Cranston News on Concrete and Education

Jesse from Cranston writes with some news, predictions, and opinions on the Cranston scene:

Just wanted to remind you that the city council will be taking up Emilio’s resolution on the $1.9 m proposed payment to Cullion. I’m sure many people will want to attend this meeting.

Here’s a news flash for you: The school committee has issued a letter to the City Council requesting $3.8 million in additional funding, and formally threatening a Caruolo action if the city does not comply. People will probably hear about this for the first time Monday night, as the ProJo generally does not print local news on Mondays — so now you have a scoop.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the school board’s letter is talked about on Monday. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Council tries to discuss 1.) the $1.9 million figure and how it was reached; 2.) the supposed $4 million cost of further litigation; and 3.) the potential for officially declaring the permit invalid and going to Superior Court for summary judgment. This would leave Cullion with no permit, worthless land, and no settlement.

Here’s the potential information that could come to light:

1.) The $1.9 is incorrectly based on an assessment that assumes an industrial use — which the land is not zoned for. Assessing the land based on open space would lower that figure substantially, and such a move has precedent in a recent state case in North Kingstown. One issue here is, the assessments were discussed in executive session (as allowed under Open Meeting Law exemptions for litigation), and the city lawyers may object to discussing them publicly.

2.) The $4 million was Judge Weisberger’s estimate. Considering how rarely judges agree, this figure is somewhat suspect, and I feel, quite misleading.

3.) Council President Garabedian previously said at a public meeting last March that he thought the mayor didn’t have the authority to withdraw the permit, based on reviewing only local zoning statutes. But looking strictly at the City Charter and state law, he may be ready to admit that his earlier assessment was wrong and support a new tack by the Council.

And now, a final bit of opinion…

Given the fact that the city has so many judgments hanging over it — the Prov Water deal, the Valley settlement, and the Caruolo suit — it makes little financial sense to fork over nearly $2 million to a company that got an illegal permit in the first place. Going to court based on the Charter and state law would result in a comparably quick decision, since it would go to Superior Court for summary judgment. In cases like that, the sides stipulate to a set of facts (as opposed to arguing over them), and the judge makes a ruling. I’m not sure what the precedent is for appeals of these decisions.

And for those wondering about Kmareka’s technical difficulties, we have finally put to death the mighty spam monster from hell, but it appears that our database may have lost a few functions in the process, which may mean starting a new database. For now, comments are back open.

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20 responses

  1. Just a couple of things about Jesse’s post. First, the threatened Caruolo action is not surprising. They’ve threatened it for a while and now it’s almost here. So, congratulations to both Jesse and Kmareka for the scoop over the Fountain Street Gazette.

    Second, a couple of thoughts on the concrete settlement. I think it’s clear and no secret that the property was assessed at $3.1 million. At last Tuesday’s meeting at CHSE hosted by Councilman Navarro, President Garabedian started talking about the assessment and how it failed to take in comparable values in the area. That’s when the city lawyers muzzled him. However, later Mayor Napolitano pointed out, and Garabedian confirmed, that the assessor was recommended by Garabedian. I wonder whether he (Aram) regrets the recommendation now?

    That said, I’m not certain that the fact that the subject property is not officially zoned “industrial� has a probative bearing on the value of the property. There are some facts that need to be considered – Cullion does have a permit in which he does have a property interest. Cullion has used this property, with city approval, for commercial purposes for years. The owner of the property prior to Cullion used the property for commercial purposes. Methinks the city is attempting to bootstrap the argument that the subject property is not zoned industrial and therefore its value is too inflated in order to obscure the fact that the city failed to appropriately zone the land after the state’s adoption of the 1992 Comprehensive Plan. By statute, the city had 18 months after adoption to conform its zoning to the Plan and it didn’t do it. Had it done so, Cullion would probably not have been interested in that parcel and ultimately the city might have been able to acquire the land with less effort and for less money.

    The point of the above is that, while there might be other issues with the assessment, in an action such as this the parcel can’t be assessed on what its use should be, but rather on what it is. That at least is a factor. Now, whether it was done appropriately, or whether factors were inappropriately included or excluded is another question that needs to be addressed.

