General Assembly passes laws the legal staffs must prosecute and follow.
    While he may not vote on contracts at Chariho regarding staff that his immediate family is employed in, Bill Day has two family members employed by the district. Bill Felkner has none. Although, I believe his wife works for the East Greenwich system. Other than his stipend which is small, Bill Felkner and his immediate family have no financial interest concerning employment in the Chariho Regional School District.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 19, 2008 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  65. Hi!
    Curious Resident only sitting town school committee members could be selected to serve on the Chariho School Committee years ago. Certainly different committees but members were selected from their respective town school committees. Somewhat like but not the same as the Tri-Town Town Council group. You have to be a member of the town council to serve on it. However that group is advisory only with no powers.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 19, 2008 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

  66. This is what the RI Constitution says:Section 6. Holding of offices under other governments. — No person holding any office under the government of the United States, or of any state or country, shall act as a general officer or as a member of the general assembly, unless at the time of taking such engagement that person shall have resigned the office under such government; and if any general officer, senator, representative, or judge shall, after election and engagement, accept any appointment under any other government, the office under this shall be immediately vacated; but this restriction shall not apply to any person appointed to take depositions or acknowledgment of deeds, or other legal instruments, by the authority of any other state or country.

    It does not appear to reference Town Councils or School Committees.

    Comment by george abbott — November 19, 2008 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  67. I received a reply from our Representative Brian Kennedy(will post if someone wants to read it), and in reference to the ACLU, they have already been contacted about the rights of Hopkinton Citizens not being allowed due representation during a SC meeting by vote of the SC.

    Comment by RS — November 19, 2008 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  68. For clarification, their was a “vote” to disqualify BF, then a “poll” to determine if the police should be asked to remove him.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 19, 2008 @ 6:29 pm | Reply

  69. …..and I should add the ACLU has been notified of a citizen in Hopkinton being denied the right to attend a SC meeting by the Richmoond RI police department. They have already won a case against the Richmond PD, so maybe the courts will start to take notice of a pattern. We shall see.

    Comment by RS — November 19, 2008 @ 6:32 pm | Reply

  70. RS.Please post the question and answer.Thanks

    Comment by george abbott — November 19, 2008 @ 6:47 pm | Reply

  71. The first part is my email to Representative Kennedy. The letters I wrote to AG,Ethics Commission, ACLU, Governor, etc were similarly worded.

    To Representative Kennedy:

    I am a resident of Hopkinton, Rhode Island. I am writing to express my concern about recent Chariho school committee meting held on November 18, 2008. During this meeting, a Hopkinton school committee member, Mr. William Felkner, was removed from the board by the other members. This action was taken due to the fact that Mr. Felkner was also elected to the Hopkinton Town Council. The Hopkinton Town Charter specifically states a person may hold 2 elected positions with one being the school committee.

    The aforementioned action was taken at the beginning of the meeting usually reserved for executive session, and was not on the agenda for the meeting. This action was clearly taken during the meeting, usually poorly attended, in order to avoid a public forum on this issue. The meeting continued after the vote to remove Mr. Felkner which was escorted from the meeting by the Richmond Police. Mr. Felkner was denied the right as a private citizen to attend the meeting after his removal from the board.

    This action has unilaterally taken away the representation of every Hopkinton resident. The rights of the citizens to be represented at this meeting were stripped by the school committee. The standing school committee members do not have the right to deny the citizens of Hopkinton representation when they are not elected by the citizens of Hopkinton, but are members of a tri-town committee. This is a most disturbing violation of my right to representation.

    I am looking forward to your response.

    Sincerely,

    ANSWER FOLLOWS:

    I have been told that Bill Felkner asked for a legal opinion as to whether he could continue to serve in both capacities. Based on the town charter language, he was told that it does not preclude him from holding the two positions, since the Town Council position is covered as an elective office under the Hopkinton Town Charter, while the School Committee position is a separate entity under the Chariho Regional School District. I am not an attorney, so I would not be able to advise as to the legality of this, however the District is a separate legal entity from the Town, and thus the legality of this may ultimately have to be decided by the courts.

    Have a good one and stay warm!

    Sincerely,
    Brian Patrick Kennedy
    State Representative-District 38

    Comment by RS — November 19, 2008 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

  72. Something is definitly wrong if this is still the United States of America when a Richmond Police Officer has the nerve to say a citizen and resident of the Town of Hopkinton can not attend a Chariho School Committee Meeting. Since when, he was not being disruptive just defending his position on the matter which I believe our constitution allows him to do. What a sad state of affairs we have in the Chariho School Committee. Too bad they can’t all be recalled. If this has happened in Hopkinton Charlestown and Richmond better take notice.

