September 18, 2017
Roland M. Michaud 598 Manville Road Woonsocket, RI
Woonsocket City Council 169 Main Street Woonsocket, RI
Dear Members of the City Council,
I write to you with respect to the Mayor's September 14 Press Release and Councilwoman Murray's Resolution 17 R 104 wherein both are calling on the Council to "demand" my resignation from the Zoning Board of Review.
First, let me make clear that I have absolutely no intention whatsoever of resigning from the Zoning Board, whether the Council as a body demands it or not. Exercising my constitutional rights to express my personal views on my own time in no way has any bearing or impact on my duties as a member of the Zoning Board. Contrary to the beliefs of some misinformed people such as the Mayor and Ms. Murray, my role on the Zoning Board is not to be a "spokesman" for the City; nor is it to "represent" the City; nor is it to "promote (or deter) economic growth". In fact, for the benefit of those who love to talk but never read, the City's instruction pamphlet for applicants seeking to be heard before the Zoning Board defines the role of the Board as follows: "The Zoning Board acts as ajudge. It takes evidence in theform of oral testimony, pictures, exhibits, plans, etc. and considers whether the applicant has proven his/her case. You must remember that the Board is not a city agency or department and has no duty or authority to assist you at the hearing. " So, again, my personal views and commentary made on my own time have nothing to do with my duies as a member of the Zoning Board and I find the Mayor's and Councilwoman Murray's stunning attempt to politicize the Zoning Board
l l P a g e
to be both outrageous and beyond contempt. With that said and notwithstanding my comments to follow, I would encourage the entire Council to play along with the Mayor's and Ms. Murray's petty political game and unanimously support Ms. Murray's political campaign ad, Resolution 17 R 104, so as to rob the Mayor and Ms. Murray of the desired ability to run around the City falsely claiming that the Council is sexist, etc.
Second, I make no apologies for my comments or behavior. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. When I speak about matters and issues concerning the City, it is not my goal to either please, or displease, those who are listening to me. I could care less what someone may think of me or my views. I am also not interested in being politically correct, as arbitrarily defined by some elected political hack. If you don't like what I have to say on the radio, change the station.
Third, contrary to the Mayor's and Ms. Murray's politically motivated grievances, my comments were in no way "sexist" or "chauvinistic". I would encourage the Mayor and Ms. Murray to actually look up, read and Understand the definitions of such words before embarrassing themselves by misusing and misapplying them. My comments were directed squarely at the Mayor, nobody else -and certainly not at every other woman in the City. The women I have spoken to find it offensive that the Mayor and Ms. Murray have the arrogance to believe that they are the arbiters of what "women everywhere" should and should not be offended by. Their transparent and pathetic attempt to stifle debate and free speech by wrapping themselves in the shroud of feminism and sexism is a clear indication that neither of them have figured out that people are not interested in their brand of identity politics. It seems neither the Mayor nor Ms. Murray have learned anything from a certain presidential candidate's failed attempt to ride that tired horse to victory last November. Also, the irony of the Mayor's unwarranted claim of sexism is not lost in that she removed Mr. Eric Cartier from the Planning Board and replaced him with her neighbor, Ms. Rebecca Capwell, because she "wanted a woman on the
- f P a g e
Board". Call me crazy, even nutty, but does that sound like a text-book case of the Mayor believing that "members of one sex are less intelligent or less capable than those of the other sex". Should we stand by for an apology from the Mayor to every Woonsocket resident, especially men? Seriously, sexism does unfortunately exist in this world. But my expressed views directed at the Mayor are not an example of such and, by so flippantly throwing the word around for obvious political purposes, the Mayor and Ms. Murray do a disservice to those who do actually endure and fight real sexism.
Fourth, my commentary and "behavior", although admittedly blunt, unvarnished and sometimes, if not often-times, abrasive, is borne of a desire to see and incent real, tangible improvement in a City that in my opinion deserves so much more than the shallow spin and lies that the Mayor and her team deliver to the good people of Woonsocket on a regular basis.
Fifth, with respect to Ms. Murray's claim that I "made false accusations against the Mayor" when I stated that she "is an incompetent fraud'', I would ask what evidence does Ms. Murray have to support her assertion that my allegation is "false".
