Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 31, 2009

From our friends at RISC

Filed under: contract negotiations — Editor @ 4:41 pm

URGENT PETITION ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO PAYS TAXES TO THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND!

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED TODAY!

UNION TO APPEAL THIS WEEK!

PETITION ON WWW.SHORELINECOALITION.COM

The battle between the East Providence School Committee and local taxpayers and the teachers’ union remains unresolved! Your previous petition signatures and letters to media outlets were most helpful. The petition was formally delivered to the Court of Judge Pfeiffer, who left in place the decision of the East Providence School Committee to roll back teacher salaries and require a 20% healthcare co-pay.

  For jurisdictional reasons, the ‘unfair labor practice’ case is still pending before the Labor Relations Board, and the teachers’ union is appealing Judge Pfeiffer’s decision. This week, Judge Francis X. Flaherty will hear the appeal and hand down a decision by February 5. This means we have only a few days to petition the court again.

Please be certain that your spouse, neighbors, friends and relatives sign this petition, so that the Court understands how many people oppose the continued deficit spending of school districts to satisfy the voracious demands of the NEA.

Thank you for your continued concern and involvement!

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION TO JUSTICE FLAHERTY AND TELL OTHERS TO SIGN, TOO!

Offer to help those without computers to sign and pass this email along to your taxpayer friends and neighbors!

 

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION!

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January 28, 2009

More from the Sun

H/T to CP for sending me the text.

The only point I would dispute is that Gorham is not working Pro Bono. I admit a bit of fog during that conversation but I do recall saying that we expect to win this case and Chariho to pay for his legal fees.   – which would mean he is racking up fees and thus not pro bono.

Felkner seeks donations for legal expenses
By Victoria Goff

The Sun Staff

HOPKINTON —

A town councilor battling to keep his seat on the Chariho Regional School Committee is seeking financial support for his legal expenses.
 

 

William J. Felk­ner, 45, has asked supporters for dona­tions toward court filing fees, which have so far totaled $450. His attorney, Nicholas Gorham, has offered to work pro bono.
 

 

Felkner asserts the school committee wrongfully ousted him in November, when it ruled that he had vacated his committee seat when he was sworn-in to the Hopkinton Town Council. He claims that he can hold both seats, and the School Committee did not have the authority to remove him.
 

 

Gorham petitioned the state Supreme Court this week, after a judge in Washington County Superior Court ruled last week that the case belonged there. The school commit­tee’s attorney, Jon M. Anderson, must file a response by today. Anderson said he plans to restate the school commit­tee’s position that the Hopkinton Town Charter bars Felkner from holding both seats, which he says could also present a conflict of interest.

The Supreme Court jus­tices are expected to review, behind closed doors, how to proceed with the case on Feb. 5. So far, Felkner said he has collected about $250. He plans to create a legal fund for the donations, which the state Board of Elections told him to report.

“I have always said that I would not ask the town council [for tax dollars] to pay for any of this [at least not what I can control — we already pay Chariho’s attor­ney],” Felkner wrote in his request for donations on his blog, Chariho Parents Forum. He said someone had previously written an entry on his blog suggesting he should start the fund. Anderson’s work on the case is covered by a $4,200­monthly fee the school dis­trict pays his firm, Edwards, Angell, Palmer and Dodge, of Providence, for district legal services.

Felkner’s attorney asked a judge in his initial filing with the Superior Court to impose a $5,000 fine against the school committee for vio­lation of the state’s Open Meetings Act. The fine is the maximum allowed for such a violation.
 

 

The Superior Court judge issued a preliminary finding that the school committee violated the state law when it did not list its discussion of Felkner’s status on its agenda in November. Resolution of the alleged violation has been suspend­ed while the Supreme Court case is pending.
 

 

Asked about his request for a $5,000 fine being levied against the public body, Felkner said he was not aware his attorney included it with the court complaint.
 

 

“Whatever it’s going to take to get them to stop doing this, then I’m all for it,” he said.
 

 

He also said, “To me, it’s just the school committee can’t do this. They say, ‘Well, this isn’t about Bill Felkner.’ Clearly this is about somebody who pushed them to be transparent and open up the contract negoti­ations and they don’t like that. … This isn’t about the two-seat issues, this is about getting rid of Bill Felkner, and they just don’t have that authority.”

Filed today

Find a link below for Chariho’s Memorandum of Law in support of Its Motion to Dismiss our Petition for Statutory Quo Warranto. 

The court will review the case on Jan 5th – NOT an open court session.

Two initial points that hit me is the end of paragraph 1 on pg 2 (that my two seats have different constituents) and the end of pg 7 going to pg 8 (that the court ‘need not’ decide if Chariho acted unlawfully if the dual seat question goes against me – in other words, its ok to use the guilty until proved innocent method).

charihomotionjan28

No surprises here

Filed under: contract negotiations — Editor @ 7:11 pm

From the Sun:

WOOD RIVER JCT. — Chariho Regional School District teacher contract talks will begin tonight behind closed doors at the Reaching Youth through Support and Education (RYSE) School.

Speaking of the Sun, I’m told there is a piece regarding the case also in tonight’s paper.  I don’t have access right now so if someone can send me the text I would appreciate it.  I was home with the flu yesterday and the reporter seemed very interested in pointing out that while I have said I didn’t want Hopkinton taxpayers to have to pay for this case, if we are successful and Gorham’s fees are paid by Chariho, then ultimately the tax payers still are paying.  True, although its Richmond and Charlestown too. My point was that we would do what we felt necessary to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again (remember Chariho vs Hirst?).  So, if some sweeping recall of committee members, or accountability to administration was made, then financial restitution beyond Gorham’s fees wouldn’t be necessary.

