Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 12, 2009

Plaintiff’s Memorandum

Filed under: Nov 18 meeting (where I was removed from office) — Editor @ 2:22 pm

My attorneys have submitted a memorandum to the court that addresses the two relevant questions:

1. Does the Committee have the authority to remove me?

2. Does my election to the Town Council require my disqualification from the School Committee?

felkner-memorandum

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37 Comments »

  1. I move that we give Atty Chris Anderson a big pat on the back, very concise and well written brief.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 12, 2009 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

  2. Isn’t it weird how Mr. Felkner keeps us posted on is legal arugments, yet the School Committee using a lawyer we pay for, makes little effort to keep the public informed. What we know about Chariho’s arguments in court have come from Mr. Felkner rather than the School Committee. Just one more example of why they so desperately want Mr. Felkner off the School Committee.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 13, 2009 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  3. Felkner and this blog do a great job putting actual events and opinions out in the light of day.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 13, 2009 @ 3:03 pm | Reply

  4. Honestly, I’m surprised that BF’s lawyers aren’t screaming at him to be quiet for now since you typically don’t want your opponent in a court case knowing what cards you’re holding.

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 13, 2009 @ 3:35 pm | Reply

  5. I don’t recall any forward looking information, just what is already on the table…which is much more than we’ve seen from our “public” representatives. I guess when you don’t have anything to hide, you’re less likely to hide anything.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 13, 2009 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  6. Reality is that their aren’t any secret from the other side, just secrets from the rest of us.

    Bill has an “openness” philosophy, he wants people to see what’s going on. Which also means that puts his opinion out in straight english. I don’t think you can accuse of having hidden agendas.

    At court, he told his lawyers that it was to talk in front us … He didn’t know what had been going on in chambers.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 13, 2009 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  7. Chariho to consider Felkner’s ‘virtual resignation’

    http://newsblog.projo.com/2009/01/chariho-to-cons.html#435592

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 13, 2009 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  8. Where’s Gene’s on-the-scene updates?

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 13, 2009 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

  9. Resignation accepted 7-2

    Yea: RP,TS,MC,AM,BD,HE,AP
    Nay: DC,RV
    Absent: GA
    Felkner: Nay

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 13, 2009 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

  10. I noticed AP changed his tune slightly, he says now that he searched and couldn’t find anybody who has held dual offices in Charlestown, Richmond, or Hopkinton.
    Like my old man olways said, there are some folks lower than snakes.

    Comment by RS — January 13, 2009 @ 9:59 pm | Reply

  11. Dual elected office. There have been plenty of people who served in more than one position, i.e., Hopkinton School Committee and Chariho School Committee.

    Was there a police escort again this time? Was there a discussion or simply a vote? I had hoped Ms. Cole would at least abstain (although that would have been weak).

    I wonder if they are acting on inside information since they are usually a bunch of sniveling cowards. Perhaps there have been assurances given by the Attorney General’s office that he would cover for them? I mean, even this group can’t be dumb enough to flout a judge’s ruling unless they knew they’d come out of it free and clear.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 13, 2009 @ 11:36 pm | Reply

  12. Technically, the judge didn’t rule on their authority to do it. She inferred both sides. She inferred they do have the authority when giving a temporary order until it was done with an agenda notice, and she inferred it was the AG’s job when she asked them to participate (which they did not). Basically, since no ruling was made, she didn’t decide anyhthing. That will come on Thursday I guess.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 13, 2009 @ 11:46 pm | Reply

  13. She may not have meant to do it, but by ruling the School Committee had to post Mr. Felkner’s ouster on the agenda, she inferred that his election to the Town Council was not a ‘virtual’ resignation.

    If the judge believed taking the Town Council seat resulted in the resignation of the School Committee seat, then why would Mr. Felkner being ejected from the meeting be overruled? After all, if he resigned, he had no right to sit with the School Committee. If he resigned, the School Committee didn’t have to put anything on the agenda.

    I grant you the judge may have ruled as she did because she was attempting to be King Solomon, but if she now agrees with the School Committee’s position that Mr. Felkner resigned, she never should have ruled against the School Committee in the first place.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 14, 2009 @ 12:37 am | Reply

  14. J Anderson’s argument about the TRO was that it was a vehicle to fix a OMA issue and make it go away.

    I would hesitate to read too much into the court’s motives, Thursday will be here quickly and we will have a lot more meat to chew on.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 14, 2009 @ 1:12 am | Reply

  15. We all owe Gene a big thanks for keeping everybody up to date.

    Incidently, I could have saved Andy P. some effort if he was looking for the names of people whe had served in two offices at the same time in the Chariho District, not that it has any bearing on the current situation. Three names come to mind immediately: William Bowyer, Robert Evans and Thurman Silks, all of Hopkinton.

    It was in the early ’70’s when there was a School Committee in each Town for the lower grades because each Town ran their own elementary school(s), and there was a Chariho Regional School District School Committee for the Chariho District. I’m not sure how it was in the other Towns, but the Hopkinton School Committee had five members and three of those members also served on the Chariho School Committee. At that time I believe there were only nine Chariho School Committee members, three from each Town.