In support of my assertion that the Mayor is an incompetent fraud, I offer, in part, the following:
- She has been in office for nearly 4 years and during her tenure she has done absolutely nothing to address the ticking time-bomb that is the municipal Police & Firemen's Pension Fund. Since being elected Mayor, she has only made matters worse by re-instituting a COLA that the City cannot afford. Over a year ago, the Mayor insulted and lied to everyone in Woonsocket when she said in reference to the pension issue "Yougo to thepeople that have the knowledge. There is not one person who I have spoken to who says that we can be more aggressive with the funds we have, from state officials, investors, to very, high, successful people, much, much more successful probably than anyone in our community. " With that in mind,
- I P a g e
can we expect Ms. Murray to be forthcoming with a Resolution demanding the resignation of the Mayor for her false accusation that "There is not one person who I have spoken to who says that we can be more aggressive with thefunds we have"? I would suggest Ms. Murray stop carrying the Mayor's water and instead have a conversation with someone like Mr. Christopher Bouley, a seasoned investment professional who has continually told the mayor we could or could have been more aggressive with the fund's investments. Despite telling us she is working with people more successful than people in this community, the Mayor had the gall to come before the Council two weeks ago, blame the prior Administration for the pension woes, and then acknowledge that she has accomplished absolutely nothing with respect to the issue, all while wasting time and money chasing a fool's errand in thinking the State was going to bail us out and take over our problem, which was especially naive and incompetent given that the State made hard choices with their Pensions by eliminating COLAs, while, in contrast, our incompetent Mayor did just the opposite - she reinstated COLAs that are simply unaffordable. She then had the nerve to say she wanted to "work with the Council and the Retirees"to find a solution. So much for working with people who are much more successful than anyone in our community. The Mayor owes everyone in the community an apology for insulting them as lacking knowledge and for squandering nearly four years without addressing the pension issues.
- One definition of "fraud" is "aperson or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unj ustifi ablv claiming or being credited with accomplishments". Surely no one can deny that the Mayor is the queen of deception and regularly takes credit unjustifiably for accomplishments. Examples include the following:
- Street lights -as a State Representative, the Mayor voted to decimate the City's funding from the State. She then blocked the City's ability to levy a supplemental tax. These actions, in part, led to a massive liquidity
- 1 P a g e
crisis for the City, which in tum led to the implementation of severe measures to conserve cash, including turning off the street lights. Then, after quashing the City's second attempt at a Supplemental Tax in March of 2013, the City was forced to call in a state-appointed Budget Commission. She then held up the Supplemental Tax until after the fiscal year ended in July 2013 so that she could benefit from the resultant liquidity, while laying the political blame on Leo Fontaine. When she came into office, she turned the lights back on because she had the cash that she had deprived Leo Fontaine of. In short, she accomplished nothing heroic by turning the lights back on. Leo Fontaine could have and would have done the same had she not held up the Supplemental Tax to assist her political ambitions.
- Road paving - similar to the Street Lights, the Mayor is forever carping about repaving the City's streets. She'd have us believe that the City never had paved streets before she arrived in office. She even erected signs thanking herself and Director D'Agostino for paving the roads, without recognizing and acknowledging that the paving was only made possible by the cash provided by the taxpayers of the city. And speaking of paving, how many times have we heard that we are "saving millions of dollars" due to our "in-house paving program". The Mayor and her Director of Public Works have said on numerous occasions that by "doing it in house, we save 30-to-40 percent". That isjust more nonsense and spin. The City recently paved a large section of Cass Avenue. Most of the work was completed by outside contractors. The paving itself was completed by a third-party contractor, T. Miozzi Inc., at a cost of
$78,000. If we save 30-to-40 percent by doing the paving in-house, as the Mayor and her Director of Public Works contend, then that would suggest that had we paved Cass Ave in-house instead of using an outside contractor, we would have saved $31,200 (40% of $78,000). That would further imply that in order to have saved over $1.5 million dollars as
claimed by the Mayor and her Director, we would have had to have paved 48 streets that were the equivalent of the Cass Ave project ($1,500,000 divided by $31,200 = 48). In short, the inflated claims of savings are just another example of the endless spin and deception that is the stock and trade of this Administration. I ask the Council a simple question: if, on the one hand, the Mayor says she talks to really smart, successful people, much, much more successful probably than anyone in our community in reference to the Pension debacle, do any of you find it at all curious when the Mayor also tells us that "no one else in the State has an in-house paving program"? If in fact there is so much savings to be had, wouldn't all those other smart people from Providence and elsewhere, you know, the ones that are smarter than the people from Woonsocket, also have in-house paving programs? By the way, there is nothing wrong with paving in-house, but let's not pretend it is saving us millions. In other words, stop the spin and deception and just do the job you're paid to do.
