Chariho School Parents’ Forum

July 8, 2009

Police contracts and ‘stuff’

Ultimate pensions – politicians and police calling each other corrupt – and the AG’s office in the mix.  Grab some popcorn…

Since leaving the school committee and joining the town council I don’t post here as often as I should. I get a lot of contact asking what I’m going to do with this site. Luckily, I’ve been so busy with my day job that I haven’t had time to make any decisions. But lately, the emails have turned more into – “why don’t you write about what’s going on?” and “are you going to ignore this stuff?” referring to the police contract and the lawsuits involving the police department and the related AG memos that are flying around town.  And, quite frankly, you are right. I haven’t been forthcoming with a lot of this information and I should have been. I could use the excuse that I was trying to get my feet under me and I thought I could get more done with honey than vinegar, but that didn’t seem to work and there is too much riding on this to keep quiet and hope for the best.

While there isn’t any penalty to divulging executive session material, I haven’t and don’t see a need right now but I can still talk about what is public knowledge.

I also feel fortunate to have an outsiders view of this stuff. I’m not a local and don’t have any preconceived ideas about the players.  I want to have a few more conversations before I get into details but basically I see a lot of bad actors in a falling house of cards – we have a police department being sued by a former building and zoning town employee and a police officer. The employee also had a case with Westerly PD (and won).  I see a lady who many say is nutty, but apparently she was smart enough to beat the HPD on this deal. And  I see a former town councilor, while not in litigation, seems even more aggressively in the mix than the first three.

I also see a police contract with some of the most generous benefits I have seen in the entire state. But most specifically, a pension program that IMHO could have only been passed by someone in an old boy network (I’ll describe that in a bit) or completely incompetent.

Plus the internal AG memos recently released that adds concern going back a few years.

As I said, I’ll give more thoughts after a few more conversation but this strikes me as a lot of bad actors all around.  They are all pointing fingers at each other saying the other guy is corrupt – and they might all be right.

I know our solicitor is not going to be happy with this post, but I’m not going to be a council person that walks away sayingI couldn’t do anything about it. If it means Hopkinton gets dragged naked through the streets but at the end of the day all is exposed and in the open and over with, then so be it. I’ve dealt with this ‘percieved’ air of corruption and old boy network in this town for too long. Former town councilors have left the state because of it and I’m not going to be one of those.  This will end one way or the other.

By ‘old boy network’ i don’t mean to suggest a body politic gone bad. The reality is that a relatively few number of bad actors can do a lot of damage – after all, who really has the ability to know what’s going on in all corners. Slick laws can be passed and councilors don’t read the fine print.

And I include the contract in the discussion because when you get the picture  of the contract that I am beginning to see you are going to ask yourself, ‘how in the heck did that happen” and the only logical solution that fits all the outlined issues is a ‘scratch my back and i’ll scratch yours’ culture that is imploding (or again, completely incompetent people taken advantage of by the union).

But let me get to the contract and I can deal with that other ‘stuff’ soon.

As was reported in the Sun, the council isn’t going to release the contract until after we ratify it – contrary to an expressed desire that towns do otherwise.  What was misleading in the paper was that it was a council  decision. Not true. I asked for and got the council’s endorsement of the 30 day rule back in January but the law didn’t pass and when the time came to actually show the public the contract, Tom Buck made the decision not to. I asked specifically if this would be a council decision and he said it was his alone. I don’t know if Barbara and Sylvia would have supported me or not although Sylvia’s comments suggest she would not have since she said she doesn’t want to be the first (technically, East Providence was teh first). I assume Tom can do that since the attorney was in the conversation when I asked if he had the authority.

I’m doing a very in depth analysis comparing our contract to every other one in the state. Today I just want to get the conversation started and establish some background. Then I will break the current contract down into pieces and make comparisons.

But before you get to that, I do want to review what I consider the most egregious part of the current contract

The pension in place now is a 3% compound COLA (cost of living adjustment) (RI Gen Law 45-21.2-5(9)). What that means is that each year after retirment the amount goes up by 3% and the interest compounds  upon itself- as Einstein said, “compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.”

Now, a 3% cost of living adjustment is insane for a number of reasons. First of all, we are in a recession and the Consumer Price Index is actually negative. If the intent was to keep pace with the ‘cost of living’ then we would be reducing the amount, not increasing it.

