Budget, Politics & Government, Rhody News, Tiverton

Charter review: know your candidates


To the editor:

Twelve candidates for the Charter Review Commission failed to show up for the Tiverton Taxpayers Association (“TTA”) Candidate Forum, and, except for vague answers from two, did not answer the TTA questionnaire. Nevertheless, public records exist:

Many of these twelve seek to increase the number of signatures required on an Elector Petition – anywhere from 500 (as many as US Congress candidates) to 1200. Some want to limit the dollar amount any elector petitioner can change a Budget Committee (BC) recommendation. Some have suggested eliminating the BC, and the Financial Town Referendum (FTR), allowing the Town Council to do the budget with no direct voter failsafe.

DeCotis, Jocelyn, Paull (the trio): Self-proclaimed “fresh faces”. In 2015, DeCotis advocated for all day kindergarten to save his own family the expense and hassle of afternoon daycare, and in this paper said “shame” on retirees, or TTA supporters who voted for lower tax increases.

In this paper this week, DeCotis, states the BC level funding of School Department proves we have no regard for the children’s education, but fails to mention the school department’s $3.4M surplus. Also, not mentioned is the fact that the BC just delivered you, the taxpayer, a tax rate decrease. Jocelyn, in this paper, said she was “appalled” when the BC (as was always planned after hearings ended and budget votes began) removed the “Open Public Forum” from the agenda and approved speakers’-names-only in the minutes, failing to mention this was due to the BC secretary (Candidate Janick’s wife), drafting one-sided minutes against the taxpayer). Paull: In this paper this week wants elimination of existing elector petition taxpayers’ rights (remand option); refuses to detail his FTR “facelift”, fails to state that FY17 budget transfers occurred because then BC “tax and spenders” (like the trio) had punished taxpayers for their vote to limit the tax increase; and removes the taxpayer direct vote in the use of Casino revenue. Alarmingly, the trio lawn signs are displayed by staunch union supporters.

Souza: In this paper, stated she thinks the BC no better than “Stalin, Lenin, or Kim Jung Un”, and “un-American” for removing “Open Public Forum” (see above).

Sutherland: In this paper this week asks if she is “naive”, and says, maybe so. Well, she is “naive” – she does not comprehend the gravitas of CRC recommendations.

Jason Mello: This week, in this paper, provides no details on FTR modifications, and advocates districting, making it harder to find quality candidates.

The approved TTA Candidates: Justin W. LaCroix, Nancy L Driggs, Jeffrey E Caron, Richard A Rom, Robert D Coulter, Raymond D Fougere, Stephen T Clarke, William F Lopes, Donna Cook support voter rights and lower taxes, have taken a pledge to protect the FTR and protect the Casino revenue, have responded to questionnaires, written many letters, and participated in televised candidate forums. www.tivertontaxpayersassociation.org/crc2017.

Nancy Driggs

Candidate for the Charter Review Commission


Local Bargain Jerk

“Justin W. LaCroix, Nancy L Driggs, Jeffrey E Caron, Richard A Rom, Robert D Coulter, Raymond D Fougere, Stephen T Clarke, William F Lopes, Donna Cook” all have first names but, according to Ms. Driggs, “DeCotis, Jocelyn, Paull, Souza, Sutherland” do not.

This intentional sign of disrespect tells you all you need to know about Driggs.

Kim Sutherland

Ms. Driggs has made some broad, sweeping statements in this LTE which require some context, I daresay. The first sentence of her letter heavily implies that twelve candidates for the CRC disregarded the TTA Candidate Forum (for whatever nefarious reasons she imagines) out of hand. Let me be clear. The “invitation” (a short two sentence notification of the forum at the bottom of the TTA’s letter which asked candidates to complete the TTA Survey) was dated June 13, received on June 14, requested RSVP by June 16 for the actual event on June 17. I called Jeff Caron, as the RSVP requested, and expressed my regrets at not being available for the Forum, due to previous plans. I also asked Mr. Caron if perhaps the Forum could be rescheduled to give candidates a bit more time to work around everyone’s schedules. He responded that unfortunately, the venue was already booked, and this was not possible. So please, neighbors, do not be swayed by Ms. Driggs’ implication that twelve candidates saw fit to snub our noses at the TTA’s Candidate Forum. Three days notice tacked onto the end of a survey was all that was given.

