Chariho School Parents’ Forum

December 9, 2008

Charlestown Town Council doesn’t understand the law either

Filed under: Nov 18 meeting (where I was removed from office) — Editor @ 4:43 pm

I heard that the CTC voted to support Chariho’s ouster of me from the Committee.  I see this on the posted agenda, if anyone has more info please post. 




c. Dual office holding and the Chariho School Committee




  1. While I hold out hope Richmond will see the light, Charlestown citizens pay so little for Chariho that any fly in the ointment which threatens the status quo at Chariho is unfavorable to them. Mr. Felkner is the latest fly.

    I’d be curious if the Charlestown Town Council was able to cite the authority by which their School Committee members were allowed to remove Hopkinton’s representative? Or did they use the Obama defense too? Or maybe they compared Mr. Felkner to a felon?

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 9, 2008 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  2. One would hope the new business is just an attempt to clarify Charlestown’s rules on dual office holding for their own officials. Anything directed at any other town is simply nonbinding and rather foolish….I know, I know.

    Comment by RS — December 9, 2008 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  3. Hi!
    My immediate concern is the fact that Forrester Safford and Gregory Avedesian, who BOTH formally submitted letters of resignation when they got elected to the Charlestown Town Council in 2004 and had two years left on their term. I don’t recall any sitting Chariho School Committee member from Hopkinton who had two years left on their term that was elected to the Hopkinton Town Council.
    I like Forrester but don’t necessarily agree with him. As you might not know Mr. Avedesian was suppose to run as a Republican in Charlestown but ran as an Independent. Very dtrongly possibly to avoid the GOP name. Reportedly he does not care for Governor Carcieri. Regardless of what you think of the Governor should that make you decide to run as an independent? While I don’t necessarily agree with her, I have a high regard for Charlene Dunn a capable,experienced, ” a doer”, and competent person.
    Bill Felkner originally slated to run as a Republican for Hopkinton Town Council this year, but changed because of his relationship with the Ocean State Policy Research Institute.
    The big question is what legal remedy is the other Chariho area town councils going to seek on the Felkner matter?

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — December 9, 2008 @ 6:08 pm | Reply

  4. Hi!
    I also add Dick Hosp to the above in #3, who I may not agree with but an experienced personality on the local scene. Marge Frank is really still an unknown in the region politically, but we will see what she can do.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — December 9, 2008 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  5. Do you know what the town charter or other ruling document for Charlestown says about multiple offices??? Maybe there is a reason these folks resigned due to multiple office issues. Hopkinton’s charter does provide guidance on multiple offices, maybe Charlestown doesn’t. I don’t have time to research it, and I don’t really care what another town, city, state, country, or continent desires for their elected officials. My concerm is what Hopkinton allows, and the charter with regard to the school committee is explicit.

    Comment by RS — December 9, 2008 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

  6. Hi!
    I would have to research this one. However the question is what standing does the Richmond Town Council,the Charlestown Town Council, as well as the Hopkinton Town Council who represents one of the towns on the Chariho School Committee who is duly elected or appointed by a town council where a vacancy exists?
    First, it is obvious the Hopkinton Town Council does not recognize a vacancy of Mr. Felkner on the school committee. The Hopkinton Board of Canvassers certified Mr. Felkner to a school committee seat in 2006 and to the town council in 2008,. The qualification of election was done by that board.
    Secondly, as I understand it both Mr. Avedesian and Mr Safford formally resigned their school committee seats not just vacated them when they took the oath of office to the Charlestown Town Council in 2004,. If that is NOT the case, please advise.
    Thirdly,Mr. Anderson’s (SC lawyer), brings up the Bailey case,. The comparison of the powers of a state legislature and a local board is very questionable, on recognizing who is a member of it.
    Fourthly,while I do not deny Mrs. Eaves is a member of the Chariho School Committee from Charlestown, I have reservations about the logic of the Charlestown Board of Canvassers in certifying her for a school committee seat in 2006,.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — December 10, 2008 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