But the compound nature is the insidious part. If a person starts the force at 24 and retires in 20 years (which they are able to do in Hopkinton) they will be 44 years old. If they retired with a $75,000 per year pension at age 44 (which isn’t that hard considering we include longevity and holiday pay with the ‘income’ for pension determination) by the time they reach the normal life span of 78 years old we will be paying them $198,925 per year. I am not kidding.

But that’s not the worst part of Hopkintons pension program. The worst part is how it is paid.

You may have heardthat as much as 1 in 5 private companies have stopped making matching payments to 401 K’s. THey just don’t have the money – the economy is tanking (because government- read public sector employees like police – are taking too much in taxes) and private companies can’t just raise the price of goods because competition maintains the market. So they have to cut where they can.

Normally a company will offer a 1 to 1 match up to a certain percentage. normally a small % of your salary that you can put in to a retirement saving account and your employer will match it. Whatever is in there is yours at retirement.

But in Hopkinton, the police are only required to contribute 1% of their salary. Yup, you read correctly – 1 percent (RI Gen Law 45-21-52). [note the law does not say it is ‘compound’ – thats why they had to pass a new law linked above – I’m still doing the research but it looks like that couldn’t be done without legislative support so I will see who is responsible and let you know).

But I digress – so, the police employee contributes 1 percent of their salary to get the most lucritive pension available – Does that mean Hopkinton contributes 1% too?

  NO!   The town has to put in much more than 1%. We must come up with the  balance needed to meet the defined benefit.

We are currently contributing 18%.  Read that again – it is a 1 to 18 match for the most generous pension package I have ever seen (and I study these things for a living). But thats nothing – that 18 percent just pays the employee who is collecting now – who recently retired. Wait until the compound interst adds up and their pension doubles and then triples Our contribution will have to double and triple.

UPDATE – I’m told there may be underlying law that requires an initial 6-7% employee contribution and the 1% mentioned above would be in addtion to. Let’s certainly hope so (not that the compound 3% isn’t bad enough) and I’ll let you know as soon as I learn more.

Does anyone else see a train coming?

But as I said, that’s just a taste. And there may be some irregularities with the way the pension was created that I’m looking into – I will provide more details on all levels of the contract with statewide comparissons soon. And more comments on what is the hot topic in town – the Matson/Mauti/Scunzio/??? peyton play.

PS. In the last meeting I also asked about the 550 hours of comp time Chief Scunzio has compiled. I was surprised that much could be accumulated but I was told that it will be paid by the confiscated drug money – like this matters. If we didn’t use the money to pay for comp time for the CEO of the organization (you know, like other CEO’s get comp time) we could have used the money for sand and salt so we didn’t have to raise your taxes. She missed my point but it did show what the mindset of was- defend and divert! 

PSS. I was pulled over on HWY 95 yesterday by a Providence Police Officer and State Cop (I haven’t been pulled over in 20 years) – luckily I had a witness in the car with me.  But I certainly don’t fear not having one with me – it is just nice to have witness to what was said.  You can find me on 95 north every weekday at 8ish.

For now, please see pasted below a list of towns compared on incomes – i sorted it on per capita. It will establish a good baseline to see where our expenses should line up compared to our income.  After all, if you are middle class, you don’t buy a Ferrari do you?