    Comment by Interested — November 19, 2008 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  73. I noticed how the issue of being denied representation was not even addressed in his email. The idea someone can arbitrarily deny a whole town(class)their right to due process and representaion is the most bothersome part of this whole saga. Although I do feel for the way BF was treated, he is a big boy and knew some of what he would be facing. The fact the residents of Hopkinton were treated in the manner they were is appalling, I cannot believe anyone in a republic such as ours thinks this is OK. Yet there were people who voted to disregard our rights without even the most basic considertions of representation. This is disrespectful and makes it very hard for me to have any respect for the SC. I guess we were right all along about the “FEEL GOOD CLUB”, and what does this say about the people who elected them???
    This is the place these people want me to send my child to be educated, I simply cannot send my child into a system such as this. This is a sad sorry day for all children in Chariho.

    Comment by RS — November 19, 2008 @ 7:30 pm | Reply

  74. Has anyone filed an Open Meetings Law complaint concerning this matter?

    Comment by george abbott — November 19, 2008 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

  75. Today via email, but will follow up tomorrow with snail mail.

    Comment by RS — November 19, 2008 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

  76. Thank you, RS. Interesting, I got the same bland, uninspired, “don’t bother me” EXACT response from Mr. Kennedy that you received! No guidance, no information regarding who else to contact, NOTHING of any substance. Oh well, difficult situations disturb most people.

    All I can think of is the guy who said that first they came for (one class of people), then they came for another, and then….they came for ME! History, and a decrease in our rights and freedom repeats itself in many small ways, that soon will envelope us. The denial of our rights is evident…the denial of our freedome is next. In Mr. Felkners case, the denial of his freedom as a citizen to attend a meeting has already happened.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 19, 2008 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  77. Chario has for years been a sad saga for the children of Hopkinton, Richmond and Charlestwon and it appears will continue to be so. Nobody and nothing seems to ever make it work for any lenght of time and the kids suffer while the adults continue to fight on. It is interesting to me that former children, educated by the Chariho School System, are now the ones trying to make it work and straighten it out. Hopefully they can succeed where other before them failed and if not then vouchers and Charter Schools may be the answer for the children of the Chariho District. You can’t be part of the solution if you continue to be part of the problem.

    Comment by Interested — November 19, 2008 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

  78. CR at no time was the Chariho School Committee and extension of the Hopkinton School Committee if that is what you asked. Never was it so.

    Comment by Interested — November 19, 2008 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

  79. If the Chariho School Committee was not an extension of the town School Committees, then we have a history of dual roles. The only difference is the Chariho School Committee was chosen from the three town School Committees. Does it matter how they got there? Or does the fact they sat on two separate and distinct School Committees set precedent? I’m not sure how it cannot set precedent. Mr. Scott Hirst says it doesn’t but he doesn’t provide any cogent argument that it was not similar to holding a seat on the Town Council and the School Committee. Mr. Kennedy’s response is a waste of megabytes. About what I’d expect from him.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2008 @ 11:27 pm | Reply

  80. Bill Day is pathetic with his little US Flag during the meeting. He tramples the rights of the citizens of Hopkinton, then has the nerve to carry around the US Flag.

    Comment by RS — November 20, 2008 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  81. If I were a student whom the SC wanted to recognize, and I witnessed the display of the SC. I would have taken center stage told them to keep their recognition because it means nothing compared to the disrespect they have shown their fellow citizens through denying them representation.

    I guess that is what seperates me and my family from the weasels on the SC and the Chariho team tasked to teach our children…..I mean your children…they will not be teaching mine.

    Comment by RS — November 20, 2008 @ 12:15 am | Reply

  82. Bill Day is pathetic, period, the end.

    I watched the beginning of the school committee meeting on cable channel 18 last night and I’m ashamed of my representatives from Richmond on that school committee who voted to remove Mr. Felkner from the school committee and also the meeting. I feel tha Mr. Felkner was correct when he said that the school committee should be the one taking the matter to court to prove that he should give up his seat because of being elected to the HTC

    While I fully recognize that anyone who is disruptive can be remove from any meeting, Mr. Felkner wasn’t being distuptive, he was only exercising his right to represent the citizens of Hopkinton. I feel badly for the Richmond police officer, he was stuck between a rock and hard place. No matter what he would have done someone would have complaind about his action.

    I am one Richmond resident who is mad as all heck about the school committee’s violation of civil rights. I may disagree with Mr. Felkner and others about tactics and motive but this time I’m in full agreement with the citizens of Hopkinton in this matter.