    Regarding the value placed on an action by Justice Weisberger, two things come to mind – one, he’s the mediator and is trying to move the process to settlement. Raising the specter of expensive litigation and judgment is not that unusual. However, two, Justice Weisberger is no rube riding the turnip truck into town. If he did value a potential judgment at $ 4 million, he might be wrong but he probably had a good faith basis for his valuation.

    And if I can be permitted a point of personal privilege, I suggested in a column last March that, in my opinion, the Mayor had the authority under the City Charter, Chapter 5, to pull the permit on health and safety grounds. Why Aram was looking at zoning statutes rather than the Charter is a mystery to me. That said, I think it’s a whole different ballgame now than it was a year ago. What might have worked then will be more costly now.

    Finally, the issue of summary judgment. A brief explanation – summary judgment is a procedure where one party files a motion under rule 56 stating that if all the facts presented by the other party are determined to be true, that other party cannot prevail as a matter of law. The process of summary judgment is not used to decide a case on its merits; it’s used to kill a case where the asserted facts, if proven true at trial, would not yield a favorable outcome for their proponent. Summary judgment is not a procedure where both parties stipulate to all the facts and bring them to the judge to decide the outcome.

    Summary judgment would be inapplicable to the case as it currently stands. It’s in the Supreme Court on a relatively narrow issue of jurisdiction – the superior court vs. the ZBR. The Supreme Court will decide the legal merits on the question before it. If it was to decide this question, there would be no appeal. This is an issue of state law and the state Supreme Court of a given state is pre-eminent on questions of its own state law.

    So, keep in mind that there is no factual issue relative to the permit, zoning, city charter, or anything else before the Supreme Court. It is a legal question about whether the Superior Court or the city ZBR has the jurisdiction to hear the appeal by the CCRZD regarding the permit. That overlaps onto what, if any impact the council as a whole or any individual member had in tainting the ZBR on this issue. Frankly, I think Justice Indeglia got it dead right in Feb. 2007.

    I think in the end whether to accept or reject the settlement is a matter of judgment. On the one hand, it’s galling to pay anyone for a permit issued in the fashion as this one. On the other hand, a settlement would end this matter without protracted litigation leading to an uncertain result. I made my opinion known two weeks ago in my column. Others have to make theirs. Hopefully, the above helps in that process.

    Sorry for the length.

  2. First of all, great to see the site back up and running. I missed it during hiatus. Hope the bugs have been properly exterminated.

    As for the post, wow. Like J Peterman used to say “that’s a lot of numbers.” (Poetic license, Seinfeld aficionados…)

    A couple of things. Can someone refresh my memory on the genesis of $1.9M? Is this the mayor’s final offer? Is it an opening bargaining position? If the former, then it seems high, but not out of the question. If the latter, then it’s much, much too high.

    Second, everyone keeps saying that the permit is illegal. Well, fine. If that’s the case, why is there any real contention about this? Why wasn’t this stopped eons ago? Assuming Cullion/Mancini aren’t just making stuff up, I’d have to infer that they believe they’ve got more than one leg to stand on if they’re really willing to ligitate this. Jesse, are you saying that Cullion’s position has to be a bluff, because the permit is illegal?

    I mean, an additional $4M seems perfectly conceivable. I’m not an attorney, but using the threat of extended litigation is a pretty common strategy, no?

    Or what am I missing?

    Third (but who’s counting?), the whole school committee thing is just horribly wrong. The school committee cannot be allowed to extort money from the city. I understand that this is the way it works now, but the way it works is simply wrong. The process, whereby the school committee negotiates the contract and presents the council with a done deal, needs to be changed. Why has this been allowed to continue the way it is?

    A system where one party has authority to negotiate, but no responsiblity for the end result is simply wrong. The whole system, and the approach taken to negotiations needs to be re-thought, and looked at afresh. Teachers need to realize that bigger raises means fewer teachers. Or, translated, it means bigger class sizes and more work for them for each extra dollar they earn.