 Now lets look at the financial demographics of our lovely little village…

Rank Place Per Capita Median House- Median Family Population Number of
    Income hold Income Income   Households
1 Jamestown $38,664 $63,073 $77,990 5,622 2,359
2 East Greenwich $38,593 $70,063 $90,221 12,948 4,960
3 Barrington $35,881 $74,591 $84,657 16,819 6,011
4 Little Compton $32,513 $55,368 $62,750 3,593 1,475
5 New Shoreham $29,188 $44,779 $59,844 1,010 472
6 Narragansett $28,194 $50,363 $67,571 16,361 6,846
7 Portsmouth $28,161 $58,835 $68,577 17,149 6,758
8 North Kingstown $28,139 $60,027 $69,559 26,326 10,154
9 Scituate $28,092 $60,788 $67,593 10,324 3,780
10 Lincoln $26,779 $47,815 $61,257 20,898 8,243
11 Middletown $25,857 $51,075 $57,322 17,334 6,993
12 West Greenwich $25,750 $65,725 $71,332 5,085 1,749
13 Charlestown $25,642 $51,491 $56,866 7,859 3,178
14 Cumberland $25,592 $54,656 $63,194 31,840 12,198
15 Exeter $25,530 $64,452 $74,157 6,045 2,085
16 Newport $25,441 $40,669 $54,116 26,475 11,566
17 North Smithfield $25,031 $58,602 $67,331 10,618 3,954
18 Westerly $24,092 $44,613 $53,165 22,966 9,402
19 Hopkinton $23,835 $52,181 $59,143 7,836 2,965
20 South Kingstown $23,827 $56,325 $67,912 27,921 9,268
21 Warwick $23,410 $46,483 $56,225 85,808 35,517
22 Smithfield $23,224 $55,621 $66,320 20,613 7,194
23 Glocester $22,914 $57,537 $62,679 9,948 3,559
24 Tiverton $22,866 $49,977 $58,917 15,260 6,077
25 Warren $22,448 $41,285 $52,824 11,360 4,708
26 Richmond $22,351 $59,840 $64,688 7,222 2,537
27 Foster $22,148 $59,673 $63,657 4,274 1,535
28 Coventry $22,091 $51,987 $60,315 33,668 12,596
29 Cranston $21,978 $44,108 $55,241 79,269 30,954
30 Bristol $21,532 $43,689 $54,656 22,469 8,314
31 Johnston $21,440 $43,514 $54,837 28,195 11,197
32 Burrillville $21,096 $52,587 $58,979 15,796 5,559
33 West Warwick $20,250 $39,505 $47,674 29,581 12,498
34 East Providence $19,527 $39,108 $48,463 48,688 20,530
35 Pawtucket $17,008 $31,775 $39,038 72,958 30,047
36 Woonsocket $16,223 $30,819 $38,353 43,224 17,750
37 Providence $15,525 $26,867 $32,058 173,618 62,389
38 North Providence $13,489 $19,721 $31,655 32,411 14,351
39 Central Falls $10,825 $22,628 $26,844 18,928 6,696

August 18, 2008

“26 teaching positions have been eliminated”

Filed under: Corruption,Unions — Editor @ 10:46 pm

I saw a comment from Bob Petit saying “26 teaching positions have been eliminated”  

I’m not picking him out for saying this at all – I first heard Supt Ricci say it so we should assume that Bob heard it at the same time.  We should ask Ricci if that means that total employees were reduced by 26. 

Someone with more historical knowledge can correct me but I think Ricci became Supt in 2005.  According to NCES, Chariho had 566.2 Full Time Equivilents (FTE) in the 05-06 school year. 

The 06-07 payroll has 556 full time employees and 40 part time employees.  Technically, we have people classified as full time with as little as 28 hours (thats 2 good days for some of us) – but most full time positions re 35 hours. 

The 40 PT employees average 19.5 hrs.  So, even using a “liberal” interpretation of what constitutes an FTE, we can assume there are an additional 20 FTE’s in the part times (39 hrs).  That gives us a total of 576 FTE in the 06-07 school year.  An increase of 10 employees from the previous year (the first year of Ricci’s term).

It is a year later and I do miss quite a few meetings so its possible I haven’t noticed, but for the “26 teaching positions have been eliminated” to be true, we would have had to eliminate them all this year – plus the 10 we picked up last year.

Like I said in the beginning.  I’m not pointing this out to pick on Bob.  We were given this information, unfortunately, most (all?) board members don’t take the time to verify.  But even if they did, we would be told the data is wrong (remember the In$ight issue?).

July 23, 2008

LTE in ProJO

Filed under: Corruption,Unions — Editor @ 1:59 pm


Walter Amoroso: Let’s sue school committees


01:00 AM EDT on Monday, July 21, 2008



I was wondering: If the school districts in West Warwick and Cranston can sue the municipality in which they operate, why could not the citizens of those communities countersue, for damages, the school departments and the school committees that run those departments and sign those teacher contracts with the unions, so economically devastating to the people of the community?

The reasons: malfeasance in office, reckless spending of public funds, endangering the welfare of the community, causing emotional pain and suffering, causing economic hardship for the retired on fixed incomes.

