November 12, 2008

A Reshuffled Deck

Justin Katz

Tonight's the night that the newly elected school committee takes up the torch, and I heard rumors that it might vote on an arbitrated teacher contract. So far they've elected a new chairman, Jan Bergandy and a new vice chairwoman, Sally Black.

Having attended these meetings for a year or so, I'll say that it's nice to see several members of Tiverton Citizens for Change in attendance, some of whom are newly elected town officials themselves.


I was just about to note that Superintendent Rearick so expected the renewal of the committee's lawyer's appointment that he didn't prepare any sort of spiel, when Carol Herrmann suggested that they put the position out to bid.

And it goes out to bid! Amazing that simple matters of good government can seem like refreshing reform.

ADDENDUM (7:29 p.m.)

Superintendent Rearick just argued in favor of approving the arbitrator's teacher contract award.

Leonard Wright moved to table on the grounds that the two new committee members need more time to get up to speed. Negative reaction from some teachers.

Newly elected budget committee member Tom Parker (and TCC member) read a letter suggesting that likely decreases in state aid to Tiverton and the economic crisis will undermine "assumptions made throughout the contract."

He suggested that the committee put the contract away until money matters are more settled and to confer with all relevant town committees and boards.

ADDENDUM 7:36 p.m.:

Deb Pallasch, who was (thankfully) denied in her run for school committee, spoke in favor of the contract.

ADDENDUM 7:42 p.m.:

Former Budget Committee Chairman Chris Cotta just protested the pressure of public groups on public representatives.


The contract approval (or denial) is tabled/continued to the next meeting, to give the new members a chance to ask questions and so on.

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"Leonard Wright moved to table on the grounds that the two new committee members need more time to get up to speed. Negative reaction from some teachers."

'Cause the last thing we want is for everyone to be informed and up to speed on these matters.

"Former Budget Committee Chairman Chris Cotta just protested the pressure of public groups on public representatives."

'Cause the last thing we want (eww!) is to have the public communicating with public officials.

Posted by: Monique at November 12, 2008 8:55 PM

BTW, TCC engages in deceptive and possibly illegal nontransparent financial reporting. Yup, TCC is either dumb or devious, take your pick:

Friends have just informed me that the TCC (Tiverton Citizens for Change) appears to be filing false or misleading reports to the State Board of Elections about its contributors and/or expenses. I have just been investigating the truth behind their reporting. It could be they are naïve about the requirements for filing, but I hope someone investigates this further.

Remember, this is an organization which has cried out for “more transparency in Tiverton government”, has accused current councilors and the School Committee of acting in secrecy. The TCC has been pointing fingers at everyone else. Now we see they are lacking in transparency about their PAC’s finances. In addition, they have been arrogantly suggesting to anyone who will listen that only they understand the finances of our town, we long time residents are incompetent, and we should turn everything over to them. Should we when they cannot properly and accurately report their PAC’s expenses and contributions?

The TCC is supposed to file reports with the RI State Board of Elections on how much it has raised or spent since it formed on August 14th. The State has online the August 14th documents which form the TCC. On Oct 7th, 2008, the TCC was to report their initial fundraising and expenses. If individuals give more than $100 to the TCC, this has to be reported. Contributions in kind and monetary contributions under $100 can be reported in aggregate. The TCC did NOT file a report on October 7th. Instead, it filed a request to be exempt from reporting until the end of 2008. Explicit in that request is the promise – the legal requirement- that the TCC will not raise more than $100 from any individual in the 2008 calendar year. Also, the TCC promises not to SPEND more than $1000 in calendar year 2008. The only other TCC filing was on October 30th 2008, when they say they filed an “amendment of organization”. However, the document that is filed for October 30th is merely the original organizational filing of August 14th, not an amendment.

The TCC has not filed any listing of its contributors, contributions and expenses. We do not know, as we should, who has given them money. We do not know how much money they have spent. By not reporting their contributions and expenses by Oct 7, they have missed a state deadline- one that all candidates comply with. They should receive a fine, but it is very small.