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 20, 2008 @ 8:10 am | Reply

  83. How’s it feel to be right about something? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 20, 2008 @ 11:32 am | Reply

  84. We will see how stuck the Richmond Officer was when I file my request today for all the documentation, phone records and transcripts on the event(FOIA). If the Richmond PD is forthcoming I will be the first to step forward and say they are doing and have done the correct thing.
    WE will see.
    An officer doesn’t have the right to violate someones civil rights even if they are in “between a rock and a hard place”. They are professional and trained in such matters and to excuse them is a failure of a citizens duty and a failure of the Officers duty. Rmemeber he took an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the state of RI. Trampling a person rights because a tough decision needs to be made is no excuse….an officers judgement is one of his greatest assets, and I question this officers judgement.

    Comment by RS — November 20, 2008 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  85. I’d be interested to know if this officer acted on his own to remove an elected official or if the order came from those above him on the police force? The chairman of the Chariho School Committee can’t possibly have authority over the Richmond Police Department?

    Somebody made the decision to authorize police force to remove Mr. Felkner. Perhaps the officer did it on his own not realizing he was violating not just Mr. Fekner’s civil rights, but the rights of an entire town. If so, an apology should be made, and he should be disciplined and re-trained, but if the officer was instructed by superiors to do this, heads should roll, and we should all be concerned about our personal liberties as we sink further into a police state.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 20, 2008 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  86. Problem is it takes the courts to rectify these situations, and BF is the one aggrieved so he must be the one to follow it through. If he chooses this route I would suggest a legal defense fund. I will pledge right here the first $500.

    Comment by RS — November 20, 2008 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

  87. Hasn’t all of Hopkinton been aggrieved by being denied our representation? I admire your generosity RS, but I’d like to see the Town Council tackle this issue before anyone spends their hard earned money.

    At the very least we should get the town solicitor’s take on the actions of the School Committee. The way I see it, there are a few issues to be addressed.

    What is to be done about the open meetings violations?

    What is to be done about Mr. Felkner’s position on the School Committee?

    What is to be done about issue voted upon once Mr. Felkner was forcibly removed from the meeting? They claimed that vote results could be voided with Mr. Felkner present. My take is any votes taken with him gone are null and void. The only one I know about is Ms. Eaves elevation to the chairmanship, but any others should be voided as well.

    I can’t believe it is Mr. Felkner’s responsibility to pay to have these issue adjudicated. In fact, I think he should go to the very next School Committee as a member. I’m still waiting to hear by what legal authority or law that the School Committee as a body is legally able to disqualify and remove a fellow School Committee member? If Hopkinton wants to avoid the initial legal costs, they should withhold payment to Chariho until our School Committee are all allowed to sit on the committee. I’m sure the issue will make it into court post haste.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 20, 2008 @ 12:58 pm | Reply

  88. I agree, I’m only refering to the civl rights violation as a citizen of Hopkinton, confirmed by the SC on the video. They agreed he was only a citizen, so had him removed from the table, then was not allowed to reenter the building as a citizen. This is a great case against his personal rights as a citizen being denied without cause. I do not believe Officer 22 gave BF any legal reason why he could not reenter the building.
    As for the other grievances, we need a determination on the legality of the SC actions. If deemed illegal, then we can move forward with being denied representation.
    I agree it should be the SC job to prove in court he can’t legally hold both positions. The SC sees it another way. If BF uses his resources and is proven to have been illegally removed from the committee, then he has the right to seek restitution, and will be reimbursed, of course with our tax dollars which I’m sure the FEEL GOOD BRIGRADE will try and spin to make him look like he is costing the taxpayers money. Anyone with any sense will not buy into this scheme. So that makes about 5 of us I know of so far.

    Comment by RS — November 20, 2008 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  89. Do the clocks at the Middle School still run 10 minutes faster than the rest of the world so people will be late for meetings?

    Is the SC corrupt??

    Did anybody call a point of order?

    What was shown on the videos is OUT OF ORDER and violates the Rules that the SC is SUPPOSED to operate under all the time.

    The AG would most likely side with this view but still only give a gentle wrist slap to the SC even though as a body it was wrong. (past practice has shown us this)

    Hopkinton should take them to task. VIOLATIONS OCCURRED DUE TO THE AGENDA NOT BEING FOLLOWED.
    At a minimum, BF’s rights as a citizen and Elected Official were violated. BF should file a lawsuit against the School Committee, because if he doesn’t this will happen again. He has a right as an individual to, at a minimum be present in the room.

    The fact that the packet wasn’t delivered as normally done shows INTENT!
    This was planned in advance and as others have pointed out, the Attorney was present with the SCs biased view.

    In a Republic Democracy it’s a sham and a shame to see the blatant and illegal abuse of power shown to us all.