    If Andy is looking for precedent to answer the question of dual office holding, there is one. But that is not the way to answer the question at hand. The problem will be solved by the Courts, as it should have been in the first place.

    Comment by Thurman Silks — January 14, 2009 @ 2:14 am | Reply

  16. RS … You were there tonight? I was over by the podium with my wife, come say hi next time.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 14, 2009 @ 2:31 am | Reply

  17. RE #1 … I failed to get appropriate credit Mr. Gorham!

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 14, 2009 @ 2:32 am | Reply

  18. RE #1 … Let me try this again: I failed to give Mr. Gorham appropriate credit for the brief. Good job Mr. Gorham.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 14, 2009 @ 2:34 am | Reply

  19. I concede the court’s motives for finding the School Committee violated OMA might not have been well thought out, but from a purely logical standpoint (if A then B), the court’s ruling is a concessiont that Mr. Felkner didn’t “virtually” resign. Now the judge may not be thinking logically…but she will be contradicting her prior ruling should she decide the School Committee was within its authority to force Mr. Felkner out. Logically it can’t be both.

    Mr. Silks highlights dual office holding in our own community. I don’t think the seat on the Chariho School Committee was elected but appointed from the Hopkinton School Committee. I could be wrong. In any case, dual office holding was common place, and the potential for confilct was much greater since committee were voting on two budgets with competing interest for our tax dollars.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 14, 2009 @ 10:04 am | Reply

  20. REF #14.

    So if I get caught speeding and I go back through the same spot without speeding then my problem is gone and everything is ok……I don’t think so. That being said, the RI AG’s office is not overly concerned with the rights of a few folks in south county, so will only do the minimum required.

    Comment by RS — January 14, 2009 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  21. REF #15.

    Hello Mr. Silks, you can just go out into your yard, pick a tree and tell the tree the names, it will get more attention and better reception than talking to A(closed mind I don’t like BF, its personal)P.

    Comment by RS — January 14, 2009 @ 10:14 am | Reply

  22. Gene, I was nestled amongst the computer terminals, and I left after the resignation. There were a few other items I had interst in, but having spent most of the day on other business at the State House, I was whipped.

    Comment by RS — January 14, 2009 @ 10:17 am | Reply

  23. RE#20 … Ny sense is that the court would be quite happy to fix a technical defect (OMA) through the TRO. The issue is not agregious enough to result in any consequences. Especially considering the liklihood of a different outcome was small.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 14, 2009 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

  24. But I do not believe the technical defect alleviates the original OMA violation. BF might be made whole on his OMA grievance through the TRO, but what about the citizen(s) of Hopkinton who also filed an OMA grievance ??
    BF’s case does not correct the aggreviance done to the citizens of Hopkinton. So the open OMA grievance is still an issue for the SC.

    Comment by RS — January 14, 2009 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  25. RS … I suspect the court would say that the “harm” incurred by the citizens of Hopkinton did not reach a high enough level that would require punitive action.

    What was the actual harm? Now, once the teacher contract negotiation starts, then things change dramatically, clearly Bill’s vote will be important.

    Obviously, I am floored by the SC’s actions, they are the actions of children, I wouldn’t even know how to argue with them …

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 14, 2009 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  26. It won’t be the court pursuing an OMA violation, its the AG’s office. Their job will be to determine if an OMA violation occured. Then they determine the punitive action as allowed and spelled out by statutes. It seems slam dunk since by redoing the ouster of BF on the agenda again, it is admittance they screwed up the first time. In essence the OMA violation is already established.Of course this time was a resignation…cute huh.
    That being said, I do not have the highest faith in the AG’s office. This is said from experience working with them on issues at the State House.
    However I do have the utmost repsect for the office of the Attorney General, I just do not have faith proper due diligence is always done.

    Comment by RS — January 14, 2009 @ 5:33 pm | Reply

  27. Individuals members shouldn’t be able to claim ignorance since Ms. Carney made the case that their actions were a violation. She was ignored, but she was right.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 14, 2009 @ 6:50 pm | Reply

  28. I can see a new member, balancing the arguments of the solicitor and most of the SC against a couple of members, not seeing this situation in the way we do. Now, the interesting point will come if the court makes a clear decision in favor of BF. Then I would be really upset with the legal advice …

    Can’t wait for tomorrow.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 14, 2009 @ 9:37 pm | Reply

  29. There are no more excuses. Hopkinton solicitor weighed in. The Hopkinton Town Council weighed in. Mr. Vecchio is new and he didn’t vote to disenfranchise Hopkinton. Same with Ms. Carney.

    The decision came down to taking immediate action which is legally questionable and possibly disenfranchising an entire town, or letting Mr. Felkner remain on the School Committee followed by initiating their own legal action to determine if he resigned by taking the Town Council seat.

    The School Committee members who voted to oust Mr. Felkner are responsible for their decision. There may have been confusion for the first attempt, but none of them are confused now. New members and old should face a heavy fine if the court determines they’ve disenfranchised Hopkinton and violated Mr. Felkner’s civil rights. They should also be penalized for their willful violation of the OMA.

