Chariho School Parents’ Forum

December 5, 2008

Chariho lawyer responds

Filed under: Nov 18 meeting (where I was removed from office) — Editor @ 4:08 pm

Its already been posted by others here that we are on the next school agenda.  Interested parties should attend.  I also thought you might like to see the response sent to us by Chariho’s attorney. 

click on the link below, then again on the page it take you to.  Not sure why its doing this, but its there.

jon-anderson-letter-dec-08

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18 Comments »

  1. As Mr. Anderson participated in the blatant disregard of Open Meeting Laws, I’m not surprised he attempts to defend his decision. Mr. Ricci gave him his orders and he followed them. The weakness of his case can be seen when he brings up the presence of children and teachers. The School Committee and Mr. Anderson are the ones who needlessly exposed children to their undemocratic coup. The teachers are old enough to fend for themselves.

    Mr. Anderson’s use of emotional rhetoric is a sign of desperation. Remember how he brought up Obama in his legal reasoning at the meeting…of no relevance but he apparently couldn’t come up with anything better.

    In example of a felon not being seated in the legislature is laughable. Would he have us believe that Mr. Felkner’s actions are a felony? Mr. Felkner was already a School Committee member and did such a great job Hopkinton decided to elect him to the Town Council. Hardly comparable to a felon. Mr. Anderson is nothing more than another Ricci hand puppet.

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 5, 2008 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  2. He is just using legalese to try to intimidate the taxpayers. He got threatened, and now he is having his paralegal scrap up anything to throw at you because ricci thinks you are so uneducated that putting words on an attorney’s leaderhead is going to scare you and turn you away from supporting Mr. Felkner. He is trying to make you second guess yourselfs. Don’t that is the only method he knows. However, remember, he is using your tax dollars to pay for this “so-called” attorney. Has this guy even passed the bar? Really, how can you compare a President-elect position to a rural sc meeting? How absurd.

    Comment by rinker — December 5, 2008 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

  3. JA’s letter is not even accurate … the “vote” was to disqualify BF, BD “polled” members on the removal.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — December 6, 2008 @ 1:07 am | Reply

  4. HI!
    While I am sympathetic to Bill Felkner on this, this issue is bigger than him:
    I am concerned about the research this school committee attorney did for his client, the Chariho School District as well as school committee and Mr. Ricci. Take note of these thoughts:
    1. The school committee attorney should have not used examples easily refuted. If I recall correctly, in West Greenwich in fairly recent decades ago, both parties ran one of their town council candidates for town moderator. This does not happen now. So someone at the same time clearly or most if not all the time held two elective offices. I recall in Exeter multiple elective officeholding in fairly recent decades.
    2. Mr. Felkner’s opponents do not have a unified front as a number of school committee members do not support this action.
    3. Bill Day, then acting as Chair, assuming under advice from the school committee attorney, disallowed a vote by Felkner himself on whether he could vote on his status. As I understand it when voting, every member is accountable for their own vote and the abuse of it, such as a conflict of interest. Can the Chair prohibit a member from voting, and direct the Clerk not to record the vote, as I understand happened that night? I assume not?
    4.School Committee members and other elected officials like Town Council members and appointed officials like Zoning Board members, are LEGALLY ACCOUNTABLE for their actions. Advice from the attorney for a body such as a school committee is NOT a defense in court from making your PERSONAL DECISION AND VOTES on matters.The elected and appointed officials, as well as staff people officials are defintely accountable for the decisions and actions they take in their official capacities, in a court of law.
    5. While the school committee may prevail, it will be interesting how the court comes up with the decision favoring them. It takes a lot for a court to throw out the results of an election.
    6. I am not impressed by what I have seen yet from this episode from the school committee side and their attorney. I do note again, Bill Felkner does have support on the school committee.
    7. It will be interesting how the trial will go and the cross examination, if it gets to that. Yes, I would love Billy Day and Barry Ricci (among others perhaps), on the stand.
    8. I am curious when the school committee attorney was contacted about this, why wasn’t the agenda changed, and why Bill Felkner did not get his materials,if technically the school attorney thought he was still a member until he took his oath of office? If I recall correctly, through an emergency or the time element may have been there to put this on the agenda, especially because it was “time sensitive”. I recall, if I remember correctly, previous school committee members like Forrester Safford and Gregory Avedesian now back on the Charlestown Town Council, actually FORMALLY resigned their school committee seats in 2004, when they were elected to the Charlestown Town Council that year and two years left on their school committee terms. So there is a precedent for formal resignation to be made before leaving the school committee to take a seat on a town council. But in the Felkner case, he did NOT submit a formal resignation.
    9. I will not be present Tueday evening but it should be an interesting evening.
    10. Since Bill Felkner beat me out for the last Town Council seat in Hopkinton, I am NOT bitter. This issue needs to be resolved and will set precedent for Rhode Island.
    11. Have a nice weekend!
    Regards,
    Scott Bill Hirst
    Chariho’71
    Member,Hopkinton Town Council,1996-2004
    Member,First and Only Hopkinton Charter Revision Commission