Does the TCC want us to believe that they have spent LESS than $1000 in 2008? With all their newspaper ads, the web site, signs, mass mailings of voter cards to Tiverton households—not to mention they must report all gifts in kind- when someone provides material and labor to the TCC cause that must be reported. Every other group and candidate must comply with this law, shouldn’t the TCC? Will the TCC try to tell us they will spend under $1000 in 2008 as they legally declared on Oct 7th? Will they fudge their contributions to try to show every contribution was under $100? If they spend more than $1000 or received contributions over $100 from individuals, the TCC is in violation of the State Election Law.

It is my understanding that a formal complaint is now being made to the state. Transparency is important, especially if you accuse many others of lack of it. I would like to have some transparency on this issue from TCC President David Nelson and TCC Treasurer DeEtta Moran.

a few minutes later---

Looking further at the TCC documents filed on the Board of Elections web site I see:

David Nelson (or someone) filed the CF-5 Exemption form on Oct 7th, attempting to exempt the TCC from reporting expenses and contributions until year’s end but the scanned copy online IS NOT SIGNED, DATED OR MARKED AT ALL.

THAT MEANS TCC is late to comply & will be fined, but it does not mean TCC signed an affidavit saying its expenses were under $1000 (as I may have implied). Filed the form, did not sign it. Silly error or deliberate attempt to mislead and mispreport?

What does this mean???

That TCC is either devious or incompetent? Wait- that’s what the TCC accuses the Council and School Committee of! Darn! IRONIC.

We would LIKE TO KNOW: What have been the contributions to the TCC? Who gave and how much? And when? What are the expenses of the TCC? More than $1000 this year? If so, why have you not filed? Why did you file a BLANK CF-5 exemptions form? Why did you file a reorganization form on October 30th which is identical to the form you filled out in August? Perhaps since you all believe in transparency you will post your contributions & expenses on your web site, and send them AS REQUIRED BY LAW to the State? The TCC OWES the state and the public its financial records. It is hiding them. The TCC reports a Bank of America checking account, but has never revealed how much is in it or where it came from or how it is being spent.

That’s obstruction. WHY DOESN’T THE TCC post the register for this account online? That would be transparent! You can’t hide- you must report.

Could it be you are EMBARRASSED by your contributors? Did you spend an obscene amount of money to rack up your vote totals?

Lots of people want to know. Why are you stonewalling the State Board of Elections? Transparency, please. Everybody else running for office & running PACs HAS to do it.

Thank you.

copies to all newsrooms, State Election Board

"You can play your games all you want; just don't mess up.

Posted by: Richard at November 13, 2008 12:08 AM

Here's the response that I made to the above in the email thread in which Richard Joslin originally wrote the above:


Alright. It really isn't my place to comment, inasmuch as I have no involvement in and limited knowledge of the group's filings, but you're getting so ridiculous that I have to offer a few points.

First: For all your hours of perusing campaign filings, tonight, you somehow failed to notice something that I observed within minutes: The online filings with the BOE are all mixed up. Go here: Search for Tiverton Citizens for Change. As you've noticed, if you click on the "view" for the CF-5 and then click on "CF-5, Affidavit for Annual Filing Exemption," you get a mostly-blank, typed document. If you click "view scanned doc," you actually get our "amendment of organization" from October 30. Now, if you go back and click "view" after "2008 28 Days before the election" and then click the first link, you get a similarly typed and blank document. But if you click "view scanned doc" here, you get (you guessed it) the handwritten filing of the CF-5. Furthermore, if you read the documentation, it is entirely appropriate to file a CF-5 in anticipation of having low donations and expenditures, the only requirement being that you begin filing the regular reports if you exceed that amount. So, whether the past-due filing is a matter of schedule, a matter of misfiling, or even a matter of more BOE glitches, I don't know.

Second, nobody is trying to deceive anybody. You've already made it clear that you know of every single expenditure that TCC made (advertisements, postcards, etc.). All issues will be resolved, albeit perhaps not on your 11 p.m. - midnight schedule.

Third, it is in very poor taste of you to utilize an announcement email from a political opponent to transmit your hysterics. You must really be frightened of what this group has accomplished and will accomplish in the future.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 13, 2008 12:13 AM

Hey, Richard, can we tap into your investigative and analytic skills by having you look at the filings and activity of the Poverty Institute and the other supposed 501c3 organizations affiliated with Rhode Island College?

Posted by: Monique at November 13, 2008 9:42 PM
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