  7. Scott, on what grounds do you question the logic?

    Comment by CharihoParent — December 10, 2008 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  8. Hi!
    In answer to #7, in 2006, Charlestown only had one candidate (Andy Polouski) for Chariho School Committee, when they had three seats open. Andrew McQuaide,Jr., clearly had more write-in votes than any other write-in. So I don’t have any problem with his election. Then it gets interesting. I understand a Bernard Bishop came in third number of votes. He declined to accept the office.
    Holly Eaves tied in number of votes with the late Joseph Ungaro. Mr. Ungaro was alive on Election Day for fourth place. I know of no where in Rhode Island Election Law that allows a Board of Canvassers in this case Charlestown’s to certify a person not within the number of people to be elected to be certified. I would like to know the ruling from the Rhode Island Board of Elections or law citation or ruling from a court that allows this. It would appear at that point, the Charlestown Town Council would have filled that vacancy.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — December 10, 2008 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

  9. As I recall, Mr. Hirst said in a previous post that Ms. Eaves was certified even though she tied in her election. He can clarify, but I think his point was the legitimacy of the Board of Canvassers choosing the winner in a tied election.

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 10, 2008 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  10. As I understand it, Mr. Ungaro passed away on November 12, 2006, which was 5 days after the election. How could he accept the nomination? Wouldn’t it then go to the next person in line which would have been Holly Eaves?

    Comment by CharihoParent — December 10, 2008 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

  11. Hi!
    I believe the law does not allow that. Neither Mr. Ungaro nor Ms. Eaves were in the top three to be elected anyway they both tied for fourth place. I was for example the highest votegetters among the two losers for the town council in Hopkinton last month. Suppose after the election one of the winners died. That does not mean I move up.
    That is my thinking. If I am not correct what law or ruling allows the local Board of Canvassers to move someone up in the Charlestown case? A very reasonable question.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — December 10, 2008 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

  12. I’ve emailed the town clerk in Charlestown to ask how Holly Eaves was able to be certified, something you could have easily done if had questions about it.

    Comment by CharihoParent — December 10, 2008 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  13. I’ve received a response from Ms. LaCroix at 6:25PM… I hope this answers your question. Thank you Ms. LaCroix for responding so quickly.

    Dear Chariho Parent,

    If a write in candidate wins the election and declines to serve, the State Board of Elections advises us to move to the next candidate with the next highest number of votes. This will continue until we have someone that will accept. This process is followed per the State Board of Elections. The local Board will certify him/her when they certify the election. I believe in Mrs. Eaves’ case, (and if memory serves me correctly) Mr. Ungaro was also listed as a write in. Mr. Ungaro was in the hospital and eventually passed away before the election was certified therefore he could not serve. The local Board sought advice from the State Board and then proceeded accordingly and called Mrs. Eaves who accepted. If there are more than one seat open, the same process is still followed.

    This is nothing new. Quite often as with voting moderators and clerks we have many write in candidates, most with only 1 vote. We are often told by these people that they wrote their names in as a joke or a lark and do not want to serve. If we get several people with the same number of votes that want to serve, a special election would have to be held.

    I am assuming you are not looking for me to answer any of the issues regarding Mr. Safford or Mr. Avedisian?

    If anyone has any questions regarding this, they are welcome to call my office and we will be happy to explain the process.

    Jodi P. LaCroix, CMC
    Town of Charlestown
    4540 South County Trail
    Charlestown, RI 02813

    Comment by CharihoParent — December 10, 2008 @ 10:30 pm | Reply

  14. When is the election certified and Official Results declared?
    The Board of Elections cannot certify the election results as “official” until after all recounts and hearings have been conducted. Generally, due to the time frame permitted by law for candidates to file requests for recounts and hearings and depending on the number of recounts and hearings scheduled, it takes up to two weeks after the date of the election for the results to be certified as “official.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 10, 2008 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

  15. What is the point regarding Ms. Eaves? She has been a representative of Charlestown’s for 2 years now. If there was any question regarding her eligibility, then it should have been dealt with 2 years ago, through the board of elections. Besides, how does their election results compare to Mr. Felkner’s situation? This is water under the bridge, and is not a concern of ours, just like who represents us is not a concern of their’s.