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — December 6, 2008 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

  5. In citing Burn v. Bailey, what Mr. Anderson doesn’t tell us is Mr. Bailey was never sworn into office. As a felon, he was ineligible under Article XXXVIII of the Rhode Island State Constitution. Secretary of State Burns refused to swear Mr. Bailey in because it would be a willful violation of Rhode Island’s Constitution. Mr. Burns didn’t reference Obama or point to what may have happened in a couple of southern states. No, he cited the Rhode Island Constitution in refusing the oath of office to Mr. Bailey. There is no comparison to this case with what Billy-boob and the rest did to Hopkinton and Mr. Felkner.

    Mr. Felkner was already sworn in as a School Committee member. No law was cited authorizing his removal. Mr. Anderson uses one red herring after another, but citing cases which have little resemblance to our situation is disingenuous.

    I agree with Mr. Hirst that testimony on the stand could be riveting. Does anyone believe Mr. Anderson did the research and determined Mr. Felkner needed to go? Or is it more likely Mr. Anderson was given orders to justify the removal of Mr. Felkner? Who gave the orders and when were they given? Are they all willing to commit perjury to protect Mr. Ricci from being accountable?

    In my looking for information on Bailey v. Burns, I came across a more recent dual office holding case. A group of lawyers were trying to oust Supreme Court Chief Frank Williams for his role on a federal panel looking into terrorist activities. Seems to me that Mr. Williams is still our Supreme Court Chief. I wonder how he would have reacted had he been thrown off the Supreme Court like Mr. Felkner was thrown off the School Committee? His opponents claimed his votes would invalidate Supreme Court decisions…sound familiar?

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 6, 2008 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  6. Just an update:

    I have written my 2nd letter to the AG’s office about the open meetings act violation. No response yet. I still find it somewhat baffling the AG’s office needed another letter explaining how I as a citizen of Hopkinton, and not the SC member, was aggrieved by the lack of the removal of said SC member being put on the agenda. “???????”

    I suppose the SC will try to invoke section (e) of § 42-46-6. I do not see how they could comply with all 5 points of the section, especially 1, 3, and 4. I’m sure there defense will be the swearing in on Monday night of BF to the town council was the first notice the SC had of his alleged intention to become a TC member and not a SC member. Although this is easily disproven.