c) Debt - the Mayor is forever attempting to deceive people by saying "unlike the prior administrations, I have not taken on any debt". That is nonsense. The $11.5 million, 7.125% Deficit Reduction Bond was made possible by none other than Lisa Baldelli-Hunt. Contrary to the requirements of the City Charter, the city taxpayers were never afforded an opportunity to vote on that debt. Instead, Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt put through the enabling legislation that facilitated the issuance of that debt without taxpayer approval. To say she has not burdened the City with debt is an outright lie.
I could offer pages more in support of the claim that the Mayor is an incompetent fraud, but in the interest of brevity, I won't.
Sixth, does Ms. Murray take issue with and find offensive the constant lies put forth by the Mayor? In addition to the above noted lies, I offer the following two examples of recent and blatant lies by the Mayor:
G I P a g e
- On the air with WNRI's Upf ront host, Roger Bouchard, the Mayor stated that the City Council cut a Grant Writer from Police Chief Oates' budget request. Not true. Chief Oates' budget request did not include a Grant Writer.
- On the air with WNRI's Upf ront host, Roger Bouchard, the Mayor stated that her budget for the city's Library included "additional funding for books and computers". Not true. The Mayor's budget request for the city's Library included ZERO dollars for books and just $5,000 for Computers, the same amount as the prior year, not an increase.
Seventh, and perhaps most important, the Mayor and Ms. Murray are calling on me to resign for what they deem insulting comments. Well, let's please consider the following examples of insults hurled by the Mayor:
- She called Richard Fagnant, an elderly City Councilman, a "buffoon" during a City Council meeting that was carried live on television and broadcast on the radio.
- On Larry Poitras' talk radio show, she called Robert Picard, an elderly gentleman who is the President of the Board of Directors for Senior Services a "fear monger and a liar".
- During a live radio interview, she called John Dionne, an elderly radio talk show host a "liar" and told him that she felt bad for his grandchildren who must be ashamed of him.
- She has regularly attacked me, an elderly gentleman, making claims about my actions on the Zoning Board, despite her having never attended any of the meetings for which she has criticized me.
In short, the Mayor is a bully and owes an apology to every Woonsocket resident, especially elderly gentleman, and I call on the members of the City Council to immediately demand the resignation of the Mayor. Failure to support her resignation will send a clear message to every elderly gentleman, everywhere, that the members of the City Council condone ageism against all elderly gentleman. I assume I can count on Councilwoman Murray to craft and submit the necessary Resolution to act on this request?
7 1 P a g e
In summary, I would urge you to move forward with formal proceedings to remove me from the Zoning Board, rather than fiddling with meaningless political resolutions in an effort to pander to the press and gain what you perceive to be political points. And during those proceedings, as prescribed by the City Charter, we can explore more fully, with the power of subpoenas and legal proceedings, the incompetence of the Mayor, along with the other assertions I have made. We can start the proceedings by perhaps having a discussion with the Mayor's former employees and employer at the US Post Office. We can then move on to a discussion with the numerous city vendors and consultants who, despite not residing in the city, have made significant contributions to the Mayor's political campaign fund. We can inquire as to whether they believe their contributions were necessary to be awarded contracts with the city.
Until then, I would hope that Ms. Murray and the Mayor would spend a little more time addressing the real issues facing the City, as opposed to these petty, political side-shows that serve only to distract from the real work that needs to be done.
Since , ,
/V( /Iii .,_,---,.
Roland M. Michaud