In response to Ms. Driggs statement that my naiveté shows a lack of “gravitas” for CRC recommendations, let me say that on the contrary, I take the CRC process most seriously. What I do find amusing, and a bit scary, to be honest, is any candidate’s insistence on cementing their will into the record as gospel. The CRC is a commission to be led by residents for all residents. If we are not open to exploring ideas other than our own, then what is the use of gathering such a commission? I’m not afraid of listening to what others have to say, of considering new ideas, or sharing with voters that a little humor is part of who I am. If you’re looking for a candidate whose brow will be crinkled for the duration of every meeting over the next year, and who will smile in greeting to voters only until election day is over, then I’m not your candidate. If you want a candidate who is serious about researching, debating, and listening, and who is approachable, then I welcome your vote next week.

Nancy Driggs

Comment #1

Local Bargain jerk:

Word count concerns necessitated last names only of opponents. Note, the “trio”s yellow signs feature in big, bold print their last names, and their blue signs only have last names. Obviously, I support the TTA slate, being one of them, and put those names in the order, and as they appear, on the ballot.

Comment #2

Kim Sutherland

I made no assumptions as to why the 12 candidates didn’t come to the TTA Forum. I was advised, by Jeff Caron, that Kim Sutherland requested a reschedule for a few (several) weeks later which was impossible due to reservation of venue and subsequent time needed to process event video for election use. For the record, the invitation sent to ALL candidates read:

“You are also invited to participate in the Tiverton Taxpayers Association Charter Review Commission Candidate Forum on Saturday June 17 at 5PM in the Country View Estates Clubhouse. Please RSVP by telephone to Jeff Caron (401 465 5666) no later than 5PM on Friday June 16.

Thank you in advance for your participation.”

Please note that one of the TTA Candidates (LA CROIX) also could not attend the event owing to his own prior commitments, but did send a statement which was read on his behalf.

In this paper regarding the charter change process, Kim Sutherland, Deborah Pallasch, and Mike Burk all make similar claims about the lack of power of the Charter Review Commission to change the policies or sections of the Charter. They ignore the reality that all recommendations of prior Charter Review Commissions were put to ballot by the Town Council. This is what was meant by the “gravitas” of a Charter Review Commission’s duties and responsibilities. Unlike candidates who belittle the influence of the Charter Review Commission because it ‘only recommends’ to the Town Council, TTA Candidates understand full well that in the end Charter Review Commission recommendations are usually approved by Tiverton voters.

Regarding “exploring ideas”, I urge all voters concerned with increasing taxes to compare the TTA Questionnaire answers of Candidate Sutherland to those of the TTA Candidates. They can be found here: tivertontaxpayersassociation.org/CRC2017.

Helen Reddy

Nancy… you’re not bright. You’re just not. You lose my vote every time you open your mouth. I remember the first time I heard you speak. You were attempting to discuss the concept of a household budget and how you don’t buy things you can’t afford. You ended up sounding like a Courtney Love interview from MTV. I believe the only thing that finally stopped you was the gavel (thank God). Here’s a joke for you to tell at your next meeting… what does Nancy Driggs and a “poor circle” have in common? Answer: They have no point and they make absolutely no cents (or in your case sense)