    Maybe part of the problem is that we’ve reached the point where we can’t expect amateurs of good intent to negotiate the contract, and it’s time to professionalize at least part of the process.

    Again, please feel free to let me know what I’m missing.

    Because wasting money we don’t have on attorney’s fees, whether for the schools or the concrete plant negotiations is not exactly smart.

  3. Thanks for the comments. I just want to let people know that Kmareka is now under much higher security to ward out spam, so your initial comment may get caught up temporarily with the spam police. This should only happen once. Then you should be able to post without problem.

    As to your questions, klaus — I think they are in part answered by Geoff’s comments. The $1.9 is a negotiated settlement, and I would like to believe that Napolitano and a pack of city lawyers would have already vetted this agreement to make sure that it is reasonable. It’s a lot of money, but if the land can be properly zoned and used, then it is probably worth it. But I’m all for going over every last detail of what the money is for and questioning it, seeing if there are any costs that should be eliminated or getting another appraisal of the land with its proper zoning restrictions taken into account.

    I’d also like to add in response to klaus regarding the schools and negotiating — I think we have professionals on both sides of the table, so I’m not sure who you are referring to in terms of amateurs.

  4. Jesse from Cranston

    Geoff:

    Thanks for the clarification on summary judgment. I stand corrected. I may actually have my legal terminology wrong; is there another type of hearing that works like this?

    That said, it seems that it took actually seeing the $1.9 figure to get the Council to reconsider the issue. And it’s not too late; for all of Mancini’s bluster, if there’s money on the way, Cullion will wait for it.

    klaus:

    I’m saying that it looks as if the Council and the Mayor have been operating under a false presumption, namely that they couldn’t do anything about pulling the permit because under zoning regs, the Building Official essentially has the final say. This is apparently the position that the mayor and the city lawyers have been operating under, and it may actually be wrong.

  5. Geoff Schoos – Thank you, every article and commentary you have provided a window to the numerous issues and violations of law.

    It is truly disheartening to have sat at Emillio’s meeting and have everyone in the world…including former Mayor O’Leary….SCOS and anyone else but CCRZD which has been responsible for keeping this Nixonish/ parasitic maneuvers in the public eye. The message is clear from this administration whom seeks legal advice from the same lawyer as Laffey’s administration. Mind boggling.

    I agree with many of Jesse’s points. I have had concerns over the land not having an Environmental Site Assessment – this was stated at the meeting it would be done at a cost to Cullion. Additionally, they spoke of the structure being taken down. There is a lot more manmade materials that should be removed. In a conversation with Emillio yesterday, he stated they would remove the cement blocks and other stuff except the sheds that were already there. I suggested, if you claim they are acting in ‘good faith’ why wouldn’t the oblige to removing everything. But, I know Cullion & co doesn’t act in good faith slapping a recently lawsuit last week that was purely intimidation.

    I’m sick of the whining I inherited this. Yes this administration did. But, there has been a lack of leadership to uncover the corruptness …and by doing any sort of investigation now would uncover the carelessness of many representative of the people.

    The school deal is “Rainy Day Fund”. These judgement bonds will be VERY costly in the end. $1.9 in the end would be approx $4K and if we don’t secure the funding that they spoke of at the meeting with words like “trying” “we hope to” and “we should” have not solidified the money appropriation therefore we could in the end be paying closer to $5K with a bond. Let’s use our heads and settle this deal. The School will no doubtedly Carulo us as they should – we need to fork over the money for our kids. These are the one’s that will get me through retirement (probably won’t happen thanks to Bush) and we need to ensure they have not had so many cutbacks that they are unable to flourish in school.

    Jesse, I have been told (as I have not had the time to focus on this issue) that the School Committee eats a large part of the budget. I remember Nappy saying at a debate with Fung that is was appaling that we are not giving our kids up to date books and they are using 1982 version, although they are trying to meet the State/Federal mandates and this is not setting them up to be successful. That statement resinated with me. Why. I was told by many that the Committee could slim down on their costs versus the kids.

