Chariho School Parents’ Forum

March 6, 2009

Supreme Court Monday @ 9

Filed under: Nov 18 meeting (where I was removed from office) — Editor @ 5:23 pm

I wish I could give you a better estimate of exactly when we will be on.  It is likely that the court starts at 9 but because this case is probably the most interesting on the docket (more of a statement about the other cases than ours), it will probably be heard last.

The Supreme Court is located on the 7th floor of the Licht (Frank Licht former Governor of Rhode Island in the 1970’s) Building. Located at 250 Benefit Street, Providence, Rhode Island. The scheduling of cases can be ascertained/received from the Court Clerk at 222-3272. 

I checked with the clerk and she said we are the second one of the full arguments (whatever that means).  If you can make it, that would be great, but I certainly understand people have job (and the taxman doesn’t wait).

Also – here is Gorham’s final reply to Chariho’s last memo




  1. I would like to attend Bill, but instead of the taxman this week its my rendition of Mr. Mom. Not complaining though I’m actually blessed with gifts.

    Comment by RS — March 6, 2009 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

  2. I’m assuming the Supremes will hear oral arguments on Monday, but they won’t be able to put together a ruling?

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 6, 2009 @ 9:14 pm | Reply

  3. Hi!
    I plan to be there.
    BTW did you see The Westerly Sun today? Richmond is in “hot water” with The Rhode Island Auditor General. I find it of interest where were the financial experts on the Richmond Town Council namely a banker and finance educator when this was going on? That was front page news. Also on the front page is a possible tax increase in Hopkinton at 3% or around there.Is the Richmond Town Council in a position to lecture anybody?

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — March 7, 2009 @ 11:52 am | Reply

  4. Why do you think the voters of Richmond opted to make the position of Town Treasurer appointed as opposed to elected? We wanted the TC to be able to hire someone who knew the job and could identify the problems in the position. The previous Treasurer was only a zoning officer trying to learn accounting on the fly since no one else applied to fill the vacancy when the last elected Treasurer quit just a few months into the job. At least the Town Council did not hide the report from their auditing firm, from the state or from the taxpayers of the town. It’s open and out there and I do believe they are working on the problems. As for Hopkinton’s 3% tax rate, how low will that bring Hopkinton’s fund balance account? From what I understand Hopkinton’s fund balance is well below the standard that accounting firms and bond companies like to see. No wonder Hopkinton had to go out and get a tax anticpation note that the beginning of the last fiscal year and unless the fund balance account is up where it should be, they’ll have to do it again, at the expense of the taxpayers. For those that don’t know, one of the primary purposes of the fund balance account is for the towna to be able to cover expenses in the first quarter of the year before the first tax bills are sent out.

    Comment by CharihoParent — March 7, 2009 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  5. I think if you really looked into the fund balance account, it is to cover the times span beetween taxes are collected and when the town has to make its payments. Trying to equate this to some sort of fiscal irresponsibility is false. To carry a huge balance fund to cover this time frame and not truly need the money to operate is fiscally irresponsible. There has been discussion in previous years of aligning this process, but I do not know where this stands. The issue is one of floating, not having the money to cover your debts on a yearly basis, huge difference.

    Comment by RS — March 7, 2009 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  6. I think if you spend the time to cull the data, Richmond is no beacon of light that Hopkinton should be looking up to for financial fiscal advice….but hey why not defend them along with Chariho if it makes you feel good.

    Comment by RS — March 7, 2009 @ 1:21 pm | Reply

  7. I’m not sure about what is going on with Richmond. Kind of don’t care. But the theory that Richmond is well managed financially based on the jobs held by their Town Council was proven false long before any recent story. Many of these financial geniuses issued a vote of confidence for a superindentent with no fiscal integrity. They also supported the bond. I’ve also never heard a peep from them about any of the budgeting games played by Chariho. They may have fancy titles, but that’s about it from what they’ve shown me.

    As for Hopkinton fiscal management, I guess it depends on whether you think money is better used sitting in a government account or if it is better to let the earners keep their money as long as possible. I trust my neighbors’ fiscal management before government every time. I’m glad our current Town Council agrees and chooses not to carry a large surplus of other people’s money.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 7, 2009 @ 2:31 pm | Reply

  8. The Rag doesn’t have the complete story about Hopkinton’s potential 3% tax rate hike on their internet site, so I won’t be reading it unless it gets posted, but from the little they do report, the rate increase is due to a reduction in revenue.

    Unfortunately The Rag refers to budgeted amounts rather than actual spending, so I can’t say for sure if Hopkinton is increasing or reducing spending, but I’ll assume the best for now and attribute the tax hike to an honest assessment of revenues. They could do what Chariho does and manipulate the budget to deliver whatever message works best for them…glad they’re trying to be honest.