Here’s the thing Nancy… you can certainly afford to shut your mouth and listen! Every time I want to vote for the TTA, you open your mouth and I can’t see where you could possibly align with them. You say things like “DeCotis advocated for all day kindergarten to save his own family the expense and hassle of afternoon daycare.” Again, you are just not bright. Anyone who knows MaryAnn DeCotis knows that she is an active volunteer in the Tiverton Community because she stays at home with her children… thus, there would be no PM daycare. Secondly, did you seriously use the word hassle when referring to children?? You belong on a poster for what happens when a child doesn’t get enough hugs. You don’t get it, you never will get it. You are better off finding a small, broken little chiwawa, buying a stroller (that you can afford) and try to learn how to love… oh wait…

Mike DeCotis

Ms. Driggs,

It’s sad that you and your cohort Donna Cook must rely on lying to bring others down. It’s one thing to banter and wordsmith pieces of others past letters but my children have been raised by their wonderful mother who works extremely hard at home with them. If someone is struggling with daycare financially I feel bad that this problem exists- but let me clear the air and state the absolute true fact. You Ms. Driggs are a master embellisher. You get an A+ in truth distorting. It’s what you and the other TTA members do best. Take whatever bits of information you can find and contort those bits into creating a slanted one sided story that supports your right wing agenda. Make no mistake, the Town is waking up and rubbing their eyes. They see the TTA’s manipulation and crooked agenda. While I’m sure this won’t stop any of your members from sticking lawn signs on state property around town or having a candidate forum which provides candidates with 3 days notice then blasts them for not showing up. There’s also the illusion that guests from Countryview Estates actually showed up at your forum on June 17th. We are quite aware that not only are you not supposed to hold political events at the clubhouse but you enhanced the clapping from your own candidates in attendance along with a sparse crown of non TTA candidates which I’m told was around 10 people or so. Funny how the camera never pans to show the audience. I was not at night but not LAST night! Lastly if you thought to fact check your letter and research a bit better you and Donna Cook would spell Jennifer’s last name correctly-Joslyn. In your letter and in Donna’s letter from last week you both spell her name incorrectly. Take a drive around town and when you see one of the “fresh faces” aka the Trio’s signs you might want to put on your glasses and write down the correct spelling. You can find our signs on union workers lawns. Our teachers, firefighters and other hard working folks. People that actually care about Tiverton.

Kim Sutherland

Ms. Driggs,

You may have not made assumptions personally regarding the absence of 12 candidates at the TTA’s Forum , but your word choice certainly did. By stating that 12 candidates “…failed to show up”, it implies an attendance that was expected but not carried out.

Thank you for clarifying your reason for the “gravitas” statement. We’ll have to agree to disagree that I’m cavalier about the process. If one assumes that the voters will approve all the referendum questions, then why bother having a referendum? The voters in town will have a say if candidates are willing to listen to all stakeholders from the beginning. We don’t have to agree, but we do have to craft policy borne from the will of not just ourselves, but of our neighbors, as well.

tubby barton

I understand that TTA-types tend to believe in conspiracy theories more than the general populous, but can someone explain to me what exactly “drafting one-sided minutes against the taxpayer” means?

joe sousa

“Justin W. LaCroix, Nancy L Driggs, Jeffrey E Caron, Richard A Rom, Robert D Coulter, Raymond D Fougere, Stephen T Clarke, William F Lopes, Donna Cook”

People you can trust

Justin Katz

Mike DeCotis:

You’re letting local politics push you to an amped up nastiness that I don’t think you actually want to engage in. Nancy’s statement was a reasonable reading of your 2015 letter, inasmuch as you weren’t clear about *what* families have to pay for afternoon care, and somebody who doesn’t know you could be excused for thinking that you were talking about your own family. I mean, I know you a little, and I don’t recall this detail. (Although, it’s absolutely possible that it got lost in my memories of longer conversations.) If it’s incorrect, the appropriate response is to offer a correction and allow a response. Making a reasonable error is not “lying.”

Note where you go from there, though… joining the worst elements of our town not in an attempt to bring up past statements, not in argument about points relevant to the local debate, but simply to belittle. I’d thought that sort of response would have been beneath you.