    Kiersten, not to take away from this post – but, I would love to see another thread on some of fat folks are talking about. When I was in school during the late 70′s we had Proposition 2½ which cut out Art, Music etc. out of schools and totally made kids depressed. Some outlets were gone. Our town paid more money to keep these programs to come back for the kids. Cranston pays one of the highest taxes in the country. I thought RI was 7th and Cranston is the highest in RI (I’m guessing on Cranston stats). Yet, our school dept. record is what 34 down in the stats. What is that all about. Obviously someone is getting screwed and while it’s residents on a money – the kids are losing the most. It seems like we need to look more at the Committee and the process rather than the 6th grade issue.

  6. Jesse, I agree with you that the Cullion/Mancini position is more likely than not to be a negotiating ploy than a real threat to go back to the courthouse. I would think that at this point, it isn’t in Cullion’s interest to set a hard and fast end date to the settlement. I’m sure that Cullion realizes that he faces the same uncertain outcome to litigation that the city faces.

    As for the stipulation question, it is hard to see where any meaningful stipulation would be either possible or prudent. In the instant case before the Supreme Court, the question is whether the venue of the ZBR or the superior court would safeguard Cullion’s due process rights. That is a legal, not a fact issue. Thus, if the city were able to stipulate to anything, it would need to stipulate to Cullion’s assertion that the Cranston ZBR, because of “tampering� by the council and individual members, tainted the proceedings to the point where Cullion’s due process rights would be violated. Game over – Cullion 1, City 0.

    Assuming somehow this got back to the superior court, the fact issues are once again front and center, but the parties change. In this instant, it’s Cullion vs. CCRZD w/ the city in an unenviable position of having to defend a permit that it issued. How aggressive the city pursues the defense of the permit is anyone’s guess, but going back to the superior court would pit the CCRZD on “one side of the v� against Cullion and the city on the other side. This is Kafkaesque to say the least. In addition, because the basic issue of the validity of the permit is in contention, it’s hard to see where there could be any meaningful stipulation that would land uncontested issues in front of a judge to decide.

    I think that there’s a subtext to this controversy that doesn’t seem to get a lot of mention. In my opinion, the courts don’t want to decide this case. The superior court, through Justice Ideglia, as much as stated that the underlying issue in Cullion’s assertions was political, not legal in nature. Thus, in essence, the court would be left with deciding on what it sees as the nature and effect of political actors, acting politically, on the permitting process. Ugh! And given what appears to be a full-court press by the RISC to mediate this dispute and kill it once and for all, it doesn’t appear that the RISC has any interest in deciding what it apparently views as a political question.

    And so it goes….

  7. Jesse from Cranston

    Suzanne:

    The 07-08 city budget is $234 million. Of that, $126.4 million goes to the schools.

    Page 5 has the breakdown.

    See the budget here (the pdf download takes a minute):
    http://www.cranstonri.com/pdf/City_of_Cranston_Adopted_2007-2008_Municipal_Budget_9840.pdf

    That’s about 54% of the overall budget. And of the school budget, estimates range from 90 to 92 percent that is contracted or mandated. So something like $115 million goes strictly to contracts.

    One issue I have, though, is that a lot of that “contracted” money goes to redundant administrative costs — finance and personnel departments, to use two examples. This is why, in a previous thread, I mentioned the idea of eliminating the school board altogether and bringing the schools back under the authority of the city council. This is an idea whose time has come — given the political realities of runaway school committees (as klaus rightly points out) and the fiscal realities of towns simply not being able to afford the increases sought by school boards year after year. City oversight would make a significant difference in the administrative costs.

    I have a strong feeling that we’ll be hearing about an effort along these lines in the coming months. None too soon, either.

  8. I don’t really agree with the idea of eliminating the school committee. These committees are comprised of people who have both a passion for education and for knowing what is affordable and possible in schools. I don’t think all of that work could be effectively piled onto city councilpersons, although if you know of a model where they do it this way and it works, I would like to see it.

  9. Jesse from Cranston

    Sorry Kiersten, but most of the time, school committee members are well-meaning parents who get in over their heads when they actually see how a school department is run. When they sit down in contract negotiations and they hear the $100,000-a-year superintendent tell them they’re getting the best deal that can be negotiated, most of the time they just fold and go along with the superintendent. The recent 5-2 vote on moving the 6th grade is another example of poor decision-making by people who have been railroaded into following the school administration.

