Letter: Emails show budget committee manipulation

EastBayRI.com ·

To the editor:

I’d like to thank Justin Katz for admitting that he and a number of his Tiverton Taxpayer Association cohorts actively conspired to manipulate the Tiverton Budget Committee proceedings during the recent 2017-2018 budget process. It’s not often that an elected official assumes responsibility for his deeds when they violate the spirit, if not the letter of the law.

He and four of his fellow Budget Committee members (Nancy Driggs, Jeffrey Caron, Ruth Hollenbach and Donna Cook) connived and schemed to implement budget decisions without the full input of all the Budget Committee members. Is it a coincidence that there were only five BC members on the email chain, thus avoiding a quorum? I think not.

Katz may be a lot of things but he’s not a fool. He, along with his fellow TTA members take their responsibility seriously as you can see in their involved discussion of how to eviscerate the library budget. The library has long been a thorn in their side. Consider when they spent thousands to try to fight the will of the people, and their disappointment when the residents voted to approve the bond to pay for the beautiful new facility. Now they question every aspect of the management of the facility including staffing and attendance. I’m quite sure whatever number of people using the library that they quote will be conveniently skewed to suit their arguments. I sincerely hope that Budget Committee person Driggs would have been as forthcoming in disclosing the results of her “count” if they had not met her expectations, as she was when they did.

And what of Driggs, Caron and Cook’s concept of “re-purposing” the library? Is a state of the art facility that is actively used by many Tiverton residents for research, meetings, and family time not nearly enough for them? Is it their “concept” to turn the library into a new Town Hall? How about a combined police/fire headquarters?

It’s interesting to note that Driggs, Caron, Cook and Robert Coulter were all recently elected to the Tiverton Charter Review Commission under the banner of the Tiverton Taxpayers Association (TTA). What will be their agenda on the Charter review commission? The TTA used a well-funded machine to secure the election of their slate of candidates. How many of you received robo-calls, mailings or newspaper inserts trumpeting their desire to “Save the FTR!” and to “Control Your Taxes”. It’s a small group of people who commandeered the special election where only 16% of eligible voters actually voted. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for” and in this case, the TTA candidates got elected by spending lots of money.

Just as Justin took ownership of being a part of a “behind the scenes” scheme to control the Budget Committee, I will take ownership of revealing that scheme. On the evening that these emails came into my hands, I was accepting paperwork that Justin and his group were distributing. Justin takes offense to the timing of the release. I ask Justin, when would it be the correct time? Is he upset that the timing seemed to coincide with the special election? Or is he upset that he’s been outed and now this community can see the TTA members’ actual agenda? As long as well-funded machines can purchase elections, the Town of Tiverton will be at the mercy of a select affluent few with the means to strip our community of the very essence of being a community. If they had merely taken some of the money used for buying an election and used it to contribute to the schools, library or to the Fire Department, then maybe the entire community could benefit instead of the limited few in the TTA.

Deborah Janick