For the record, having attended many local political events around the state, even a crowd of a dozen at something like this is pretty good. At this event, though, it was more like 20-24 non-candidates/non-TTA. The camera never pans because the production was meant for TV, and when you don’t have multiple people working cameras from multiple angles, it’s difficult to include camera motion. I did take a few pictures though. Here’s one if you’re curious: http://tivertontaxpayersassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/DSC01954.jpg

It’s unfortunate that your comment should appear immediately after the raw and vicious nastiness of Helen Reddy (a name which isn’t on Tiverton’s voter rolls or tax rolls), but take the juxtaposition as a warning of the direction in which you’re headed. I have to say that your response to even a relatively mild political heat raises questions about how much you’re willing and able to “listen to all sides” when you personally don’t like the person on the other side or think that he or she has been unfair to you.

Local Bargain Jerk

Nancy Driggs said:

— Local Bargain jerk: Word count concerns necessitated last names only of opponents.

Word count concerns? Well that’s a new one. Thanks for clearing THAT up.

The Spanish have an expression for such pathetic electioneering. When they hear things like “word count concerns”, they often excitedly reply ¡¡¡Ca ca de Toro!!! This literally translates to, um, well, never mind…

Nancy Driggs

Tubby Barton: I will be glad to clarify what word count didn’t allow.

During some of the Budget Committee “Open Public Forum” agenda items, certain members of the public spoke in favor of their position using false statements and personal attacks against Committee Members. In some cases, Committee members offered their counter positions, corrected the false statements, or spoke to the personal attacks.

When the minutes were drafted by Secretary Deb Janick (wife of Candidate Janick), some of the words of “Open Public Forum” speakers were memorialized while the words of some Committee members were omitted, making for “one sided minutes against the taxpayer”.

To resolve the matter two options were considered: 1) add in the omitted statements, or 2) record the speakers name but omit the spoken content. The Chairman reached out to the Solicitor re how much detail to include in minutes. It was clear that including some comments opened the door to all comments which would make for very lengthy minutes. In the end, the Committee approved minutes only containing the names of speakers, and there was significant discussion re the video recording being the full record of what was spoken at the meeting.

Despite the rhetoric of some who portray the abbreviated minutes as some sort of wrongdoing, much thought went into how to fairly and efficiently resolve the matter.

the Breeze

All this bickering aside. The only FACT that matters is that I moved here in 2004, paid too much for my house, taxes have drastically increased, I have lost services that matter to me (yard waste pickup, garbage pick up (included), street lighting, pot hole filling) and my area is additionally paying for our own sewer installation thanks to TWWD. I have no children in school, much like all the retirees enticed here in the late 90s/early 00s. I am bewildered by how this town behaves; new schools, new libraries, new police cars, new fire trucks… is this how y’all manage your own finances? How have you not filed for bankruptcy? Tax dollars are not your right. It is not your money. Live within your means and be responsible! I will be voting per the TTA card in hopes that someday, my savings, IRA, and home value will allow me to really retire.


Justin could you please clarify what you meant when you stated to Mike Deceits “Note where you go from there, though… joining the worst elements of our town not in an attempt to bring up past statement.” Who or what are the worst elements of our town that you refer to.

also could you please stop putting signs on town and state property and i am sure you already know but someone left a stack of your cards at Tom’s Market without their consent.

joe sousa

“Justin W. LaCroix, Nancy L Driggs, Jeffrey E Caron, Richard A Rom, Robert D Coulter, Raymond D Fougere, Stephen T Clarke, William F Lopes, Donna Cook”

People you can trust

tubby barton

Thank you for your response, Ms. Driggs. You and your fellow “patriots” must view this committee as a serious threat to your beloved 50-signature FTR based on the degree of visibility we have recently seen from you. We know you folks prefer to operate in the shadows and executive sessions when you have the opportunity (like the Coulter/Nelson town council).