    But we already know the MO of CHARIHO!

    The SC should hang their heads in disgust for their action.

    Comment by teethbrush — November 20, 2008 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

  90. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, the SC violates proper conduct at meetings also:

    There are a couple of points on “calling the question.”

    You will find it on p. 199 in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. Variations on “I call the question” are a colloquial form of the motion to close debate, formally called “Previous Question.”

    First of all, look at the rules for “previous question.”

    It is not in order when someone else has the floor–the person who “moves” the previous question or “calls the question” must have been recognized by the chair. The fact that someone yells it out does not compel the chair to recognize that as a legitimate motion, especially when the person who yells it out has already exhausted their rights to speak (i.e., twice) and when the chair is going to recognize someone who properly has asked to be recognized.

    The motion, if made, needs to have a second, it is not debatable, and it requires a 2/3 vote to pass.

    Years ago, before 1970, a “call for the question” was treated as simply an expression of opinion and not as a motion of any kind. However, the publication of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised established the principle that the chair is to treat “calling the question” as equivalent to a motion to close debate (“previous question”).

    I clearly heard, I believe it was Andy P., yell out to “move the question” without recognition from the chair (the feeble Bill Day) and Bill Day went along with it. I thought that we might have a decent school committee finally with the addition of Mrs. Carney and Mrs. Cole to combat the abuses of Bill Day and Andy P. and company. At least Mrs. Carney stepped up to the plate and did the right thing.

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 20, 2008 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  91. So once again they ignore their own rules. The vote on moving the questions (or whatever variation they use) was 6 to 4 in favor. For the dimwitted on the committee (that would be the “6”) six out of ten is not 2/3.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 20, 2008 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

  92. I haven’t seen all the video yet, but Ms. Carney was very impressive and was not intimidated by Mr. Day’s bullying.

    I was also extremely pleased with Mr. Abbott. When fat Andy said he was surprised with Mr. Abbott, I was surprised too because while Mr. Abbott is usually on the right side of the issues, he has a tendency to let the rest of them run him over. This time (at least in the first few videos) he refused to back down.

    Fat Andy was surprised because in the past his lies and blather hasn’t been challenged by Mr. Abbott. I do wish Mr. Vecchio had been more vocal…maybe it’s coming…but I don’t know his background, so unlike Ms. Carney, who has fought the wars in Charlestown…maybe Mr. Vecchio is still wet behind the ears. At least he voted the right way.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 20, 2008 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

  93. Mr. Vecchio did well, this meeting will probably be one of the most exciting he will sit on. AP, AM, & BD definitely exert a great deal of influence on the meeting. It can be tough to get a word in … a couple of times he definitely got scrappy with them.

    GA was in the mix, no question.

    As has been said, Ms. Carney was a champ, clearly not afraid to jump into fight. She gets the A+.

    I also thought BP was quite on the money with the parent situation later in the night.

    MC and TS didn’t interact much at all, so I can’t really make an assessment on them.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 20, 2008 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

  94. What was the parent situation? Was this the case where Mr. Ricci contradicted (aka lied) about school policy? If so, this was an issue I’m sure Mr. Ricci wanted Mr. Felkner to miss. Mr. Felkner was the representative the parent turned to for help. If Mr. Petit handled the parent’s concern well, then this is great. Was Mr. Ricci called on the carpet for his malfesance?

    I assume Ms. Eaves took over running the meeting? Did the Andys and Billy-Bob run roughshod over her?

    We were told even before little Andy was officially on the School Committee that he was hand picked by Mr. Ricci who encouraged him to run. Obviously he is very young and not very experienced. He also is not a taxpayer of any note (maybe a car, but that would be new). I’ve heard he’s related to the nutjob Mr. Mageau. Not sure about that one.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 20, 2008 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  95. Yes, that was the parent situation, the discrepency what Mr. Ricci wrote and school policy was described as all being consistent due to misunderstanding of similar terms: “class equivalency” vs “class level”. There was a great dale of confusion as to the definition and application of these terms. Mr. Petit had a very pragmatic, “do whatever we can for the parents” type approach, which was not in line with the admin which still wanted to choose which info to present. In fact, policy was changed to have an independant evaluator come to the team meeting, as opposed to sending a report to the district, not to be shared with the parent, who would interpret the report for the parent. Mr. Vecchio was extremely unhappy with the admin choosing to appeal the RIDE decision without SC approval.