    Stand by for more!

    http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE42/42-46/42-46-6.HTM

    Comment by RS — December 8, 2008 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  7. Hi!
    I will miss a great school committee meeting tomorrow night but I have an organization meeting over in Preston, Conn., which I am both an officer and executive committee member so I will be there.
    If the precedent defense is put up by the school committee, I hope the question of previous formal resignations by school committee members elected to other offices is brought up. In their defense they will bring up precedent, but local area officials have established the formal resignation protocol/procedure from the school committee when when you take another office. Always remember Mr. Felkner like others DID NOT formally resign from the school committee to take another office.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — December 8, 2008 @ 1:20 pm | Reply

  8. Did they say you weren’t “aggrieved” or are you making the assumption because the Attorney General hasn’t responded? Obviously every citizen in Hopkinton has been aggrieved and continues to be aggrieved by the School Committee’s willful violation of Open Meetings law. How much worse can it be then to have our representative removed without giving Hopkinton citizens any notice of their plot? Maybe the Attorney General is researching to see if Hopkinton is in Rhode Island?

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 8, 2008 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  9. The statement in the AG’s letter was quote:

    “We request clarification as to how you, as a member of the general public and not the School Committee member in question, were actually and/or directly aggrieved by the alleged lack of notice.”

    Comment by RS — December 8, 2008 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  10. Wow…so the Attorney General’s office considers school matters to be of concern only to School Committee members? Did you respond letting them know that Mr. Felkner is your elected representative and not having a chance to address the School Committee on his ouster denies you a chance to salvage your representation? This seems like a no-brainer to me. Perhaps the Attorney General’s office lacks the brains to figure it out?

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 8, 2008 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

  11. I did respond, when a response is received, I might post it.

    There are some in the AG’s office who are less than adept at debating issues of law. I know this based on my experiences at the State House, so they possibly might not know how to read or understand the law as well. I try and give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are doing due diligence before launching an investigation. I would expect this of them. In this case however, I doubt I am the only one to contact them, so they should smell something isn’t right when multiple complaints are filed.

    Comment by RS — December 8, 2008 @ 2:40 pm | Reply

  12. Well there’s a comforting thought…the people in our state government tasked with enforcing the law can’t even figure the law out. How typical for Rhode Island. I need to get out of here

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 8, 2008 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  13. Hi!
    As I understand it, there is a time elelement when a complaint to be valid, was filed with the Dept. of Attorney General on an Open Meeting Complaint. Was this element fulfilled in complaints already apparently filed?
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — December 8, 2008 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  14. Ref #12: I hope you’re kidding, you didn’t realize that before? The only thing that matters is to look politically correct and make sure that any case you take on is 99.99% already in the bag. I have no confidence at all in the AG’s office.

    Comment by CharihoParent — December 8, 2008 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  15. Ҥ 42-46-8 Remedies available to aggrieved persons or entities

    (b) No complaint may be filed by the attorney general after one hundred eighty (180) days from the date of public approval of the minutes of the meeting at which the alleged violation occurred, or, in the case of an unannounced or improperly closed meeting, after one hundred eighty (180) days from the public action of a public body revealing the alleged violation, whichever is greater.”

    The other interesting thing is the initial response from the AG’s office said I had 10 business days to respond to this letter. I find nothing about answering a request within 10 business days in the statute above. I did comply with the 10 business day limitation. This is in my opinion a very short time to respond to a request for information. We will see how fast the AG’s office works on this complaint, I doubt we see a 10 business day turnaround.

    http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE42/42-46/42-46-8.HTM

    Comment by RS — December 8, 2008 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  16. I’m afraid CP’s perception of the AG’s office is dead on…..they are not interested in any case that is politically divisable (hot potato) or not 99.99% slam dunk.

    (hot potato) is defined as putting any election votes at risk…..

    Comment by RS — December 8, 2008 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

  17. CP right…why would I not realize an agency full of lawyers is most interested in looking out for itself. That’s an easy one. Is the Attorney General’s office the only place to deal with Open Meetings violations? I seem to recall Mr. Scott Hirst had some luck filing a complaint. Maybe he knows the right pathway?

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 8, 2008 @ 7:25 pm | Reply

  18. You always have the right to file a civil $uit.

    Comment by RS — December 8, 2008 @ 7:50 pm | Reply


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