For the second time in as many months, John Armstrong, aka Jack Armstrong, chairman of the Westerly Planning Board, has injected himself into local politics and, thereby, thrown into question his judgment and ability to perform his duties on the board.
This is the same Armstrong who resigned from the Republican Town Committee when he was appointed to the Planning Board in January of 2014 and then immediately led the charge to remove Robert Ritacco from the Westerly Zoning Board, because of Ritacco’s role as chairman of the Democratic Town Committee. This is also the same Armstrong who served as campaign manager for Republican Town Councilor Jean Gagnier. (Yes, hypocrisy is lost on Armstrong.)
In his latest letter to the editor, Armstrong wears the hat of president of the Wilcox East Neighborhood Association Inc., a nonprofit corporation, which was formed in 2010 by Gagnier and Armstrong to specifically oppose the expansion plans of the WARM Center, whose mission it is “to provide shelter and meals to the homeless.”
Back in 2011, according to The Westerly Sun, Pastor Barry Burdick of Grace United Methodist Church “urged residents to look at the clients served by WARM as people rather than as a generic group called the ‘homeless.’ What we see is our humanity.” He described WARM as a "voice for the poorest of the poor in our community."
Gagnier and Armstrong were unmoved. They vigorously battled the soup kitchen and demanded it be relocated to another part of town. They could not abide “the poorest of the poor” slurping soup in their neighborhood. (“Please, sir, I want some more.”)
Also on the board of directors of this myopic, NIMBY association: Armstrong’s wife, Gail; Anthony Clancy; Frederick Eckel; Kim Jones; Bruce Fusaro; Joe Wagner; and, J.E. Tarallo.
In his letter, Armstrong states that “the efforts to remove [Westerly Town Manager Derrik Kennedy] would not be in the interest of our neighborhood.” He is correct; Kennedy is just the guy for the Wilcox East Neighborhood Association — and vice versa.
Robert L. LombardoWesterly