Maybe we can recover damages for the damages inflicted on us by these self-serving public servants who now have turned the tables and serve nobody but themselves. The public’s standard of living continues to decline while the school administrators’ and teachers’ standard of living continues to improve, no matter what the economic conditions are.

There is something wrong here, and maybe a dose of their own medicine is what they need to feel the pain as we do. Are there any lawyers out there willing to undertake this sorely needed case pro bono? We cannot afford an attorney.

Maybe we can include the police and firefighters, too, while we are at it.

May 29, 2008

More insight from the inside

Filed under: Corruption — Editor @ 1:18 pm

Regular readers of this blog know “Tinkerbell” is a Chariho employee who has previously given us interesting insight on what goes on at the school.  He commented today but it is on an old post and I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle – so here it is. 

What you don’t realize is that Ricci is the main source of all of these problems!! If you don’t have a leader in a superintendent’s position, then the whole district suffers, no matter how many times Ricci tries to make points by saying things that make you think he has your children’s best interest at heart. Ricci and RYSE are draining your budget dry. Does he really think building a building for RYSE is going to help the students and (ha) the administration in there? Read the Richmond Police log from last summer. You will see who Ricci puts in charge of the students! That principal got a ride to school everyday for the first few months; and now Officer Vaughan is gone. Hm. Makes you wonder.

Take the comments as you will, but it is nice to know there are employees who try to look out for whats best for the school.  Unfortunately, there are far too few Tinkerbells in the world.

May 12, 2008

“Only by following our leaders blindly can we truly be free” -Major Frank Burns (the idiot on the MASH TV show)

Filed under: Committee rules,Corruption — Editor @ 12:38 pm

Take it from Major Burns, just let our leaders tell us what to do and what to think and everything will be fine.  And no, there is no conflict of interest when we rest this power in “leaders” who are the guy we hired to work for us as a superintendent and the chairman whose wife and son both work at Chariho (and he spends many of his days at Chariho as his employer also gets money from the District).  But they can’t do this alone —

Bob Petit, Terry Serra and Andy McQuade (the members of the sub committee who created this document) feel like you have too much access to information, too.   Besides the fact that they have all stood by and watched as Barry Ricci has openly (in executive session) refused to answer my questions because he says I divulge “confidential” information (and Ricci himself decides what is confidential), but now they want to take away your and my right to information.  This subcommittee has come up with the following proposed changes to the way our board operates.

Here are the changes that will be voted for on Tuesday.





The following Rules of Conduct are adopted to ensure that 1 School Committee meetings are efficient, effective, and respectful, 2 requirements of the Open Meetings

Act are met, 3 the focus of the School Committee is on improving educational opportunities for students and 4 roles and responsibilities are clear for members of the

School Committee.

Meeting Procedures

a. School Committee meetings open to the public shall be held in the Middle School library from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM. The ending time of the meeting can only be extended by a vote of 2/3 of the members present. Executive Session may be held before and/or after the public meeting.

b. Special meetings may be called by the Superintendent, in conjunction with the Chair, for grievances, student discipline hearings, personnel matters,litigation, negotiations, etc. Each member will be contacted; the special meeting will be held if a majority of the members indicate that they will attend.

c. The agenda for School Committee meetings shall be Meeting Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance/Silent Meditation, Executive Session optional, Closing/Sealing of Executive Session Minutes if necessary, Disclosure of Executive Session Votes if necessary, Recognition, Public Forum, Business, Reports, School Committee Requests for Future

Agenda Items or Legal Opinions, Consent Agenda Items, Policy if necessary, Executive Session optional, Closing/Sealing of Executive Session Minutes if necessary, Disclosure of Executive Session Votes if necessary, and Adjournment. The order of the public meeting agenda may be adjusted by a majority vote of the School Committee.

d. The School Committee will follow Robert’s Rules of Order; the most recent edition will be used. However, regarding the rule requiring a motion prior to discussion and then limiting members to






two opportunities to speak on each motion: Consensus on an item may be attempted first; when the Chair deems appropriate, he/she may call for a motion; then the two

comment limit is imposed. Also, regarding the motion to move the previous question: A member making the motion may include a stipulation to give the public one last opportunity to speak.

e. All persons wishing to speak during Public Forum for items not on the agenda will be recognized; however, the Chair will have the discretion to limit each person to 2-4 minutes. Brief responses from the School Committee may be given during Public Forum. The Chair will also have the discretion to ask the School Committee if it wishes an item being discussed in Public Forum placed on a future agenda and suspend further conversation on the topic to that time; a majority vote of the School Committee is required to place an item on an agenda. Public Forum may not exceed thirty minutes.






f. A School Committee member may request that a statement he/she made be included in the minutes or request that another person’s comments be included in the minutes.

g. Sealed Executive Session minutes may not be discussed by individual members of the School Committee.