    And as far as “knowing what is affordable,” I have to disagree. I’ve seen 10 years’ worth of school budgets in Cranston, and not once in my memory have the school board members cut one dime from their budget — until, that is, the city approves a budget less than what they requested. And even then — like this year — the school committee simply goes to court to chase the money, anyway. That, to me, is not the sign of a group of people who are in touch with the impact of their budget on local taxes.

    Also, Cranston would be unique, to my knowledge, in being a city that brings schools back under the control of the local city council. That, in itself, doesn’t make it an idea that should be disregarded, though. In fact, that is history worth making, in my mind.

  10. Do our City Council Members or Cranston Delegation actually read these sites or are they our soapbox to commesurate with others of the like.

    Regarding, Emilio and his suggested Resolution for Monday’s City Council meeting Mr. Shoos points out some specific details:

    ” … in a column last March that, in my opinion, the Mayor had the authority under the City Charter, Chapter 5, to pull the permit on health and safety grounds. Why Aram was looking at zoning statutes rather than the Charter is a mystery to me. That said, I think it’s a whole different ballgame now than it was a year ago. What might have worked then will be more costly now.”

    and

    “… Methinks the city is attempting to bootstrap the argument that the subject property is not zoned industrial and therefore its value is too inflated in order to obscure the fact that the city failed to appropriately zone the land after the state’s adoption of the 1992 Comprehensive Plan. By statute, the city had 18 months after adoption to conform its zoning to the Plan and it didn’t do it. Had it done so, Cullion would probably not have been interested in that parcel and ultimately the city might have been able to acquire the land with less effort and for less money.”

    I noted the CCRZD group has claimed they support stopping the concrete plant and in theory of a settlement. They voiced some concerns which along with another woman resident whom spoke at Emilio’s meeting voiced the injsutice. I’m glad some folks are expressing their outrage at the way things have gone.

    Geoff pointed out something that has concerned me about the City’s inflated appraisal. If the land was bought dirt cheap 24 cents a square foot for the 17.7 acres. Why would they think this was prime commercial industrial property which would be appraised as such. While we all agree it was the fault of the previous Building Director whom should have made sure this land was in compliance with the zoning per the Comprehensive Plan, nothing bad has happened to him – in fact he got a glorious job for Providence. Another problem, the land is without a valid Permit. Albeit one was granted, but that is only 1 of 3 Permits needed in order to sell the idea that property has “A permit” and should be appraised accordingly…this is just not the case. The Stormwater and Air was never granted, and guys employed at a similar type of plant have said it never planned on doing business.

    The City Council’s knowledge and initial attempts to investigate needs to be finished, and they need to dedicate time and effort to close the loopholes so this will never happen again.

    1. Clearly the only way to do this would be to further investigate (August 2006 Minutes was a accounting of some of the wrongful acts – it was a short start, why has it been abandoned and why aren’t they finishing.

    2. Create passage of an ordinance that any business or industrial industry to exist where residents live, would be subject to a public hearing on their place of business along with the abutters.

    3. Investigate why this Mayor’s Administration chose not to go forward with an investigation, pull a permit, which in the end cost the taxpayers a premium.

    4. To give the Council overriding authority if an office has misused and misrepresented its office.

    For every elected official, including the Mayor, has said “An great injustice has been done to the people” inferring to the flawed permit. If this is true, we the people fully expect once the ink is dry you will not forget your promise to the people to value your citizens and do right by us – investigate – hold those accountable. In the end seek justice, because we voted you in because you were supposed to make a difference.

  11. $4 million here, $1.9 million there, $2.5 million way over there, and a $1 million for “fake” grass. Can someone caculate the tax impact required to pay for all this?

    Think of this at election time and think of the Mayor, city council, school committee, and all the other appointed boards. Sounds to me like change is needed. If things remain the same, we can use this media to blame ourselves.