    All the above aside, we do have an unnecessary Town Manager and a half dozen or so unnecessary police officers we could cut. I wouldn’t have the courage to take on the police department with their history of retaliation, but if the Hopkinton Town Council had the courage and wanted to protect its poorer citizens, they would give these cuts serious consideration.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 7, 2009 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  9. For two roughly equivalently sized towns, Hopkinton’s non-school spending is double Richmond, so spare me the Hopkinton is perfect story. Why doesn’t your super town council bring costs in line? No, TC is perfect, but I’ll keep mine for now.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — March 7, 2009 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

  10. Size equivalency is a strange measure by which to determine budget criteria…A ranch in Texas(King) is larger than the state of RI, I would think they both have different budgets, but for vastly different reasons. I’m sure we could launch into a fiscal review of all the towns in RI, but to what purpose? I do know part of my “new taxes” are because of “Chari” and the repeated(until it passes) bond chicanery. I have yet to really hear anyone on this blog from Hopkinton defending government spending in general, I can’t say the same for the “never met a tax I didn’t like” or “bond I wouldn’t vote for” duo of “Chari”.

    Comment by RS — March 7, 2009 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

  11. Ok, after you complete the financial analysis come back and tell us why Richmond is great and Hopkinton is wonderful. Two neighboring towns of equivalent area and population can be well expected to have equivalent cost strctures. You have more cops and more admin.

    David & I have been to Chariho budget and contract meetings, preaching the same vision most of us here believe in. Hopkinton passed the last bond as well, so let’s find some other cat’s tail to pull than Richmond sucks.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — March 7, 2009 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

  12. Those of us criticizing Chariho spending and Richmond irresponsibility on the Chariho issues have consistently held our own town to the same standards. Certainly I have been very critical of the size of Hopkinton’s police department. I’ve also called for the elimination of the Town Manager position.

    Previously I had noted Richmond’s smaller municipal budget, and I gave Richmond credit for their historical lower spending. I also noted and warned Richmond that they are on the same track as Hopkinton as it pertains to police spending. I even did an analysis comparing Hopkinton’s municipal spending patterns versus Richmond’s municipal spending patterns.

    The facts are what they are, but I feel comfortable rating this Hopkinton Town Council as more accountable, transparent, and responsible than Richmond’s current Town Council. Hopkinton may have shown less concern about municipal spending with past Town Councils, but in recent years, and with their current Town Council, Richmond has been playing catch-up.

    I really don’t care if Richmond spends foolishly at the municipal level or not. In some ways it is probably to Hopkinton’s advantage if Richmond stays on the course of ever increasing municipal spending. Perhaps if the municipal burden gets too high than the voters will actually show greater restraint when it comes to Chariho.

    Overall I think Hopkinton’s Town Council comes up short on controlling, and preferably reducing, municipal spending, but they make up for part of it with their leadership on opposing Chariho’s failures. They could be better, they could be worse. If they ever get around to seriously considering school choice, they could be the best Town Council in the history of Town Councils.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 7, 2009 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

  13. MEET TONIGHT @ 700PM—

    SUBJECT: Arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic or defense of RI towns fiscal responsibility…

    …..take your pick their both doomed ships.

    Now we really have something for everyone(not just CP) to laugh about on the blog, fiscal responsibility in Richmond….or just pick a town in RI, down’t matter which one.

    Comment by RS — March 7, 2009 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

  14. Oh yeah about the bond, it didn’t get passed in its original form. Only 2 for 3….at least 66% is better than the education your children receive.

    Comment by RS — March 7, 2009 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  15. Good, now that you all have seen the light and agree with me!

    Those articles posted here on RI labor structural issues are laser beams that should scare us all. The next few months are going to be very telling. The courts have the ability to move us in remarkably differnet directions, starting with Bill’s case Monday.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — March 7, 2009 @ 5:04 pm | Reply

  16. Oh, I forgot, the basic philosophy that all these spending ideas have to start with is not their worthiness, it’s our ability to pay for them. Mfg has run out of this state, it’s too hard to do business here, ego lost revenue that could pay for things. Haven’t heard anything fighting for Naragansett Nuclear Station.

    You can’t have it both ways, when you don’t want the stuff that generates income, can can’t spend it. Well, you can, we have, but one day it will come back to bite you.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — March 7, 2009 @ 5:17 pm | Reply

  17. For Sale: Home on beautiful waterfront in picturesque Hopkinton RI……

    I feel this is my solution…..first child will be in school in 2 years, what do you think will be accomplished in 2 years? The past 2 haven’t even got the chairs on the Titanic moved yet.