    Think what you want of Mr. McQuaide’s opinions or his votes, but he appears to be the most skilled parlimentarian on the SC; he also has a good temperment and appears to logically think through arguements. Now, where you are right, it is that the logic he used to come to conclusions is flawed. For instance, worrying about setting a precedent of the public sitting at the SC table as a reason to have BF removed is a joke, clearly it is a unique situation to have a question of whether a member should be seated on the SC, no precedent would be set.

    I didn’t feel that Ms. Eaves was run over by AP or BD, it just so happens they talk a lot more than others.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 21, 2008 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

  96. I know I will catch heat for this but lets look at something,

    If the School Committee didn’t recognize him as a SC member but as a memeber of the public then I would think the Richmond Police had a right to tell him to leave and not come back. If someone is disrupting a meeting from the public and they are escorted out they don’t just escort them to the hallway. I am not saying they are right but the SC didn’t recognize Mr. Felkner as a memeber, he wouldn’t leave so the police told him he had to leave I would think at that point since he was being recognized as the public he had no choice to tell him he could not stay. As for it even getting to that point that is a different story.

    Comment by js — November 21, 2008 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

  97. I think js is pretty much right in the previous post. The School Committee, as a legally constituted (purportedly) public body trying to do their work, was interfered with, and the chair person is trying to remove the ‘interference’.

    The police, then, are just responding to a request from a recognized public meeting. If there’s a problem, it’s the school committee misusing its power, not the police.

    Comment by david — November 21, 2008 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  98. You probably need to experience little Andy more than once to get the full impact. Having good cadence and a calm voice does not make one a parlimentarian. He’s the fertile ground where the seed is planted perhaps, but he doesn’t have a command of the rules, so I can only conclude the rules are given to him by his puppet master.

    For instance, the first time the “move the question” motion was used as a parlimentary trick to silence Mr. Felkner it was little Andy who was chosen to speak the words. The ploy worked, but only because they ignored the fact that “move the question” requires a 2/3 majority for approval. Here we are months later and the “parlimentarian” and the rest are still using the motion incorrectly. Even if you admire parlimentary rules being used to quell dissent (I don’t), you should at least utilize the ruse correctly.

    As Mr. Felkner discovered a year or so ago, little Andy was posting here under a anonymous name and engaged in vulgar attacks on Mrs. Capalbo. Far be it for me to criticize anyone for attacking (I’m not vulgar), but an elected official should be more responsible than me…or not.

    As for Mr. Ricci’s deceit, before this last meeting Mr. Felkner told us the School Committee packet did not contain all the documents which were available. I don’t know what was missing, but I don’t think it is a stretch to think the missing documents were unfavorable to Mr. Ricci. Again, this is not the first incident where Mr. Ricci has been less than forthcoming with the School Committee and the public. We still have tens of thousands in unexplained legal expenses and all we know is the money has been used by Mr. Ricci to sic lawyers on parents. Perhaps if Mr. Felkner had been allowed to participate in this meeting we would have discovered more than was brought out? Very convenient that Mr. Felkner wasn’t there to participate, don’t you think? I wonder why he wasn’t there?

    Good for Mr. Vecchio for expressing outrage at Mr. Ricci’s behavior. He better stay vigilant because Mr. Ricci’s secrecy isn’t an isolated event but a regular occurence. From budgets to employee numbers to just about everything else, Mr. Ricci is a wall builder and will do just about anything to keep information hidden behind the wall.

    I’m glad some headway has been made in allowing parents access to information about THEIR children. To have this be a fight is a disgrace. It should be the default to give parents any information Chariho has about their children. For the School Committee to have to force Mr. Ricci to share with parents should disturb us all. I’d fire him for this alone.

    You don’t say if this particular parent was satisfied with the outcome? For this specific matter the parent’s response would be the ultimate test. I’m not sure, but I think this parent had legal expenses associated with Mr. Ricci’s behavior. Was there any discussion of compensating the parent for any expenses he may have incurred due to Mr. Ricci’s behavior?

    Spend some time reading past blogs Gene. You may have witnessed the worst situation thus far, but you haven’t seen it all, believe me. From Mr. Petit’s outright lies to Mr. Ricci’s never ending unwillingness to be honest and forthright, the pattern is clear. Chariho not only does a lousy job educating our children, it is dysfunctionally managed and maybe even corrupt.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 21, 2008 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  99. I understand JS’ point, but to me it comes down to whether the School Committee has the authority to disqualify an elected member. I don’t know the answer to this question. Does the police department? If they don’t know the answer, and assuming they recognize Mr. Felkner as an elected School Committee member, then the police department, or at least this officer, chose sides.

    If the School Committee does have the authority, and Mr. Cross from the Ethics Board is quoted in ProJo saying they do, and the officer knows they have this authority, then the officer acted appropriately.

