Friday, November 4, 2016

Protect Your Rights

Reject Charlestown Local Question 8
by Frank Glista
A version of this article appeared as a Letter to the Editor in The Westerly Sun

On November 8th, the voters of Charlestown will be asked to approve or reject a Town Council amendment to the Home Rule Charter without the council having followed proper procedure as detailed in that charter under CHAPTER 6 - CHARTER REVISION ADVISORY COMMITTEE which states, "At least once annually, the Committee shall meet for the purpose of reviewing the Home Rule Charter. The Committee may schedule as many workshop sessions and/or public hearings as it deems necessary to complete its review."

By disregarding the rules of our charter, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) Town Council have abused their power by fast-tracking this amendment change without due process.

Bottom line, they want to limit your rights to petition our government by eliminating Citizens Petitions from our yearly Town Financial Referendum (TFR), but won't limit their ability to do the same. This means that if they wish to bond anything by using millions of your tax dollars, they can place it on the yearly TFR.

The chart below clearly demonstrates that from 2002 to 2015 this council, along with past councils, has taken advantage of the TFR by bonding $ 8,953,800 approved by a minimum of Charlestown's voters.

Conversely, during the same period, Citizens Petitions have received voter approval for $3,594,000 with increased voter participation. Please keep in mind that $2,000,000 of that total was initiated in 2004 by Faith LaBossiere, a CCA founding member.

1) June 2002 Financial Referendum/Initiated by the Town Council
$1,000,000.00 Open Space Recreation Bond/APPROVED

2) June 2003 Financial Referendum/Initiated by the Town Council
$3,300,000 Police Station/APPROVED 
$75,000 Educational Planning/APPROVED 
$35,000 Municipal Planning/APPROVED 
$15,000 Comprehensive Plan Update/APPROVED 
$10,000 Playground Equipment/APPROVED

3a) June 2004 Financial Referendum/Initiated by Town Council 
$30,000 Charlestown School Legal Services/APPROVED 
3b) June 2004 Financial Referendum/Initiated by Citizens Petition 
$2,000,000 Open Space Bond Recreation Bond/APPROVED

4) June 2005 Financial Referendum/Initiated by Citizens Petition 
$594,000 Buckeye Brook Road Resurfacing/APPROVED

5) June 2007 Financial Referendum/initiated by Town Council 
$500,000 Resurfacing Old Coach Road/APPROVED 
$788,800 Resurfacing Buckeye Brook Road/APPROVED

6) June 2011 Financial Referendum/Initiated by Town Council 
$1,200,000 Beach Pavilion Bond/APPROVED

7a) June 2015 Financial Referendum/Initiated by Town Council 
$2,000,000 Open Space/VOTER APPROVED 
7b) June 2015 Financial Referendum/Initiated by Citizen Petition 
$1,000,000 Ninigret Park Recreation Bond/APPROVED

Town Council Member, George Tremblay recently wrote an article, in this paper, in which he states, "It follows that the town is best served when such financial obligations reflect the voice of the largest number of voters among a well informed public." This is a bit hypocritical when you consider that his council asked the voters to approve $2,000,000 for Open Space during the 2015 TFR but now want to deny us that same privilege.

LOCAL QUESTION 8 is a scam folks. This council wants to deny your right to petition our government but will not hold themselves to the same standard. They will continue to use the yearly TFR to push their own agenda but hold us hostage until a general election.

Citizens Petitions are one of the purest forms of expression in our democracy. It gives us the right to tell our government what we, the people of our town wish to have the voters consider.

By rejecting LOCAL QUESTION 8 - AMENDMENT TO THE CHARLESTOWN TOWN CHARTER, we can send a clear message that we do not want any more of our rights or freedoms taken away by this or any other council.

Please vote to "REJECT" LOCAL QUESTION 8 on November 8th.