Agenda Development

a. The Superintendent, in conjunction with the Chair, shall develop the School Committee agenda.

b. Individual members who would like an item placed on an agenda should make the request during “School Committee Requests for Future Agenda Items or Legal Opinions.” A majority vote of the School Committee is required to place an item on the agenda. Discussion is limited to 2-4 minutes by the member making the motion for the agenda item; no other discussion is allowed. Requests for emergency or time_sensitive items should be directed to the Chair, via the District Clerk, at least eight 8 days prior to the meeting. The Chair shall determine whether or not to place an emergency or time-sensitive item on the agenda.

c. Requests for legal opinions or other information from legal counsel shall be made during “School Committee Requests for Future Agenda Items or Legal Opinions.” A majority vote of the School Committee is required. A request may also be sought during Executive Session; a majority vote of the School Committee is required.

Ill. Communication/Requests for Information

a. Outside of the meeting setting, School Committee members should speak only for themselves; they should avoid giving the impression that they speak for the School Committee.

b. Members who are pursuing self-initiated inquiries related to school performance, operation, personnel, or other School Committee members shall not request supportive data from the Superintendent or other administrators unless such data is normally available to the public. Such data requests shall be directed to the School Committee in the form of an agenda item. School Committee requests for information requiring substantial time and effort on the part of the administration shall be brought to the School Committee for action as an agenda item.

c. Email communications to or between a quorum of School Committee members shall be limited to those purposes provided under the Rhode Island Open Meetings Law, i.e., notification and scheduling of meetings.

The Superintendent may use email to communicate to the School Committee as a whole for the same purpose as well as to notify the School Committee of significant school incidents. Members of the School Committee shall be bound by the District email disclaimer.

IV. Ethics

a. All members of the School Committee are bound by the Code of Basic Management Principles and Ethical Standards for School Committee Members.

b. All members of the School Committee are bound by the Rhode Island Code of Ethics.

V. Violations

a. In the event that the School Committee determines, after affording written notice and a public hearing, that a member of the School Committee has violated the Rules of Conduct, the School Committee may vote in public session to censure that member. A motion to censure one member of the School Committee may not be combined with a motion to censure any other member of the School Committee.


All meetings will be held in the Middlo School library from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. The ending time of the meeting can only be extended by a vote of 2/3 of the mombors present. If the Middle School library is unavailable, the High School library will be used.

Special meetings may be called by the Superintendent, in conjunction with the Chair,

for griovancoc, dicciplino hoaringc, etc. Such meetings may bo scheduled prior to a schodulod mooting or for a separate date. Each member will be called to coo if they can attend, but the meeting will be held if a sufficient number of omboro to constitute a quorum indicate thoir availability.

Mootingc will begin as coon as a quorum is present after the established starting time.

The Committee will follow Robert’s Rules of Order; the most recant oditien will bo used.

However, regarding the rule roquiring a motion prior to discussion and then limiting

members to two opportunities to speak on each motion: Consensus on an item may

be attempted first; when the Choir dooms appropriato, ho/cho may call for a motion;

then the two comment limit is imposod.

The Pledge of Allegiance will prooodo Silent Meditation at the beginning of meetings.

Any grant that would obligate the district to future expenditures will be placed en the

agonda as a coparato item from the Consent Agenda.

Public Forum will bo on tho agonda of both monthly meetings.

All porsenc wishing to spook during Public Forum will be recognized; however, the

Chair will have the discretion to limit each person to 2 4 minutes. Tho Chair will also

havo the discretion to ask the Committee if it wishes an item being discussed in Public

Forum placed en a future agenda and suspend further conversation on the topic to that


If a member has an item ho/the would 11kg placed on the agenda, ho/she should: a

make tho request dudng “Committee Requests”, or b direct a request in writing to the

Chair, via the District Clark, at least eightS days prior to the scheduled meeting date.