    This issue with Mr. Felkner would have been alleviated if Mr. Day had spoken to another Hopkinton representative to speak to Mr. Felkner regarding his intentions the day after the election. They had two weeks to determine his intentions, if not more, but they chose to avoid him. Hiding behind the “Mr. Felkner is hard to speak to” line is a cop-out, and will likely cost the towns yet again.

    I saw the meeting last night on Cox. I want to thank Ms. Carney for her efforts. She did her homework.

    Comment by Lois Buck — December 11, 2008 @ 7:44 am | Reply

  16. Lois, once again, you’re right on the money. What is the point in regards to Ms Eaves? If there was a problem, it should have been addressed two years ago, not now. I do appreciate Ms LaCroix’s quick response to my inquiry and hope that it satisfies SBH and will now put to rest her election to the school committee.

    Any time I’ve seen and met Ms Carney, she’s always well prepared. She does not shoot from the hip, much unlike Richmond’s representatives on the school committee.

    Comment by CharihoParent — December 11, 2008 @ 8:16 am | Reply

  17. The meeting was on Cox? Will it be airing again?

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 11, 2008 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

  18. Yes, SC meeting to air on Cox Channel 18 at 12 noon on Friday, Dec. 12th.

    Comment by Lois Buck — December 11, 2008 @ 1:56 pm | Reply

  19. Hi!
    I will check with Mr. Kando, of the Rhode Island Board of Elections on this. He is Executive Director of the board. I am interested in when this ruling was issued. It clearly appears not to be in state election law, but a practice adopted by the board. I realize that this was the opinion at the time, but if ever challenged may be a diffferent ruling by a court giving the decision of that court.
    You may have read my letters in the Chariho Times and Westerly Sun about Town Council people elected by numbered seats in at-large (town wide) elections until the 1970s. That changed in 1972, the first year, I voted as the result of a court decision that had state wide signficance. Interestingly the ruling impacted the General Election but not the Primary Election. This also impacted other offices. For example voters could only really choose one candidate among two for each town council numbered seat. So voters may have wanted both people pitted against each other on the town council but they could only vote one of them for seats numbered First to Fifth Councilmen. In 1972 in all Chariho towns as well all at-large elections in Rhode Island the top five or seven where elected to their respective town councils, if it was a town wide or at-large situation.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — December 15, 2008 @ 1:05 pm | Reply

  20. Scott,
    As Lois Buck has said, “What is the point regardng Ms Eaves?” It’s two years out, if anyone had a problem with it, it should have been contested then, not now!

    Comment by CharihoParent — December 15, 2008 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

  21. Hi!
    I do not plan to challenge Ms. Eaves election. I think the issue is what rules/law was this based on?
    The questions are:
    1. What Rhode Island Election Laws allow this practice, and what is the wording?
    2.If not a law, when did the Rhode Island Board of Elections adopt this procedure, and what is the name of the ruling as well as the wording? It may be a practice that is followed but not necessarily in written form?
    3. I will not dispute that local boards of Canvassers are following advice from staff at the Rhode Island Board of Elections.
    In closing, we see a school committee who obviously wants to sack a member, (Bill Felkner), who the law does not seem to be clear that he cannot remain on the Chariho School Committee, not including the practice as I understand it for school committee members to resign when elected to another elected office such as happened I believe when Mr. Safford and Mr. Avedesian did in Charlestown in 2004,.
    I have contacted Mr. Kando in regards to my questions. He is Executive Director of the Thode Island Board of Elections. I am waiting for his response.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — December 15, 2008 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

  22. Scott, it’s over, done with. Does it directly affect the Town of Hopkinton? NO! Holly Eaves being elected via write-in votes and Bill Felkner being elected as a candidate who’s name was on the ballot are two differect things. Holly Eaves has nothing to do with Mr Safford and Mr Avedisian resigning their seats on the school committee.

    Comment by CharihoParent — December 15, 2008 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  23. CP … I think the point is that if you are going to go after someone with very slim justification, be prepared for your skeleton’s to be bought out and investigated.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — December 15, 2008 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  24. Scott,
    Have you heard back from Mr. Kando, yet? I’m curious as to what he had to say about it.

    Comment by CharihoParent — December 23, 2008 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

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