    “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
    Andy Warhol

  12. Dionysus,
    Cranston officials do read Kiersten’s blog entries and have thrown in their two cents on occassion.

    Geoff,
    It didn’t sound like Aram had given a strong recommendation for the appraisal firm, he didn’t seem very pleased when the Mayor mentioned that at the meeting.

    I’m sure that a good number of us will be at tonight’s meeting, so hopefully we’ll have more answers to the questions about the Cullion settlement and Caruolo Act then. I wonder if they’ll have to move the meeting next door to East?

  13. Jesse from Cranston

    Rachel:

    You’re quite correct that Aram was not happy with the Mayor calling him out at the meeting last week. I was left to wonder just what the Mayor was thinking. I mean, what possible reason would lead Nap to bring that up? The only possibility would be to somehow show that Aram had signed off on the assessment (which he has not), or something like that. A very impulsive move by the Mayor which, I hear, is still sitting poorly with Aram.

    And sorry to disagree, but I don’t think the crowd will be that big tonight.

    Bacchus:

    I believe that $3 million (give or take) in spending results in a $1-per-$1,000 tax increase. So the items you mention would add about $3 to the tax rate if they were paid all at once — and that’s the hitch. Presumably, only the school payment would be paid up-front. The rest would be borrowed. In the short term, this limits the tax impact but does cost more in interest down the road.

    My opinion on this is mixed. Ideally, I’d rather pay all of these debts off at once. But in practical terms, there’s no way to just tack on $9 million in spending when the school district is suing the city for lack of payment. And thinking ahead to the next budget, what will happen with the school department if they think there’s $5 million in “built-in” city spending?

    The most likely scenario is that Nap proposes using some of the surplus for the schools (who, other than Allen Fung, will actually criticize that?), and future budgets will have small increases to cover the new bond debt. Also, don’t forget that the city is retiring debt each year so any new borrowing may wash out. Not to mention the continued strength of the bond rating as the city pays its debt.

    Finally, I’d remind you that in 3 of the 4 cases — the ProvWater settlement, the Valley lawsuit, and the Cullion plant — the issues started under Laffey and are only now being addressed. The inane and misguided protest raised by Fung and Cindy Fogarty over the recent audit seemed to be aimed more at protecting Laffey’s questionable legacy than anything else. They were also proven wrong by city and independent auditors. About the only thing Fung had left was to hint darkly at some evil plan by Nap to dupe residents into believing there’s a surplus using the bond funds as revenue. Of course, what he WON’T admit is that such a move would violate the very same accounting standards that the audit met in spades.

    That bond money is debt, in other words. And, based on how closely Nap held to proper accounting standards with the recent audit, I’d expect that it will be reported properly. Whether Nap claims that he created a surplus as part of a campaign talking point, though, is another matter. I’d tend to believe that he won’t, if only because Fung has shot off his mouth about it.

  14. Jesse, I think the Mayor called out Aram to put him on the spot. It was “Aram’s appraiser�. By linking Aram to the appraiser, the Mayor tried to link Aram to the deal, thus presumably making it more difficult for Aram to oppose the settlement agreement. We’ll soon find out whether that was a wise or unwise comment/move on the Mayor’s part.

    As for paying the various judgments via a tax increase as was raised by Bacchus, I couldn’t agree with you more, and for all the reasons you cite. While it would be nice to adopt some sort of “pay/go� process to this stuff, we live in very uncertain times and they’re about to get worse. Under the Governor’s supplemental budget recently submitted to the legislature, Cranston will lose more than a million dollars in general aid and reimbursement for the phase out of the auto excise tax. Add to that the prospect of a Caruolo action and we have the making of a perfect storm.

    But wait! It gets worse! Not only will next year’s budgeted aid to the cities and towns be worse (e.g. level state funding for education is most likely unless the Governor’s got a rabbit in his hat) than this year’s aid, but will be impacted by the President’s economic stimulus plan – a plan that is virtually guaranteed not to stimulate the economy. One of the concerns is that because of the linkages between federal and state business tax statutes/credits/etc., the result of the tax breaks in the stimulus plan will result in less money collected by the state, thereby exacerbating an already difficult financial situation.

