Open Letter to Cranston City Council

I was not able to attend last night’s City Council meeting (a cold, and a baby with a cold being factors). This is the letter from Cranston Citizens for Responsible Zoning and Development to the City Council, addressing the events that took place:

Dear Cranston City Council Members:

We filled the Council chamber on Monday, March 26, to show support for your ordinance to expand the Zone Board membership and for your resolution to reaffirm commitment to the people of Ward 2. We brought statements of encouragement for your efforts to stand up to John Mancini and the concrete plant, and we were prepared to read them and tell you how much we appreciated your decision to take matters in hand and act decisively. What we witnessed once again was a “back room” decision to avoid confrontation with the Cullion legal team, the latest in a series of “agreements” and “postponements” and “tabled” motions which has strengthened the opposition and enabled their efforts to prolong a legal battle over a permit that should have been revoked months ago.

And when residents expressed their displeasure at the Council’s decision and their disappointment at being denied an opportunity to comment, your reaction was to call in the police. Since most of the audience consisted of elderly residents, what was the need for police officers? Was it “crowd control”, or was it an attempt to silence dissent and intimidate those who came to ask for your continued support?

Your actions on Monday were shameful, and many who have trusted you are now beginning to doubt that you have the will or the ability to prevail over Cullion Concrete and their legal team. The promises made last fall have been replaced with excuses; the problem remains unsolved. The concrete tower is still there, the Cranston building permit is still in place, and the City of Cranston is still opposing residents who are trying to protect their homes. We expected more from you.

Sincerely,

Frank Mattiucci, President

Things are starting to look much worse for the residents of Ward 2, particularly those who live in close proximity to the Cullion Concrete Plant that is being built. We can only hope that the DEM acts properly under the guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency, in terms of protecting wetlands and preventing the building of this concrete plant in an area that floods easily.

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5 thoughts on “Open Letter to Cranston City Council

  1. Sadly, I stand by what I wrote yesterday relative to the, then, pending council meeting except for the following:

    First, I called last night “political theater.” I had no idea it would devolve to the theater of the absurd. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse …

    Second, as yesterday’s comment indicated, I was not optimistic about last night’s meeting. I just thought these guys were going through the motions that would have no substantive effect. Little did I know that this crew could screw up going through the motions.

    Third, since when did the Cranston City Council Chamber resemble Grant Park, Chicago, in 1968?

  2. Man, I’ve got to tell you, it’s really starting to look like the fix is in.

    Who paid–or promised–what to whom?

  3. I attended the meeting on Monday, and what a horror show it was.

    Nearly 100 people from Ward 2 showed up to support the members of the Council, expecting it to support the people who voted them into office.

    What they received was sand in the face and a few cops to rub it in. Predictably, the residents did not take it well. Many shouted some choice words at the Council, with “Cowards!” being the most popular.

    I overheard one woman saying that she couldn’t understand why the politicians were so gung-ho over the summer and now had changed their tune. I wanted to tell her that before they were campaigning, and now that they are elected, all the pillow talk and promises are history. I didn’t have the heart to do it.

    I also heard that the Administration was served with a writ of mandamus (I think to force the issue of pulling the permit) and that none of the 5 attorneys representing the city responded in time, thereby resulting in a default judgement. I couldn’t quite hear what Mr. Crowell, the CCRZ attorney was saying, so I may be off.

    Of course, there were no representatives from the Administration present to see the fruits of their labor.

    As Bugs Bunny would say, “What a bunch of maroons!”

  4. Why is this happening? Did Garabedian have any explanation for what happened in the closed meeting to make the issues get “tabled”?

  5. I may be able to help a little here. Regarding the Mandamus petition, there are currently two petitions before the court – one from Cullion and a Mandamus petition, which was supposed to be filed by the CCRZD. Both sides want the Superior Court to take jurisdiction. Cullion’s position is that the ZBR, once it meets (if ever) on the CCRZD’s appeal will not be able to render a fair and unbiased decision. This is based on the notion that b/c the City Council is so biased, anyone who is appointed to the ZBR will be predisposed to kill the permit. Of course, Cullion wants the court to order the permit to be granted.

    The CCRZD, on the other hand, argues that it’s taken so long for the issues regarding the appeal of the permit to be heard, and b/c of the legal issues surrounding the initial issuance of the permit, the Superior Court should assume jurisdiction and then, as a matter of law, kill the permit.

    The absurdity in all this is that the city administration is the only party that opposes all attempts to move jurisdiction and wants the issue to remain w/ the ZBR. In some respects, this defies all logic. First, this could get the ZBR and the city off the hook b/c there could be no issue of bias as the court would decide. Second, the city council would be spared from passing pointless resolutions urging the revocation of the permit. Third, the way the legislative/administrative process is going, which will result in a court action in the end anyway, the court’s assumption of jurisdiction would expedite the process to the satisfaction of one party and the dismay of the other.

    By the way, has anyone noticed that the enabling legislation to add the two alternates to the ZBR has ground to a virtual halt? It passed the house on March 22, but according to the GA’s website, it hasn’t even been transmitted to the senate, let alone forwarded to the proper committee for hearing. Gee, if I didn’t know better, I’d think something was up!

    As for Garabedian’s position on Monday night, this is really loony. From a legal standpoint, he was probably told to shut the resolution down in order to avoid giving Cullion additional ammunition in his civil action against the council. Ok – I understand the legal strategy and I would, in some circumstances, probably give the same counsel. However, it was then his job to just shut up, move the docketed items up on the agenda and then table them. Instead, he gives a speech about how much he supports the residents, how much he opposes the concrete plant, and how much he’s worked w/ the residents in opposition to the plant. Well, the strategy of silence soon became moot. By his comments, made in a public forum and captured on videotape, Aram gave Cullion all the ammunition he needed. If he was going to go on and on about his opposition to the plant, he and the council might just as well have passed the resolution. Besides, the resolution is pointless in that it really doesn’t do anything. And, didn’t they already pass one of these a while ago? I think the cat’s pretty much out of the bag on this issue.

    But, in spite of all this drama and pathos, there lies a serious issue. Both the executive and legislative branches of city government have surrendered their governing prerogatives. As noted before, the mayor voluntarily entered into the March 7 order that he claims has now “tied his hands.� As far as the Supreme’s stay of Judge Indeglia’s February 12 order is concerned, I don’t see how it impacts anything to council might do. It’s certainly within the council’s governing authority to volitionally ask the legislature for permission to expand the number of alternates on the ZBR; and it’s well within its authority to actually enact an ordinance to do just that. I would love to hear the contempt argument against the council for volitionally acting under its chartered authority.

    The fact that, because of a lawsuit – the merits of which haven’t even been review, let alone decided – the city government has surrendered some of its governing authority is truly cause for concern. The government governs, affected parties are free to challenge the decisions of government, and the courts are in place and capable of determining the legality of the government’s actions. That’s how it’s supposed to work. This all got twisted some other way – and the why is where the real issue and story is.

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