A Committoc member may request that a statement ho/she made be reflected in the

minutes or request that another person repeat his/her comments for inclusion in the



Requests for legal opinions or other information from the District Solicitor shall be made

during “Committee Requests” or an appropriately convened Executive Session and

must be approved by consensus of the Committee members before the Chair can

contact the Solicitor.

Outside of the meeting totting, Committee members thould only speak for themselves;

they should avoid giving the impression that they spoak for the Committee.

Committee requests for information requiring substantial time and effort on the part of

the administration should be brought beforo the Committee under Committee Requests.

E mail communications to or between a quorum of Committee members shall be limited

to those purposes provided for under the Rhode Island Open Meetings Law i.e.,

notification and scheduling of meetings.

adopted 1/11/95; revised 12/10/96,


5/13/97, 3/24/98, and 1/27/04


So let us recap – The superintendent wont answer my questions, even when I tell him I am asking for a parent.  The Committe uses “move to question” motions to silence debate and when we read the rules that say we should not do that, Holly Eaves says that as long as the majority of the Committee agrees to do it, we can violate the rules because “they aren’t laws.”  And now Bob Petit, Terry Serra and Andy McQuade want to set “rules” to make is so that you have to get Committee approval before information can be requested or even discussed.  And if anyone on the board doesn’t follow these “rules” (“not laws” as Holly Eaves would say), they can be censured. 

This is the kind of stuff that keeps Chariho as the laughing stock of the state.

April 10, 2008

Sweet little old lady from Hopkinton (Mary Botelle) defeats NEA

Filed under: Corruption,Unions — Editor @ 2:30 pm

Actually, I’ve never met her, so I don’t know if she is little or sweet (but I think so) and old is relative, but here is the letter from Mary Botelle.  In the last post, I referenced this letter that destroys the NEA’s bogus complaint filed with the Labor Relations Board against this blog – describing how it “should be considered a form of intimidation to suppress freedom of speech.” 

The teacher’s union has wasted your tax dollars for 7 months with this frivolous complaint and they unceremoniously dropped it on April 4th (did I mention it has been 7 months).  Coincidentally, doing so on that date meant that it would not be available for the Chariho itinerary that was posted for the public.  It was slipped into our packet on the day of the meeting.

Mrs. Botelle is also one of the people who showed us how poorly the Chariho Act had been put together – actually it was put together three times and we still don’t have a completed version – (Deb Carney is also a champion in this regard)  – and yes, by the same solicitor who was representing Chariho against the NEA.  The solicitor Barry Ricci suggested that we hire. 

Thank you, Mrs. Botelle – God bless.

Mary Botelle page 1

Mary Botelle page 2

Mary Botelle page 3

NEA drops complaint

March 22, 2008

Mr. Ricci may have influenced the Chariho Times to fire James Madden

Filed under: Corruption,Ricci,Unions — Editor @ 12:56 pm

In the last meeting packet, a series of emails were included between Mr. Ricci and James Madden, (now former) reporter for the Chariho Times.  Apparently, Mr. Madden was trying to get information from Mr. Ricci regarding the topic I discussed in the public forum.  Mr. Ricci did not give the information.  I subsequently published the info James was requesting.  Mr. Ricci followed with similar info and Mr. Madden responded by saying, “what do you want me to do with this, wipe my ***.”In previous emails Mr. Madden expressed his frustration in getting information from Mr. Ricci on several,,, several occasions.  I will post the emails when I can.

The publisher made the decision.  Her name is Terri Leifeste and her email is   I will be canceling my subscription and will not allow that paper to quote me again.  I know of at least one other elected official that has pledged to do the same. 

While the CT was sometimes the only paper to report what was going on, this cannot be tolerated.  This will be filed away for later as the NEA complaint thickens.  Unions and freedom of speech on blogs and newspapers – those are popular subjects.  It is disappointing that Ms. Leifeste has chosen to bring that paper into what will surely become a national issue.

What next, Hugo Chavez as the new editor? 