    The School Committee and the solicitor should hang for their actions Tuesday night. From denying Hopkinton its representative to totally disregarding meetings laws they made every wrong move. The jury’s still out on the police officer, but I’d like to see the town of Richmond’s reaction if something similar was done to their elected representatives by the Hopkinton police department. I don’t think they’d be happy.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 21, 2008 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  100. Hi!
    I assume that school committee members as a body and possibly individually are in BOTH capacities legally responsible for their actions Tuesday night. If you might know, public officials are STILL LIABLE for their actions even if advised by legal counsel found to be wrong by a court. Following legal advice by legal counsel is NOT a defense for an official! The civil rights issue appears to be both concern individually (Mr. Felkner) and as a municipality (Hopkinton),.
    At the present time no one can really assume what will happen. I find it interesting the legal counsel for the school committee did not apparently respond to the section of the Hopkinton Town Charter addressing the difference between office and positions within the school district and within the town government of Hopkinton or did he as far as an individual is concerned?
    Regards,
    Scott
    Member,Hopkinton Town Council,1996-2004
    Member,first and only Hopkinton Charter Revision Commission

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 21, 2008 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  101. Mr. Hirst are you hearing anything about Town Council action in regard to Hopkinton being disenfranchised by the School Committee’s actions?

    How about action on legal remedies for tax equity. School choice?

    Would these be things the council would discuss in closed sessions or would we see them discussed in open forum?

    I’d like to know if this Town Council is going to respond to the Chariho beast or leave Hopkinton families such as mine struggling with our huge tax burden?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 21, 2008 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

  102. CR #98 … you may well be right on all counts, I haven’t seen the actions that you have described, I try to keep an open mind, although I will pay close attention. It is true that all members should read Robert’s again, AM was better than most, maybe this is no so much an atta boy for him as a disparagement of the others.

    The parent was more pleased, still not completely satisfied, but he felt that things are moving. There is no doubt the admin’s position took a hit from the SC.

    I spoke with one of my TCs today (Richmond), I think with the three new people, there will be a different opinion of Chariho mgmt.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 21, 2008 @ 5:36 pm | Reply

  103. You’ve seen little Andy use the “move the question” motion incorrectly. This isn’t a little mistake…moving the question is designed to end debate. I know he uses it often, but in the most two egregious examples he used it at a point when a barely any discussion had occurred. It’s a power play and to see it carelessly used is worse than not using it at all. He may be softer spoken than Billy-Bob, but he is more dangerous as his demeanor obviously has the effect of diminishing his ill behavior.

    Frankly, if Chariho delivered stellar academic outcomes I probably wouldn’t give much thought to the administration and School Committee. They bring about the scrutiny because the academics are so piss poor. It’s bad enough Chariho costs are among the highest in the United States, but when they can’t even teach the large majority of children to a minimal level of proficiency, the school needs to be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb.

    I hope you’re right about Richmond’s leadership. No more votes of confidence when a school costs so much and delivers so little. No more votes of confidence when we have to beg for transparency (and still don’t get it).

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 21, 2008 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

  104. Well, if he’s known for it and it’s a big deal, why wasn’t anyone ready to challenge him and point out that it takes a 2/3 vote?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 21, 2008 @ 8:33 pm | Reply

  105. Be careful when you say he’s “known for it”. There really hasn’t been many people paying attention. Of those who do, many wouldn’t care if Chariho was sacrificing students in science lab. Their concern is to protect the status quo and keep their income stream flowing.

    Maybe they were caught up in the heat of the moment. Most of the times it is used it gets the 2/3. On the last School Committee it was usually Mr. Felkner standing up for the community with Mr. Abbott usually on his side. Sometimes Mr. Cicchetti could be fair even if he disagreed with Mr. Felkner. Two or three votes wasn’t enough to overcome the motion.

    This latest group seems to be a little more sensible with the additions of Ms. Carney and Mr. Vecchio (time will tell)…there’s still not enough members to hold the administration to account, but 4 votes would prevent a 2/3 majority from stifling debate. I’m also not sure they use Robert’s Rules to guide procedure. I believe there are other choices.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 21, 2008 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

  106. CR I agree with Gene post 104 why didn’t one of the Town Councilors or Dot Gardiner say something? According to posts they were all in the audience. Someone should have challenged it. At times we are our own worst enemy, we complain but when we have a chance to do something we miss the opportunity. That would have been the perfect time to do it.