    Comment by RS — March 7, 2009 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  18. To all Hopkintonians … maybe you can live vicariously through your bethren in Hopkinton, NH …

    Comment by Gene Daniell — March 8, 2009 @ 7:30 pm | Reply

  19. If I read the article Gene linked correctly, Hopkinton, NH voters get to decide whether to approve or reject employee contracts. Imagine that…the people paying the bills actually get to decide how much they are willing to spend. Here in Hopkinton, RI the entire contract process is hidden from the bill payers. We are at the opposite end of the spectrum.

    Of course the School Committee and school administration in Hokinton, NH sounds similar to what we have. They cut three teaching positions, some sports programs, and reduced course offerings. Want to bet that like us they have psychologists, social workers, teachers’ assistants, and guidance counselors for pre-High School students? No cuts of these school leeches. Nope, as always the cuts are made in a manner to cause the most pain to the community in hopes of capitulation to whatever they demand.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 8, 2009 @ 10:56 pm | Reply

  20. Good luck today, Bill.

    Comment by david — March 9, 2009 @ 6:45 am | Reply

  21. Thanks, David. Just about to walk down to the court house (the parking gods have blessed me with an office nearby).

    Comment by Bill Felkner — March 9, 2009 @ 8:27 am | Reply

  22. Knock’em out! If there’s any justice in this world, you’ll prevail!

    Comment by Gene Daniell — March 9, 2009 @ 8:44 am | Reply

  23. Hi!
    Outside of Bill, Three Hopkinton people were in the audience Hward Walker, a lawyer and Planning Board member, my brother and myself. Frank Flaherty did not participate. Participants were Acting Chief Justice McKenna Goldberg,retired Chief Justice Frank Williams, Associate Justices Robinson and Suttell. Francis Flaherty recused himself. The Sun’s Vickie Goff and The Chariho Times Andrew Martin were present. See Felkner artcle by Vickie Goff in todays Westerly Sun ,.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — March 9, 2009 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

  24. Thanks Mr. Hirst. Any reason given for Justice Flaherty’s recusal?

    U.S. Supreme Court watchers often can predict the outcome of cases based on the line of questioning. Any predictions from you or your brother? Did the Supremes seem particularly harsh to one side or the other?

    I would describe The Rag’s article on Mr. Felkner as a profile. They seemed pretty neutral, although The Rag has been decidedly pro-Chariho in past “news” articles dealing with issues involving Mr. Felkner. Just once I’d like to see the media investigate in detail budgets, contracts, transparency, and accountability. Don’t expect we’ll ever see it.

    The direct link to the article is here:

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 9, 2009 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

  25. What issues did they focus on? All on dual office holding? Method SC used to disqualify? Were you pleased with the Supremes’ line of questions?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — March 9, 2009 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

  26. Hi!
    At this point, I will just say that I was disappointed in the lack of discussion of the fact Hopkinton Town Council role in school budgets as it should have forcefully driven home they have NO institutional prerogative to control school budgets. Emphasis should have been noted the town councils have no control ovewr the school budgets like a single school district. Will leave it for there now. I hope my instincts are wrong.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — March 9, 2009 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

  27. Journalists are unable to do any kind investigation except for personalities. Investigating numbers would require knowledge of accounting or finance. Jounalists don’t have the qualifications. Richmond has councilors with financial backgrounds. Even they don’t seem to understand Chariho budgets. Why expect local newspapers to understand it? The school board members don’t get it either. The most I ever heard about Chariho budgets has been from reading here. There is a big difference between spending and budgets. This is all very complicated for everyone. Maybe that’s what Chariho wants?

    Comment by Lurker — March 9, 2009 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

  28. hit refresh – notes from the court are posted

    Comment by Bill Felkner — March 9, 2009 @ 1:53 pm | Reply

  29. Sounds like Mr. Hirst is predicting Mr. Felkner’s ouster will stand. Perhaps Mr. Felkner will weigh in on the line of questioning?

    It’s been said that oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme court level in more a formality than anything else because the meat of a case exists in the written arguments. That said, oral arguments are often indicative of where individual jurists stand as they ask questions designed to support their already determined legal opinions.

    While many like to pretend the judiciary is above politics, obviously they are not. Mr. Felkner is a very public person in Rhode Island and his opposition to government expansionism is not well received by Rhode Island’s political class. I suspect politically the Supremes are not friendly to his viewpoints. Will they rise above politics?

    If it should turnout the Supremes decide this case on politics rather than merit, I hope Mr. Felkner considers retaining a seat on the School Committee via appointment. Not sure if this would mean he’d have to leave the Town Council, but should it come to that, his oversight is more desperately needed on the School Committee. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that he doesn’t need to make the decision.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 9, 2009 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

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