So was there also an opportunity for the “false statements and personal attacks” perpetrated by you and your political allies to also be purged from the public records as well? By subsequently shutting down public input it seems to me you eliminated that possibility.

By “corrected the false statements” I’m presuming that you mean statements you and your political allies did not agree with rather than being “false”.

Short of reviewing the tapes (if there are any) of your meetings and matching them to the minutes to you are certainly entitled to your opinion of minutes. But to claim that they are “one-sided minutes against the taxpayer” is laughable. Are you accusing the Janicks and anyone that supports them of not being a taxpayer? Do you and your extremist allies claim to be the one and only true voice of the “taxpayer”?

The bottom line is you got called out trying to purge of the official public record of anyone that disagrees with you and your radical agenda. It’s an old political trick (frequently used by your political allies Katz and Sousa) and you got caught. The honest thing to do would be to own it.

Helen Reddy

Justin Katz… who the hell do you think you are, “Dad”? You get more and more broken as time goes by. You and your pack of hyenas in sheeps hair cloaks are trying to turn Tiverton into one big retirement home… no schools, minimum police and fire and no services that aren’t a part of your life style. You are a crazied illusionist who attempts to hypnotize this town with your half witted charts that are mysteriously calculated to illustrate your “plan”. If tax payers continue to drink your coolaide, this town will be one big “Shady Acres”. Your budgets hold this town together by duct tape and chewing gum! You are nothing more than the man behind the curtain who is pulling levers and string to manipulate the people of this beautiful town. This town has potential. It could be more generational and family friendly. It could run so much better and more efficiently without your manipulation. We can’t keep growing this town to the pace of the poorest person living in it. Nor, should we! This is RHODE Island, not fantasy island.

Jeff Caron

tubby barton

The statements of Nancy Driggs are accurate and supported the public record.

As an example to readers here of just how “false” some statements made by members of the public were, one speaker stated that I filed a charter complaint. I did not and the record shows I did not. It is black and white.

You state:

“Short of reviewing the tapes (if there are any) of your meetings and matching them to the minutes to you are certainly entitled to your opinion of minutes.”

Your credibility would be well served by watching the public videos (available), compare the statements made by speakers to public facts (also available), look at the statements made by Budget Committee members, and compare all of that to the draft minutes that were prepared by Ms. Janick, the wife of Candidate Janick. You will find that those draft minutes documented supporting statements for higher taxes and spending, while omitting statements supporting lower taxes and spending.

Yes, fact checking is a lot of work and it is certainly easier to spout off rhetoric with unfounded statements as you have done here. But your credibility is judged by readers accordingly.

In the end, the Budget Committee approved minutes that recorded the speaker’s names, and the video is left to serve as the complete record. All this is recorded, ironically, in the video.

tubby barton

Mr. Caron, we are going to have to agree to disagree; I basically don’t trust Ms. Driggs or your group to tell me that there was “drafting one-sided minutes against the taxpayer”, without seeing the drafts (not public record) and primarily because the statement doesn’t make any sense. It perpetuates her myth that the TTA represents all “taxpayers”. Clearly you do not.

I fail to see the logic in your accusation that I “spout off rhetoric with unfounded statements merely by pointing out the flaws in your and Ms. Driggs dogma and flawed logic.

Jeff Caron

tubby barton

The draft minutes, like the final minutes, are a public document, it just takes a little more effort to obtain. It is clear you do not want to acknowledge the reality that the record shows – or you would expend the effort. Instead, while you concede you do not have a grasp of the record, you somehow justify our logic, which is in fact based upon the information you refuse to learn, is flawed.

When I use the term “Taxpayer”, it is almost always with respect to those who want limited taxation – and I do not see this as overreaching. There are surely taxpayers who want higher taxes, perhaps like yourself, but I would not extend my use of Taxpayer to include those people, nor would I want to or pretend to. I sometimes use the terms “tax and spend” or “those who want higher spending and taxes” to identify the same.

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