    Comment by js — November 22, 2008 @ 9:49 am | Reply

  107. Hi!
    I have passed on to the media and some Hopkinton figures my views. I will refrain here what I am doing. I did not recall offering, but if need me I would be willing to discuss in court and under oath with the penalty of perjury, my feelings whether this situation conflicts with the Hopkinton Town Charter. I would bring the credential of having served on the Hopkinton Charter Revision Commission.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 22, 2008 @ 10:16 am | Reply

  108. Mr. Hirst while I do repsect you for the time and efforts you put into Hopkinton I am not really sure what you are saying in your post. What makes you think you would be called to testify? It dosen’t matter what your intentions were when you ratified the Hopkinton Charter, what matters is what the charter says or should I say what the courts determine the charter is implying. Once the Charter revision committee presented it to the council and they approved it you have nothing more to do with it. I am not trying to disrespect you and I hope you don’t take it that way, but if we can say afterwards this was what I was impying not that; then we really wouldn’t need charters or laws we can be like the SC and make up things as we go along.

    Comment by js — November 22, 2008 @ 11:43 am | Reply

  109. It is impossible to challenge the school committee if they do not allow people from the audience/general public to speak. Tom raised his hand to speak and was shut down by Bill Day.

    I was under the impression that the chairman/chairwoman can reject a “move the question” if they feel that not everyone was allowed to offer an opinion. I thought I read that in Robert’s rules. I might be mistaken though. I will try to verify that. Perhaps, someone could check on this, if they have the book.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 22, 2008 @ 1:56 pm | Reply

  110. If you watch the video there is a time when Mr. Buck speaks up and is summarily chastised by Billy-Boob. If you watch any video of School Committee meetings in the recent past, they are not very public-friendly unless you are rising to kiss Mr. Ricci’s butt. In those instances they’ll give you all the time in the world to speak.

    Mrs. Buck, if Robert’s is the guideline they use, then whether the chairman can override a “move the question” motion is irrelevant in this instance since the School Committee didn’t follow the rules anyway. As we’ve discussed here (you may even be the one who found it), Robert Rules say the “move the question” motion fails unless a 2/3 majority approve. They did not have 2/3.

    In the end, cutting off debate only matters to the extent that those like Gene and JS didn’t get to see the full show. The School Committee had obviously preplanned this undemocratic event and the conclusion was foregone. Most of us here have seen and experienced the tyranny of the School Committee for well over a year. We don’t need to see any more…we already know.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 22, 2008 @ 2:15 pm | Reply

  111. RE: #107/108 … Mr. Hirst’s opinion is undoubtedly quite important in court, he adds depth to the intent of the section in question.

    You hear constitutional scholars quoting the federalist papers, et al, when they are arguing about the intent of an ambiguous section, for instance the constituational right to bear arms language that both sides interpret quite differently.

    One would expect that Mr. Hirst would also know where to find other supporting documents, like minutes from the charter revision meetings, etc.

    Rarely are the words as unambiguously written as the authors would have hoped.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 22, 2008 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  112. Gene is right. I don’t think judges are bound to go by intent, but many of the better ones do. Some make it up as they go along.

    As a general principle I would prefer the law not allow one person to hold two elective seats. I’ve yet to see where it isn’t allowed though. I believe Mr. Felkner is a very rare person who has made tremendous efforts to provide the oversight so lacking at Chariho. I very much want him to be able to retain both seats because I feel his voice is desparately needed on the Chariho School Committee. As bad as it is there, it can only get worse with Mr. Felkner gone.

    If faced with a choice, Mr. Felkner will probably choose to stay on the Hopkinton Town Council. The Town Council has done pretty well the last couple of years so his loss would be bigger on the School Committee. There is one area where Mr. Felkner can make a huge difference from a seat on the council…school choice. I think others may be leaning in the direction of choice, but it takes a lot of courage to do something as bold as school choice, and Mr. Felkner may be able to provide the backbone.

    I have concerns that Ms. Carney and Mr. Vecchio will be good for the community, but like Mr. Cicchetti, they will be so consumed by a desire to improve educational outcomes, they may disregard or minimize the budgeting and spending malfesance which is part of the Chariho status quo. School Committees often ignore the financial picture in their haste to do something positive “for the children”. This ignores the realities children have in their homes when money is foolishly spent by the government, but it seems to be the rule.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 22, 2008 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

  113. Oops, I meant to say Ms. Carney and Mr. Vecchio would be good for the community, but I’m concerned they will not be as vigilant on the financial end of things. No reason for thinking this way except this is a tendency of even good School Committee members…plus, Ms. Carney’s town doesn’t have any worries about taxes.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 22, 2008 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  114. CR, If BF can’t have both seats, I hope you will be nominated to fill the vacancy! Can’t think of anyone else who would irritate the status quo more than you!