[UPDATE] the Friday following Mr. Madden firing, he went into the office to get his things.  He has told me that he saw Carrie Barr at the office.  When quizzed, she said the NEA was looking into doing some advertising there.

[UPDATE]  I sent the following letter to the publisher:

Dear Ms. Leifeste,

As a school committee member at the Chariho Regional School District, I was presented with a series of email between your (now former) reporter, James Madden, and our superintendent, Barry Ricci. I understand that you, as the publisher of the Charho Times, have fired Mr. Madden because of this exchange.

You apparently have no understanding of the issues in our community. The Chariho Times was sometimes the only paper to report what has been happening. Mr. Madden was expressing (albeit crudely) the frustration many of us have been feeling. The District is now on the verge of collapse and your paper has now chosen to close the other eye.

If you had bothered to investigate the situation, you would have found that Mr. Madden was trying to determine why Mr. Ricci called for an executive session to discuss a hearing held at the Labor Relations Board between the National Education Association (teachers’ union) and the Chariho School District.

The complaint named me specifically and my writing on my blog ( – clearly a grievance issue and open to the public if desired by the named party (which it was). The Labor Relations Board asked if I would be present at the hearing but the Chariho lawyer did not respond. The Chariho Superintendent, Mr. Ricci, said he wasn’t asked by the lawyer. Do you think the people deserver to know how the NEA and Chariho are playing games (using tax dollars) to silence my free speech?

The NEA complaint surrounding this issue will not turn out well for them. And now you have included your paper as an accomplice with those attempts to restrict free speech. You should be ashamed and be held responsible.

I am disappointed in your decision and our community will suffer from the resulting lack of information. I can no longer support your paper. Please cancel my subscription immediately and place me on your “do not call” list. I will not speak with your reporters. I would respectfully request that the people in the cc take notice of this action. I would be happy to provide further details and documentation

.Bill Felkner PS. Mr. Madden went back to your offices on the Friday following his firing and saw Carrie Barr, Chariho NEA representative. When queried, she said that the NEA was looking to do some advertising at the Chariho Times. You do not have enough ad space to pay for the damage you have done to your paper our community.

[UPDATE]  Hopkinton Town Council member Tom Buck has notified me that he called the publisher and editor expressing similar thoughts.

March 12, 2008

School Committee votes to make a statement

Filed under: Corruption,executive sessions,transparency — Editor @ 10:41 am

The following statement (file linked below) was read into  the record by Bob Petit last night and the majority of the Committee voted to accept.   There was a discussion for a while.  Normally, the Committee gets to speak and then the public.  But Holly Eaves made a (now famous – or infamous) “move to motion question” which killed discussion – blocking out Barbara Capalbo from speaking.   Which is a shame considering they accused me of not working for the kids – I said I was working for my constituents and their children.  It might have been helpful for the Hopkinton councilor to speak considering she too represents them, but for some reason Holly didn’t think it was necessary.  And, of course, the majority of the Committee agreed.


February 28, 2008

Feb 26 meeting

Filed under: contract negotiations,Corruption,Unions — Editor @ 11:05 am

I was not available for the meeting but I understand that this blog and my actions were discussed in a closed session meeting.  Similar to the last meeting, which was over my noted objection.

It is also my understanding that the Committee voted to give Mr. Ricci unrestricted access to the attorney.  

This is a result of my complaint that Mr. Ricci used the school solicitor for a personal grievance issue (in other words, the lawyer represented Mr. Ricci and not necessarily the school).  I also tried to copies of the invoices from the attorney but the Committee refused access to those public documents.

February 17, 2008

Just in case you missed the reports

Filed under: contract negotiations,Corruption,Unions — Editor @ 1:14 pm

From the Chariho Times:  “Felkner will not be silenced

The Times got it a little wrong in that the Committee did not vote on the deal.  The reported vote was on a different issue – but if the Committee reported votes as the law dictates, this would not have happened.

From the Westerly Sun:  “Committee unhappy with disclosure of closed door minutes

The Sun got it a little wrong too – I did not disclose minutes.  I disclosed the email from the NEA (teachers’ union) that was part of the negotiations between them and the Chariho solicitor.  Because the Superintendent told the reporter that I was at fault – and refused to provide me evidence of that fault –  I feel I am in within my rights to defend my name.  If I am wrong, I am sure they will do something about it.

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