Mr. George Tremblay’s December 4, 2019 letter to the editor contains two points that both require a response.
First, he alleges that, in terms of the requirement to select “the best qualified candidates” for boards and commissions, “there are no defined qualifications necessary to fill vacancies … Applicants need only to be willing to serve.” I would direct Mr. Tremblay to the Council’s own rules, specifically Rule 13.2, which requires the best qualified candidate be selected. The Town Code, paragraph 37-1, section D, requires for employees that “[a]ppointments, promotions and other actions shall be based on merit.” Does Mr. Tremblay suggest that commission members be held to a lesser standard? There are no defined qualifications to fill vacancies nor, given the large variety of vacancies that arise, can there be. This does not mean that Rule 13.2 can be ignored when it suits the CCA dominated Council. It is expected that they would apply that standard when selecting commission members, something they seem not to have done, at least at times. Indeed, being willing to serve is what constitutes a volunteer and must be met before any name even comes to the Council for their further consideration.
Second, he echoes a position previously stated by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) group. It holds that having been elected allows a Council member to take any position and make any decision without any further input or regard for the wishes of the electorate. The absurdity of this position is self-evident and explains the reason that Charlestown Residents United (CRU) was formed and continues to remain active in town government. Rather than “defy[ing] the electorate [for the Council] to make politically incompatible appointments,” the Council must make possibly politically incompatible appointments under Rule 13.2 and for the exercise of a true representative democracy.
Kenneth Robbins, MD
This letter was published in The Westerly Sun on December 9.