    Nothing will stop this group from protecting the status quo. I’m sure the teachers’ contract will be more of the same, but if we have any hope of improving Chariho’s peformance and controlling costs in the future, then the community must wake up and become aware of the nonsense that has been going on at Chariho. Fining those members who voted to disenfranchise Hopkinton would be a good step in that direction.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 14, 2009 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  30. If the courts rule that BF, the Hopkinton TC, the Hopkinton Solicitor, and many of the Hopkinton citizens were correct in their ability to elect a person to the TC and regional SC, then the question arises as what to do about one of our elected members who decided not to follow the guidance and will of the town they claim to represent and that elected them.

    For a person to let such actions go unchallenged and uncontested would be akin to performing the questionable actions themselves.

    Comment by RS — January 14, 2009 @ 10:15 pm | Reply

  31. Booby doesn’t need to represent his town because all his Chariho friends are on his side. As we’ve seen with Mrs. Kenney, you bend over for Chariho employees and they let you put up lawn signs in their yards and they turn out in droves to vote for you. Who needs integrity when you have the largest employer in the area on your side?

    Mr. Felkner keeps pointing us back to East Providence because there is reason for optimism in what is happening there. We need another good tax whack in Hopkinton to wake up all my neighbors content to let the inmates run the Chariho asylum. Maybe it’s a good thing that we lost out on our chance for tax equity. The pain will be more potent. The sad thing for many of us is by the time the community wakes up we may have already been forced out.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 14, 2009 @ 10:57 pm | Reply

  32. Look, I agree with you, but if this is such an important issue to others, then why:

    1. Hasn’t the AG weighed in on the OMA
    2. Hasn’t the AG weighed in on the Felkner eligibility
    3. Didn’t the Hopkinton solicitor show up at the SC meeting.

    Do you think the Hopkinton TC is prepared to take action to remove Petit for his agegious actions against Hopkinton?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 14, 2009 @ 11:08 pm | Reply

  33. OK….

    1. You aren’t familiar with the AG’s office are you…
    2. You aren’t familiar with the AG’s office are you….especially in RI.
    3. I do not know.

    Seriously, the AG would be just fine if this issue went away. They have nothing to gain except more of a workload. The noble notion they are doing the peoples work is a load of it. The AG’s office is conducting an investigtion into the OMA violation on behalf of at least 1 Hopkinton resident. It is my understanding that BF did not file an OMA violation with the AG’s office, but did in his court filing. By the way, it isn’t too late for any aggrieved person to file an OMA complaint, I believe the limitation is 6 months from when the event took place.

    I’m not sure if the TC has the authority to remove a SC member. Any action to remove an elected official from office is a very serious event which is not approached in a casual manner(except by the SC). For the TC to discuss such action would, in my opinion, be very wrong at this point and time. I would be more than willing to support any of the SC members at this time against any TC(from any town)which was contemplating action against any members. I view this type of action equal to what the SC has done to BF. Although I might appear contradictory, I feel comfortable discussing the issue myself, because I am a private citizen and have the luxury of not being accountable to an electorate. If I were in a position of serving the public, then I would not comment until the case has been determined, and all facts are known.

    Comment by RS — January 14, 2009 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  34. Plus I forgot to mention, one of the largest polictical contributors in RI is guess who……

    Drum roll please……………

    The unions representing the school staff. So does it behoove an elected official to go against one of the unions in RI, who will in turn put out the all call and have every other union in the state against them. Its politics, plain and simple…..and the AG’s office plays the game well. When we think of Lady Justice in RI, she is blinfolded from embarrasement, not because justice is impartial.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Justice

    Comment by RS — January 14, 2009 @ 11:51 pm | Reply

  35. Exactly, so for all that the actions of the SC are wrong, the reality is that will not be any ramifications for those actions, repulsive as that is. Best case scenario is BF wins in court, probably the only way vindication will happen.

    Just goes to show that the US legal system is as good as you can afford.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 14, 2009 @ 11:56 pm | Reply

  36. No doubt about it Gene. And if you can’t afford to buy what you need from the legal system, it doesn’t hurt to have friends in high places. Probably the best we can expect is the vindication of Mr. Felkner. This is turn will lead to the continuing transparency of Chariho’s antics. If he goes, we might as well check out because nobody else will give us the scoop from the inside.

    I’ve said before that I’m exploring options to get out of Hopkinton. I’ve heard others say the same thing. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can get out any time soon, so I’m stuck until I figure a way to do it. Mr. Felkner had better come up with a school choice plan which is palatable to the community or Hopkinton is in for a world of hurt for the foreseeable future. I’ll keep praying that Hopkinton’s future doesn’t include me.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 15, 2009 @ 12:21 am | Reply

  37. A civil suit(rights violations) is a whole other animal and could produce fruit, but it is much too early to know the viability of such action.
    Don’t forget, the ACLU hasn’t written off the case yet, they are still in the information gathering process.

    Comment by RS — January 15, 2009 @ 12:27 am | Reply


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