    I hear you, we all want a great eductation for our kids, but breaking the bank to do it is not wise for the overall health of our communities. More money doesn’t guarantee a great education.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 22, 2008 @ 6:01 pm | Reply

  115. CR,
    I was unable to find where I read about the chairman’s responsibility within the debate. It is clear to me that when the motion is moved the debate ends. The 2/3rds vote is so that the minority is not trampled on because they feel the debate is not over. I would think that the minority has the right to bring this back up to a vote at the next meeting because the 2/3rds majority was not reached, as this matter based on Robert’s rules has not met with a parliamentary conclusion. (A Faux Pas)

    Anyways, you are right regarding the 2/3rds vote. Every piece of literature I searched references 2/3rds. Yes, we went down this path before when they stifled Mr. Felkner the last time into that now infamous trap he suffered. 2/3rds is very explicit.

    I’m not sure the legality of Robert’s Rules, though. To me, my understanding is this is the parliamentary rules the committee has chosen to retain order, but I don’t believe there is anything illegal about it. I will attempt to search the RIGL.

    However, the main issues are whether:

    1. Mr. Felkner has been removed from his seat illegally. (judicial/AG matter)

    2. A 10 member committee has chosen by majority vote to reject Hopkinton’s legal representation on the school committee. (Hopkinton Charter/Chariho Act violation)

    3. An open meetings violation appears to have occurred. (RIGL violation)

    Thanks for your time!

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 22, 2008 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  116. The guy from the Ethics Board references a legislative body removing a member as if it is legal, but in this instance the Hopkinton representative was removed by Richmond and Charlestown representatives. Unlike most schools in Rhode Island where they are all from the same town, here, we are independent towns each with own representation. If the School Committees move is legal, then theoretically two towns could control the school by throwing off the other towns’ members.

    Hey, let’s make a deal…Richmond and Charlestown can throw off our representatives the day we all pay the same tax rate for Chariho? Think they’ll go for it? It will be like making a human sacrifice of Mr. Felkner.

    Thanks for confirming the 2/3 thing Mrs. Buck…seems like we have to go over the same lame games endlessly. Nudge your husband and tell him I want choice.

    No School Committee for me Gene. I’m much milder in real life. Hiding behind a computer screen is enabling. I don’t regret anything I say (okay, maybe once and awhile), but I don’t think I could withstand the constant pressure like Mr. Felkner does. I’d probably turn into Mr. Petit and assume the fetal position.

    Point of reference – Mr. Petit solicited our votes early on and his attitude was very aggressive regarding fixing Chariho. Once on the committee he quickly joined with the apologists. Not sure if this was always his intent…maybe a conspiracy with his cousin the Finance Director….most likely he couldn’t stand being in the minority. He lied to us, but I might be a coward too if I were in his shoes.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 22, 2008 @ 8:27 pm | Reply

  117. I almost forgot. If Hopkinton doesn’t prevail, RS threw his hat into the ring. I want to hold him to it. The guy doesn’t just talk (like me), he contacted just about everybody in the state and in the town of Richmond. I think he’s got the right stuff.

    Maybe you will consider running from Richmond next time Gene? You seem like you might have the right perspective, and Lord knows Richmond could use someone with integrity on the School Committee.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 22, 2008 @ 8:35 pm | Reply

  118. Absolutely, if Obama needed 21 months to win, then 24 should be a shoe-in of me!

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 22, 2008 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  119. Incidentally, I found this in the RIGL 16-2-9(14) To establish minimum standards for personnel, to adopt personnel policies, and “to approve a table of organization.”

    CR, the last part of this law is what I thought might interest you. This being the responsibility of the school committee, I wonder if it is published somewhere, or if it is up to date. Isn’t this the organizational chart you have asked about in the past?

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 22, 2008 @ 9:23 pm | Reply

  120. This is the link to the laws governing school committees:

    http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-2/16-2-9.HTM

    The quotes in post #119 were my emphasis.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 22, 2008 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

  121. Sure sounds like it Mrs. Buck. I’d be satisfied if their organizational chart didn’t include people’s names…just their positions.. We should at least know how many employees we are paying for and what they do. They flout the law at Chariho. Who can afford to go after them? Not me.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 22, 2008 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

  122. From a concerned citizen tired of being taken advantage of:
    I think and know that Mr. Felkner is the BEST thing to come down upon the Chariho School Committee EVER. He researches and lets the public know what is being spent and how it is spent. His only agenda is to benifit and help our children. This (Our Children) is the focus we need to maintain. Our school system has been overcome by the American BUCK!! Mr. Felkner is in the process of helping our children not hurting them. Our Children should be our 1st prority not who is making the almighty dollor!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Elaine — December 2, 2008 @ 10:32 pm | Reply


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