Letter: Record speaks for Charlestown Citizens Alliance gamesmanship on council

Letter: Record speaks for Charlestown Citizens Alliance gamesmanship on council

The Westerly Sun

Over the past few months, we have seen the Charlestown Citizens Alliance-controlled Charlestown Town Council disregard the reappointment of some outstanding Parks and Recreation Commission volunteers. Without any debate, they read from a pre-approved list of candidates who have had little or nothing to do with Charlestown’s recreational needs. They chose this inexperienced group over a 1996 United States Olympian, a 15-time Iron Man Triathlon competitor along with numerous other applicants whose terms had expired.

Last June, there was still one more request for reappointment on the Parks and Recreation Commission which needed to be filled. Keep in mind that there were originally over 20 people vying for positions, but by June, out of applicant frustration, the list was reduced to seven, which included the gentleman who wished to be reappointed.

While listening to the June Charlestown Town Council agenda meeting, I was encouraged by Town Council member Steven Williams’ statement regarding the appointment of a future Parks and Recreation Commission member. He stated, and I quote, “Somebody’s going to yell out, real quick, a name to be nominated and that will be the nomination ... I’d like to do a ballot.” Of course, at the council meeting, a name was yelled out, seconded and nominated.... done. Douglas Randall IV was the new Parks and Recreation Commission appointee without any discussion or debate, no ballot and not one breath of consideration toward any of the other applicants ... where’s the transparency in that?

It has been stated by this council that it’s not playing politics with appointments. That it’s not a “Charlestown Citizens Alliance thing” and that the council picks, what they think, is the best candidate. But I disagree. Let me give you some examples as to why that argument falls flat.

The alliance-controlled council of 2010-12 would not reappoint two members to the Zoning Board of Review in favor of appointing alliance members who had conveniently submitted their applications for those positions even though the chair of that board recommended differently.

Months later, a Chariho School Committee member resigned and four members of our community applied for that position, one being an alliance member... guess who got the nod? Yup, you got it.

This council had a past two-term Town Council president apply for a position on the Parks and Recreation Commission and waited five months only to have that position filled by an alliance founding member who had applied one week before the appointment was made ... but it’s not a “Charlestown Citizens Alliance thing,” right?

The following is taken directly from the Charlestown Citizens Alliance website; “We are working for a Charlestown where public service is encouraged and where government works for the interest of all the citizens and not just a few.” Here’s another gem: “Charlestown Citizens Alliance works to represent the population in its entirety, and guards against the domination by special interests.” Talk about hypocrisy. You just can’t make this stuff up.

So here we have a council that disregards the time-honored tradition of commission recommendations for applicants, doesn’t debate the merits of one applicant over another and doesn’t take into account prior experience as a commission member let alone being a United States Olympian.

So, let’s compare the last Parks and Recreation Commission appointment to one of the applicants that was denied ... me. I applied for one of the vacancies months ago when there were over 20 applications. In the 40 years of family volunteering, a member of the Glista family has never been refused the opportunity to serve our town — until now. The following statements taken directly from the applications submitted:

Douglas Randall IV — “I’m invested in the future of Charlestown. I grew up in the area and moved back several years ago with my wife to start a family. We now have two young daughters, the older which is already participating in organized athletics. My wife and I are also avid outdoors people.”

Frank Glista — Naval Air Memorial caretaker/2002-established/present; New Years Eve Bonfire/2005/present; Beach Facilities Ad Hoc Committee/2011; established Friends of Ninigret Ad Hoc Committee/2012; proposed Future Naval Auxiliary Museum/2010/present; established Bicycle Pathways Ad Hoc Committee; initiated the $1 million Recreation Bond which was overwhelming approved/2015.

We also learned that Town Council member Bonnie Van Slyke had a conversation with Mr. Randall, a privilege that was provided only to him. In fairness, all applicants should have been “interviewed” for a position, especially if you are not going to debate their application in public.

So, where is the inclusiveness? Where is the population represented in its entirety? Where is the protection from party domination? The Charlestown Citizens Alliance can’t even follow what they claim to be. They have turned into what they were fighting against years ago.

Remember, the only thing transparent about the Charlestown Citizens Alliance is their lack of transparency.

Frank Glista


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