    Hopefully, the US Senate, with people like Senator Whitehouse, will include more immediate relief to the unemployed, the poor and the elderly. To show how useless the President’s (and House) plan is, the CBO issued a study on stimulus proposals and showed that for every dollar spent on extended unemployment benefits and expanded food stamp eligibility, an additional $ 1.64 of economic activity would be generated. And generated quickly. Under the President’s proposal of rebates and business credits, only $ 0.27 of economic activity would be generated.

    Under the circumstances, taking the various settlements and issuing judgment bonds seems to more prudent way to go. And, it could be possible if conditions improve to restructure the indebtedness if need be.

  15. I agree with the point about Nappy trying to tie the appraiser to Aram’s approval. It was painfully apparent that Aram was not happy about being there. While Emilio’s meeting gave 2 other two City Council members (Lupino, Lanni) speak in support of Nappy’s 1.9K plan. Aram would sit with them, rather, he was off the stage on stairs and Emillio tried a few times to go over and I’m guessing to persuade him to occupy the empty seat on the stage he chose not to sit in. Aram was not swayed and it was clear he was aggitated. I think both Emillio and Nappy wanted to look like they were linked in some way to Aram.

    I give Aram a lot of credit because he is a leader and does say it like it is, which is why Quinlan told him to stop talking. Again tonight we heard this at City Hall only Nappy was cautioning him that his words could be used against him.

    Tonight was as I expected. This Resolution on Cullion is tabled until an Executive Session leads to answers the Council has, as they cannot approve a deal that is not spelled out. I heard every person in that building say they were for a settlement of the plant. Livingston did a great job of the scope of what needs to be met before this can be resolved.

    And as far as Alan Fung. Where has he been in this process for the CCRZD. He clearly has not been supportive of the groups/resident’s fight – or, if this is representative of his support, I have great concern. Maybe he’s not slamming Nappy in this area because the door is not totally shut on the Laffey lifeline to him during Laffey’s illfated decision. Yup, if I were Fung I would have stayed clear of this too. I thought he was moving out of State.

  16. Jesse from Cranston

    Anyone who’s read my comments about Nap knows that I am not, shall we say, enamored of him. His behavior at last
    night’s meeting certainly does not help. He calls it “getting emotional.” I call it “throwing a tantrum to get his way.”

    I would have hoped that someone who eked out an 80-vote win might be a bit more level-headed and deliberate in his decisions, not less so. Unfortunately, it seems as if Nap has allowed the office to go to his head and has decided that being Mayor automatically gives him a monopoly on being right (sound familiar?).

    If Nap weren’t so hung up on trying to wrap this issue in a bow in time for November, he’d realize that fulfilling his duties as Mayor is more important than being able to send out a nice mailer. I mean, if Aram and the Council can convince Nap that he really does have the authority to pull the permit, that’s a far better deal than the extortion that Cullion is engaging in. If only Nap would see this…

    To Suzanne’s point about Aram: You’d be amazed at how many people view Aram as just an old rabble-rouser/crank and prefer to try to maneuver around him than actually work with him. Rather than play the narrow-minded political game, Aram tries to do what’s best for the greatest number of people and follow the spirit and letter of the law. Nap is having an ego trip, and it’s keeping him from seeing the virtue in Aram’s approach.

    I’m glad the council didn’t approve the funding yet. They weren’t included in the mediation (can you feel me, CCRZD?), and now that it’s their chance to deliberate the issue, they’re entitled to take their time.

    And advanced apologies for the gratuitous poke, but John Mancini can swim in the Marine Drive swamp while the Council deliberates, for all I care. A week ago he was all bluster and fluster, and this week he’s saying “My client is pleased.” I hope the Council convinces Nap to revoke the permit and pulls the money off the table — if only to spite Mancini. (Of course, there’s real principle at stake, too — although, as we know, Mancini is pretty clueless about principle.)

