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The truth is on video

In a recent Letter to the Editor (“Carney’s assertions are just plain wrong,” Sept. 11), one of my fellow Charlestown councilors, Bonnie Van Slyke, attempted to refute facts presented in my letter titled, “Actions speak louder than words.” I stand by my statements, which are backed up by video recordings of Town Council meetings.

My intentions for writing my original letter were clear. To point out that actions speak louder than words. Even though the Charlestown Citizens Alliance say they are in favor of open and transparent government and inclusivity, their actions show the opposite.

It seems Councilor Van Slyke’s intentions are to rewrite history.

As I stated in my previous letter, “I have submitted numerous items for the agenda and some of these have been repeatedly removed by the Council’s CCA majority.” I further stated, “Some of these items were eventually addressed — but only after my continued insistence.”

Don’t take my word for it. If you are interested, you can watch the videos and see for yourself. Meeting videos are available at https://charlestownri. gov under the “IQM2 web portal” tab located on the home page under the “Agendas and Minutes” tab.

. Establishing a fund balance policy — I originally requested this item be placed on the agenda for the Oct. 15, 2019, Town Council meeting. The item was removed by the CCA members during the Oct. 9, 2019, agenda-setting meeting. The video is available on the town’s website. As I stated in my letter, the item eventually went on the agenda. Here we are, almost two years after I originally requested the item, and the town still does not have a policy.

. Expanding electricity to the new pavilion at Ninigret Park — This is an interesting video to watch. Councilor Van Slyke made the following comments with regards to electricity during the agenda-setting meeting held on May 8, 2019, around the 37-minute mark, “I don’t think we need this on the agenda,” “I object to this agenda item and I will vote against it” and, around the 41-minute, 34- second mark, “I don’t want it on the agenda.” As I stated in my letter, I had to repeatedly insist the item go on, over her objections.

. Using lights for the Chariho Cowboys — This was discussed during the Oct. 9, 2019, Town Council agenda-setting meeting around the 14-minute mark on the video. A CCA-endorsed councilor argued against putting the item on the agenda. Even after seemingly agreeing to put it on, around the 15-minute, 50-second mark, she again tries to remove it. As I stated in my original letter, the item remained on only after my “continued insistence.” Otherwise this matter would not have seen the light of day.

. Installing fencing around the basketball courts at Ninigret Park — The item was removed by the CCA-endorsed majority during the agenda-setting meeting on May 5, 2021, around the 3-minute mark. The original CCA motion was to table the item “indefinitely”. Like I said, let’s see what happens in October.

Councilor Van Slyke states in her letter, “Whether words or actions speak louder becomes an issue only when one’s words do not line up with one’s actions, or with reality.” I agree. All one has to do is watch the videos from the Town Council’s agenda-setting meetings and see for yourself. My comments were factual and are backed up with video proof. One can also hear her repeatedly say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” The statements made in her letter attempt to paint the picture she wants you to see, not the reality. She is attempting to rewrite history.

The CCA says they are in favor of open, transparent government and inclusivity. Their actions show differently as evidenced by the videos from the Town Council agenda setting meetings. A video is worth a thousand words.

Deborah Carney


The writer is the president of the Charlestown Town Council.

This article appeared as a Letter to the Editor in The Westerly Sun on September 16, 2021.

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