But as I said, I was home with the flu so I would be interested to see if I was able to make my point in the article.

January 23, 2009

Case documents filed

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 12:54 am

Continuing the previous post’s theme of Chariho acting like dictators, here are the documents my (our) attorney’s filed in Supreme Court this AM.

Petition for Quo Warrento

petition-quo-warranto

Petition for writ of quo warranto

ptn-for-writ-of-quo-warranto

Appendix to writ

appendix-to-ptn-writ

Motion to expedite

motion-to-expedite-and-consolidate-appeal

Good news and bad news

Filed under: contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 12:33 am

Good news:

Anchorrising has posted the judges decision on the East Providence case.  Interestingly, it actually looks like a draft of the decision as there are comments in the margin from presumably the clerk editing the piece. 

A press release from the EPSC is also posted.  Please check them out over at AR (www.anchorrising.com).

And while you are there reading about a tremendous David and Goliath success story, remember that it all started because the EPSC refused to negotiate in closed sessions.  They knew that the only way to ensure that the taxpayer’s wishes would be achieved was to empower those taxpayers with information and put them on equal footing with the union membership.

Then come back here and follow this LINK to see the Chariho negotiation ground rules. Notably, number 7 (the bad news).

Negotiating sessions shall be conducted in meetings closed to the public to the extent permitted by the Open Meetings Act. Attendance shall be limited to negotiating team members and members of the administration whose presence is requested by the School Committee to address issues applicable to their area of responsibility.

I guess all the support they heard for open meeting didn’t mean anything to them.  But when over half of the Committee members have family employed at Chariho, and when the majority were elected unopposed (and the chair is going to school to become a teacher), what should we expect. 

They didn’t even follow the governor’s lead given in the supplemental budget (Article 26) requiring contract to be presented to the public 30 days prior to ratification.  Your Chariho representatives just agreed to a deal that is not only negotiated behind closed doors, but it also says this:

Any contract tentatively agreed to by the negotiating teams shall be subject to ratification and acceptance by the membership of NEA Chariho and the Chariho Regional School Committee.

That’s right – the public can’t see it until after it is ratified  (after we can do anything about it) but the union membership can see it and tell their negotiators “no”. 

And finally, in a previous email to Holly Eaves (way back when I was still recognized as a Committee member) I asked her to include one other item in the ground rules.  When I was in the previous negotiations, I noticed that we presented a list of changes we were considering.  But as the negotiations went on we wanted to make changes on an issue that was not previously considered.  The NEA said we couldn’t even consider a change because it wasn’t outlined in the original proposal. So I suggested to Mrs. Eaves that she should include a line saying that we reserve the right to introduce new issues that are not previously outlined.  Well, I’ve read the document and I don’t see anything providing that liberty. Maybe she forgot. I can’t see any other reason they wouldn’t want the ability to ‘come up with a new idea as the meetings progress.

Its a great day for RI taxpayers, but a lousy day for Chariho taxpayers.  Another negotiations where the union membership must approve anything the union negotiators do, but the taxpayers (who pay all the bills) are kept in the dark. Why do we put up with this?

January 22, 2009

VICTORY!

Filed under: contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 6:27 pm

Judge Pfiffer has ruled in favor of the East Providence School Committee and denied the injunction requested by the NEA.  The pay cuts, copays and removal of buy-backs and longevity will remain in effect.  I will post a link to the decision and upcoming press release asap.

This is a great day for the taxpayers of RI.

Click HERE to see how this started.

January 20, 2009

An unpleasant reality

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 4:58 pm

As you probably know, the battle to retain my seat on the School Committee has been pushed to the Supreme Court.   Since the beginning (presumably ever since they knew I was running for the Town Council), Chariho has used tax dollars to pay their attorney to make this happen.  Indeed, it seems as though it is only his (paid) opinion that gave them the authority to do so.  But I digress…

 

Nick Gorham believes strongly that we are right and has provided legal services pro bono.  These services are mostly man hours but there are filing fees that are accumulating ($450 so far).  This comes out of his pocket and he is asking me to cover them.

 

I have always said that I would not ask the town council (tax dollars) to pay for any of this (at least not what I can control – we already pay for Chariho’s attorney).  And I have never asked the town’s attorney to even look at it (the letter she wrote came out of a meeting I was not at). But Gorham needs to recoup his out of pocket expense so I have set up a legal defense fund to accept donations.  Technically, according to the Board of Elections (which I spoke with this AM), these funds must be reported with my campaign paperwork. 

So, the ask is out.  If you are so inclined, please consider donating to this fund.  As with any donation of this type, it is not tax deductible.

 

You can make donations by sending a check to me at 14 High Street, Ashaway, RI 02804 or via credit card on paypal (pay to email account billfelkner@cox.net).  Just note “Legal Fund” on the donation. 

 

I’m happy to answer questions privately if you wish at the above email.

 

Thank you for your consideration.  Believe me, I don’t like asking.

January 16, 2009

On to the Supreme Court

Filed under: Nov 18 meeting (where I was removed from office) — Editor @ 6:11 pm

Less than an hour before seeing the judge today, the Attorney General submitted the following amicus memorandum.  So, we are off to Supreme Court.

lynch_amicus

Judge Thompson also signed the following order reflecting the above action and her actions regarding the violation of OMA (in the efforts of full disclosure, the Chariho attorney wanted to note to the press that the judge could reverse her decision on the “violation” – always the spinster).

thompson_order

Meeting not on TV

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 10:13 am

Turns out the school committee meeting from Tuesday was not televised.  “Technical difficulties”

Its amazing how often those happen when there are controversial meeting.

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