    And Suzanne: I’m totally with you on Fung. Now that 2 years have passed since Laffey’s Senate fiasco, Fung probably thinks Laffey can help him this year (using twisted Laffey logic, it makes sense). And, of course, Fung sees people disagreeing with Laffey (gasp!), so they’re automatically wrong. That’s most likely why he hasn’t said anything on this issue — that, and the fact that he’s watching what Nap does so he can complain about it. I can just see his campaign mailer: “Allen Fung: He Complains For You!”

  17. Well, last night’s meeting was certainly interesting. Fortunately the proposed mid-meeting Executive Session didn’t occur. After a lot of bickering involving the council, mayor, lawyers, etc. with 2 ammendments the resolution was passed (6-3)–with Bucci, Garabedian and Barone voting against it.

    Mancini and Kelly were both in the crowd that seemed near to the chamber’s max capacity. My concern (and I will admit that I don’t live adjacent to the plant) is that nothing definite has been said about the funds and where they will come from AND I believe that there need to be safeguards in place to guarantee that the land is protected regardless of the plans of any future administration. An example that we can use of that just occurred when the “PERMANENT BUFFER” that Mulligan’s was going to be that was approved just 5 years ago and look what they tried to do!!

    I think the whole thing last night was a little too theaterical, but I’m glad that in a non-binding way (as was discussed in length last night) there is support to solve the problem. If the payment, grants, etc. issues can be straightened out than hopefully enough of the council members will be on board.

    I

  18. One last thing. It seemed like Terry Livingston didn’t have a lot of support from the crowd when he was going over what he wanted to see in the agreement.

  19. Rachel, I agree. I think that if the City were to turn it over to the PRA, only then would I have the comfortable assurance that this would be used only as a permanent buffer for the area. I do not trust or like what I have seen so far.

    I especially agree with your observation of Terry Livingston – but then again, Frank Matticcui and Nappy filled the room with the abutters (as well they should) but I was sitting near some that were against the deal but never spoke up because they said they are hoping the council does the right thing. I think the council is trying to move in that direction and will make some heavy choices. But the choices need to continue after the ink is dry.

    Case and point, the recent protest as to the process of the Drive thru at 480 Pontiac. Whether you are for it or against it, the point is back in 2005 when this was the subject of contention for the neighbors and they faught it with the aid of their council reps etc…they never changed the process ensuring it wouldn’t pop up again. We cannot be so trusting that they are doing what they should be, because we know there are many times the extra work it takes to fix the problem is just that extra work that somehow goes beyond SOME Council members scope of the job. Citizens groups that are erected due to a flaw and threat to the neighborhood or City as a whole are NOT paid and have NO alternate AGENDA as they Mayor has said I have. I told him I do have an agenda, that is to campaign to stop the plant, to do right by the community and my family. FOR FREE. Just like all the other groups that selflessly give – we do make a difference and I’m sick to death of the whining this Mayor does about walking the streets in the cold for 400 hours or taking a poll in Mulligan’s country and ending that deal. The Mayor is nicely paid to do his job and if he choses to work that way…great. But don’t whine about it, that’s his job.

    I do believe with council members like Livingston scruitenizing this hefty exchange, we need to look long and hard at where the money is coming from and what it will cost us in the end after the judgment bond is paid off.

  20. Jesse from Cranston

    Suzanne:

    Just to pick up on your point about Nap, he certainly seems to be trying to make the office sound a whole lot more difficult than it is. But as I’ve suggested previously, he’s already looking ahead to the campaign — and this may be another line he’s going to use: I’m the only one who can do the hard work.

    Now, I agree with you that a lot of what he says amounts to whining. I’m sure he doesn’t see it that way, just as I’m sure his inner circle has convinced him that he’s right.

    Just for kicks, let’s take the Mayor’s view and think about the campaign. Could he be headed for a surprise loss, based on his increasing negatives? He clearly doesn’t think so. And honestly, I think he’s probably right — at least as far as there’s no one who can seriously challenge him. Being the incumbent essentially gives him 10-15 percent of a margin right off the bat. It’s his to lose, in other words — and I don’t think Fung (or a Dem challenger who’s dumb enough to force a primary, i.e., Cindy Fogarty) will be able to capitalize on that.

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